52 titles, something for everyone? A look at the New 52 a little over a year later

Posted: November 12, 2012 in DC, Rants
Tags: ,

By Alex Headley

The New 52 Justice League. Illustrated by Jim Lee.

In September 2011, DC changed everything by relaunching, and to some extent rebooting, their entire line of comics. And it seems to have worked, at least in the short term. DC has had a great year in sales, beating Marvel for market share for several months and increasing digital comics sales by nearly 200% according to recent reports.  And overall sales continue to be strong. In my opinion the quality books have far outweighed the poor ones and in the end all I want from comics is good story starring characters I care about. I feel like the New 52 does that well where it matters. Of course there have been some duds.

14 books have been cancelled since the New 52 launched in September 2011.

“Men of War,” “Mister Terrific,” “O.M.A.C.,” “Hawk and Dove,” “Blackhawks” and “Static Shock” were all cancelled in January and replaced by “Earth 2”, “Worlds’s Finest”, “Batman Inc.”, “The Ravagers”, “G.I. Combat” and “Dial H”. In June, “Resurrection Man”, “Justice League International”, “Voodoo” and “Captain Atom” were canceled and replaced with “Talon”, “Sword of Sorcery”, “The Phantom Stranger”, and “Team Seven”. In January, “Frankenstein, agent of S.H.A.D.E”, “Blue Beetle”, “G.I. Combat”, “Grifter” and “Legion Lost” will be ending to make way for “Constantine” (following the cancellation of John Constantine’s long running series “Hellblazer”), “Threshold”, “Justice League of America”, “Vibe” and “Katana”.

I think most of the books that have been cancelled were probably doomed to fail from the beginning but it’s encouraging to see DC experimenting. It’s less encouraging to see just how ready and willing DC is to cut a book not featuring any major characters.

Hellblazer #299 cover.
Property of Vertigo Comics.

Recently the cancellation of “Hellblazer” has caused a bit of an uproar, at least in the industry. But it makes sense for DC to prioritize it’s main line, even if that means pulling things from Vertigo. Hopefully this makes room for new original properties at Vertigo. Many are worried about the health of the imprint and accusations are even being tossed around that DC plans to get rid of it altogether. I don’t think that is the case. Not with Neil Gaiman returning to comics with a new Sandman series next year and several new titles coming from prominent creators such as Scott Snyder. The success of creator owned books at Image Comics certainly seems to affected sales at Vertigo, but I’m going to be optimistic and say that this boom at Image can only mean good things for the industry as a whole. Creator-owned properties are a big deal and I think Robert Kirkman’s wildly successful Walking Dead supports that. Mark Millar has had some success as well, with several of his books being made into movies, most notably “Kick-Ass” and the upcoming “Kick-Ass 2”. That’s what I hope happens anyway, there a plenty of much smarter and connected people talking about the issue right now.

Here’s what the New 52 will look like in 2013.

  1. Action Comics
  2. Superman
  3. Superboy
  4. Supergirl
  5. Detective Comics
  6. Batman
  7. Batman: The Dark Knight
  8. Batman & Robin
  9. Batman Inc.
  10. Nightwing
  11. Batgirl
  12. Batwoman
  13. Birds of Prey
  14. Catwoman
  15. Red Hood and the Outlaws
  16. Teen Titans
  17. Ravagers
  18. Aquaman
  19. The Flash
  20. Wonder Woman
  21. Justice League
  22. Justice League Dark
  23. Justice League of America
  24. Vibe
  25. Katana
  26. Demon Knights
  27. Animal Man
  28. Swamp Thing
  29. Threshold
  30. Constantine
  31. Earth 2
  32. Worlds’ Finest
  33. Green Lantern
  34. Green Lantern Corp
  35. New Guardians
  36. Red Lanterns
  37. Legion of Super Heroes
  38. Talon
  39. Sword of Sorcery
  40. Stormwatch
  41. The Savage Hawkman
  42. Deathstroke
  43. Dial H
  44. The Phantom Stranger
  45. Suicide Squad
  46. Green Arrow
  47. The Fury of Firestorm
  48. DC Universe Presents
  49. All-Star Western
  50. Team 7
  51. I, Vampire

So what will book 52 be? Unless it’s the upcoming Scott Snyder & Jim Lee as of yet unnamed Superman title, we just don’t know.

Looking at that list, it really seems DC is hell-bent on keeping a warfare book on the stands, and is really failing to do so. They have basically cancelled G.I. Combat twice at this point. Despite being a little more closely tied to the DCU superheroics, I don’t think Team 7 will stick around long.  Also, holy crap, there are a dozen books related to Batman or his extended family. Series with a magical protagonist seem to be a high priority as well. Justice League Dark’s success probably only serves to increase that, especially in regards to Constantine. Keeping a sci-fi book on the stands seems to be a priority, even with the loss of Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, Threshold promises to fill a big gap. Not to mention the Green Lantern books keep the cosmic stuff coming. Keeping three Justice League books is important for the upcoming Trinity War which seems to be setting up a Civil War style hero vs hero story. Female characters are doing well. There are 9 books starring a female lead; Katana, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, Worlds’ Finest, Sword of Sorcery, Batwoman, Catwoman and Supergirl. The number has steadily been tracking up from the beginning and that is a promising trend. Now if we can just get some more female talent in the industry…

Cyborg as he appears on the cover to Justice League #1.

While we are talking about characters there are some curious absences so far, and no I’m not talking about Wally West, Donna Troy or Stephanie Brown (although I would like to see all three come back), most notably the absence of a Cyborg title. Victor Stone was rocketed into the spotlight in Flashpoint and then the New 52 but still doesn’t have his own series. It’s baffling really. Everyone else in the Justice League has one or more books with their name on it. I guess this is just proof that Cyborg really is the new Martian Manhunter (who will finally be getting more attention thanks to the new JLA). As for potential books and miniseries in DC’s future, I’d like to think that if Batman and Superman can carry multiple titles that Wonder Woman can do the same. Brian Azzarello has made Diana one of the biggest success stories in the New 52 and I would be thrilled to explore more of that world. The New Gods will be making their return to the DCU soon and I would be more than happy to pick up a book focused on that cast. Big Barda, Mr. Miracle and Orion could make a fun team. The Outsiders is a concept we haven’t seen in the New 52 that would probably be a popular comeback. Doom Patrol could also make a return. Both teams would give DC the chance to add a lot of characters and showcase a lot personalities we don’t see much of currently. The Atom is a character i would love to see in the New 52. We’ve seen Ray Palmer in the pages of Frankenstein and the promo for Trinity War seemed to suggest a shrinking character in red and blue will make an appearance soon though we don’t know who is in the costume or what Justice League he will be a part of.

As for what could be cancelled in the next wave; I really don’t see Deathstroke or Hawkman sticking around much longer. Liefield’s very public, very nasty exit from both books left DC scrambling for a replacement. I’m not reading either book anyway, but reaction has not been great. Firestorm hasn’t been selling well either, not since the beginning really. The concept is just a little too cheesy for me. So, what books do you think are in danger of cancellation? What do you want to see in that last spot for the fourth wave? What do you hope is coming in the inevitable fifth wave? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments
  1. wwayne says:

    “I think most of the books that have been cancelled were probably doomed to fail from the beginning”: I agree, most of them have been thrown in at the deep end. Characters like Voodoo, Grifter, Mr. Terrific, Static Shock and so on passed from being unknown to the 99 % of comics fan to having their own solo title. Of course they lacked the bases to avoid failure.
    Also, DC didn’t advertise them enough: for example, when I read that Mr. Terrific was among the first New 52 cancelled titles, I didn’t even know who he was.
    “Also, holy crap, there are a dozen books related to Batman or his extended family”: This is what happens when books either sell poorly, or are “poorly” written. When all else fails, go with something you know will sell well. Anyway, I agree that DC is exceeding.
    If you like Cyborg, I do suggest you to read his best story arc ever: http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/titans-vol-3-fractured.
    “What books do you think are in danger of cancellation?” That’s a very difficult question. Some titles just started or didn’t start yet, so it’s impossible to predict how much they will sell in the next months. Also, sometimes DC decides to cancel a title even if it’s selling quite well, as it happened with Justice League International.
    Anyway, Batwing is selling too poorly for a Bat – title (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2012/2012-09.html), so I think DC has already put it on the chopping block.
    A lot of bloggers panned Ravagers from the very first day, and the sales of this series are sinking deeper and deeper each month, so I would be surprised to see it surviving for more than 12 issues.
    Firestorm has a top writer working on it, and this is the only reason why DC gave it a second chance, but I don’t think it will stick around long.
    The 4th and last cancellation I predict is Sword of Sorcery. In the very first days after its release everybody was recommending this series, but afterwards some bloggers heavily focused on the attempted rape scene, writing a lot of harsh criticisms, and this totally reversed the positive hype around this title. This could be lethal.
    “What do you want to see in that last spot for the fourth wave?”: The only upcoming series I will try is Katana. I don’t think she’s interesting enough to carry a title on her own, but, when I read the series is set in Japan, I decided to add it to my pull list blindfold.
    “What do you hope is coming in the inevitable fifth wave?”: Years after their closures, I still regret some wonderful series like Gotham Central and Steel, so it would be nice to see them coming back, or DC publishing something similar.

    • Great insight, wwayne. Thanks for the comment.
      I think you predictions for cancellations are pretty on the spot. Sword of Sorcery may be safe if they are putting Amethyst on the Justice League Dark full time.

      I’m on the fence about Katana, I enjoyed her appearance in Birds of Prey but I honestly have to many books on pull as it is.

      Gotham Central was great! I loved that series. Sad to see it go.

      • wwayne says:

        “Sword of Sorcery may be safe if they are putting Amethyst on the Justice League Dark full time”: This enhances my conviction that Sword of Sorcery will end soon. When a title closes or is about to close, DC tries to cheer up its fans by putting its leading character in another series as a supporting character: Frankenstein passed to Justice League Dark, Grifter passed to Team 7, Mr. Terrific passed to Earth 2, Blue Beetle will appear in Threshold, and so on. Which is great, because some of these characters are not popular enough to carry a solo title, but they are too interesting to disappear. Thank you for your reply! : )

  2. wwayne says:

    3 of the 4 titles I predicted to be cancelled in my previous comment got the axe for real:

    http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2013/02/dc-axes-deathstroke-savage-hawkman-and-four-other-titles/

    What do you think about it? Did you like anyone of those series? Which titles will replace them, in your opinion?

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