DC Comics’ Black Label, announced through The Hollywood Reporter today, will pair writer Frank Miller (Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns) with artist John Romita Jr. (Kickass, All-Star Batman) for Superman: Year One.
But that’s not all: Kelly Sue Deconnick (Captain Marvel, Bitch Planet) will team with Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman, Infinite Crisis) for a retelling of the origin of the Amazons. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the team behind Dark Nights: Metal, will tell an equally wild story about Batman carrying the Joker’s head around a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Hot off his own bestselling run on Wonder Woman, Greg Rucka will reprise the character in a very different way. And John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) will retell the history of the DC Universe from a new and modern perspective.
The idea behind Black Label, says DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee, is to invite the biggest artists and writers in comics today to work with the biggest of DC’s characters, and give them the freedom to do whatever they want.
“Many of our perennially best-selling, critically acclaimed books were produced when we unleashed our top talent on standalone, often out-of-continuity projects featuring our most iconic characters,” Lee said in a statement, “a prime example being Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Creating DC Black Label doubles down on our commitment to working with all-star talent and trusting them to tell epic, moving stories that only they can tell with the highest levels of creative freedom.”
That creative freedom of Black Label includes freedom from DC’s main continuity, and Lee is not wrong about the impact of stand-alone books to DC’s history as a publisher. Great creators using DC-owned characters as jumping off points, but without the limits of fitting in with any particular DC timeline, is the situation in which perennially selling staples like The Sandman, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were born.
DC recently announced it will return to the world of The Sandman with a Neil Gaiman-overseen imprint, started up a spiritual sequel-cum-crossover to Watchmen, and now with Frank Miller on Superman: Year One, is returning to the creative force behind The Dark Knight Returns as well. The announcement describes the book as:
A groundbreaking, definitive treatment of Superman’s classic origin story in honor of his 80th anniversary. This story details new revelations that reframe the Man of Steel’s most famous milestones—from Kal-El’s frantic exile from Krypton, to Clark Kent’s childhood in Kansas, to his inevitable rise to become the most powerful and inspiring superhero of all time.
Here are DC’s descriptions of the other currently-announced Black Label titles:
BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the creative team behind DARK KNIGHTS: METAL
Batman wakes up in a desert. He doesn’t know what year it is or how The Joker’s head is alive in a jar beside him, but it’s the beginning of a quest unlike anything the Dark Knight has undertaken before. In this strange future, villains are triumphant and society has liberated itself from the burden of ethical codes. Fighting to survive while in search of answers, Bruce Wayne uncovers the truth about his role in this new world—and begins the last Batman story ever told.
BATMAN: DAMNED from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, the creative team behind JOKER
On a deserted Gotham City bridge, a body is found. Whispers spread the news: Joker is dead. But is this a dream come true or a nightmare being born? Now Batman and DC’s outlaw magician John Constantine must hunt the truth through a Gotham City hellscape. The city’s supernatural recesses are laced with hints about a killer’s identity, but the Dark Knight’s descent into horror will test his sanity and the limits of rationality, as he must face a horror that doesn’t wear a mask.
WONDER WOMAN HISTORIA: THE AMAZONS from Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet) and Phil Jimenez (INFINITE CRISIS)
A Homeric epic of the lost history of the Amazons and Queen Hippolyta’s rise to power. Featuring monsters and myths, this three-book saga spans history from the creation of the Amazons to the moment Steve Trevor washes up on the shores of Paradise Island, changing our world forever.
WONDER WOMAN: DIANA’S DAUGHTER (working title) from Greg Rucka (WONDER WOMAN, BATWOMAN)
It’s been 20 years since the world stopped looking to the skies for hope, help, and inspiration. Now the world keeps its eyes down, and the powers that have risen have every intention of keeping things that way. Amongst a scattered, broken resistance, a young woman seeks to reclaim what has been forgotten, and on the way will learn the truth about herself, her heritage, and her destiny.
THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE from John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, THE AMERICAN WAY)
A compelling literary series analyzing iconic DC moments and charting sociopolitical gains through the perspectives of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including John Stewart, Extraño, Vixen, Supergirl, Katana and Rene Montoya, among others. At its core, the story focuses on the lives of those behind the costumes, and their endeavors to overcome real-world issues. It isn’t about saving the world, it’s about having the strength to simply be who you are.
Superman: Year One will hit shelves in August as the first Black Label book to be published — but the Hollywood Reporter notes that each Black Label title “will be released in a format and schedule dictated by its creators.”