DC Comics' new lineup starts today: Here's what to read

DC Comics' promised line-wide relaunch is upon us. But don't let the wince-worthy ad campaign fool you: There are some good books, original stories, and fantastic creator combos in here.

So let's take a look at 'em.

The lineup

Before we dig in, let's go over the basics. 25 of DC's books this month are returning titles (you'll be seeing a lot of issue #41, for all the titles that have been around since the launch of the New 52). 24 of them are brand new launches. Most of them represent a shakeup or new direction for the book. Since they're all coming out this month, we can take things week by week (or Wednesday by Wednesday) and highlight the titles worth your close attention, and the runners-up. Finally, if you're curious about more any of these titles, you can find an 8-page standalone story from each of them available for free right here. Many of these are brand new stories that won't require any back-reading, but for those who're interested, DC is running a massive digital comics sale all month, slashing prices on comics with a connection to this month's new titles.

And, as always, if you're not sure how to get your comics, we've got two posts that will help here and here. Let's get started with this week! That means comics that are out right now, today!

June 3: Superman, Batman, and the characters they inspired


Midnighter #1

Let me introduce you to the Midnighter. Ripped from the pages of the more violent Wildstorm Universe — where the not-entirely-un-Batman-like superhero was happily married to his not-entirely-un-Superman-like super husband — this guy is a souped up super soldier, brimming with back up organs, a healing factor and an immune system that turns colds into single sneezes, and that's without mentioning his enhanced brain, which allows him to fight the way a supercomputer plays chess.

He's also DC Comics' first gay superhero to headline his own solo title, and from the pen of Steve Orlando, who identifies as bisexual himself. So the fact that I'm a big fan of Warren Ellis' The Authority, the Wildstorm series that put Midnighter on the map, isn't the only reason Midnighter #1 is my most anticipated new book this week.

And yes, that is Batman underwear he's wearing.

But Midnighter isn't for every reader (Orlando promises that it'll live up to Wildstorm's standard for blood and beatdowns), and among DC's new lineup are some long overdue all-ages titles for the company. The first installments of two six-issue miniseries, Bat Mite and Bizarro hit shelves this week. The former follows the omniscient imp as he travels the DC Universe "helping" other superheroes, while the latter, well...


He's going on a road trip to Canada (or, Bizarro America) with Jimmy Olsen. The creative teams on both books promise adventure and comedy appropriate for kids and adults alike. Also, chupacabras.

Week One Runners-Up: Batman Beyond fans (you know who you are) are going to want to give Batman Beyond #1 a look: In a future DC Universe where the villains have won, Terry McGinnis is dead and both Bruce Wayne and the Justice League are missing, a time-lost Tim Drake takes up the mantle of Batman and tackles the job of pulling humanity back from the brink. It's not exactly the cartoon you're familiar with from Saturday morning in the early '00s, but the premise certainly seems interesting.

June 10: Old characters, new places


Constantine: The Hellblazer #1

Look, John Constantine fans: You're hurting. His long-running series set in the more adult Vertigo continuity was ended to bring him into the New 52, and it just hasn't been the same. On top of that, you didn't even get a second season of the television show. But there's good news: The perennially exhausted and pissed paranormal detective is back in his own solo series, Constantine: The Hellblazer, written by the superlative James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle, with art from Riley Rossmo.

But Constantine's not the only character who's recovering from an incarnation that fans failed to connect with. The new 52's version of alien princess Starfire was one of the more famously reviled character reboots of the event. Starfire #1, from the creative team that crafted DC's breakout series, Harley Quinn, will take the character on a journey to a fresh start, as the alien princess decides to seek out a "normal" life on earth. Considering that she's bright orange, has literal flaming red hair and is a superhero, "normal" is probably a relative term, here.

Week Two Runners-Up: Commissioner Gordon prowls the streets of Gotham in a weird-looking Bat-mech suit in Batman #41. In Detective Comics #41, the cops of Gotham struggle to find purchase in a city with a strange new Batman, and Detective Renee Montoya makes a long overdue return to current continuity. A mysteriously resurrected Damien Wayne joins the cast of Gotham Academy, a series that offers tales of the spookiest scholastic experience in the DC Universe, for its seventh issue. And the adventures of Harley Quinn continue in her eponymous series, as she puts together an entire team of crime-fighting Harley Quinn knockoffs... including one scantily clad man.

June 17: New Characters, Old Places

Secret Six

Secret Six #3

How do I begin to describe Secret Six? For decades, superhero universes were divided between the very good heroes, and the very bad villains. And these days we all know the conflicted anti-hero. But there's more out there: How do a bunch of amoral C-list mercenaries keep a team together when superheroes want to beat them up and throw them in jail, and even the B-list villains barely know they exist? In Gail Simone's Secret Six, the answer has always been because nobody else will take them for who they are. A new incarnation of the title had just enough time to release two issues before Convergence hit, so there's very little to catch up on for issue #3.

I understand that Prez is a title that's difficult to describe without making it sound like a handwringing screed against wired culture. America's new president is a 19-year-old woman, elected by Twitter. Anonymous is the first "non-geographic" nation to get a seat at the UN. When asked how he feels about the future, a three-star general responds "Hashtag scared clammy, Amber." But beneath those trimmings is a setting in which America is involved in forty-seven global conflicts simultaneously, using an army of robotic drones piloted by sweat-pants-wearing gamers on HUD displays that automatically replace enemy combatants with seasonally appropriate cartoon characters in order to reduce the need for psychological counseling. The series seems aware of what's genuinely good fodder for the dark heart of a cyberpunk story, and what's just so much more anti-Millennial think piece-ing.

Black Canary

Week Three Runners-Up: Black Canary #1 spins out of Batgirl for the sort of story where our heroine gets smacked several stories up with an electric bass/mace, supersonic-screams the bad guy through a skylight and onto the stage where her band is setting up, and then just plays her set. In Dr. Fate #1, the helm of Fate has passed Khalid Nassour, a mixed-race almost-medical student, making him the a new avatar of the DC Universe's most supreme sorcerous power. And if you like Harley Quinn and Power Girl, well, you'll probably like Harley Quinn & Power Girl, a new six-issue team up miniseries from the creators of Harley Quinn.

June 24: The Aftermath


Superman #41

Two big events define the DC Universe's biggest guys going forward: Batman is dead, and Superman's secret identity is blown. Superman #41 picks up with Clark Kent on the run from a world that now sees him as entirely alien, from the mind of the multiple Eisner Award-winning comics creator Gene Luen Yang. A renowned creator of independent comics, this is Yang's first job for an interconnected superhero universe, and I'm interested to see how it'll play out. Unfortunately, the first issue also seems to be a part of a larger storyline across the Superman titles. Hopefully that won't affect its readability.

In Gotham City, citizens and criminals alike are adjusting to the power vacuum, and We are Robin #1 promises to introduce us to a group of teenagers bent on using their scarce resources to keep the peace in their city.

Week Four Runners-Up: Batgirl continues with issue #41, hinting at a confrontation between Barbara Gordon, who doesn't know that her dad is Batman, and Commissioner Gordon, who doesn't know that his daughter is Batgirl. And finally, Grayson, the comic about original Robin Dick Grayson going undercover on Batman's orders to bring down an evil spy organization from the inside continues with issue #9. Is Grayson a spectacular comics hit? No, but it's a solid book full of humor, heart, crazy sci-fi set pieces and a decent helping of Batman-family feelings for a story set in the New 52. And... it takes every opportunity to get Dick Grayson's shirt off, which I'm certainly not complaining about.

It's a brand new day for DC Comics, and given that the last reboot was only four years ago, you could be forgiven for having a little skepticism or fatigue. But there's a lot to like, and a lot to try out in this lineup. Happy reading!