DC Announces Earth One Superman and Batman Graphic Novels

Monday, December 07, 2009

Let's talk about DC Comics: Earth One.

The first thing to do is separate the medium from the message. The "message," or content, here is a brand-new DC Comics continuity, set on a new DC "earth," with new origins for Superman and Batman. About this aspect alone, I have reservations. Leaving aside the other aspects of DC: Earth One, this makes for the third new origin of Superman in the last ten years; it just gets repetitive. I echo Kelson that the public already knows these origins already, and to rewrite over and over again with minor tweaks doesn't break new ground, but rather just makes the characters feel stale and the comics companies seem like they can't say anything new with the characters.

That said, I'm rather eager to see Geoff Johns take what, if I'm not mistaken, is his first shot at a Batman solo title.

I also have to quibble with the name, "Earth One." Well, we know that the established DC Comics continuity made up of 52 earths, with the main continuity called "New Earth"; should readers take from the name that this new continuity takes place on Earth-1 of the 52 (which I thought had already been established as something else in Trinity)? Else, unless the multiverse concept will have resonance in these new books, why call it Earth One at all? i imagine this is supposed to be some take on "Year One," but having "Earth" in these seems unnecessarily confusing.

That said ...

I am so very, very excited about this announcement. Consider this: original graphic novels -- trades, TPBs, whatever you want to call them -- about DC Comics superheroes, set in their own continuity. That is, not Elseworlds or specials or Prestige Format one-shots, but books set in a (if not the) continuity. Books that build on one another, books that follow one another, and books that cross over (or why else have continuity?).

What excites me is that for the first time, this very blog (and wait-for-traders all over the Internet) could talk about a new Superman or Batman adventure that's part of continuity (well, a continuity) right when it comes out. That is, the Earth One books, at last, won't be collections of books that everyone else has already read -- instead they'll be new, brand new, in graphic novel format.

Comic Book Resources quotes Geoff Johns that the plan is for two novels every year. My sense is that what DC has announced is much like how manga is produced -- not individual issues, but collected volumes -- but that manga volumes come out at a much faster rate. It seems to me that if the first volume is the origin of Superman and Batman, and the second volume introduces some villains ... we'll be at volume four before we really start getting in to meaty stories. I'm happy about this, but would it be too much to hope for perhaps three volumes a year? That way, by the end of the second year, the titles can start feeding in to an Earth One Justice League ...

Bottom line, I consider this a red-letter day, and a great step forward for lovers of collected comics. Keep following Collected Editions, and we'll have more on Earth One as it's revealed. How fun!

What do you think of DC Comics: Earth One? What's the next title you'd like to see after Superman and Batman? Chime in!
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  1. So basically, this is Ultimate DC (moreso than All-Star turned out to be, anyway). I like the concept of having fewer, chunkier volumes coming out, though I think two a year is fine for now. Even less would be better, IMO. If it's not part of the DC Multiverse as we know it (and not explicitly a reboot of Earth-1 characters) the name seems confusing already...

    I'll trust Johns with a new Batman universe, but my hopes are pretty low on Straczynski, considering how quickly and badly Supreme Power burned out.

  2. Supreme Power doesn't come up in Straczynski's interview with Ain't It Cool News, but he blames delays for some of his series on Marvel, and takes other blame on himself, and then essentially says that DC didn't announce until they were just about done on this one, so here's hoping.

    I think it's hard, I saw cautiously, to be late on a graphic novel. But then again, we're still hoping for New Teen Titans: Games one day ...

  3. I dont know what to think about the earth one series of trades, the talent is great and i will buy them but i'll have to see'em then comment.

    also e-1 jla, aquaman, doom patrol and legion of super heroes would be cool

  4. New origin for Superman... again? No, please... I don´t mind if Johns' Secret Origin is different because it's the "official" one: I'm pretty sure I don´t want to read ANOTHER new origin for Superman at all.

    Anyway: JMS already did a good work telling us the origin for Superman in Supreme Power. I don´t need anymore from him.

  5. Much as I understand the push for Wonder Woman: Earth One, Justice League offers more universe-building potential. Aquaman, eh? I can see that one, too -- but ANOTHER Legion origin would be worse, I think, than another Superman origin.

    Agreed the timing on this announcement of a new Superman origin, while Secret Origin is going on, is crazy-making. Eyes on the prize, though -- a SERIES of GRAPHIC NOVELS! Fantastic!

  6. As someone that never buys a monthly floppy, I look forward to this alot....

    There is something the TPB reader misses, which is being able to buy something and take it home and read it NOW. As we know it can take ages for a story to be collected and released, then maybe not in the right order that it should be read in relation to the other books (Sites like this help with that).

    I look forward to the thursday I can go down to the comic shop and buy this, then read it on my way home without checking I don't have to read something else forst for it to make sense...

    Johns doing batman makes it essential alone:)

  7. Exactly. Consider today's announcement of the next big Superman event. I now know, in essence, exactly what Superman: New Krypton builds up to, before I even really started reading the New Krypton series proper; I also know what the next event is after Blackest Night before I've read Blackest Night.

    I still look forward to both of those series, but it does get diminished, just a little bit; with Earth One, as you say, I can buy this, read it, and be on exactly the same page as everyone else. That alone is very exciting.

  8. I guess the only disappointing part of this news is seeing Shane Davis do Superman art. The only time I've seen Davis's art was on Rage of the Red Lanterns, and Red Lantern designs aside I thought it was rather uninspired. But that's just me. Otherwise I think it's about time DC did a series of OGNs.

  9. "What's the next title you'd like to see after Superman and Batman?"

    I've been thinking and these seem to make sense:
    Wonder Woman: Grant Morisson + Cameron Stewart
    Green Lantern: Warren Ellis + Andy Clarke
    Flash: Dan Slott + Sean Chen
    - There's no reason that either the Flash or Green Lantern need to be a man or Barry Allen/Hal Jordan. If one/both of them are female (I mean, there are 4 guys who can overcome fear but no girls, come on!) then you can appeal more to female manga readers as well - people used to the schedule.

  10. At first, I was really excited. I thought "what a good thing, this can help with getting folks into comics more and people have been saying for a while that this was the way to go to reach more". I felt maybe they were taking steps in the right direction.

    Then I went to comic discussion forums and had the hopes and delight crushed by resentment, pessimism and prickliness.

    I hate fellow comic fans a lot sometimes...

  11. I really think this is great. Everyone is bitching but this is an alternate take on All Star Line but done well.

    Johns on Batman? I´m in!

  12. Indeed I've been disheartened by all the negative response to the Earth One idea, and again I think it goes to "good idea, bad presentation." Most everyone's caught up in the "origins" aspect of this, with the original graphic novels aspect as a secondary consideration.

    I remain very excited about Earth One. Especially in view of the Superman and Batman announcements of yesterday and today, which clue trade-readers in on the end of storylines we've only just begun to read, I love even more the idea of a book, with continuity, that I'll get to read at the same time as everyone else. Love it, love it, love it, and the difficulties with the announcement do nothing to detract from that.

    But, with all the troubles, I'm lead to wonder now how DC could have handled the Earth One concept differently, such that there would have been a cry of joy, rather than derision, across the Internet. Here's what I've come up with so far:

    1) Not Origins: Superman and Batman original graphic novels that take place in a self-contained continuity that starts in the character's first year. So, Superman is already Superman and Batman is already Batman, albeit early on, and the story spins out from there.

    2) Other Established Continuity: DC's last take on the Tangent Universe fell very flat, but I still think Tangent is a viable franchise. DC could have announced a couple of Tangent graphic novels, maybe with the promise of some tie into the DC Universe proper down the line -- I imagine this doesn't have the cache of Superman or Batman graphic novels, but it carries less of the baggage, too.

    3) Do It in the DCU: While Earth One is nice, this is the real brass ring: original graphic novels set in DC Comics main continuity and connecting to other titles. I've long since though that Manhunter was a great candidate for this, but Blue Beetle or any other of the second-feature titles (even the Red Circle or Milestone characters) would be a good candidate. Give a writer six months, let the end of the book tie in some way into DC's next big event, and take a book that might otherwise have come out in single issues and make a graphic novel instead. Again, would the market support Manhunter graphic novels rather than Superman? Not sure. But if Earth One works, this is where we're ultimately aiming, anyway.

    (And Fayzan's idea of, after Superman and Batman, letting other characters veer farther away from our established ideas of Green Lantern, Flash, etc.) is also an interesting one).

    Other ideas?

  13. I think it's a cool idea - I'm actually kinda interested in seeing if this is the beginning of the "restructuring" DC and Warners hinted at in September, about getting their properties ready for the big screen? I do think this might have more to do with the movies on the cards at Warners than anything else.

    Everyone's been going on about the comparisons to the Ultimate line, and what I see as one of the biggest benefits of that line was how Marvel seems to be using them as a springboard to the movies. If DC is playing catch-up, is this the first step?

    Or maybe the "continuity reboot" aspect is simply intended to appeal to people who wanted to read a Batman comic coming out of The Dark Knight and discovered some weird metaphysical death/rebirth two-year-arc going on.

    If this is related to the movies, we'll see an Earth One Green Lantern next year and possibly the announcement of a Superman movie shortly.