***NOTE: This concept should only be attached to New 52 ongoing #1 issues. No other issues, annuals, international prints, or trade collections.***
Launch of the New 52
With dwindling/stalled sales, in October 2010, some of DC Comics lead executives and creative talents came together to discuss how to put a jolt of energy into their entire comics line. The fruits of this meeting were revealed in June 2011 with DC announcing the New 52, a line-wide relaunch of all their titles. Starting in September 2011, following the end of Flashpoint, DC would launch 52 titles all starting at #1. Along with a number of brand new titles, many titles were relaunched versions of classic books like Action and Detective Comics. The initiative was an effort to get people excited about comics, attracting new, current, and old readers with easy jumping on points with 52 new #1 issues. The New 52 also saw DC's launch of day and date digital release of all their titles.
The initiative launched on August 31st, when on the same day Flashpoint #5 was released, DC also released Justice League #1, written by DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns, and drawn by Co-Publisher Jim Lee. Due to the effect of the ending of Flashpoint, both the Vertigo and Wildstorm Universes were merged into the DC Universe, starting the whole universe anew. This would be explored in Justice League, with the first six issues being set five years in the past, where the concept of super-heroes were new to the world, delving into the new origin of the Justice League. Besides arcs in Justice League and Action Comics, as well as a hand full of specific time period books, the rest of the line would be set in the present.
The relaunch wasn't merely cosmetic, many of DC's properties were re-imagined or refreshed. Changes to current characters ranged from minor tweaks, to complete reboots. Due to sales being generally high on both the Batman and Green Lantern franchises prior to the initiative, much of those family of characters' continuity remained the same. Some books, like Green Lantern, directly following the events of War of the Green Lanterns, the final story arc of the previous volume of the book; meanwhile, the new Teen Titans explores the first meeting of the team, effectively erasing the history of the previous modern day Teen Titans. In other cases, characters were brought in from different universes, such as with Voodoo, Grifter, Midnighter, Apollo, and more from the Wildstorm universe.
All the New 52 titles were put into one of seven groups, or "families" of similarly related books. The first family was Justice League, that featured many traditional super hero books. The Batman family contained all the books about Batman and his allies like Nightwing, Batgirl, etc. Green Lantern featured all the books revolving around the various Lantern Corps. The Dark featured books whose characters were more magic or mystic based. The Edge featured characters with more of a hardline, action oriented setup. Finally, Young Justice featured titles involving many of the DCU's teenage heroes, such as the Teen Titans.
A list of the "First Wave" of DC New 52 titles:
First Cancelations & Second Wave
In January 2012, it was revealed that the first New 52 titles that would be cancelled were, Hawk and Dove, Static Shock, Mister Terrific, Men of War, O.M.A.C., and Blackhawks, all ending that April with their eighth issues. In May, DC would replace these six cancelled titles with "Wave Two" of New 52 titles.
A list of the "Second Wave" of DC New 52 titles:
New 52 Annuals
In May 2012, DC introduced New 52 Annuals for a handful of their popular books. These annuals were intended to expand upon plot lines in the main books, participate in crossovers, or launch new concepts and titles. The annuals are only released in months with five Wednesdays to provide retailers with content on the fifth Wednesday, that traditionally saw a decreased amount of titles released. Starting in July 2013, some of the annual volumes would start to receive second issues.
The New 52 Annual volumes are as followed:
- Batman: The Dark Knight Annual
- Catwoman Annual
- Earth 2 Annual
- Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual
Zero Month & Third Wave
Come August 2012, Justice League International would be cancelled with its 12th issue. Following that, it was announced in early June 2012, that to mark the one year anniversary of The New 52, in September all the New 52 titles would be renumbered to issue #0, in order to tell stories or origins that took place prior to the series' first issues or to fill in some gaps in stories. Along with the #0 issues, the third wave of titles would be released. At the time of announcement, the other three cancellations that would coincide with the launch of four new books were not named, but when September solicitations were announced it was confirmed that Captain Atom, Resurrection Man and Voodoo would be cancelled.
A list of the "Third Wave" of DC New 52 titles:
Fourth Wave & WTF Certified
At Fan Expo 2012, DC announced that writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch would launch a new Justice League of America title in early 2013. The title would spin out of Johns' Justice League as a separate group of heroes employed by the government organization A.R.G.U.S. In an interview speaking of the title, Finch indicated that the series would launch in February 2013, potentially with the rest of the next wave of titles. With December 2012 solicitations, it was revealed that G.I. Combat would be the next title to be cancelled, and like Justice League International, was not cancelled in a "wave". At New York Comic Con, DC announced two more titles, the first being a new Superman ongoing by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, and the next being a cosmic anthology title called Threshold, by Keith Giffen, Tom Raney and Scott Kolins. Threshold was set to launch earlier than the rest of the wave, to replace G.I. Combat in January 2013, where as the untitled Superman project would launch later in 2013, presumably with a fifth wave of titles. Other titles confirmed for cancellation during the "Fourth Wave" are Blue Beetle, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Grifter and Legion Lost. In early November, it was announced that joining Justice League of America, team members Katana and Vibe would receive ongoing titles as well. As well as the focus on the JLA characters, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino were announced to be taking over Green Arrow. The final book of the wave was announced along side the cancellation of the Vertigo title, Hellblazer. After Hellblazer's 300th issue, it would be cancelled, and in its place, John Constantine would receive his own in-universe New 52 solo title in March 2013. Because Constantine launched a month after the bulk of the fourth wave titles, February only had 51 ongoing titles, so in the 52nd place, DC released a special one-shot titled Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine's Day Special featuring different superheroes in six Valentine's Day related love stories.
A list of the "Fourth Wave" of DC New 52 titles:
April 2013 was set to see a new line-wide initiative dubbed "WTF Certified". Each title that month would ship with a fold out cover that would apparently have large surprises including characters, and actions on the other half of the cover intended to make readers think/say "What the F---?!". Along with the covers, each issue would be branded with a stamp logo saying it was "WTF Certified". The initiative itself was met with mixed reaction, many citing the immature nature of the branding. DC would later decide not to use the "WTF Certified" branding on the outside and inside of the books, but the content and gate-fold covers would remain the same.
DC announced it's first cancellations for the fifth wave with the news that both DC Universe Presents and I, Vampire would end in April 2013. At the time, no replacement books were announced. Later, it was revealed at an Arizona comic convention, without official confirmation, that The Savage Hawkman had been cancelled, assumed to be announced with May solicitations. Shortly before the May 2013 solicitations, DC announced a large number of changes coming to their line. Six books consisting of The Fury of Firestorm, The Ravagers, Sword of Sorcery, The Savage Hawkman, Deathstroke and Team 7 would be cancelled in May. Among the announcements, the next wave of annuals for Red Hood and the Outlaws, Batman: The Dark Knight, Earth 2 and Catwoman were also revealed. A slew of creative changes hit many titles as well, Justin Jordan would begin writing Superboy, Michael Alan Nelson would become Supergirl's new writer, and Sterling Gates took over writing duties for Justice League of America's Vibe. It was also announced that the long teased storyline, Trinity War would begin in May as well. Following the May wave of cancellation announcements, the two titles that would replace I, Vampire and DC Universe Presents were announced, The Movement and The Green Team, both politically charged books on the opposite ends of the 99% vs 1% spectrum. Among other changes brought about the May solicitations, Geoff Johns ended his nearly decade long run on the Green Lantern franchise, with him the creative teams on the other three Green Lantern titles finished their runs, leading the entire line to all new creative teams in June. With the announcement of the new Green Lantern family creative teams, it was confirmed that Orange Lantern Larfleeze would gain his own title, with the same team in his Threshold back-up. DC would continue with the new announcements, confirming that Greg Pak and Jae Lee would launch a new Batman and Superman team up book titled Batman/Superman set in the past of the New 52. Then, at Emerald City Comic-Con '13, it was announced that the mysterious Pandora, who had appeared in the background of many New 52 #1s would also receive her own title. It was then confirmed that Scott Snyder and Jim Lee's Superman title would be called Superman Unchained.
A list of the "Fifth Wave" of DC New 52 titles:
With the launch and the first issue of Trinity of Sin: Pandora in June, The Phantom Stranger will be renamed to Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger as of issue #9.
Cancellations & Trinity War
Oddly enough, once the fifth wave was revealed, only 50 ongoing titles would be published in the month of June, the first month ever to feature less than 52 titles. Then in July, Batman, Incorporated would conclude with issue #13 (rather than be cancelled for low sales). In May 2013 DC announced the cancellation of even more low-selling books with Demon Knights, Legion of Super-Heroes, Dial H and Threshold seeing their final issues (#23, #23, #15, and #8) in August, leaving only 45 ongoing titles afterwards.
Instead of launching new titles immediately, beginning in July, DC would release Trinity War, the long teased event from 2012's Free Comic Book Day special. Trinity War would be held between three books, Justice League, Justice League of America and Justice League Dark, in their July and August issues. Justice League and Justice League Dark would be written by their normal writers, Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire respectively, but Justice League of America would see Lemire co-write with Johns. Titles to tie into the event would be Constantine, Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, and Trinity of Sin: Pandora. It was later promised that new books would spin out of the event's conclusion.