The annual ComicsPRO retailers meeting, in which comic shop owners meet with major comics publishers to discuss and preview the year ahead, is going on in Portland, Oregon right now, and yesterday DC made a major announcement that confirmed some long brewing rumours. Starting in June, DC is going to kick off “Rebirth”, a relaunch of their superhero line that will see all of their continuing titles debut new #1 issues (except for Batman and Action Comics, which will return to their original numbering and both be up in the #900s), premiere a bunch of new books, and have several series move to bi-monthly shipping.
Details were vague, but it sounds like DC is trying to merge the best of their New 52 universe with elements of their old universe. The name itself is a callback to past successful event books like Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth, both from the pre-New 52 era. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns explained the intended audience for this new line:
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.
“Definitely for comic book readers more than it is for casual readers” bums me out a bit, partly because it’s exclusionary and partly because it’s just straight up dumb. Hardcore nerds like me are going to be there anyway, no matter what DC does. Marketing directly to us comes with a certain ceiling, because our ranks aren’t exactly growing in any real way. That base has been about the same for the last decade. New readers are where growth can come from, and relaunching a new line in which they “won’t be too lost” is a bad idea. I appreciate that it’s difficult to branch out and bring in a new audience, but that’s how you keep your books from stagnating, like most of the line has since the New 52 relaunch.
Anyway, onto what’s up for Wonder Woman! The book will be one of several series moving to a bi-monthly schedule starting in June 2016. First there will be a Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 special and then the new series will launch. DC didn’t announce any creators yesterday (though myself and my entire Twitter feed had a collective heart attack when news broke that Meredith Finch would be writing a Lois Lane series; luckily it was just a hoax) so we have no idea who will be on the book; the biggest rumour is that Marguerite Bennett will be writing it, but another rumour is that DC is having multiple writers take stabs at the new books, often without them knowing that’s happening, and that most of the creative teams are still very much up in the air right now. DC says they’ll unveil the creative teams in a month at WonderCon, but I’d expect a slow release of names from DC starting in the next couple of weeks to build up to the full reveal.
So, Wonder Woman will be out twice a month. For $2.99 instead of $3.99, but it’ll be two issues so it’ll actually be $5.98. For that kind of money, it better be good. And the thing is, it’s hard to be good on a bi-monthly schedule. That kind of writing pace is ridiculously harsh, and pretty much impossible on the art side of things. That means rotating artists and fill-in teams, which will add up to inconsistent and probably often rushed art. If you’ve read any of DC’s recent weekly books, you can see what I mean; while not exactly terrible, they’re not exactly polished either. The pace is just too hectic. I worry that bi-weekly books are a recipe for comics that can only be average at best. It’s certainly not a recipe for high quality work.
It looks like Wonder Woman will have a supporting role in at least a couple of other new series that will roll out into the fall. I anticipate that they’ll be in one, if not both, of Justice League and Justice League America, and the new Trinity book seems poised to feature Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. Plus, Superman/Wonder Woman is no more, which is great news, even though it reduces Wonder Woman to just one mainline headlining title. I was hoping she’d get a second solo book like Batman and Superman, what with the movie on the way and all, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards yet. Maybe in 2017, as the film nears.
I’ll have more news on the new bi-monthly Wonder Woman once we get any more news other than its title and release schedule. The good thing is, Wonder Woman is such a terrible comic right now that it really can’t get any worse. There’s nowhere to go but up at this point, even though it’s going to be a somewhat expensive up with two books a month.