DC Rebirth Super Spec(ial) – Part Three
Welcome back to the DC Rebirth Super Spec(ial)! In our final installment, we will take a look at upcoming variants, the ties the Titans have to the Rebirth storyline, and my pick for the biggest title coming out of Rebirth. Before all that, let’s take a stroll down Crime Alley and dance with the devil in the pale moonlight …
Changes Afoot in Gotham
Batman is getting an entirely new creative direction and a new title in All-Star Batman by Scott Snyder and friends. Everyone is talking about All-Star, which is going to be a monster out of the gate. There will be crazy variants, unbelievable art from rotating artists, and an all but guaranteed epic Batman story. While heavily looking forward to this, as I love everything Snyder writes, I personally am more curious about the other two primary titles, and surprisingly more so about Detective Comics!
First, look for the continued development across all Bat-titles of Duke Thomas, Harper Row, and to a lesser extent Julia Pennyworth. These are three characters that are the next wave of modern characters (along with Cruz and Baz mentioned earlier, and possibly Jonathan Kent) that DC will be pushing for years to come as will they/won’t they/when will they finally be Robins, Nightwings, and Alfreds.
Duke Thomas first appears in New 52 Batman #21 (Jock Variant or the 1:100 are the go-to, and to a lesser extent the combo pack) and as Robin in Batman & Robin: Future’s End #1.
Harper Row first appears in New 52 Batman #7 (Dustin Nguyen, combo pack, and the 1:100 are the top choices here) and as Bluebird in New 52 Batman #28 (Comics Pro was limited and the Steampunk variant is just fun and could heat up at some point like the Wonder Woman variant has recently).
All versions of both Batman #7 and #21 have increased in value in the past year (#21 to a ludicrous amount after the tease in Batman #50, then back down to a rational level for now), and are worth having a copy of in your collection or for flip potential as these characters grow and they become pivotal in more and more events. Julia Pennyworth, who took on her father’s role in Batman Eternal and the Jim Gordon Batman issues, first appears in Detective Comics #501, and I’m sure that can be found in many $1 bins.
In Batman #1, the new creative team of Tom King and David Finch will introduce a new character named Gotham. We do not know if he is friend or foe, but he is at least perceived as a hero at first. The new character has speculative potential if he turns into a major player. A solid creative team and the fact that it’s Batman means most people will buy it and give it a shot on release, which could increase those odds.
What I am more interested in, however, is Detective Comics. James Tynion IV has proven himself more than versed in digging deep into the Batman mythos, as evident in his work as the writer for Batman Eternal and Batman & Robin Eternal. Combine that with Eddy Barrows on art duties (who did an outstanding job on the first Nightwing arc for the New 52) and you’re golden. It looks like Batman and Batwoman will be running superhero school for some Bat-pupils. You've got Tim Drake back in a more traditional Robin costume (with 2 R’s for Red Robin), Spoiler, Orphan (Cassandra Cain), and Clayface (not sure which version, but likely Basil Karlo since he was the New 52 version) trying to make right, making this the series with the greatest upside.
This could be under ordered because of previous lack of interest in the title, and be the one hunted for a few months in as stories develop and gain traction. Some key back issues that could heat up: 52 #7 (1st Kate Kane/current Batwoman), Batman #436 (1st Time Drake, and a drastically undervalued book in my opinion), Batman #442 (1st Time Drake in Robin Costume, as I believe it is misleading with Dick Grayson in costume on the cover of #437), Red Robin #1 Variant from the old DCU (1st Tim Drake as Red Robin, and, yes, a stretch to heat up), Batman #567 (1st Cassandra Cain), Batman & Robin Eternal #1 Incentive (not sure of the ratio) Variant (1st current incarnation of Cassandra Cain as Orphan), and for you Golden Age junkies, Detective Comics #40 (1st Clayface). Side note: I had no idea Clayface had been around and a Bat-Villain for THAT long until I researched for this article. The biggest upside to this is that Rafael Albuquerque is doing the variants; so I can’t wait to see those and am sure they will be highly sought after in the initial variant waves no matter the ratios.
Titans: the key to uniting the Pre-52 and New 52 DC Universes
First off, wrong volume last week on the first appearance of Lilith. I was off by about 16 years lol. It is in the original volume of the Teen Titans series, issue #25. Thanks for the heads up in the comments. Now, to this weeks Titan’s analysis…
The Titans are back, and out of all of the books that are leading into Rebirth, this team and these characters seem to be the ones that are most directly tied to the Rebirth of the DC Universe. From what I understand, and I have yet to catch up on this series, the whole plot of Rebirth is going to be dealing with memory loss due to the actions of an-as-yet unrevealed villain. That plot has been the driving point to the Rebirth, and Justice League #50 is serving as a prologue to DC Rebirth Special #1 and Titans #1, in which the villain is expected to be revealed. Justice League #50 is also the only other title being released the same day as the Rebirth Special, so you know something big will likely be revealed tying all the threads of this Rebirth together with the New 52.
Update: DC is shuffling solicitations and stories and issue numbers to meet all the Rebirth demands in hopes of a successful launch. This may become a different issue number for Justice League and a different release date. Difficult keeping track of it all.
If you care about the story behind this whole thing, and you only read one series to try to put all the pieces together as best as possible, this would be it. Plus, the villain reveal could increase spec on these issues, or past issues if we have met them before in earlier books.
Returning Costume Bonus: Nightwing is back in his black and blue pre-New 52 costume in Titans and his solo title, which first appears in issue #1 of the first Nightwing Miniseries.
Golden Age Bonus
Trinity is coming back as a title featuring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman together as the focus of the series. They first appear together in a book in All-Star Comics #36.
There is going to be a ton of variants coming with these new titles, but I have yet to see any ratios for them. Also, stores seem to be able to get in on the variants game, similar to DK3: Master Race, as Midtown posted the pre-order for their Terry Dodson Batman #1 variant recently. The problem with the variants for Rebirth is the huge buyback promotion DC is offering. Basically DC is willing to take back essentially an unlimited number of copies of the first 80 (I believe) released titles from Rebirth (Rebirth Specials, #1s, and early issues that fall in that category). What this means is that shopkeepers that want to play the odds in their favor will likely over-order a bunch of titles, flip the variants at a higher cost, and return the normal covers, essentially increasing their profit because of the inflation and demand for the variants. This will lead to the market being flooded with tons of variants… early on at least. When issues 2, 3, and so on start to come out, the supply will shorten as this promotion ends, and this will likely increase demand for issues with hot artists or stories/characters that are proving to be popular in the new runs, before shopkeepers get a better feel for their ideal numbers. My advice: buy low and try not to overpay (always an obvious move) and buy books based on hot artists or artists you like regardless, so if you get stuck with a book at least it's something that will look good in your collection.
Some that stick out: Neal Adams will be doing the variant for Green Arrow #1. Ollie is back with the old school goatee it seems, and Neal Adams is a classic Green Arrow artist who is generally always in demand. Rafael Albuquerque, as mentioned earlier, is on Detective Comics and his Bat-related work has been brilliant in the past. What could be hot too, is the variant for Green Lanterns #1 from Emanuela Lupacchino. She is an up and coming talent who has done a handful of killer covers this past year including variant covers for Starfire #1, DC Bombshells #1, and the coloring book variant for Wonder Woman #48. Her pin-up style take on Jessica Cruz and the Lanterns will likely stand out in the crowd of initial variants for Rebirth. See examples from all 3 artists below.
Update: DC recently released their August solicitations, and a few notable variants seem to be on the list based on cover artists….
Adam Hughes for Supergirl: Rebirth #1
Bill Sienkiewicz for Harley Quinn #1 and #2
Stephen Platt for Deathstroke: Rebirth #1
Amanda Conner for Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1
There will also be variant covers from Ivan Reis, Yannick Paquette,Terry Dodson, Lee Bermejo, Matteo Scalero, and many other popular artists.
Again, not sure of the incentive ratios as I am not privy to retailer information, but a lot of great artists involved in the cover work for many of these titles!
One more title’s variants to look for, and I saved everything about this book for last, is our Highlander.
The Highlander: If there can be only one book to get…
The biggest spec book coming out of Rebirth is surprisingly not Batman or Harley Quinn related. It’s everyone’s favorite Amazon, Wonder Woman. This book should be huge in initial sales and pick up heat in the aftermarket. DC is going to be giving Wonder Woman a huge push with her movie coming out next year, and seeking ways to make her the focus of as many stories and events as possible, especially since they have a wide range of Gods and powerful characters they can throw in her path. She could possibly even be the focus of a line wide event next year (who knows).
Also, just like Batman in the New 52, the recipe for success is all in place: a very talented writer with a loyal following – check (Greg Rucka); an amazing artist with a unique vision for the character – check (Liam Sharp); and most importantly, the numbers are in her favor like they were with Batman. Shops do not know what to expect in sales from these re-launched ti—again, excuse me Rebirthed titles, and everyone will place safe bets on Batman and Harley Quinn and their related titles for their bulk orders, maybe even Superman after the increased buzz from the current storyline, and they will likely under order this issue like they did with the New 52 Batman #1. Shops that have been asking customers for pre-orders are seeing a huge boost in requests for Wonder Woman that didn’t exist before, and with her presence in the movies you will get an influx of non-traditional buyers seeking this out as an easy jumping on point. Once people see how good the story and art are likely to be with this creative team and word gets around, everyone is going to be hunting down copies of the special and probably especially #1 (which one will be the most sought after of the 2 will depend on what goes on inside).
On top of all those factors working in their favor, you have 2 of the hottest cover artists doing variants for her Rebirth special (Artgerm) and the first 24 issues (yes 24, the whole year of bimonthly releases!) of the series (Frank Cho, doing what I believe is his first DC work). Below you will find the Rebirth Special (reg and incomplete Artgerm variant) and #1 covers and preview images of the covers Frank Cho has been working on that he is releasing in partial snippets on social media (traditional warrior princess with no apparent outrage included in these). Should be great!
I expect this book to catch fire, and like I said, if you invest in only one book, make it this one… or Suicide Squad, because you know: Jim Lee and Harley Quinn. Hope you enjoyed the special, and may all your speculating dreams come true!