Jan 31, 2019
DC’s Convergence re-relaunch: Top 5 titles to look forward to
In a way, I admire DC’s determination. Three years ago, they all but relaunched their entire superhero universe from scratch, with new origins, new costumes, and new relationships between characters. It was exhilarating. It was also, in a lot of cases, confusing and infuriating.
Whereas some characters got complete do-overs, others like Hal Jordan were barely touched; nobody really seemed to know what did and didn’t count anymore (to this day, I’m still not sure if Tim Drake was ever a Robin); writers and artists came and went with alarming regularity, and there was just the faint smell of editorial meddling about the whole thing, as though the people who were meant to be working on the characters were being kept on an overly tight leash by the people behind the scenes.
There were exceptions, like Snyder and Capullo’s Batman, which I think will be looked back on in years’ time as one of the most important runs on a Batman book ever. But there’s no denying the bloom came off the rose pretty bloody quickly where the whole New 52 thing was concerned.
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It would have been easy for DC to chuck in the towel, go back to the old universe, and pretend like this whole thing never happened. But sod that. Instead, following “Convergence”, their big two-month event starting in April (don’t ask me what it’s about; everything I’ve read about it gives me a headache), they’re knuckling down and trying to do this thing right: some books are getting new number ones, almost all are getting new creative teams, and a bunch of new characters are being given a chance at ongoing title success.
I’m quite excited all over again, especially when I look at the new books coming. So I decided to celebrate the whole thing by doing what most people do on the internet when they want to talk about anything: I made a list. Everyone likes a good list. Specifically, I made a list of the top 5 titles I’m most excited about among all the new launches coming this summer.
5: Constantine: The Hellblazer
This one goes low on the positive list, because on the surface, there’s not much for me to get excited about. I’m not overly familiar with the creative team of Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV, and Riley Rossmo. Tynion I know from co-writing a few recent Batman stories, but that’s about it.
On top of that, John Constantine was one of the characters the New 52 utterly ballsed up, removing him from the “anything goes” nature of a mature readers’ Vertigo title and utterly defanging him in the process. But this is one of those times when I’m going to allow myself to have hope: Doyle and Tynion make all the right noises when being interviewed about this comic, and if nothing else, the return of the word “Hellblazer” (which Word refuses to accept as a word, incidentally) to the title could also foreshadow the return to the kind of stories that saw, among other things, Constantine kill a wounded man by talking him into dying. Or it could be a load of pandering. I’m choosing to hope for the best. I’m like that.
Speaking of characters who got the short end of the reboot stick, here’s Starfire: iconic former member of the Teen Titans, positive female role model, and a popular part of DC’s animated universe, thanks to her role in various Titans cartoons.
So of course, DC decided the Starfire of the New 52 would be best served being portrayed as a sexed-up vixen who hung out with borderline criminals. Maybe that’s still what she’ll be in this ongoing, but I think someone somewhere may have wised up, partly based on that cover image, which is all sunshine and fun and reminds me of Jem and the Holograms (in the best way possible), but also due to the fact that her solo adventures are going to be written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, the duo behind the most recent Harley Quinn monthly, which got positive word of mouth and was fun and irreverent in a way nothing else DC has put out recently has been. Given all the critical success Marvel has received from female-fronted books of late, this could be DC’s chance to get a piece of that.
3: Batman Beyond
To me, this book is a work of flawed genius just for existing. I say flawed genius, because if they go where it looks like they’re going with it (warning: spoilers imminent), it could backfire in a huge way, but in any case, it’ll be interesting.
For those not in the know—which, given this is a geek website, probably isn’t many of you, but screw it, let’s pretend my mom accidentally stumbled across this—Batman Beyond was a short-lived but insanely-loved cartoon from the makers of the peerless Batman: The Animated Series. Set years in the future, it had an old Bruce Wayne training a lad by the name of Terry McGuinness to be the Batman of that time. While it didn’t have the lifespan of the original Batman cartoon, it was a fine piece of work and has a rabid fan base to this day.
There have been Batman Beyond comics in the past, but until recently, DC has held off making Terry’s exploits official canon. Unfortunately, having him interact with the DC Universe proper is where the slight bump in the road approaches: if all hints are correct (final spoiler warning, I mean it), it seems McGuinness isn’t going to be long for this world, being replaced by another pre-existing character in the suit. The smart money is on Tim Drake.
Personally, I really like this idea; I had no real attachment to Terry, and really want to see Tim take on a bigger role in the expanded Batman universe. I could very easily be in the minority, and a McGuinness-less Batman Beyond title could fail miserably. But if nothing else, with Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang handling the writing and art respectively, it’ll probably be good however long it lasts.
2: Robin: Son of Batman
When the New 52 was announced, I was shocked to not see a solo Robin title in there. Grifter got a book. Batwing got a book. The Legion of Super-Heroes got two. Hawk and Dove—Hawk and Dove—got a book. Robin didn’t get a book.
I eventually came to the conclusion that this was because the most recent Robin, Damien Wayne, divided Batman fans too much for DC to risk it at the time. If that’s why, then I can understand. Even as someone who likes him, I’ll admit Damien is occasionally a… difficult character to get behind. DC probably decided they had to make people feel for him and want to see more of him before they made the leap. Which they did in the most comic book way possible: they killed him off.
They took him away from people, made them miss him, then gave him back in a blaze of glory with a bunch of new superpowers, ready to prop up an ongoing. I’ll be honest: I can’t wait for this book. It promises to be more fantastical than any Robin book has ever been before. Plus, as someone who likes seeing artists given the chance to write, the fact that Patrick Gleason, formerly the artist on Batman & Robin, gets to handle both tasks has me more intrigued than I already was. The only thing that could ruin this is Damien Wayne himself. Come on, lad, don’t spoil a good thing for yourself.
1: We Are Robin
I thought I had this book figured out the minute I saw the title. I thought this was going to be a simple team book featuring everyone who’s ever worn a Robin suit. That prospect alone made my eyes light up. I love a good Robin story, me. But from the sounds of things, that’s not what this is.
Not that there won’t be any Robins past or present running around, but from what’s being said, this comic is going to be about how Robin has become a hero to the youth of Gotham, inspiring them to rise up and fight back when everything goes truly tits up. It’s going to be gritty, yet hopeful. It’s going to draw on current events and explore themes such as community and social indifference. More so than any on this list, this comic sounds like it could only exist in the year 2015. If it pulls off everything it sounds like the writer Lee Bermejo wants to, We Are Robin could be the most current and exciting book being put out by a mainstream publisher.
That was nice, wasn’t it? A lovely little positive piece aimed at getting you all excited about comic books. Now come back next time for another list, where I complain about all the DC re-relaunch titles that I’m dreading.