The rotational churn of DC Comics New 52 is happening again. After a New York Comic Con weekend where the publisher announced an incoming Superman title by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee to accompany its new "Justice League of America" series, they've now released January solicitations showing that four lower-selling titles will get the axe before those high-profile launches.
Shipping their seventeenth and final issues in January will be "Blue Beetle," "Grifter," "Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E." and "Legion Lost."
Asked earlier this month by CBR whether titles would fall as the New 52 expanded, DC VP of Sales Bob Wayne said that cancellations came first and foremost at the feet of the ideas on the table rather than the sales. "There's always going to be some pressure on whether or not the new idea being pitched is maybe more exciting than another series we have that may have already told its story," he said. "That might mean it's maybe time to put that title on the shelf for a while or have the characters migrate into some other title. So there's not really a hard and fast rule where there's a line in the sand where if it falls below this point on the Diamond chart or doesn't make this percentage of X, it's gone. It's really very story driven."
A close look at the most recently available sales charts do and don't support that idea. Fro example, two of the cancelled books – "Grifter" and "Blue Beetle" – are definitely the lowest-selling books in the New 52 line that haven't been announced for cancellation already, so their end comes as no surprise. However, "Firestorm: The Nuclear Men" is next in lowest sales before "Frankenstein," and a number of other titles like "Hawkman," "I, Vampire" and "DC Universe Presents" mix in before "Legion Lost." Meanwhile, the next lowest series up are "Deathstroke" and "Demon Knights."
As Wayne's logic supports, it's easy to see why some of these low sellers are ending while others will continue on. "Blue Beetle's" final issue, #16, will wrap a story centering on the teen hero's conflict with the alien Reach, but the solicitation for the book points fans of the character to DC's next space-faring series – the just-announced "Threshold" which will be written by original Beetle scribe Keith Giffen.
Similarly, "Grifter" – one of several books whose creative fates were in the air after writer/artist Rob Liefeld's abrupt departure from DC – is ending with the wrap of a storyline involving Cole Cash's past. On the other side of the equation, former Liefeld title "Deathstroke" is gaining new writer Justin Jordan in January who will tie the book closer to his just-launched "Team 7" series. And while it is a low seller now, the third Liefeld title "Hawkman" is wrapping the "Hawkman: Wanted" arc with #16. Presumably after that, the series will welcome new creators as the marquee DC hero makes his way towards "Justice League of America" membership.
And across the rest of the cancelled and lower-selling titles, similar effects are seen such as "Frankenstein" wrapping after its part in the "Rotworld" crossover is done while "Demon Knights" continues under newly minted writer Robert Venditti. Interestingly, the current "Black and Blue" arc in "DC Universe Presents" is finishing with its fourth part in January rather than going to five issues as initially planned.
Assuming the new Superman book and "Justice League of America" launch in February (which may not happen, especially given Co-Publisher Lee's hectic schedule), the current DCU lineup still doesn't add up to 52 comics. Since Co-publishers Lee and Dan DiDio have often stated that that magic number is where they will keep the line at, more new series announcements could be right around the corner.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on the shape of the New 52 in the new year.