For several years DC Comics has been slow playing how many Elseworld titles they have been publishing. They never gave up on that line of comic books but they have definitely slowed down how many Elseworld comic books they published. It was to the point the Elseworld branding hasn’t been used from the promotional side. Now that is changing as DC announced at this year’s New York Comic Comic that in 2024 they are bringing back the Elseworld brand with six new titles under the banner.
Immediately the first thing that comes to mind with the return of DC Elseworld is excitement. Especially when considering that Dawn of DC has placed a focus on the DC Universe’s near 100 year continuity mattering. With DC Elseworld there is an opportunity to provide fresh opportunities to not worry about any sort of continuity for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others. The Elseworld direction provides such a rich opportunity to explore the DC Universe in new ways.
Admittedly that excitement for the return of DC Elseworld is tempered by the heavy reliance on the Batman franchise in many of the six titles DC Comics announced at NYCC 2023. This is not surprising whatsoever given how well Batman comics sell, as Rokk breaks down in the sales rankings every month. While there is no doubting Batman’s popularity this also continues the self-fulfilling prophecy for the company.
With that in mind let’s take a look at the six titles individually.
GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT: THE KRYPTONIAN AGE
Teaser: Gotham by Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age by Andy Diggle and Leandro Fernandez expands the mysterious and gothic world created by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola beyond the confines of Gotham City, introducing DC’s greatest heroes as they come together for the first time to form a 19th-century Justice League. As they unite against the greatest threat the world has ever known, they will learn their world’s secret Kryptonian history.
It says a lot about the direction for DC Elseworld in 2024 that the announcement was led off by Gotham by Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age. The Kryptonian Age isn’t the first sequel to the 1989 Gotham by Gaslight one-shot by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola. Augustyn along with Eduardo Barreto did a follow-up one-shot in 1992 titled Gotham by Gaslight: Master of the Future.
There are several differences with Gotham By Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age. The first is that this time around Andy Diggle and Leandro Fernandez are the creative team. The second is that unlike its two predecessors by Augustyn, Mignola, and Barreto, Gotham By Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age is a twelve issue series.
Twelve issues certainly gives Diggle and Fernandez time to develop the more expanded Gotham By Gaslight Universe with the Justice League involved. Though there is a bit of the spirit lost to the magic of the previous two entries in the Gotham By Gaslight Universe were one-shots, not twelve issue series. The involvement of the Justice League also is very similar to the recent of Dark Knights of Steel, which similarly placed the Justice League in a much earlier time period. All of these factors does make Gotham By Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age not the best way to kick off the DC Elseoworld announcement.
BATMAN THE BARBARIAN
Teaser: Batman the Barbarian is a brutal and remarkable retelling of Batman’s origin set against a rugged, medieval Earth, written, and drawn by Eisner Award-winner Greg Smallwood (The Human Target).
Continuing the focus on the Dark Knight, we are also getting a series titled Batman The Barbarian. This won’t be the first time we see Batman dressed up as a barbarian. We got a similar story in Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne. Though to Greg Smallwood’s credit this isn’t the main Bruce Wayne placed in the paleolithic era, but a new version of the character in that setting.
That aside, of the three Batman titles announced Batman The Barbarian is the most intriguing DC Elseworld title. That is simply because Smallwood is working as the writer and artist of the series. Smallwood and Tom King’s Human Target was one of DC Comics best series in 2022. There is no doubt that Batman The Barbarian will be a great looking comic book. If Smallwood can find a similar unique energy to Batman The Barbarian that he hit in Human Target with King than this could be the standout of DC Elseworld in 2024.
Teaser: What happens when twin brothers, Seth & Clay Mann, are turned loose in Gotham City? They burn it all down. Batman: Nightfire sees superstar Clay Mann unleashed in a mind-expanding mystery, beautifully counterbalanced with explosive action, in this unflinching reimagining that sees Bruce Wayne try to rectify a devastating tragedy by traveling to the past. What secrets does this Batman hold so tight that he would watch Gotham be reduced to ashes? What truths are exposed when there is nowhere left to hide? Batman: Nightfire by Clay and Seth Mann is a story of obligation and the ultimate burden that promises to set the Batman world ablaze!
Time traveling Batman is certainly not a story that I would think of for the character. In reading the pitch for the Seth and Clay Mann title is a reminder why. The teaser comes across as something that was pitched for any character. Then when hearing it DC just told the Mann brothers to have Batman be the star.
It is certainly the least exciting of the three. Given how many Batman titles we already got in the DC Elseworld 2024 announcements this is one that should’ve been pitched with another character as the lead. Right away, Green Arrow, Booster Gold, and Constantine come to mind for characters this story could work for. But this is just continuing the Batman obsession DC has.
DC VS. VAMPIRES: WORLD WAR V
Teaser: DC vs. Vampires was the brutal first chapter in a larger war for the fate of Earth! In this upcoming sequel by Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt, sunlight is restored to the Earth, but was it too late? As a new Ice Age dawns, humanity faces their most deadly threat yet—Barbara Gordon Queen of the Vampires!
Given how the original DC vs Vampires ended it is no surprise that its sequel would be part of the DC Elseworld announcement. You don’t give us an ending with Batgirl taking over as the Vampire Queen after killing the previous Vampire King, Nightwing, without following up. The teaser and cover for DC vs. Vampires: World War V is exactly the direction expected for the sequel.
It is disappointing that James Tynion isn’t returning to write the sequel. Though it’s understandable as Tynion is focusing on his own creator-owned work right now. Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt, who worked on the original with Tynion, is the logical choice to continue the DC vs Vampires Universe. That said, Rosenberg has delivered more disappointments than successes when given the ball of big titles. Without Tynion there to be the co-writer, DC vs Vampire: World War V becomes an instant pass given Rosenberg’s track record as a solo writer.
DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL: ALLWINTER
Teaser: New York Times best-selling writer Jay Kristoff (Empire of the Vampire, The Aurora Cycle, The Nevernight Chronicle) and artist Tirso Cons make their DC series debut, in Dark Knights of Steel: Allwinter. In this new series, the snows fall thick, blood runs black, and color itself is only a distant memory. The legendary assassin Deathstroke stalks a frozen wasteland, killing for coin among a nation of ever-warring jarls. But when our murderer for hire finds himself cast in the role of reluctant guardian, will he fight to end the icy curse destroying his land, or be consumed by the sins of his own dark past?
Dark Knights of Steel is one of the best titles DC Comics has released during 2022 and 2023. The original twelve issue series by Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri showed the unlimited potential DC Elseworld has. We got a great new universe that told a story that felt completely different from what we normally get from other DC titles. That’s a credit to the work Taylor and Putri put into developing the Dark Knights of Steel Universe.
While there is a lot of love for the Dark Knights of Steel Universe not having Taylor and Putri back for the follow-up is disappointing. Jay Kristoff and Tirso Cons are not names that I’m familiar with. Kristoff is a novel writer with Cons not having much comic art experience based on searches. The lack of comic book series experience is a concern for Dark Knights of Steel: Allwinter. While the pitch of a Viking Deathstroke is interesting the creative team’s lack of experience tones down the excitement more than expect for the follow-up to Dark Knights of Steel.
GREEN LANTERN DARK
Teaser: Green Lantern Dark by Tate Brombal and Werther Dell’Edera reimagines the DC Universe as a dark fantasy wasteland where monsters overrun a post-apocalyptic earth. The battle between good and evil ended long ago. Now, darkness prevails as humanity struggles to survive on a corrupted planet. Only one hero remains, the one who wields the green flame that can return light to a dark world—The Green Lantern. But she’s been missing for years, and, on the isolated island of New England, the horrors only get worse by the night.
Of all the DC Elseworld titles Green Lantern Dark is the one that comes across as new rather than a sequel or successor of something else. While yet another post-apocalyptic story isn’t the most exciting setting adding in dark fantasy elements could help Green Lantern Dark a lot. Mixing in magic and other fantasy elements with the cosmic Green Lantern franchise could be a fresh direction.
While not familiar with Tate Brombal’s previous comic book work Werther Dell’Edera is a very good artist. Dell’Edera artwork on BOOM! Studios’ Something is Killing the Children has been great. Its an art style that is different than the typical DC Comics art style. With Green Lantern Dark utilizing dark fantasy and post-apocalyptic elements that works to Dell’Edera strengths as an artist.
Adding to why Green Lantern Dark is a standout is that it will involve a new character rather than reimagining one of the many Green Lanterns. This should give Brombal and Dell’Edera creative room to develop the world of Green Lantern Dark around a new character. All that makes Green Lantern Dark the title that is the most exciting of DC Elseworld’s 2024 announcement thus far.