A comprehensive look back at this past year in DC Comics.

Any way you look at it, DC Comics had a very eventful 2009.

2009’s biggest story out of DC Comics was the announcement due to the success of Marvel Entertainment’s movies and lack of DC movies that Warner Brothers was restructuring DC Comics. President and Publisher Paul Levitz stepped down and became a writer and a new President Diane Nelson was appointed. Dan DiDio is still the Executive VP of Editorial. This was done to create a new synergy between DC Comics and Warner Brothers and to better exploit their characters in media.  As of now we still really haven’t seen much change but hopefully 2010 will clear it up.

Nightwing as Batman

In its publishing arm, almost every character was thrown for a loop. 2009 started with the end of the much delayed Grant Morrison penned Final Crisis mini-series. At the end of it, Batman (Bruce Wayne), was apparently killed by Darkseid but instead was shown to be lost in the beginning of time.

After this the Bat-titles went under a major revamp.  First of all, Dick Grayson (Nightwing aka the 1st Robin) took up the mantle of Batman while Daiman (Bruce’s son with Talia Al Ghul) became Robin.  Tim Drake (Robin) became Red Robin and believes Bruce to still be alive.  Spoiler with Oracle as her mentor became the new Batgirl.  Right now the Bat books look like this: Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison, Red Robin and Batgirl with their own titles, along with Gotham City Sirens (a book focusing on Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn) and Streets of Gotham (starring Batman and all his supporting cast). 2010 should be interesting with DC already announcing The Return of Bruce Wayne mini series in April. The question is if Bruce comes back, will he regain the cowl?

Mon-El

Meanwhile, the Superman books also underwent a major revamp. After Brainiac attacked Earth and killed Jonathan Kent, Superman found the bottle of Kandor on his ship, full of Kryptonians. The Kryptonians went off and built their own world of New Krypton just outside of Earth. Superman chose to leave Earth and become a citizen of New Krypton. This in turn led to him becoming a member of General Zod’s army. With Superman away, he left Metropolis in the hands of Mon-El.  Mon-El, a childhood friend of Superman’s from the planet Daxam, has similar powers but is deathly allergic to lead. Meanwhile, Lois Lane’s father General Lane made the world turn on the Kryptonians and the Man of Steel himself. So right now they are going through a “World Without Superman” leading into a crossover this spring. The bottom line is Superman does not appear in any of his titles except a new one entitled Superman: World of New Krypton. Mon-El has taken over the main Superman book which has led to a sales slump, but at least things are interesting.

Flash: Rebirth

Another huge story in 2009 was the Return of Barry Allen, The Silver age Flash (if you don’t know what silver age means don’t worry, I’ll cover it in a future column). He returned in Final Crisis after sacrificing himself in the 1st ever line wide crossover in DC in 1985 called Crisis On Infinite Earths.  He reappeared in Final Crisis outrunning Death itself. Then DC mega-writer (and my personal nominee for writer of 2009) Geoff Johns did a 6 issue mini-series called Flash: Rebirth. In this he explored the history and relevance of the character of Barry Allen while repairing the MAJOR damage done to the Flash franchise by Dan Didio and DC (this will be explained in my NEXT column). He made it so there is now a Flash family with Barry as Flash, Wally West as a Flash as well, and the return of Bart Allen as Kid Flash. Time will tell if fans can embrace Barry as Flash again.

Another resurrection that Geoff Johns did was that of Superboy aka Conner Kent, a huge fan favorite who was killed in 2006’s Infinite Crisis (wow, they do a lot of Crisises don’t they?) for the sole reason that there was a legal battle going on between DC and the Siegel Estate (the children of Superman’s creator Jerry Siegel). Luckily that has been settled and Superboy is back and even got a starring role in Adventure Comics which was one of the year’s best launches by DC.

Finally, the biggest story in the DC Universe was that of Blackest Night, which is a line wide crossover years in the making. Again, when Geoff Johns revamped the Green Lantern franchise back in 2005’s Green Lantern: Rebirth, he hinted towards their being other color rings other than that of green and yellow. So after a year of revealing the Red Lanterns, the Violet Lanterns, the Orange Lanterns, the Blue Lanterns, and the Indigo Lanterns…we meet the Black Lanterns who feed and resurrect the dead. This leads to many of DC’s former heroes and villains being resurrected as Black Lanterns. Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and Firestorm (YEA!)  etc. It has also let to some pretty surprising deaths. I won’t spoil them since the story is still not over. This will end in early 2010 with rumors that it will redefine the DC Universe and its titles once again.

Blackest Night

So in 2010 we have a pretty big year ahead in the DCU. Potentially the returns of Superman and Batman (Bruce Wayne) and maybe some deaths and resurrections. Hey, it wouldn’t be DC without either of those.

On the media side, DC released Watchmen which was the long awaited adaptation (literal adaptation panel for panel almost) of Alan Moore’s masterpiece. You either loved it or hated it. It all depends on your perspective. I highly recommend the Ultimate Cut on Blu-Ray  if you can spare 4 hours to watch it.  DC announced plans for a live action Green Lantern movie with Ryan Reynolds (him again?) as Hal Jordan. News has been slow about when it’s being released or even beginning to film. DC really hits home runs with its animated programs (Batman, Superman, Justice League are all must sees). This year they released 3 direct-to-DVD movies. They were Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (based on Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman arc). All three had their pluses and minuses. Surprisingly I think I enjoyed Wonder Woman the most. Just the voice acting and story was unique. Green Lantern was good but could have been so much better. It’s hard to do these justice (pardon the pun) with a running time of 73 mins.

I would think 2010’s goal would be to catch up to Marvel in terms of movies. DC has nothing on its slate except Green Lantern. The Superman franchise is dead with no one wanting to touch it. Batman is on hold till 2011/2012 at the earliest. I have no idea what they are doing but I’m sure they think they are on top of things. :shrug:

Finally, a personal favorite of mine even though everyone on the internet seems to hate it, is Smallville still going strong after 9 seasons. Hopefully it will be renewed but even as I write this I am excited for the upcoming JSA episode where they introduce the Justice Society.

So as you can see it was a year of ups and downs for DC Comics. Hopefully 2010 will be clearer, but either way I’m sure we’ll be surprised, entertained, or even annoyed by their choices in publishing and media.

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