DC bets big on Rebirth: A re-centering of characters, and the Joker's real name

DC Comics, on the heels of stellar box office but disappointing reviews for Warner Bros.’ “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” took to the stage at WonderCon to reveal their Rebirth lineup, a comic book event the company has long been trumpeting.

Rebirth is a comic event that will run through many of DC's top titles. Not a reboot like the previous New 52 initiative, but a relaunch of over 50 titles that will not throw away recent history but hopes to "right the ship" in terms of editorial direction.

New creative teams will be taking over many titles while some will remain but be relaunched with No. 1s. Rebirth will be publishing twice monthly on key characters, and the price of the books will be brought down to $2.99.

But before any announcements were underway, there was an apology. Co-publisher Dan Didio addressed the DC-centric crowd, giving a mea culpa on The New 52, which relaunched many core titles. Though it did "some good things," said Didio, it seemed that feedback from the fans, mixed with concern coming from creators, caused the powers that be to rethink every title and character in the comics stable.

“We talked about the New 52, but something was missing. You felt it, and over time, we felt it too,” said Didio. “Why? Well, sometimes you lose your way. The whole purpose [of this event] is to show you, the fans, our commitment to you.”

During the panel, co-publisher Jim Lee explained the look of the new comics, and shared designs for the lineup -- including ones for Batman, Superman, a female Latina Green Lantern, and a goateed Green Arrow (which elicited a huge cheer from the crowd).

“Every great Green Arrow story, he had a goatee,” said Johns.

After the introduction of Rebirth, the new creators took the stage in families to give a one-liner or two about the books they were on. The Bat-family of books, the Superman family, the Justice League family and more were each represented by artists and writers who would be guiding this rebirth. Here were a few takeaways from the nearly two-hour-long gathering.

  • Tom King is taking over "Batman," and "Batman Rebirth" seems like a perfect match. The ex-CIA member hoped to delve into what makes Batman go as close to the edge as he does, and what pulls him back. Just like he did for the government. He was also happy about the “Batman boot camp” that Batman and Batwoman would jointly run as leaders of separate teams.
  • The controversial title of the Rebirth story for Nightwing is “Better Than Batman.” Nice. And it will be written by Tim Seeley with art by Javi Fernandez and Marcus To.
  • Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, writers on “The 100,” take over “Batgirl and the Birds of Prey.” They promise a storyline where they will track down who is impersonating Oracle.
  • Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr. will team up for “All-Star Batman." Romita Jr. called it “the most fun you can with your clothes on.” Snyder wanted this Batman to be way out there too. In a Harvey Dent storyline, he described a cross-country trip that Dent and Batman have as "Mad Max"-like.
  • The cover to Action Comics got some gasps from the crowd as you see Superman battling a Superman-suit-clad Lex Luthor. Lex will be vying to be Metropolis’ Superman whle Kal-El is off in other countries. Dan Jurgens will continue the story of "Superman: Lois and Clark."
  • Gene Luen Yang’s "New Superman" will take a trip to China -- Shanghai to be exact, but he’s not the main character here. Kenji Khan gets infused with Superman’s power... But he doesn’t have Superman’s mind or emotions.
  • A “Star Wars” moment for Kara Zor-El. It is revealed that Cyborg Superman is her father. Definitely more to come on this from new "Supergirl" writer Steve Orlando.
  • Batgirl will be penned by Hope Larson, which the Internet promptly freaked out about in a happy way. 
  • "Blue Beetle" will feature two Blue Beetles -- Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord.
  • Greg Rucka is coming back to Wonder Woman. “How do you say no to Diana? You really couldn’t,” said Rucka. The book will have stories running simultaneously with different artists. ”Wonder Woman: Lies” and “Wonder Woman: Year One.”
  • Two Green Lantern rookies (a reluctant Jessica Cruz, and a gung-ho Simon Baz) will be helping out the "Justice League" by Tony S. Daniel and Fernando Pasarin.
  • And speaking of a duo of Green Lanterns, comics "Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps" will be written by Robert Venditti with art by Ethan Van Sciver And Rafa Sandoval. And "Green Lanterns" will come from Sam Humphries and Geoff Johns.
  • And, oh yeah, there's going to be a second Justice League book in the Rebirth, "Justice League America," coming in September.
  • In "Flash," led by writer Joshua Williamson, a speed force storm will bring lots of new speedster into existence. Flash artists include Carmine Di Giandomenico and Neil Googe. 
  • Where does the soul of the machine end and the soul of man start? John Semper plans to go to a dark place with "Cyborg" and explore the fact that he’s a black man living in Detroit. With art by Will Conad and Paul Pelletier.
  • "Aquaman" will be penned by Dan Abnett and Brad Walker with art by Walker, Jesus Merino And Phil Briones. The gang hopes to integrate Atlantis into society, with help from Mera.
  • What is the name of the Joker? It will be answered.
  • Christopher Priest will take over "Deathstroke."
  • James Tynion IV is writing "Detective Comics."
  • The “Harley Quinn” team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor both toyed with the idea of doing a Harley Quinn “Afterbirth” book instead of a rebirth.
  • Red Hood, Bizarro and Artemis will form a reverse Trinity of sorts.
  • The return of Terry McGuinness in “Batman Beyond” was loudly cheered. And it will be penned by Dan Jurgens with art by Bernard Chang.
  • The Teen Titans, written by Ben Percy with art by Jonboy Meyers, may end up being Robin vs the Titans because Damien Wayne wants to lead. 

In the post-panel press conference, Didio explained a bit about why he felt the need to apologize, saying that you have to admit when things aren’t going well. He used an example of him being at New York Comic-Con on a panel, and feeling a weird sensation when no asked him one question about story. He knew something was wrong.

Storytelling was also brought up post-panel. And how the medium and the manner in which we tell stories has changed, and how the books and the business should reflect those changes. That means organic diversity in the books and in the creators who write and draw those books. This may cause character changes, etc., but the heart of the character, what made them popular in the first place, never really changes. The market and society are not stagnant, and “the readership hasn’t finished evolving yet, either,” says Didio.

The Rebirth title lineup was announced as follows:

June

Rebirth specials:

"Aquaman Rebirth" #1
"Batman Rebirth" #1
"The Flash Rebirth" #1
"Green Arrow Rebirth" #1
"Green Lanterns Rebirth" #1
"Superman Rebirth" #1
"Titans Rebirth" #1
"Wonder Woman Rebirth" #1
 
New #1 issues (shipping twice monthly):

"Aquaman" #1
"Batman" #1
"The Flash" #1
"Green Arrow" #1
"Green Lanterns" #1
"Superman" #1
"Wonder Woman" #1
 
New issues (shipping twice monthly):
"Action Comics" #957
"Detective Comics" #934
 
July

Rebirth specials:
"Batgirl & The Birds Of Prey Rebirth" #1
"Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth" #1
"The Hellblazer Rebirth" #1
"Justice League Rebirth" #1
"Nightwing Rebirth" #1
"Red Hood & The Outlaws Rebirth" #1
 
New #1 issues (shipping twice monthly):
"Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps" #1
"Justice League" #1
"Nightwing" #1
 
New #1 issues (shipping monthly):

"Batgirl" #1
"Batgirl & The Birds Of Prey" #1
"The Hellblazer" #1
"Red Hood & The Outlaws" #1
"The Super-Man" #1
"Titans" #1
 
Fall

Rebirth Specials:
"Batman Beyond Rebirth" #1
"Blue Beetle Rebirth" #1
"Cyborg Rebirth" #1
"Deathstroke Rebirth" #1
"Earth 2 Rebirth" #1
"Suicide Squad Rebirth" #1
"Supergirl Rebirth" #1
"Teen Titans Rebirth" #1
"Trinity Rebirth" #1
 
New #1 issues (shipping twice monthly):
"Cyborg" #1
"Deathstroke" #1
"Harley Quinn" #1
"Justice League America" #1
"Suicide Squad" #1
 
New #1 issues (Shipping Monthly):

"Batman Beyond" #1
"Blue Beetle" #1
"Earth 2" #1
"Gotham Academy: Next Semester" #1
"Supergirl" #1
"Superwoman" #1
"Super Sons" #1
"Teen Titans" #1
"Trinity" #1

Follow me on Twitter: @Storiz

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