Guide to DC Comics Imprints
As of 2018, one of the Big Two publishers in the comic book industry has completely changed the game in how they publish and distribute comics. Under the leadership of Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, and Dan Didio, DC Comics has changed their strategy from casting the widest net possible to get readers, to create several different niches in order to attract a variety of different readers. With a diverse array on publication banners, here is a guide to each one currently out and what is coming up.
DC Universe: This is the cornerstone line of the company; the various single issue books featuring the legendary heroes and villains of DC Comics. The company has learned from the missteps of the New 52 and their relaunch under the banner Rebirth has wielded incredibly positive results. Needless to say these are the continuing adventures of DC’s classic heroes and villains who have maintained popularity for decades. Of course Batman is the best seller from this line, and for good reason as Tom King and an all-star team of artists have been on a hot streak with this book. The Superman books are going from strength to strength as Dan Jurgens, Pete Tomasi, and Patrick Gleason are wrapping up their runs and A-list writer Brian Michael Bendis is ready to take over both books. And of course you have other favorites like; Harley Quinn, Green Lanterns, the Flash, Wonder Woman and more.
Vertigo: The historic imprint for mature readers has given us many classics of the medium; from Sandman to Y the Last Man and everything else in between. Since the controversial departures of Karen Berger and Shelly Bond the Vertigo line has been forging a new path forward. Currently this line is home to the acclaimed series which put Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque on the comic radar American Vampire. But with that book frequently on hiatus a new horror title has emerged to become a scary favorite in the form of Imaginary Fiends from Tim Seeley and Stephen Molnar. In 2013 Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross brought their beloved comic Astro City to join the Vertigo line-up where it remains to this day.
Hanna-Barbara: The cartoon characters of the Hanna-Barbara hold a special place in the hearts of nostalgic cartoon fans. Given that they share the same parent company, and nobody else under the Warner Brothers umbrella was using these properties so DC Comics launched the Hanna-Barbara line. The publisher took the characters and concepts from this beloved animation line and took them in fresh new directions which have really hit with readers. Using the Flintstones as a way to look at modern society, Mark Russell and Steve Pugh earned the attention and acclaim from comic readers and mainstream audiences. For those who dug the action and adventure of the Hanna-Barbara cartoons, Jeff Parker, Steve Rude and Doc Shaner put together a team like no other featuring: Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, Birdman, Thundarr the Barbarian and others in their book Future Quest as well as the different stories which followed.
The New Age of Heroes: The current events in Dark Nights: Metal will doubtlessly have repercussions on the rest of the DC Universe, which is where the New Age of Heroes comes in. Almost in response to Marvel’s statements concerning artists, DC has put together an artistic all-star team to headline the unique and diverse comics under this banner. Ivan Reis and Jeff Lemire has given DC it’s answer to the Fantastic Four in the form of the Terrifics. Ryan Sook brings his atmospheric style to the Unexpected alongside Steve Orlando. One half of DC’s Co-Publishing team, Jim Lee has even joined in with James Tynion IV the create Immortal Men, while the other half of the team, Dan Didio is working on Sideways with Kenneth Rocafort.
Young Animals: Former My Chemical Romance front man, Gerard Way has never made his love of comics a secret. He has not been content to simply be a fan but he has gotten involved in the business and proved to have a talent for writing comics with books like Umbrella Academy. The heads of DC Comics recognized his unique talent and have given him the freedom to run his own quirky line of superheroes with Young Animals. The flagship book is none other than the return of the cult favorite team, the Doom Patrol. Way has also brought a fresh spin on Peter Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man with Shade the Changing Girl. In the book Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye, Gerard Way, Jon Rivera and Michael Avon Oeming tell a unique story of a legendary pulp hero called back into action during a mid-life crisis.
DC Earth One: For the past few years, the graphic novel area of the comics industry has been booming and attracting new readers who normally do not pick up individual issues. To capture this growing market, DC has wheeled out Earth One, which lets top tier creators take their classic heroes and put them in new and modern stories. It began with J. Michael Straczynski and the gifted Shane Davis bringing a new take to Superman’s origins with Superman: Earth One. Following that up, Geoff Johns and frequent collaborator Gary Frank took to the streets of Gotham City with Batman: Earth One, elements of which have begun to spread into other Bat-media.
DC Ink and DC Zoom: In recent years, young readers have been a hugely desired demographic for comic book publishers, as they realized they need a new generation of readers to replace their aging fanbase. Their competition at Marvel have made gains in this effort thanks to books like; Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and All-New Wolverine. But DC Comics is laying down on this challenge as they announced two new lines imprints intended for the large audience that reads Young Adult Fiction. Coming this fall, DC Ink brings together talent from the comics industry and the YA business for books featuring many iconic DC characters. Naturally coming off the momentum of the successful film, Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson, looks to be a popular standout for DC Ink. With the release of Aquaman being close to the debut of this imprint, Mera by Danielle Paige is being held up as the new line’s most promising book. For middle school aged readers, DC Zoom will be offering books like: Dear Justice League by Michael Northup, Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Le, and the one everyone is anticipating, a new version of Superman Smashes the Klan from New Super-Man writer and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang.
DC Black Label: This project, announced by Jim Lee, is highly ambitious. Noticing that throughout the company’s history, many of their classic books are those published with little or no regard for established continuity. DC Black Label exists to give top tier writers and artists the creative freedom to use DC’s legendary stable of characters in new and unique ways. The new imprint will debut with Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. exploring the early years of the Man of Steel in Superman: Year One. Some of the most acclaimed writers and artists in Batman’s recent history: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Brian Azzarello, and Lee Bermejo, will now be able to play with the Caped Crusader in new and different settings. But the book fans are most eagerly anticipating is Kelly Sue DeConnick making her DC Comics debut on Wonder Woman Historia: the Amazons, with Phil Jimenez.