In September 2011, DC Comics launched the ‘New 52’ – a company wide reboot (sort of) that sought to put a firmer hold on continuity and push characters forward for a new audience.
In September 2012, DC Comics launched ‘Zero Month’ – a series of ‘origin’ issues for some characters, and reboot issues for others. A way to hook new readers while sticking to the continuity they’d established.
In September 2013, DC Comics launch ‘Villain Month’ – which doesn’t sound accessible to new readers at all, but rather a fun way of switching up current series by focusing on iconic villains (Darkseid, Two-Face, Bizarro) and not so iconic villains (Desaad is… not good on his own.)
Dan Didio and Jim Lee were interviewed over at Buzz Feed. It’s a really good interview, with some fantastic artwork. I’ve included highlights below, with relevant imagery.
Dan DiDio: When we launched the New 52 in September of 2011, we decided to do something different and daring each September to draw attention to our line and really focus on what our goals are for the year. What we did back in 2011 was relaunch our entire line. In 2012, we went back and looked at all our heroes with Zero Month and told some early stories and origins. This September we wanted to try something a little different and really explore our villain base, and show the challenges our heroes face with every story and every issue, because of the strength of the characters taking over their books in that month.
On the surface it’s a pure gimmick to keep momentum after Trinity War (which sounds absolutely fantastic, and will be covered by me in depth), but if you dig deeper it does genuinely appear to be a logical extension of where DC Comics have been going since Flashpoint ended. The basic gist is that Barry Allen screwed up time twice, and retroactively led to Pandora’s Box being opened; which, in turn, was recovered by Team 7 five years ago (in DC continuity.) The idea seems to be that Pandora’s Box is going to be reopened, and the DC villains are going to start taking control again. Whispers of a Secret Society in Justice League suggest that we’re going to see the superheroes start to lose, and lose big, real soon.
DD: You’ll see a story taking place over the summer called Trinity War, and there are events that take place at the conclusion that will launch us into our first major cross over in the New 52, which is called Forever Evil. Forever Evil is primarily focused on all the villains of the DC Universe. We couldn’t think of any better way to showcase the villains than spotlighting them in this fashion.
JL: Forever Evil is going to be a seven issue limited series. Trinity War is a crossover that happens within the Justice League family of books.
This is a particularly inspired idea. 52 was a rousing success for DC (despite Didio’s protests), and directly building off momentum from a event with a limited series (especially one rooted directly in, and set up by, Justice League and Justice League America) is a good way of keeping the ongoing story going. Especially given the rumored ‘JL-JSA’ crossover in 2014.
Will Villain Month have any major repercussions? Is there a chance that some of the heroes won’t make it through September?
DD: They might make it through September, but I can’t guarantee they’ll make it through the entire series. That includes what might be one of the most talked about events for DC Comics this year. One of our major recognizable characters will be affected in a very dramatic way.
JL: If you’re going to do an event that impacts the entire universe, there have to be consequences or repercussions, and this one is going to be meaningful. It all comes out of the great story starting in September.
This is encouraging news. So far in the New 52, DC hasn’t cheated ‘too badly’ regarding death. They do have loopholes, of course, but being upfront with loopholes is different -and it seems like they do want to make a vested effort not to cheat death. We’ll never be rid of it in comics (and nor should we), but as long as consistent rules are followed it’s not a major issue.
So I say bring on Villain Month.