1. Headline
  1. Headline
DC Comics
DC Comics’ super-team the Justice League is starting over from issue No. 1, along with 51 other comic book titles. And all of them will be published digitally on the same day they premiere in print.
By
TODAY.com
updated 8/30/2011 4:13:20 PM ET 2011-08-30T20:13:20

Superman won’t be married to Lois Lane anymore. Batgirl will get out of the wheelchair the Joker put her in and bop bad guys again. And the faces behind the masks of DC Comics’ superheroes will be more reflective of an America that isn’t as white as it used to be.

Changes like that were enough to have fans camped out in folding chairs in front of Midtown Comics’ Times Square store Tuesday afternoon, waiting to snap up copies of Justice League No. 1 — the first of 52 DC comic books about to start over from Issue No. 1 — when it comes out on Wednesday.

But while those may be some of the most visually obvious alterations as the venerable publisher shakes up its entire fantasy universe, the biggest difference may be digital. Beginning Wednesday, all DC Comics will be available on digital devices such as the iPad the same day they hit comic-book racks.

Artist and DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, who drew the first issue of the new Justice League (DC’s first-string superhero team) and was key in redesigning the appearances of iconic characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, told TODAY.com that the digital initiative will make comics “a more immediate experience.

  1. Stories from
    1. 5 Things to Know About World Series Hero Madison Bumgarner
    2. Debbie Matenopoulos Welcomes a Daughter
    3. Apple CEO Tim Cook Publicly Comes Out as Gay
    4. How Kerry Washington Is Taking a Stylish Stand Against Domestic Violence
    5. The Haunted States of America: Iconic Ghosts of the Union (Infographic)

“It’s all about getting comics into the hands of new readers,” Lee said. “We’re trying to introduce these characters to new audiences.”

“What we’re doing is reaching out past the direct market,” agreed DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, referring to the comics shops and bookstores that most comics fans have gone to for their four-color fix in recent decades. Nowadays, Superman and Batman may be bigger stars on multiplex and Xbox“ screens than they are in print. “People who know the movies and video games don’t necessarily know that comics are even being printed,” DiDio said.

Story: Who needs superpowers? Real people take over comics

And part of that outreach involves readers who aren’t necessarily white and male. Not to be outdone by archrival Marvel Comics, which earlier this month introduced a half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man , DC’s “New 52” will feature black and Latino heroes prominently. There’s even a lesbian superheroine: Batwoman (not to be confused with Batgirl, who is no longer disabled in her new incarnation), whom DC proclaims “the first LGBT character to star in an eponymous series published by either of America’s Big Two comic book publishers.”

Story: New Spider-Man boasts big multicultural changes

But what about longtime comics fans and traditionalists who are accustomed to having their superheroes male and white (and their Superman in those little red underpants he always wore over his tights, which seem to have disappeared along with his marriage to Lois)?

DC Comics
DC Comics says that Batwoman will be the first comic from a Big Two comics publisher to star an “LGBT character.”

“At first, many fans voiced frustration and anger, but that slowly gave way to excitement and cautious optimism,” said Gerry Gladston, who as co-owner of Midtown Comics has his finger on the pulse of fandom. “The reason for doing this is to make the characters more relevant and provide a better jumping on point for a new generation of readers, while reinvigorating current fans and lapsed readers.”

“Being a creator is not just doing what the reader wants,” Lee told TODAY.com. “If you don’t have the ability to surprise readers, you run the risk of letting characters ossify.”

Not to mention DC Comics itself, which at age 76 is doing its best to remain spry — and relevant in a digital age. “The DC universe was built in a specific time and place,” DiDio acknowledged. “But it’s a wonderfully diverse audience out there.”

One that, hopefully, still wonders what the Man of Tomorrow is up to today.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: From comic pages to big screen, what makes the cut?

loading photos...
  1. 5 comics that should (and 5 that shouldn’t) be movies

    As superhero movies continue to pack moviegoers in the aisles and their stars court fans at Comic-Con in San Diego, here's a look at five comic franchises the studios have somehow overlooked -- and five they should have.

    Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man all have had multiple movies, yet comics' most iconic female figure has never had even one live-action, big-screen portrayal. A script by Joss Whedon (of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame) never came to fruition, and a promised Warner Bros. movie is still at least two years away. Do we smell super-sexism? Maybe the Amazon princess hit the glass ceiling in her invisible plane. (DC Comics) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Catwoman (2004)

    Doubtless inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer's memorable turn as the ultimate cat lady in "Batman Returns" (1992), French director Jean-Christophe "Pitof" Comar upped the ante by casting the uber-sexy Halle Berry as the title character in 2004's "Catwoman," but still somehow managed to cough up one hairball of a movie. The narrative has little or nothing to do with the classic Batman villainess (her age-old alter-ego "Selina Kyle" is jettisoned in favor of mousey "Patience Phillips," for instance). And while visually striking in her leather get-up, Berry is so unconvincing that she earned a Worst Actress Golden Raspberry award -- which she bravely accepted in person. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Doctor Strange

    $7 billion. That's how much eight Harry Potter films have racked up. Wouldn't it make sense that the Sorceror Supreme of Marvel Comics, Doctor Strange, could make at least a piece of that magically appear at the box office? Especially when his narrative -- an arrogant surgeon damages his hands in an accident and journeys to the Himalayas in search of a mystical cure, but instead is tutored to become the world's greatest magician (not unlike a certain young Hogwarts student) -- is so relatable and contemporary. Yet aside from a little-seen 1978 TV-movie, the mystic mage has yet to have a live-action adaptation, though scripts have been in development for decades. (Marvel Comics) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. The Punisher (1989, 2004, 2008)

    Deliciously devoid of even the slightest shred of compassion, Marvel's gun-toting, grimacing antihero The Punisher is precisely the type of comic book character that gives parents pause, given that he's more like Charles Bronson in "Death Wish" than mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. So, while not the ideal comic book for Junior to be thumbing through, he seemed perfect for the big screen. Yet three attempts have ...er... backfired. The 1989 adaptation starring the wooden Dolph Rundgren was tepidly cheesy and went straight to video. A 2004 version starring chiseled Tom Jane (left) as the vigilante was more faithful, but crumpled under the weight of its own humorlessness. As for "Punisher: War Zone" from 2008, the less said the better. The silver lining? The franchise seems to be finally out of ammo. (Artisan Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The New Teen Titans

    Though the original Teen Titans were a superhero team in their own right in the 1960s , DC Comics’ New Teen Titans made their mark in the early 1980s as yin to the yang of Marvel Comics’ wildly popular X-men. No longer relegated to trailing behind Batman’s cape, Robin leads the show here, flanked by other super-sidekicks like Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and new characters like Cyborg, Raven and Starfire. Though possibly lacking the tortured mutant pathos of their Marvel counterparts, the New Titans exuded their fair share of emotional turmoil via the soulfully complex conscience of gloomy empath Raven and the youthful warrior’s rage of alien Starfire, a scantily-clad doppelganger of the X-men’s volatile Phoenix.

    The New Titans have made it to the small screen via an animated series, and there are rumors of a live-action series about Raven. But there’s no reason they couldn't transition to the big screen with the same success as the X-Men, whose franchise is going strong after five films. (DC Comics) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Howard the Duck (1986)

    Originally the hero of a clever comic book about a talking duck from another dimension who’s trapped in a world he never made, Howard became trapped in a movie that never should have been made when this bloated mess came out. Though it was produced by Star Wars creator George Lucas, it is considered by many to be one of the worst films ever made.

    What went wrong? For one thing, Howard was played by various little people in unconvincing duck suits (here's one with Lea Thompson, whose career somehow survived). Today he would be probably be portrayed in CGI – and it still wouldn’t work. Some comic books just belong staying comic books. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The Inhumans

    Now that Hollywood has finally embraced fairly complex comics like " Watchmen" and the X-Men titles, isn't it time some of the more esoteric superheroes get their due? Not unlike the X-Men, the Inhumans were literally a breed apart, genetically engineered by aliens who later abandoned them. With Black Bolt (so powerful that his faintest whisper can level mountains) as their king, the Inhumans' rich history bears all the classic trappings of an epic poem or Shakespearian tragedy. Or at least an enjoyable two hours at the cineplex. (Marvel Comics) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Jonah Hex (2010)

    You have to wonder how the Warner Bros. pitch meeting about this turkeyburger must have gone. “Hey, here’s an idea: With superhero movies making zillions, let’s ignore all the beloved characters our DC Comics division owns. Instead, let’s make a western based a second-tier comic with a hideously disfigured antihero. Yeah, that’ll work.”

    It didn’t; critics ambushed the bloody western starring Josh Brolin as a supernatural gunfighter. Even Megan Fox as a lovestruck prostitute couldn’t help; audiences stayed away in droves and tie-in toys gathered dust in warehouses. Almost as if Harry Potter or Doctor Strange had put a hex on it. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Milk & Cheese

    From the twisted mind of writer/artist Evan Dorkin, cult favorites Milk & Cheese are two pint-size -- literally -- dairy products who were first unleashed on an unsuspecting comic underground in the late 1980s. Driven by a fondness for booze and a rampant appetite for violence and mayhem, the anthropomorphic carton of milk and diminutive wedge of cheese giddily run afoul of all semblance of decency. Though Dorkin has reportedly turned down all offers to turn the nihilistic duo into cartoon or movie stars, there is a deluxe hardcover anthology slated for December 2011. The perfect holiday gift! (SLG Publishing) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The Spirit (2008)

    If you think what Paz Vega has in mind for Gabriel Macht in this still from the big-screen adaptation of Will Eisner’s 1940s newspaper comic strip is bad, it’s downright merciful compared to what the critics did to it. Eisner, inventor of the graphic novel and a bona fide comics legend, deserved far better than to have his masked crimefighter sullied by this almost universally panned stinker: “To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material,” Roger Ebert wrote. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Eric Risberg / ASSOCIATED PRESS

    What are the best outlet stores? Consumer Reports says ...

    10/30/2014 10:55:47 AM +00:00 2014-10-30T10:55:47
  1. Nbc News

    Nurse Kaci Hickox defies quarantine this morning with bike ride

    10/30/2014 1:51:05 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T13:51:05
  1. Nightly News

    Brittany Maynard may stay a little longer than planned, she says

    10/30/2014 1:34:01 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T13:34:01
  1. Turn your home into a haunted house: Martha Stewart’s 3 easy DIY Halloween decorations

    Halloween’s around the corner, but it’s not too late to create a haunted house of your own! Just take a look at Martha Stewart’s last-minute DIY decorations.

    10/30/2014 12:43:36 PM +00:00 2014-10-30T12:43:36
  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    At Home with TODAY: Jenna Wolfe shows the love in Harper's nursery

    10/30/2014 11:37:28 AM +00:00 2014-10-30T11:37:28