DC Comics announces Rebirth details

On Thursday, DC Comics announced some details of its upcoming June revamp/reboot, titled “Rebirth.” I’ve summarized things below, thanks to articles in Comic Book Resources and Comics Alliance.

New books, bimonthly releases, and “holding the line at $2.99”

DC plans to kick things off with an 80-page $2.99 “DC Universe: Rebirth” special on May 25, followed over the next several months with a staggered releases of newly renumbered series. Each series will kick off with a special Rebirth one-shot issue, followed by new #1’s. The exceptions are “Action Comics” and “Detective Comics,” which will resume their pre-New 52 issue numbering. I figured they’d go back to their old numbering given how close to issue 1,000 both legacy titles are, regardless of DC’s insistence during the early New 52 days that they wouldn’t.

One change is that the entire DCU line will only cost $2.99 an issue. Getting over their bizarre DiDio-era “52” obsession, DC will release 32 regular ongoings. However, 17 of these will be published twice a month.

On the plus side, it’s one way to avoid raising the price of monthly comics to $5 an issue, at least for the time being. Cheaper books might also be more attractive to new readers, and stay competitive to other publishers’ books. On the other hand, bimonthly books at $2.99 each totals $5.98 a month to follow the same book. While it’s more pages of story per month, it also might mean either spending more or having to cut back on other books.

The Rebirth lineup

Here’s the announced line of books, as listed on Comic Book Resources:

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

My observations

As for my comments on the new line of books:

  • That’s 17 out of 32 books (or 53%) of the revised line by my count that’ll likely have Batman or Batman-related characters. It’s assuming the JLA, Suicide Squad, Earth-2, and “Super Sons” books will feature Gotham-related characters in some way, shape, or form, anyway. No easing up on DC’s reliance on their main really successful franchise, I suppose. Of course, this is partially guessing on my part, since…
  • DC for some reason didn’t announce the creative staff of these books, or what some of the books will actually be about. It could be assumed that they’re still finalizing the creative staff, and/or maybe also wanting to build fan anticipation. Still, it feels odd to not announce creative staff at the same time as the rest of the news, and just expect fans to get excited over just the titles. Comics Beat called out DC on all of this, noting it puts more emphasis on their intellectual property than what might actually attract readers, and feels blandly corporate. Anyway, DC plans to announce the creative staff at WonderCon on March 26.
  • Which Superwoman is it? Earth-3’s Crime Syndicate member? Kristin Wells? Lois with superpowers? Lois’ sister Lucy Lane?
  • I’ll assume the “Super-Sons” in question are Damian Wayne (son of Batman) and pre-New 52 Lois and Clark’s son Jon.
  • I also assume the rumored comeback of the JSA is in the still-oddly-hyphenless “Earth 2.”
  • “The Super-Man?” A book based on Siegel and Shuster’s Superman prototype? “The Hellblazer?” Interestingly, no “The Batman” book, despite his sometimes being called such.
  • “Gotham Academy” is sticking around, and we’re also getting two Batgirl books (one a revival of “Birds of Prey”).
  • We’ll also get a Supergirl book, going along with the digital-only title.
  • Missing titles, among others: “Midnighter,” “Superman: Lois and Clark” (guess it really is just eight issues), and “Superman/Wonder Woman.” As I’ve said since it launched with the New 52, “Superman/Wonder Woman” was dead as a title as soon as the “power couple”‘s relationship inevitably ended or changed. Diana should appear in “Trinity,” presumably a Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman book.
  • Superboy is also still missing regarding having a comic, yet DC’s found room for Deathstroke shipping twice a month?
  • Comics Alliance notes no clear or obvious increase in books starring minorities, while a few such existing titles (“Dr. Fate,” “We Are Robin,” etc.) are cancelled.

Geoff Johns, in an interview with Comic Book Resources, stated the following when asked if DC’s renewed appeal to long-time readers will come at the expense of casual/newer ones:

If you look at “Green Lantern: Rebirth” or “The Flash: Rebirth,” absolutely it’s targeted to fans who’ve read a lot of comics. Who have as many comics as me. But at the same time, people can pick it up, and there’s enough in “Green Lantern: Rebirth” for someone to pick it up who has never read “Green Lantern” and understand what’s happening. With “DC Universe: Rebirth,” it’s the same thing. If you have, like me, long boxes of DC Comics, you will be very happy. If you’ve never read a DC comic before, you won’t be too lost. This is definitely for comic book readers more than it is for casual readers, just like “Green Lantern: Rebirth,” but that doesn’t mean it’s exclusive of them.

I don’t think one should need long boxes’ worth of comics to get into reading them. “You won’t be too lost” doesn’t sound too reassuring or welcoming to newer readers. As Comics Alliance noted, Johns compared this to “Star Wars,” except that only requires a single evening or two to watch the core trilogy of films (or even all seven films to date).

Conclusion

On the positive side, I’m glad the New 52’s gone, and a few of the new titles sound interesting. The books’ price drop also keeps things away from making $5 an issue the norm, at least for now. The book lineup also are titles that somewhat tie to DC/Warner Bros.’ movie and TV show plans, with Supergirl, the JLA, and the Suicide Squad heavily featured. DC also taking into account some long-time readers’ concerns is nice—we’re presumably now free of the idea of Wonder Woman being reduced to “Superman’s girlfriend.”

On the critical side, we don’t know anything about the books’ creative staff, actual stars of the books, or the tone of Rebirth. There’s also no clear changes in DC’s business model (no answer to Marvel United?) or their management (it’s the same people as before spearheading Rebirth), besides the biweekly book publication/price drop. It’s also not clear how well Rebirth will attract new readers beyond a cover price drop, at least based on Johns’ remarks.

For now, I expect a big sales boost in the period following Rebirth, followed by the usual falling off. We’ll see if it lets DC stay more competitive with Marvel in the long run. However, some have pointed out that a byproduct of the New 52 initially drawing in readers has been seeing a big boost in non-Big Two (independent) comic sales. If readers are dissatisfied with Rebirth, and don’t want to try Marvel, they’ll at least have a large amount of material from Image, Boom! Studios, etc. to choose from as alternatives.

One comment

  1. Since I’m a random comic book reader, I welcome the lower price. I go to a comic book store once every couple months, and just pick up and issue or two of whatever looks interesting (which usually means if there is some sort of snow scene on the cover). If I get into a story line, I wait until the series is heavily discounted either in a physical store, ComiXology, or Humble Bundle (mostly Humble Bundle lately).

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