Like Marvel comics has had before them, today I’m taking a look at the new DC Comics Rebirth lineup of titles announced last weekend. DC Comics attempted to reboot in the summer of 2011 with their New 52 initiative. Though initially successful, readers quickly tired of the redundant writing & art styles that was often overtly in your face with little substance and dated concepts, while creative talent left the books in droves over accusations of overreaching editorial mandates. In 2015, the publisher began walking away from the concept; first with their Convergence event whose story was used to reestablish the Multiverse and then the DC You initiative, a sincere attempt to diversify the style and creative talent on their line of books. In spite of some really great comics, DC You failed to reestablish the publisher’s already shrinking market share while the one two punch of Star Wars & Secret Wars allowed chief competitor Marvel Comics to dominate the direct market. During WonderCon 2016, DC Comics announced another new initiative with a relaunch of the publishers comics with new #1’s and creative teams for their series of titles. Some look great, some of the creators brought in during DC You have leveled up, some familiar faces are sticking around, some new writers have been brought into the fold and some comics vet’s are returning after years away from the publisher. Some books look great, some have potential, some look kind of bland and some look like hot garbage. Will divide the contenders from the pretenders with Yay, Mayhaps or Nay. As always, remember that not even all of the creative teams have been announced let alone all the possible series so this lineup is subject to change.
In February of 2016, DC Comics will be introducing new creative teams to four of their current ongoing series. Writer Dan Abnett will be taking over writing on Earth 2 Society & Aquaman with Jorge Jimenez and Vincente Cifuentes on art respectively. Writer Tim Seely & artist Juan Ferreya will be taking over New Suicide Squad & Greg Pak will be joined by artist Noel Rodriguez on Teen Titans (YAY). Also of note; Neal Adams Coming Of The Supermen along with Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette’s long awaited Wonder Woman Earth One will see release. Paquette will also be filling in for Greg Capullo on Batman #49. More details at DC Comics
Dan Jurgens Will be Working on Superman: Lois & Clark with Lee Weeks, Convergence writer Jeff King will be doing a series on the main villain, Telos & Dan Abneet will be writing The Secret History Of The Teen Titans.
Neal Adams will be launching a series titled The Coming Of The Superman in December of 2015. Six issues dealing with all of Jack Kirby’s characters fighting Superman.
Few series have felt lost in the wilderness the way that the Teen Titans has for the past few years. Initially a silver age concept, The Teen Titans were created as a team of DC Comics adolescent superhero’s that was revamped by Marv Wolfman & George Perez in the 1980’s for an all time great comics run. As DC Comics aged their hero’s, the concept itself began to feel antiquated. This was further driven home in the New 52 where Titan’s character’s of the series past were patched in with younger teen hero’s from DC Comics more recent continuity. It didn’t help that the series was given less then inspiring creative choices. Teen Titans is a concept that needs a reason to exist, it can’t just be a comic about teenage superhero’s in 2016. In the titles most recent installment, the creative team of Greg Pak, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund & Tony Aliva feel as if they are attempting that in their debut on the title and for the most part, it works.
Teen Titan’s #17 shifts it’s focus sharply on the Wonder Girl character and her relation to the same Greek Mythology that becomes a staple of the Wonder Woman property. Writer Greg Pak’s approach is interesting in the way he manages to center the narrative on Wonder Girl with an intriguing mystery while still managing to give equal time the expanded cast. Pak does strong character work in differentiating each voice with a casual youthfulness without having to rely too heavily on internal monologues to telegraph subtext to the readers, an issue that’s hampered his otherwise strong writing on Action Comics & Batman/Superman. Artist Ian Churchill with inker Norm Rapmund and colorist Tony Aliva have a sort of DC house style in their art here, but not overwhelmingly so and it functions in giving the illustrations a narrative.
With Rebirth coming this summer, who knows if this going to be a prelude to what this team has planned for the book post relaunch or just a placeholder but either way, it’s a solid comic with a lot of potential and that’s the most that can be said about a Teen Titans comic for quite some time.
The opening chapter of the new series Titans Hunt is a strange and mysterious introduction to the series which has Dan Abnett doing some of the same continuity twists that he’s done on his past Guardians Of The Galaxy work to interesting results.
While New 52 continuity shifts have often been a detriment to creators, writer Dan Abnett uses it as a narrative tool here. It references original pre-Wolfman/Perez Titans team members in the current continuity having false memories of their time in the pre New 52 stories. Abnett gives it a sense of creepy surrealism and existential dread that hangs in the air for the entire issue and makes for an unsettling but highly engaging experience. Instead of trying to bridge between the two, he’s making the alternate timelines feel like a fracture for the characters and it permeates a sense of disquiet that is immersive and hard to shake. In that way, Abnett is writing a Titans comic like nothing I’ve ever read from the series before while also taking a radical approach to DC Comics continuity reboots and it works as both a narrative but also as a mood and feeling. It’s strange to think that a Teen Titans comic is being done like a horror story, but not only is that just what he does here, he actually does it better then anybody could have anticipated. Artists Paolo Siqueira, Geraldo Borges & Hi-Fi colors have the art in very much what feels like the “DC House Style” of the last few years, but in the context of this story and the shift that DC Comics has made away from that since the summer, it almost feels subversive.
Titans Hunt is nothing like you could have expected and it’s all the better for it. Leave it to Abnett to take a concept he’s explored many times over in his superhero work and apply it in a way he’s never done before in the least likely of places. More importantly, leave it to Dan Abnett to make it work as well as it does, because nobody else could have done this as impressively as he has.