Back in May, DC Comics announced a new initiative called DC You, which strove to promote the publisher’s diverse lineup of characters with books from creators new to the company. DC You also served as a soft launch for a handful of new titles, including “Cyborg” by David Walker and Ivan Reis; “Black Canary” by Brenden Stewart and Annie Wu; and “Constantine: The Hellblazer” from James Tynion IV, Ming Doyle and Riley Rossmo. In addition to those fresh launches, existing titles received seismic shakeups — like Jim Gordon taking over the Bat-mantle in “Batman” and Clark Kent’s identity becoming public in the “Superman” books.
A bevy of new books can be overwhelming for readers, especially the new readers a movement like DC You hopes to attract. But now that we’re four months in and opening storyarcs are either wrapping up or close to doing so, many of these titles have hit their stride and are starting to show their true quality. Here are five DC You books — along with a few honorable mentions — that have proven themselves worthy of your time.
The Omega Men
With its space setting and ragtag group of renegades, Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda’s “The Omega Men” draws an inevitable comparison to Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but the two titles could not be any more different. “Omega Men” is the kind of comic that proves dark, morally gray stories can still be fun. The past four issues have marched forward with an even, steady pace, like the footfalls of an unstoppable army. King and Bagenda opt for an immersive approach, throwing readers in the thick of things without holding their hands. This result is as enchanting as it is complex and Begenda’s wildly expressive art style keeps the pace moving easily. Now four issues in, the series has a strong foothold in a full, richly developed world. What’s more, it drops Kyle Rayner — a character with a strong moral compass — into a world with no clear heroes. Watching Rayner navigate this new scenario outside of the Green Lantern Corps and following Kalista’s manipulation of his black-and-white worldview is riveting, especially as King compounds it with an exploration of this dark, Lantern-less galaxy’s colonization.
Though “The Omega Men” is easily one of the smartest, most engaging books to come out of DC You, it has unfortunately already been cancelled, ending on issue #7 of its planned 12-issue run. However, “The Omega Men’s” cause isn’t lost just yet; you can still show your support by picking up the last three issues or the trade, which comes out next spring.
With “Black Canary,” Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu introduced a Dinah Drake that we’ve never seen before, with the changeup serving as a breath of fresh air for the character. With Batgirl of Burnside-esque attitude, Dinah joined a band and hit the road, jumping fashion-forward-footwear first into a new element. As with anything new, Dinah must learn how to cope, but it’s exceedingly enjoyable to watch her new and old lifestyles blend together as she develops a fierce attachment to her bandmates, particularly bassist Ditto. Despite diving into a music career, Dinah hasn’t lost any of her edge, and her attempts to not get into a fight every show are endlessly entertaining. This new chapter in Dinah’s life is illustrated by Wu, whose style has just as much charm as it did in “Hawkeye.” She carries scenes without dialogue with skill and grace; her knack for body language instills a lot of humanity and humor in the story. With a host of memorable new characters and the origin of a unique villain, “Black Canary” deserves to rise up the charts and land on your pull list.
Robin: Son of Batman
No Batman? No problem! Damian Wayne is out on his own to make up for the sins of his past in Patrick Gleason’s “Robin: Son of Batman.” He isn’t entirely alone — he’s got his giant bat Goliath and his sort-of nemesis Nobody to help. Damian’s stubbornness fills the book with begrudging charm that’s difficult to resist. With a cast of three — including one member who doesn’t even speak — Damian and Nobody’s daughter Maya Ducard require impressive chemistry in order to pull the story off. Fortunately, Gleason delivers; nothing is more enjoyable than Damian and Nobody’s verbal sparring, with both trying to out-stubborn the other. Nobody has enough gusto to hold her own against Damian, and her righteous Inigo Montoya-like quest infuses her with enough pathos for her to stand out next to an established character like Bruce Wayne’s son. Gleason also never forgets their youth in his dialogue or their design, and he utilizes Damian’s tie to the mystical al Ghuls to great effect. No mission is too out there or fantastical for the young Wayne, and it never once grinds against his serious disposition. With a bold, eye-catching color palette from John Kalisz, “Robin: Son of Batman” is another can’t-miss series from DC You.
With a power team like Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Emanuela Lupacchino, “Starfire” felt like a surefire hit even before it launched. Fans of Palmiotti and Conner’s “Harley Quinn” run will feel right at home with Kori, though both books have their own distinct voices. “Starfire” is just as fun, albeit in a different way. The team takes care when writing Kori’s naivete, making her flubs the stuff of cultural misunderstanding rather than stupidity; her innocence never undermines her strength, her passion or her will to do good. Starfire is an overtly feminine character who kicks ass and Lupacchino walks a fine line in her design of the character, allowing Kori to be cheesecake without exploiting her sexuality. The creative team has also built a wonderful team around Kori, using the Key West setting to explore a diverse range of personalities. Palmiotti, Conner and Lupacchino’s run isn’t exactly deconstructionist, but it isn’t meant to be. Readers looking for a fun, lighthearted run need look no further than “Starfire.”
We Are Robin
Lee Bermejo and Jorge Corona’s “We Are Robin” capitalizes on Batman’s “Endgame” storyline in the best way possible and brings Duke Thomas back into the DC fold. The absence of Bruce Wayne’s Batman has left a void to be filled, and the DC Universe has compensated with Robins. “We Are Robin” is the kind of book that speaks to the inner child in all of us, the one that desperately wanted to be a part of the superhero world. Bermejo and Corona offer a broad spectrum of distinct characters, all of whom react in understandable ways when forced into extraordinary circumstances. The world of “We Are Robin” is enticing, inviting readers in even as they witness the terrible responsibilities the Robin moniker carries. Duke is an engaging point of entry to this underworld, particularly considering the personal reason that leads him to take up the mantle. Robins aside, the book also puts Alfred into a fascinating new role. Paired with Corona’s wildly exaggerated and expressive figure work, “We Are Robin” continues to unfold in a riveting and bombastic way.
Just because this list narrows down five stellar titles from the DC You launch doesn’t mean the others aren’t worth your time. In addition to the top five picks, books like Steve Orlando and ACO’s “Midnighter” and “Constantine: The Hellblazer” by James Tynion IV, Ming Doyle and Riley Rossmo definitely deserve a mention. Both titles continue to pick up steam even if there may have been small wobbles out of the gate, and they continue to impress with fun characterization and increasingly strong storylines.
As evidenced by a bulk of these new titles, the DC You initiative shook the publisher’s lineup in a refreshing way and, hopefully, they’re the kind of changes that will stick around. However, these books need support in order to survive; “The Omega Men’s” cancellation proves how crucial it is for smart, diverse books to receive backing from fans. If you’re looking to lend your support to engaging new titles, though, look no further — these DC You books have got you covered.
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