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Superman and Batman each get a fresh start, new graphic novel series in 2010


Preliminary artwork for Superman: Earth One by Shane Davis

While all comics publishers are surely planning to launch new initiatives in the coming year, DC may be the only publisher planning to launch a whole new earth

Announced earlier today at The Source, DC will be launching a brand new continuity for its biggest stars, Superman and Batman, in 2010.Each will be getting a new, ongoing graphic novel series set in the virgin world of Earth One. From the announcement

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.

The creative teams for each book were also announced. J. Michael Straczynski - hot off his critically acclaimed run on Thor - and Shane Davis will helm Superman: Earth One, while DC's golden boy, Geoff Johns, and his frequent partner, artist Gary Frank, take on Batman: Earth One. In an interview with Ain't It Cool News, Straczynski and Johns discuss freedom from continuity and plans to modernize each character's origin story.

If new continuity plus a star-studded creative team sounds like a vaguely familiar formula for a new comic book series, it should. This approach has yielded some of the best superhero comics of the past decade, such as Ultimate Spider-Man and All Star Superman.

What's more interesting is DC's decision to launch this new Earth One continuity as an ongoing graphic novel series rather than in the traditional, serialized pamphlet format. This seems to be an attempt to grab the attention of the growing bookstore audience by giving them a series not weighed down by decades of continuity that is meant to be read as "books" - similar to popular genre book series such as Harry Potter - rather than in 22-page increments.

It will be interesting to see how DC goes about marketing this new project and letting the bookstore audience know that these books are DC's attempt to court them. Ultimate Spider-Man was probably more successful in gaining new Spider-Man readers from within the community that already reads superhero comics than it was from without because that community already knows how to tell the difference between an "Ultimate," a "Spectacular," and an "Amazing." DC is going to have to go to great lengths in order to make Earth One stand apart from the plethora of other superhero titles on bookstore shelves.