To say that DC Comics is an interesting spot as they head into 2021 would be putting things nicely. There have been a lot of shake ups in the past week as WarnerMedia went through a massive round of layoffs in the past week that hit every entertainment arm. DC Comics was one of those companies hit hard during the layoffs as major names were let go, including Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras. With so much unknown for the future of DC Comics at the moment we do get some hints of what that may be in their new November 2020 solicitations. These new solicitations seem to hint at many things coming to an end in order for a new era to begin. Let’s take a closer look at what this all means with DC Comics November 2020 solicitations.
FINAL ISSUES MARKING A NEW BEGINNING IN 2021?
With all the news that came out over the past week it is easy to see all the issues that were marked as “Final Issue” in DC Comics November 2020 solicitations as part of the fallout from the layoffs. But the fact is that this was likely always the plan for Hawkman, Teen Titans, Young Justice, Suicide Squad, and John Constantine: Hellblazer. For one, these solicitations are planned in advance that an announcement for layoffs that took place four or five days earlier wouldn’t have impacted November 2020 publishing schedule. More than likely it is the December 2020 plans that should be looked at for when the impact will be felt in terms of monthly comics published.
The other reason why this new batch of “Final Issue” tags is not surprising to see is that this just continues the trend that DC Comics has been on for the second half of 2020. Over the last few months DC Comics has been ending comics like Supergirl, which initially came across as part of the pandemic impacting their publishing plans. But as we saw with their October 2020 solicitations DC Comics is slowly ending many of their ongoing series.
Which brings up the timing of all these cancelations more than likely all being part of the long-term plans that DC Comics has had as they head into 2021. Because when you look at how things are lining up their big multiverse spanning event in Dark Nights: Death Metal is set to end sometime in January 2021. Around that time their will also be several mini-series like DCeased: Dead Planet and Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern: Season Two that will also conclude. Then there is the fact that the planned big Generations direction was silently canceled after Dan Didio was fired earlier this year.
That all opens the door for DC Comics to have their entire publishing line in a good spot to be relaunched. Dark Nights: Death Metal specifically seems to be setting things up for DC Comics to have a good excuse to reset a lot of their characters that needed it after all the confusion with the New 52 and Rebirth era continuities. Given that fact, don’t be surprised if December 2020 and January 2021 are filled with ongoing series that will be marked as “Final Issue.”
Now the question is how much recent layoffs will impact DC Comics publishing plans for 2021 and beyond. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Jim Lee mentioned that the comic books that have been greenlit are still being worked on. That said, Lee also said that the bottom 20% – 25% of titles in terms that were not breaking even or losing the company money were being cut. That mentality of low selling titles being axed is likely to impact what is released moving forward. Either the trigger will be pulled much quicker on low-selling titles, some planned ongoings are switched to mini-series status, or they will experiment with putting more digital exclusives for titles they know would sell low numbers physically. For those digital exclusives DC simply can promise to put them out physically as trade paperbacks in the future. Either way moving forward the way DC Comics publishes comics will be changing in the near future.
PUNCHLINE AND OTHER NEW BATMAN CHARACTERS TAKE THE SPOTLIGHT
Since James Tynion has come on board for his run on Batman we’ve seen a new focus on expanding the cast of characters in Batman’s universe. First we had the Designer in “Their Dark Designs” and in the lead up to “Joker War” we’ve had Punchline make her debut. There is also the Punisher-like anti-hero in Clownhunter who debuted in the most recent issue of Batman. With Batman #102 the debuts of new characters continues with the introduction of Ghost-Maker. The solicitations mention that he will be a new vigilante though given how he is battling Batman in the cover it won’t be surprising if Ghost-Maker vigilante attitude is more in line with Clownhunter.
Which all brings up an interesting trend of how Gotham City is really turning into a completely different place than it was previously. While we’ve gotten some status quo shake ups Gotham City’s status quo has largely stayed the same with Batman as the lead hero stopping the normal cast of villains of Joker, Two-Face, Penguin and the League of Assassins. That sense of rinse and repeat with what kind of threats Batman is battling is getting a major shake up by Tynion, and by extension Peter Tomasi over on Detective Comics. This puts into question if where DC Comics is driving Gotham City now is for it to look more like the Neo-Gotham that we got in the Batman Beyond series. That is at least the feeling that I’m getting with Tynion’s run specifically after all the talk of building a new Gotham City.
There is also the question of what all of this means for the entire Batman Family, not just Bruce Wayne. Because we already see with the cancelation of Batgirl that Barbara Gordon is absent from being a presence in any of the Batman books. And I would not be surprised if Nightwing is a title that will get the “Final Issue” tag with the conclusion of the KGBeast story that Dan Jurgens is writing. Then there is the ongoing question if Damian Wayne will still be Robin in the future as both Detective Comics and Teen Titans have been pushing the character to possibly leave the Batman Family.
All that is not even talking about where other Batman Family characters like Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Kate Kane, and Stephanie Brown, will be in what is looking to be a newly relaunched DC Universe. So many questions that hopefully we get answers to soon. Maybe during the upcoming DC FanDome online event next weekend.
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