The Vanier Report: Special Edition
No doubt, by the time you are reading this, you will already have heard / read / sensed the news that came out of DC Comics: following April/May’s Convergence event, DC will be welcoming 24 brand new titles to their publishing schedule. Additionally, you will no longer see that “New 52” imprint on the cover of DC’s new releases.
Before you panic, this does not mean another reboot (hard or soft). It’s simply time to acknowledge that the “new” in “New 52” no longer applies. Same goes for the “52”, I guess, since it’s been quite some time since there were 52 titles.
Anyway, all of this is beside the point. It’s a major announcement and I promise to recap the announced titles and creative teams, but after that – and far more importantly – I’d like to have a bit of a frank discussion about character, continuity, and why it still pays dividends to look at announcements like these without so much cynicism.
So without further ado, here are June’s 24 new titles:
Batman Beyond – written by Dan Jurgens; art by Bernard Chang
Bat-Mite (6-issue limited) – written by Dan Jurgens; art by Corin Howell
Bizarro (6-issue limited) – written by Heath Corson; art by Gustavo Duarte
Black Canary – written by Brenden Fletcher; art by Annie Wu & Irene Koh
Constantine: The Hellblazer – written by Ming Doyle; art by Riley Rossmo
Cyborg – written by David Walker; art by Ivan Reis
Dark Universe – written by James Tynion IV; art by Ming Doyle
Doomed – written by Scott Lobdell; art by Javier Fernandez
Dr. Fate – written by Paul Levitz; art by Sonny Liew
Earth 2: Society – written by Daniel Wilson; art by Jorge Jimenez
Green Lantern: Lost Army – written by Cullen Bunn; art by Jesus Saiz & Javi Pina
Harley Quinn/Power Girl (6-issue limited) – written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner; art by Stephane Roux
Justice League of America – written by Bryan Hitch; art by Bryan Hitch
Justice League 3001 – written by Keith Giffen; art by Howard Porter
Martian Manhunter – written by Rob Williams; art by Ben Oliver
Midnighter – written by Steve Orlando; art by ACO
Mystic U – written by Alisa Kwitney; art by TBA
Omega Men – written by Tom King; art by Alec Morgan
Prez – written by Mark Russell; art by Ben Caldwell
Red Hood/Arsenal – written by Scott Lobdell; art by Denis Medri
Robin, Son of Batman – written by Patrick Gleason; art by Patrick Gleason
Section Eight (6-issue limited) – written by Garth Ennis; art by John McCrea
Starfire – written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner; art by Emanuela Lupacchino
We Are Robin – written by Lee Bermejo; art by Khary Randolph
That is one heck of a list. My fingers are sore from typing, my mind is sore from thinking, and my heart is sore from beating so loudly.
Of course, anytime any sort of announcement comes out of anywhere, the reactions are going to be mixed both in terms of opinion but also vehemence. This is all well and good, but it’s important to remember that there is never going to be complete consensus on which creative teams are good, which characters deserve their own books, or why others have been “ignored”. What is important is the underlying philosophy of an announcement like this one; one of exploration, of attempt, and of curiosity.
I feel that, too often, we get stuck in our own vision of what the mythology should be. What histories are canonical and which are not; which characters are important and which are not. In a way, these kinds of powerful opinions are an indication of the significance of comic book mythology in our lives – we get riled up and passionate about these things because we care so deeply for them. We are invested in their outcome. And sometimes we may feel betrayed when choices are made that we neither anticipate nor agree with.
But we’re all missing the point.
Comic books in general, and specifically DC Comics, are – and have always been – structured like a true mythology. That is to say, they are a form of oral tradition; each generation adds their voice and their interpretation to the ones that came before them, building up or tearing down the symbols of previous incarnations as they go. And while they have obviously transcended the “oral” component of the tradition, what remains is this idea of inherited storytelling which should be allowed to grow and evolve over time.
Perhaps the physical evidence of the past generations’ stories has become a barrier to our participation in the mythological tradition. Perhaps we crave hard reboots and organized continuity because we can point to specific moments of discrepancy. Perhaps that’s why things like “The New 52” have been so poorly received (at least initially) – they deliberately tell us what is true and what is not despite the fact that we hold the proof of the existence of those apocryphal tales in our hands and in our longboxes.
But for me, reboots and continuity are so hard and fast. In fact, every version of a character remains alive and present to me, in large part due to the fact that the creators of today’s stories are inherently influenced by or rebelling against the ones from the past. And I think an event like Convergence speaks to this idea that histories and stories and memories can never truly be destroyed or erased. They remain bottled somewhere in the back of our minds and inform our experience of the mythology moving forward.
What this means is that when I see an announcement of new titles and no more “New 52”, I don’t groan or argue or shake my fists at the heavens. I’m genuinely enthusiastic. And it has very little to do with what the titles are or who is making them because, as I said, those things are completely and utterly subjective; these titles could be horrible just as they could be transcendent. Rather, I am excited by the idea that new stories are going to be told, new avenues explored, and perhaps we will emerge on the other side with a greater understanding or connection to this mythology for which we care so deeply.
So as you read and re-read and discuss the coming additions to DC’s publishing schedule, try not to dwell on what you love or hate or fear or anticipate. Instead, be thankful that there are people who care about the mythology as much as you do and are willing and courageous enough to add their voices to its long tradition.
Feature Written By: Reid Vanier
“Reid is a comic book fan masquerading as a theatre artist. His love of comics (specifically DC) was inherited by his father’s collections of Flash, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Justice League of America. Reid is now the Editor and Lead Writer of Modern Mythologies.”