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DC Comics news: Wonder Woman's new digital series, canned comics and Aquaman

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Wonder Woman to get first major spin-off in over 70 years!

It may be two more years before the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman, but DC Comics announced an inch forward in additional promotion of their internationally recognized heroine. This afternoon, the publisher announced that their next digital-first ongoing series would be "Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman", set to debut on both screens and shops in August. It would follow in the digital traditions of "Adventures of Superman" and "Legends of the Dark Knight" in that it would offer anthology style stories around its' starring heroine which are apart from current continuity and allow a treasure trove of creators to tell their best stories. The initial creative team for the series would be previous "Wonder Woman" writer Gail Simone and artist Ethan Van Sciver, who previously collaborated for "The Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men", and it borrows from Simone's beloved "Birds of Prey" run by having Wonder Woman team up with Oracle to battle the usual gang of Batman baddies. IGN also cites that subsequent creators to work on the series will be "Lauren Beukes, Cecil Castellucci, Amanda Deibert, Caitlin Kittredge, James Tynion IV, Georges Jeanty, Chris Sprouse, and Cat Staggs".

This is an announcement full of ties to previous Wonder Woman history. Although the character, as created by William Moulton Marston, first appeared in "All-Star Comics #8" in December 1941, she would go on to be the lead feature in the "Sensation Comics" anthology series a month later for most of its' decade long run. By the summer of 1942, princess Diana would get her own titular "Wonder Woman" comic, which DC Comics has kept in print ever since. However, despite being the lead feature in the "Sensational Comics" anthology as well as a member of the "Justice Society" superhero team that emerged in "All-Star Comics", Wonder Woman until now has never gotten a secondary ongoing series with her own name in the title. Naturally, her peers such as Superman, Batman, and even Green Lantern all gained such spin-offs many years sooner. The closest she got was the occasional mini-series or one-shot for her teenage sidekick, "Wonder Girl", throughout the last few decades. DC Comics have long used their digital-first format to allow creators to branch out with different sorts of stories for Batman and Superman, including mining fans of "Batman Beyond" and "Batman '66" with their own comics. There was speculation online that a "Wonder Woman '75" series (inspired by the famous TV series starring Lynda Carter) was due to arise, but this format instead allows stories from all of the character's storied history.

In addition, the choice of Gail Simone as the lead writer for the opening issue is a rare wise move taken by DC Comics' editorial board. Not only has Simone written "Wonder Woman" for at least two years in the recent past (2008-2010), but she co-wrote the 2009 direct-to-video (DTV) animated feature "Wonder Woman". Despite what some sources (even official ones from DC Entertainment) claim about sales for that DTV feature, it remains one of the best selling out of the twenty that Warner Brothers home video have released since 2007. To be specific, at over $7.5 million in sales, it ranks sixth out of those twenty DTV features, outselling quite a few Batman, Superman, or Justice League discs despite being sold before the blu-ray format became widespread. This is hopefully a rare sign that DC Comics and DC Entertainment overall have realized the growing strength of appealing to fans outside of the "young straight teenage male" demographic that they usually strive for.

Six titles axed come August!

Considering that DC Comics has begun to imitate Marvel Comics' game of "cancellation before relaunch" with "Teen Titans", it can be hard to take some cancellation solicitations literally anymore. That said, the six titles slated to end by the end of summer are among the lowest selling of DC Comics' "New 52" slate and it is assumed that not all will return. The series which are dead comics walking are: "All-Star Western", "Superboy", "Batwing", "Birds of Prey", "Trinity of Sin: Pandora" and "Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger". The latter two were launched during last year's crossover event and could easily be said to have run their course. DC Comics have invested in a "Jonah Hex" or other western comic for several years now, and things may have finally reached critical mass. "Batwing" was a spin-off of "Batman Incorporated" which launched with the "New 52" in fall 2011, while both "Birds of Prey" and "Superboy" have fallen from their prime.

Upcoming new series set to replace these are the aforementioned "Teen Titans" relaunch as well as "Grayson" (a relaunch of "Nightwing"), "New Suicide Squad" (a relaunch of "Suicide Squad") and "Infinity Man and the Forever People" (the latest vanity project by Dan DiDio).

"Aquaman" finally gets his own (animated) movie!

At the end of Warner Brothers' home video release "Justice League: War", there was a teaser hinting at a possible sequel involving some underwater development. Since then, Newsarama has learned from their industry sources that an upcoming animated DTV will have "Aquaman" in the title (perhaps as "Justice League: the Aquaman Tsunami") which will likely be an origin story told within the "New 52" universe that DC Entertainment is attempting to maintain throughout their media properties. Samuel Witwer, a long time voice actor and character actor, has been confirmed as the voice of Orm/Ocean Master within it.

The last time Aquaman got any project, animated or otherwise, with his name in it was 1967 when "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" aired on CBS. Since then the character went on to become the butt of jokes after his tenure on "Superfriends" despite having many long ongoing series runs in the comics. His latest champion has been writer/chief creative officer Geoff Johns, who has done much to reintroduce him to modern fans in much the same way he did for Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. Bruce Timm reportedly wanted to produce an "Aquaman" animated DTV years ago, but Warner Home Video always nixed his appeals. The next animated DTV due up is "Batman: Son of Batman".

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