"Teen Titans: Earth One" leads original graphic novel push!
One of the advantages many observers of comic book affairs have often conceded to DC Comics in comparison to its' "marvelous" competitor, it was an acknowledgement if not an embracing of the graphic novel business. Although DC Comics often allows trade collections of many runs to go out of print for years at a time (i.e. "Secret Six"), they have long cultivated a library of "evergreen" sellers at book stores, such as "Watchmen" and a lot of "Vertigo" series (i.e. "Sandman"). To this end came the "Earth One" initiative to offer graphic novels of top level creative talent being allowed to tell their own interpretations of iconic characters exclusively for audiences outside of the weekly comic book crowd. The first, "Superman: Earth One" by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, was released in October 2010 and peaked at the top of the New York Times' bestseller list of hardcovers. The second was "Batman: Earth One" by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank in July 2012, with a second volume of "Superman: Earth One" later hitting stores in October of that year. All garnered media attention and sold very well in bookstores as well as comic shops.
After a year without any new "Earth One" releases, DC Comics have made announcements that the graphic novel line will see a push both this year and the next. This will be led by "Teen Titans: Earth One" by Jeff Lemire and artists Terry and Rachael Dodson, which debuts on November 19th. As with all "Earth One" novels, the franchise depicted is open to the unique interpretation of the creative team with the format rewarding long scale storytelling. To this end, the premise is that the "Teen Titans" form in a world without any adult superheroes whatsoever. Lemire claims his work for the book had been done since 2013, and that it has a clear, movie style narrative. The team roster, as per both Lemire and the cover, are Cyborg, Changeling/Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, Jericho, and Terra. As this is a world without any adult heroes or sidekicks, big "franchise" characters like Robin, Wonder Girl or Aqualad don't exist. Lemire admitted an influence by the George Perez/Marv Wolfman and that Jericho's father, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, would have a presence in the story. The choice of this franchise as the third "Earth One" series is perhaps and acknowledgement that the "Teen Titans" have broken through the mainstream barrier not only with a five season cartoon series on Cartoon Network from 2001-2006, but a secondary primary series, "Teen Titans GO!", getting a second season and being the lone survivor of what was once the "DC Nation" animated block.
In addition, co-publisher Dan DiDio noted that the ideal is to have more "Earth One" releases coming out every quarter after "Teen Titans: Earth One" kicks off in November. The third volume of "Superman: Earth One" is due in 2015, with perennial writer J. Michael Straczynski teaming up with new artist Ardian Syaf to continue along with the most successful of these graphic novels so far. The second volume of "Batman: Earth One" by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank is also due in 2015, although no specific date has been set. It has also been confirmed that the long delayed "Wonder Woman: Earth One" by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette is still "in production" but it doesn't even have a release year yet. That production was once called "All-Star Wonder Woman", and has recently been re-titled as "Wonder Woman: the Trial of Diana Prince", has stretched on for nearly three years (and counting). Writer Greg Rucka once revealed that the gig was once promised to him before being handed to Morrison, which was the final straw towards his leaving of DC Comics in general a few years back. As these graphic novels are all at least 120 pages long, roughly as long as six issues of a monthly comic book series, it takes longer to produce than most shorter comic books. With the "New 52" era still dividing fans of the monthly serials, these long form graphic novels offer larger chunks of story for wider audiences.
Cree superhero Equinox to debut in "Justice League United"!
The latest "Justice League" spin off title, "Justice League United", is set to debut next month, written by hot DC Comics writer Jeff Lemire. Set in Canada, Lemire not only will write a roster of well known characters such as Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, Green Arrow, Stargirl, Supergirl, and Animal Man, but would invent a new heroine of the culture of the "native" peoples of Canada, the Cree. Named Equinox, her real name is Miiyahbin and she hails from the Moose Factory community in Ontario, Canada. Her powers fluctuate and change with the seasons. The creation of the heroine was inspired by the life of Shannen Koostachin, a teenage activist who lobbied for "First Nation" rights in Canada until her untimely death in a car crash in 2010, just shy of her sixteenth birthday.
On the positive side, her costume and design are quite tasteful and she is neither a tracker/hunter or a user of shaman-style magic like virtually all of DC Comics other "Native American" style super heroes. On the negative side, she is literally the only character of color on the entire team, unless one counts the green skinned Martian. Although it seems horribly backward, the idea of "diversity" is still a "new thing" to "big two" comics like DC Comics, even if hard numbers suggest it is long overdue. The first two issues of "Ms. Marvel" by their competitor, featuring a Muslim-American super heroine, have proven to be a top seller on ComiXology both in the U.S. and abroad.