A fully revamped DC Universe for a "more modern and diverse 21st century", over 50 new #1 issues, a Geoff Johns-Jim Lee Justice League, and the first of the major comic book publishers to fully embrace "same-day" digital distribution...
That is the breaking news DC Entertainment Tuesday afternoon, finally and officially breaking their silence about their post-Flashpoint plans for their flagship line of comic book titles.
The center of intense rumor and speculation for months now, DC confirmed today that the fictional shared universe of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lanterm and more will undergo a revamp of their oft-rewritten 76 year-plus history of shared continuity.
Geoff Johns promised USA Today "a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC's trademark superteam." "What's the human aspect behind all these costumes?" he tells the publication. "That's what I wanted to explore."
The revamp will reportedly involve "introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character's specific legend but also reflect today's real-world themes and events."
Jim Lee reportedly "spearheaded" the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters "more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old."
"We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line," added co-publisher Dan DiDio. "This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
Along with the revamp, and sure to cause uproar among those who buy comic books as collectibles, all DC Universe titles will also be renumbered with new #1 issues, including the industry's two longest-running titles - Action Comics, the birthplace of Superman - and Detective Comics, the home of Batman and namesake of the publisher - the former of which recently published its 900th issue, with the latter in the 880s.
The first officially announced title and creative team of the new era was revealed as well. DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns will be teaming as artist and writer, respectively, on Justice League #1, launching August 31st and starring Batman, Superman,Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman.
Finally, DC also announced they plan to make all of their titles available for sale in digital format on the same day as their publlished counterparts, starting with Justice League #1. While the decision could probably be described as inevitable, the announcement will still likely be poorly received among some segments of "Direct Market" comic book retailers, whose stores account for the current backbone of monthly comic book sales.
DC has previously taken steps to ease the eventual move to fully same-day digital distribution, announcng in March a partnership with digital distributor comiXology allowing individual retailers to sell digital editions of DC comics through their websites, for a share of the online retail price.
The publisher also sent a letter directly to direct market retailers addressing their announcement. In it, SVP, Sales, DC Entertainment Bob Wayne told retailers, "DC Comics will support this initiative with an innovative mix of publicity, promotional efforts and retailer incentives designed to maximize your opportunity to increase your DC sales. We will discuss additional details of these incentives when we get closer to solicitation later in June."
"We're allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look," Lee said. "Having the ability to give people access to these comics with one button click means we're going to get a lot of new readers."
Lee told USA Today what makes this plan so ambitious is that it's not just about changes in characters or costumes but setting the stage for how comic books will be consumed in the future.
"We're trying to set the table for the DC Universe's future success and health."
More information, including other creative teams, titles, and character changes, is expected with September 2011 solicitations, which should be released Monday June 13, 2011.
Reached for any immediate reaction to DC's new digital publication policy, Marvel Comics declined to comment Tuesday afternoon.
I'm at work, so I'll post more thoughts on this tonight.