DC Comics, home to comics icons Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, announced some radical moves for its publishing program. DC will relaunch many of its classic series with new origins, new costumes and more, and in another bold move, the publisher will release all of its superhero comics in digital editions at the same time as the print editions.
The move is intended to make DC's characters more relevant and vital to new readers, co-publisher Dan Didio told USA Today, while appealing to a new audience.
First, following the events of a mini series called Flashpoint, in September all of DC's superhero titles will be going to new #1 issues, many featuring new costumes, new origins or even whole new characters. For instance, Superman is losing his red trunks and getting solid blue pants.
The reboot kicks off on August 31 when the final issue of Flashpoint comes out, and the first issue of a rebooted Justice League of America by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, both of whom have important executive jobs at the company; Johns is chief creative officer, and Lee co-publisher.
"We really want to inject new life in our characters and line," he said. "This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
At the same time, DC is making all of their superhero comics available digitally at the same time as the print editions, a practice known in comics circles as "day and date." In a letter to retailers, DC sr. v-p of sales Bob Wayne broke the news, but put a good spin on it, telling them, "We are positioning ourselves to tell the most innovative stories with our characters to allow fans to see them from a new angle. We have taken great care in maintaining continuity where most important, but fans will see a new approach to our storytelling."
DC is not the first company to adapt such expansive day and date practices – Archie Comics, which publishes material for a generally younger audience, started doing this several months ago— however, they are the most prominent in the direct sales market (aka comics shops), and the move could make other publishers take a look at their own digital release dates, if it proves successful.
Comics retailers have long been wary of digital releases, and retailer Chris Butcher of Toronto's Beguiling comics shop was quick to tweet, "every one of the Marvel day-and-date digital comics releases sells fewer copies than comparable, non-day-and-date titles. Worrying trend."
However, others seemed more resigned to the digital move and more enthused about the reboot. Larry Doherty of Larry's Comics in Lowell, MA, tweeted, "The DC reboot could be the best thing to happen to [the comics market] in decades. A fresh start. Entry point to the direct market for civilians."