After three and a half years, DC Comics' New 52 initiative that turned the comic book buying world on its head back in September of 2011 is finally coming to a close this June. And now that the publisher is finally removing the word "new" from series launched during President Obama's first term, they're filling the void with 24 new titles featuring a diverse assortment of leads and creators.
In some ways, this feels like a natural progression from the soft relaunch the Batman line of books enjoyed late last year with the launch of modern and/or offbeat series like "Batgirl," "Gotham Academy" and "Grayson." This spark of creativity now seems to have spread throughout DC's entire line of super hero comics, resulting in some incredibly fresh sounding ideas from some of today's comic book innovators. Here are the six new DC launches that we can't wait to read this summer.
It's about time. Black Canary has gone way too long without a solo series and most of her time in the New 52 era has been spent playing support to other characters. With a creative team like Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu on board, odds are this volume of "Black Canary" will be well worth the wait. As co-writer on both "Gotham Academy" and "Batgirl," Fletcher has had a big part in changing the feel of the modern DCU. DC grabbing Annie Wu -- who previously illustrated the Kate Bishop chapters of Marvel's "Hawkeye" series -- for this book is also a huge get. Her art, specifically the released promotional art, conveys the exact right level of swagger needed for the DCU's resident ass-kicking Canary. This is a team that will make this character sing.
Constantine: The Hellblazer; Dark Universe
Yes, this is actually two titles, but they're coming from a trio of creators that appear to be working closely together to form a new, cohesive corner of the DC line. It sounds like Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV and Riley Rossmo have been given the keys to DC's supernatural kingdom, and there's probably not a more qualified trio around to bring creepy characters like Constantine and the old "Justice League Dark" cast to life. Tynion's a powerhouse writer who has proven he can handle the darkness and team dynamics needed for "Dark Universe," and Rossmo's frenetically kinetic art will give no doubt give us a totally fresh take on "Constantine." Doyle, who with Tynion is co-writing her first ever ongoing series with "Constantine: The Hellblazer," is also a perfect aesthetic match for Tynion's "Dark Universe." No artist juggles the gorgeous and the unnerving as deftly at the same time as Doyle. DC's supernatural books are two to watch out for.
As a relaunch of an obscure '70s series handled by relative newcomers Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell, "Prez" has our attention simply because it's a true wildcard. The original series, "Prez: First Teen President," came from Captain America co-creator Joe Simon and artist Jerry Grandenetti and follows the adventures of Prez Rickard who is, well, exactly what it says in the title. The original series featured a number of bizarre ideas like sadistic chess players and legless vampires. While the original series was short-lived, a number of creators -- including Neil Gaiman, Ed Brubaker and Frank Miller -- have all paid homage to Prez over the past 25 years. The art accompanying the announcement of a new "Prez" series is similarly head-scratching -- but in a very good way. Is Prez now a gum-smacking teenage girl? Does she have a Baymax-esque bodyguard? We want to know more, now!
While it's not a new series, "Superman" is continuing on with superstar artist John Romita, Jr. still on board and critically-acclaimed writer Gene Luen Yang signing up to write the Man of Steel. Yang's a perfect fit for Superman, as his previous work like the OGN "American Born Chinese" dealt with the immigrant experience through the use of both larger-than-life and personal narrative devices. This, coupled with his recent stretch of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" graphic novels for Dark Horse Comics, make Yang feel like the perfect choice to handle the medium's most popular and prominent immigrant character. Yang's hire also helps to diversify the kinds of voices working on big name characters at the major comics publishers, meaning that comics have taken a big step towards inclusivity and we get Superman stories from an Eisner Award-winning writer.
We Are Robin
Details about DC's new crop of books remain scarce, but the cover image from Lee Bermejo and Khary Randolph's "We Are Robin" says a lot. Robin was initially added to the Batman mythos to provide kids with an entry point character. The title and cover of "We Are Robin" seem to take that idea to the next level; instead of being an entry point for real world teens, it looks like the mantle of Robin is being elevated to that of an inspirational figure for the teens of the DC Universe. It's rare that sidekicks get to be viewed as icons in their own right, and Robin -- as one of the first superhero sidekicks ever -- definitely deserves this upgrade. Considering the streak the Batman office is on when it comes to youth-oriented series, this one seems like it could be another home run.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on DC's entire slate of new releases.