Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016: Dedicated Issue: DC Entertainment

DC Comics: DC Universe Rebirth Graphic Novels

Editors' Note

DC Entertainment

In this issue, with the support of DC Entertainment, Shelf Awareness celebrates the DC Universe: Rebirth stories, which begin appearing in book form early in the new year.

DC Comics: DC Universe: Rebirth: The Deluxe Edition by Geoff Johns

Books & Authors

DC Universe: Rebirth

With great fanfare, DC Entertainment's Rebirth program was born earlier this year, featuring the company's lineup of iconic superheroes in completely new stories that combine the characters and stories beloved by fans for many decades with fresh and diverse new perspectives while addressing contemporary social and cultural issues. The Rebirth series spans DC Entertainment's superheroes--among them, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, the Green Lantern and Aquaman--and creates a cohesive universe, setting the stage for years of DC Entertainment superhero stories.

Now those stories are being launched in book form, first with DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition, a hardcover that features behind-the-scenes and character sketches of the DC: Rebirth universe. (More on this title below.) Then in January, the first stories from the relaunched titles will begin appearing in paperback collected editions, each focusing on different superheroes. (More on these titles below.)

Dan DiDio

The Rebirth line brings back qualities and aspects of the characters' histories that some longtime fans found missing in the New 52 stories, which was launched in 2011 and featured reworked characters and attributes different in key ways from their predecessors of yore. (Nonetheless, the New 52 series had booming sales and drew in many new readers, revitalizing the comics market.) The revived qualities in the Rebirth line include optimism, hope, idealism and selfishness. DC Entertainment publisher Dan DiDio notes that Rebirth embraces "the true generational history of the DC line and past attributes that may have been forsaken or forgotten." As a result, the DC Entertainment has integrated "all the freshness of the New 52 but kept in long-term material," which has excited both longtime and newer fans, DiDio says.

Since the launch in comic book form in May, the Rebirth stories have been wildly successful. To date, more than 18 million copies have been shipped. Eleven of the titles have shipped more than 200,000 copies each; 60 titles have shipped more than 100,000 copies; and 21 titles have gone back to press. "They've captured what fans want," says DiDio.

Observing that "the graphic novel and bookstore business has exploded for us," DiDio points to the huge amount of TV and movies over time involving DC characters as a main factor in creating and expanding reader interest. "The level of awareness has never been so good," he says. Now, with the Rebirth books, bookstore customers will be able to "find the source materials for what they're enjoying on TV and in the movies."

He emphasizes, too, that the Rebirth stories "show the expansiveness of our world. They're not just reading a story but entering an incredible world where these characters live.... The stories are tied into specific events and have a shared continuity." The best part: the Rebirth program is a long-term program, meaning that like the universe itself, the DC Universe will continue to expand.

DC Comics: Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies (Rebirth) by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp

DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition

Just published in hardcover, DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition is by Geoff Johns, with illustrations by Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver and Phil Jimenez (each of whom are working on different characters in the Rebirth line). The book features the story that launched Rebirth: Wally West, the man once known as Kid Flash and then the Flash, who is trapped out of time and space in a dimensional bleed, sees the mystery pervading the universe--and then must return to Earth, after being gone 10 years, even as he slips farther away, closer to nothingness. This story of Wally West's rebirth, upon which the fate of the universe rests, will reverberate through the DC Universe for years.

DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition author Geoff Johns is the writer of many comic works, president and chief creative officer of DC Comics and "a key driver of the overall execution of the Rebirth line," as DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson says in her introduction. DC Entertainment publisher Dan DiDio adds: "He is one of the best of our best writers and worked hand in hand with other writers" on Rebirth. "He led by examples by writing this, showing the heart and voice of the line, the attributes of the characters."

The book is divided into chapters, including, in order "Lost," "Legacy," "Love," "Life" and an epilogue that, Nelson writes, "drops your jaw to the ground and guarantees to leave you wanting more."

As a hardcover, DiDio adds, the book has "a collector's sense but sits well in the book market," where on the shelf, it will stand out to casual fans and draw them into "more things with the Rebirth banner." He compared DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition with Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland, published in 2008, a perennial bestseller that features the origin story of the battle between Batman and The Joker.

DC Comics: Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman (Rebirth) by Tim Seeley and Javier Fernandez

Tom King and Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham

Tom King

For Tom King, author of Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham, a key aspect of this new Rebirth tale is that "it goes back to basic Batman," which includes "Batman with James Gordon on the roof, the Bat Cave" and other well-known, original aspects of the Batman story. "It can appeal to anyone," King says. "It can appeal to a 10 year old or to a 50-year-old guy who's a fan of the old TV show."

With that connection to basic Batman established, Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham brings out deeper themes that King describes as "what makes Batman a hero and what makes him a hero at the moment." In particular, as a hero without powers, "how does he function in a world with Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman" and others?

To address this theme, Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham introduces two superheroes called Gotham and Gotham Girl who say that while Batman can save Gotham City from the Riddler and the Joker, for example, because of their powers, Gotham and Gotham Girl can save Gotham City in ways Batman can't, such as from a crashing asteroid or a plane falling from the sky, à la September 11. This is a challenge for Batman, who is suspicious of the new heroes, especially when they may be manipulated to work against him--and he wonders what he can do for Gotham City when others can do more.

King has an unusual background for a comic writer: after September 11, he joined the CIA, where he worked for seven years in counterterrorism both overseas and domestically. That experience, he says, "influences Batman thematically on every page." He explains it this way: "A CIA officer gets as close to the enemy without becoming them; they use every technique without being compromised. Similarly Batman has to embrace the insanity of villains without crossing the line. The only way to overcome darkness is to embrace darkness. But how do you find the light again?"

When he ended his CIA career, King turned to writing, which he did at night while taking care of his kids during the day. "I was being Mr. Mom," he says with a laugh. The result was the novel A Once Crowded Sky, in which superheroes have all lost their powers. "I'm very proud of that book," King says, and notes that he learned to write because of it. "I read all the books on writing," including those by Stephen King and John Gardner. That has made his current writing all the better: "I bring all the tools of the novelist to comics," he says, adding, "I wrote a novel to become comic book writer."

After A Once Crowded Sky, his work has included the Sheriff of Babylon series--based on his experiences in Iraq, each issue of which has had to be approved by the CIA--and Omega Men and Vision. He notes that Omega Men and Vision didn't do as well as comics as they did later in graphic novel form, a success he attributes to booksellers and librarians, who "paid respect to the graphic novels." (King adds a deeply appreciative "thank you" to all booksellers and librarians!)

Now King is focusing on Batman: I Am Gotham. He praised the artwork by David Finch, "one of the classic Batman artists, one of the most popular in the history of comics. He's known for putting in more lines than anyone else." The result is "gorgeous art and a Gotham you've never seen. It's like looking into a 3-D picture. You get sucked into it."

Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham collects in one paperback edition the first seven comics of Batman: I Am Gotham, which appear every other week, and includes the first three months of the series. It's the first part of a trilogy. Each of those parts will be self-contained, King notes, but one can read "the full epic story over a year."

Rebirth Titles Arriving in January

Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen by Benjamin Percy, illustrated by Otto Schmidt ($16.99, 9781401267810, Jan. 10, 2017).
CEO, playboy and philanthropist Oliver Queen is Green Arrow, a nocturnal champion of justice who fights crime on the streets of Seattle. In the first volume of his Rebirth story, the Emerald Archer meets superheroine Black Canary and faces a sinister organization out to destroy him. Benjamin Percy, a Pushcart Prize winner, is the author of two short story collections, the novels The Dead Lands, Red Moon and The Wilding, a nonfiction essay collection, and writes the Teen Titans series for DC.

Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman by Peter J. Tomasi, illustrated by Patrick Gleason ($16.99, 9781401267766, Jan. 10, 2017).
There's a new Man of Steel in town. When the original Superman dies defending Earth, a Superman fleeing another universe takes on the fight for truth and justice. But the Eradicator, a machine mind in pursuit of this Superman, is programmed to protect the Kryptonian genome, even if it means killing his son, Jonathan Kent. Peter J. Tomasi is a former editor with DC comics who has worked on Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Nightwing, among other series. Doug Mahnke, Jorge Jimenez, Mick Gray, Jaime Mendoza, John Kalisz, Will Quintana and Alejandro Sanchez also contributed to this volume.

Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning by Dan Abnett, illustrated by Brad Walker and Phillipe Briones ($16.99, 9781401267827, Jan. 17, 2017).
Arthur Curry is Aquaman, member of the Justice League and King of Atlantis. Arthur and his fiancée, Mera, help keep the peace between Atlantis and the surface world, but Atlantean terrorists, led by the murderous Black Manta, threaten to destroy Aquaman's peace. Dan Abnett is a prolific comic book writer whose work includes the X-Men, Johnny Bravo, Batman and Doctor Who. Brad Walker has illustrated Action Comics and Phillipe Briones has illustrated New Suicide Squad.

Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham by Tom King, illustrated by David Finch and Mikel Janín ($16.99, 9781401267773, Jan. 17, 2017).
The Caped Crusader is reborn in a familiar city with two new heroes: powerful metahumans calling themselves Gotham and Gotham Girl. They saved Batman's life and fought by his side, but sinister forces threaten to turn these allies against the Dark Knight. Tom King is an ex-CIA agent whose other DC works include Grayson and Omega Men. David Finch illustrates Wonder Woman and Mikel Janín illustrates Justice League Dark. Scott Snyder and Ivan Reis contributed.

The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson, illustrated by Carmine di Giandomenico ($17.99, 9781401267841, Jan. 24, 2017).
Barry Allen, also known as The Flash, is about to have some company in the fast lane. When Central City is inundated by Speed Force, the source of Barry's power, people all over the city--good and bad guys alike--gain The Flash's lightning abilities. Now the original Fastest Man Alive has new speedster crime fighters to train and swift criminals to stop. Joshua Williamson has written comics for numerous imprints, including Deathstroke for DC. Carmine di Giandomenico is the illustrator for All-New X-Factor, among other series.

Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines by Bryan Hitch, illustrated by Tony S. Daniel ($16.99, 9781401267797, Jan. 24, 2017).
Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League are reeling from the death of Superman and his replacement by a Man of Steel from another universe. This Superman, and the new rookie Green Lanterns, must prove themselves to the League before a new threat consumes them all: engines of destruction descending on Earth, extinction machines that mean to remake the planet's surface. Bryan Hitch has written for DC and Marvel and worked with major names like Warren Ellis. Tony S. Daniel is a longtime DC author and illustrator for titles like Superman/Wonder Woman and Deathstroke.

Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet by Sam Humphries and Rocha Robson ($16.99, 9781401267759, Jan. 31, 2017).
Hal Jordan, the original Green Lantern, has passed the job of protecting Earth to Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, the newest members of the Green Lantern Corps. But the return of Red Lantern leader Atrocitus is about to put these rookies to the ultimate test. Sam Humphries (Uncanny X-Force) and Rocha Robson (Earth 2 World's End) team up with Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Ed Benes and Tom Derenick for the next chapter in the Green Lantern saga.

Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Eddy Barrows and Alvaro Martinez ($16.99, 9781401267995, Feb. 7, 2017).
Batman and Batwoman move from crime-fighting to the classroom with a trio of new students: Red Robin, Spoiler and Clayface. The potential protégés better be fast learners--a mysterious army is coming to Gotham, ready to take the city for themselves. James Tynion IV has worked on several Batman projects. Eddy Barrows has illustrated other DC series, including Earth 2 and Martian Manhunter.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott ($16.99, 9781401267780, Feb. 28, 2017).
Diana Prince, also known as Wonder Woman, is struggling with a deep personal loss. She balances her grief with her role as protector of Earth, but when the Lasso of Truth stops working, she must face dark secrets from her past. Greg Rucka is a New York Times bestselling author who has written Batman novels and worked on several comic series for DC.

DC Comics: Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham (Rebirth) by Tom King and David Finch

DC Comics: Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines (Rebirth)  by Bryan Hitch and Tony S. Daniel

DC Comics: Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman (Rebirth) by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

DC Comics: The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice (Rebirth) by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico

DC Comics: Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death & Life of Oliver Queen (Rebirth) by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt

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