DC Universe Rebirth Plans Revealed

Ever since the DC Universe Rebirth was hinted at by Dan Didio and Jim Lee, there has been speculation over what it means for the DC line of comics. At the ComicsPRO 2016 Annual Membership meeting in Portland, the first announcement was officially made regarding the future for DC Comics.

The ComicsPRO 2016 meeting was a crowd of comic book retailers, so the announcement was geared primarily towards them. Dan Didio and Jim Lee were there in person and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns sent a recorded video message to announce that the DC Comics Rebirth would kick off with an 80 Page DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH Special on May 25, 2016. Here is the full text of the press release from DC Comics. What follows the italics is our analysis of the announcement.

DC ENTERTAINMENT REVEALS FIRST DETAILS OF “REBIRTH” TO RETAILERS AT COMICS PRO 2016

Before a packed house of comics retailers at the ComicsPRO Annual Membership meeting in Portland, DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee provided a first look at the company’s plans for its massive “REBIRTH” title relaunch scheduled for June.

“At DC we believe in superheroes, and what makes them great,” said Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC Entertainment. “And, we also believe in the direct market and the core comics fan. REBIRTH is designed to bring back the best of DC’s past, embrace the stories we currently love and move the entire epic universe into the future. We are returning to the essence of the DCU. With REBIRTH we are putting the highest priority on the direct market and we will continue to create and cultivate new opportunities for retailers to thrive and prosper, grow readers, fans and customers.”

Retailers in attendance were also treated to a special personal video message from DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. He outlined his perspective on the elements that make DC great and teased attendees with the opening line of his 80-page DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH Special, on sale May 25th:

“I love this world… But there’s something missing…”

Priced at just $2.99, this one shot will kick off a line-wide title relaunch. Written by Geoff Johns, it will feature an all-star roster of comics’ most popular artists: Ethan Van Sciver (GREEN LANTERN CORPS, EDGE OF OBLIVION), Phil Jimenez (WONDER WOMAN), Ivan Reis (CYBORG, AQUAMAN) and Gary Frank (BATMAN EARTH ONE).

As a follow up to Johns’ REBIRTH Special announcement, DiDio, and Co-Publisher Jim Lee, revealed to retailers plans to provide fans with more story, and more often. Beginning in June, all DC Universe monthly and twice monthly titles will ship at a new, lower price of $2.99. This new lineup includes a combination of DC favorites and new titles; titles will begin their runs under the “REBIRTH” banner and follow with another issue #1 beginning the series proper. In addition, DC’s two flagship legacy titles will resume their original issue numbering, also shipping twice monthly: DETECTIVE COMICS will pick up with issue #934, while ACTION COMICS will continue with issue #957.

A special event revealing all talent and creative teams is scheduled to take place at WonderCon in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, March 26. This press conference will be live-streamed on the DC Entertainment’s YouTube channel, so everyone can experience firsthand all of the exciting new details surrounding REBIRTH.

The REBIRTH title lineup was announced as follows:

June:
Rebirth Specials:
AQUAMAN REBIRTH #1
BATMAN REBIRTH #1
THE FLASH REBIRTH #1
GREEN ARROW REBIRTH #1
GREEN LANTERNS REBIRTH #1
SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1
TITANS REBIRTH #1
WONDER WOMAN REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
AQUAMAN #1
BATMAN #1
THE FLASH #1
GREEN ARROW #1
GREEN LANTERNS #1
SUPERMAN #1
WONDER WOMAN #1

New Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
ACTION COMICS #957
DETECTIVE COMICS #934

July
Rebirth Specials:
BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY REBIRTH #1
HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS REBIRTH #1
THE HELLBLAZER REBIRTH #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE REBIRTH #1
NIGHTWING REBIRTH #1
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
NIGHTWING #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):
BATGIRL #1
BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY #1
THE HELLBLAZER #1
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #1
THE SUPER-MAN #1
TITANS #1

Fall
Rebirth Specials:
BATMAN BEYOND REBIRTH #1
BLUE BEETLE REBIRTH #1
CYBORG REBIRTH #1
DEATHSTROKE REBIRTH #1
EARTH 2 REBIRTH #1
SUICIDE SQUAD REBIRTH #1
SUPERGIRL REBIRTH #1
TEEN TITANS REBIRTH #1
TRINITY REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
CYBORG #1
DEATHSTROKE #1
HARLEY QUINN #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #1
SUICIDE SQUAD #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):
BATMAN BEYOND #1
BLUE BEETLE #1
EARTH 2 #1
GOTHAM ACADEMY: NEXT SEMESTER #1
SUPERGIRL #1
SUPERWOMAN #1
SUPER SONS #1
TEEN TITANS #1
TRINITY #1

DC Universe Rebirth

Now for some analysis. There was concern that DC Comics was moving their publishing focus to more resemble the DC Cinematic Universe focus, if not in content, then at least in what they offer. For the most part, what we see is a list of titles that focus on characters either currently in TV or film series currently in production or expected for release.  However, there are some titles that depart from that simplistic formula, such as Gotham Academy, Earth 2, Batman Beyond, and Blue Beetle. Others that skirt the fringes reveal an intriguing development such as The Super-Man, Superwoman and Super Sons. No details were revealed on those titles.

At first appearance, it does not appear to be as ambitious an offering as the New 52. There are only 32 continuing titles, although after the Fall titles are released, every month will see 17 twice monthly titles, making for 49 issues of DC Comics in stores, not counting licensed properties and mini-series. Detective Comics and Action Comics resume their original numbering, which shows some acknowledgement of tradition, despite every other title given yet another first issue.

The emphasis on twice monthly titles is a little disturbing, since past efforts to make events and series meet this schedule have usually resulted in delays. DC has been able to make weekly series work, but usually such an ambitious publishing schedule for a series means a reliance on rotating artists at the very least. Exciting titles include a return of Nightwing, and no solo Green Lantern title, indicating a focus on the many members of the Green Lantern Corps. The future of the DC Universe is also unrepresented, with Justice League 3001 no longer a part of the lineup, and no return for the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Overall, this doesn’t look like a completely bad idea, although another slate of first issues is a little depressing. It is encouraging that in an era of the five dollar monthly comic, DC is once again staking a commitment to a $2.99 price point, something it more famously did about a year prior to the launch of the New52. However, with that move DC dropped the pages of content with each issue, so we may be able to expect something similar here. At that price point, series will have to maintain higher orders to justify their continued existence, so don’t be at all surprised to see a few cancellations come in the winter of 2016-2017.

It should not go unmentioned that the DC Universe Rebirth launches the same weekend as the film X-Men: Age of Apocalypse hits theaters, but given that Marvel has not traditionally tried to give comic book support to feature films not produced by its own studio, I would consider it to be a coincidence. However, if they had managed to make it a launch around Free Comic Book Day and the release of Captain America: Civil War, then we might have something.

Overall, not as depressing an announcement as we might have been expecting concerning the DC Universe Rebirth, and you can certainly expect us to go over the 80 Page DC Universe Rebirth Special when it ships, as well as report on the creative teams announced on March 26, coincidentally the same weekend as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters.