DC’s New 52 - Welcome to the ’80s!
DC’s most recent wave of newly announced titles just continued my suspicion that, aside from their main core and Wildstorm titles, they are really striving to go back in their time machine to the 1980s.
The initial wave of titles included “Justice League International,” “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men,” “Blue Beetle,” “Suicide Squad,” “Hawk and Dove,” “Swamp Thing,” “Animal Man,” “Captain Atom,” “DC Universe Presents,” “I, Vampire” and “Demon Knights” which all had similar titles in the ’80s (with “I… Vampire” being the main story that was running in “The House of Mystery” and Etrigan having his own mini-series before launching a full series in 1990). Interestingly enough (to me at least), the original ’80s “Justice League International” title started out as “Justice League” before adding the worldly portion to the title and we were given both names as titles in this wave. Also something to note is that “OMAC” and “Deathstroke” were titles published in 1991, which isn’t so far off from the ’80s.
That’s 13 titles out of 52. Exactly 25% of their new line seemed like revamps from the ’80s.
Even though DC ended up cancelling four of these titles, they filled their gap and then some with their second wave and first major event.
"Earth 2" and "World’s Finest" are the first serialized stories of an alternate Earth’s team since "All-Star Squadron" and "Infinity, Inc." were published in the ’80s and really do replace those titles perfectly. "Night Force" was an original mini-series in 1982 and the "Before Watchmen" event added eight new limited titles spinning out of a 1986 publication.
And now with DC’s third wave, we have “The Phantom Stranger” and “Sword of Sorcery” featuring Amethyst. Both of which also had titles in the ’80s.
It’s true that some of these characters and titles have had other titles sprinkled throughout the ’90s and ’00s as well, but it’s interesting that many of these original titles happened the last time DC did a reboot after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Why so many titles that were around in the ’80s? I see two answers to this.
1.) DC is obviously trying to reclaim the last time they were extremely popular on the newsstands. The ’90s had some major popularity for their major characters, but it all seemed to be small spurts based on events like the death of Superman, the breaking of Batman, the dethroning of Wonder Woman, and the mental breakdown of Hal Jordan. While these definitely sold issues, they seemed short lived and creative teams couldn’t maintain the same amount of audiences afterwards.
2.) History is doomed to repeat itself. Many of these original titles aren’t the ones that you think of when you think about DC Comics in the 1980s. “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man” went on to become favorites and eventually moved to the Vertigo imprint where they seemed to languish with low sales before cancellation. Interesting enough, these are the same two titles out of this current bunch that are doing the best with fans and critics. Quite a few of these other titles have constantly been showing up on short lists whenever DC announces they’ll be cancelling titles. Are they really that far behind?
Should be interesting to see whatever DC’s fourth wave of titles will be and whether or not it will seem to mirror that of what happened 25 years ago.