It's not uncommon for comic book companies to revamp their lines by restarting their most popular franchises. Titles like Marvel's X-Men, or DC's Justice League have thirty - forty- fifty years of history behind them and in a time when the Big Two have been slamming readers over and over with major crossover event after major cross over even, newer readers can find them lost in continuity, such as it applies to the comic universes. It's become fairly standard for companies to launch 'alternate' lines with their stable of characters in new monthly issues under the guise of other dimensions, other worlds, or simply out of continuity tales - Marvel's Ultimate line and DC's All-Star books being the prime examples.
DC, however, announced today, that they were taking a bold new approach with their new line of Earth One comes, re-exploring the origins and early adventures of their two heavy hitters - The Man of Steel, and The World's Greatest Detective. That's right, all-new, all-different Superman and Batman stories are going to bring these icons to a new generation of readers, on a brand new Earth.
These aren't going to be dished out in twenty-two page nuggets once a month. DC is releasing these stories as self contained graphic novels!
You heard me! Starting next year, DC Comics will unveil SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE and BATMAN: EARTH ONE, two graphic novels spotlighting the most powerful heroes of the DC Universe, with their first years and earliest moments retold in a standalone, original graphic novel format, on a new earth with an all-new continuity.
Batman Character Study by Gary Frank
Return to Smallville and experience the journey of Earth’s greatest adopted son, as he grows from boy to Superman in SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE by J. Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis. In an interview with Aintitcoolnews.com JMS offered his take on this most iconic and beloved character. “What I’m trying to do is to dig in to the character and look at him through modern eyes. If you were to create the Superman story today, for the first time, but keep intact all that works, what would it look like?”
“It is monumental for us as comic readers to see Superman birthed for the first time," Davis adds. “It’s a privilege to realize that you’re the artist that gets to draw it, better yet having the luxury to do it in an original graphic novel. This is going to be epic!”
What's Supes without his Bats, of course? So the companion novel in this new venture can only be BATMAN: EARTH ONE, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank. Watch from the darkest corners of Crime Alley as a young boy is struck by unbelievable tragedy that will forge the greatest crime-fighter to ever stalk the rooftops of Gotham City in all new stories with some brand new faces joining the already familiar rogues' gallery of the Dark Knight.
Writer, Geoff Johns promises, "Our Batman is a decidedly different Batman yet it is, of course, Bruce Wayne. I want to let the book will speak for itself, but Batman, Alfred, Detective Gordon, Arkham Manor, the twisted origin behind Gotham City, the Bat-Mobile and, of course, the world’s greatest group of villains are all a part of the world we’re creating. Some of it the characters will more closely resemble the classic interpretations while others will be wildly different. We’re introducing a lot of new characters and elements to this Batman. The first graphic novel features an entirely new villain."
Now, releasing stories in graphic novel form instead of monthlies is not actually a new idea. In the oversees market, particularly in Asia's manga sales, the so called graphic novel form is actually more common and more acceptable, taking comic books out of the hands of children, and placing them into legitimate literature status. Several independents here in the States have attempted the same sort of format, but rarely on an ongoing status. DC aims at two novels for each title a year, each set in this unique universe, each promising new opportunities impossible in current continuity.
Will this gambit pay off? As comic prices rise and comic sales plummet, will a format that provides a sudden higher investment make more sense than one that requires less immediate but more constant cash flow? Only time will tell. One thing is certain. We're in for an adventure.