Some of DC Comics’ most iconic and best-selling stories exist outside of the core DC Universe canon: Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke. Beginning in August, DC Comics hopes to replicate the circumstances under which such lasting works might be created by establishing DC Black Label, a prestige imprint of unique, standalone stories set outside of the current DC Universe continuity.
“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, a prime example being Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns,” publisher Jim Lee said in a statement. “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.”
Two of the initial DC Black Label titles have already been announced in other forms: Superman: Year One from the iconic Frank Miller and John Romita Jr., and The Other History of the DC Universe written by John Ridley with an unannounced art team. Rounding out the first wave is Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons from fan-favorite WW artist Phil Jimenez and writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, in her first long-form DC Comics work.
Superman: Year One Announcement Art by Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair
The rest of the announced DC Black Label titles are a who’s-who of the publisher’s heaviest hitters. Current Metal collaborators Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo will reteam for the future-set Batman: Last Knight on Earth; Joker creative duo Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo reunite for Batman: Damned co-starring John Constantine; and Greg Rucka and an unannounced artist will spin a seemingly dystopian Amazon-inspired saga with the working title of Wonder Woman: Diana’s Daughter.
Each DC Black Label series will have a unique format and release schedule, and will sport a stylized new logo and sophisticated trade dress to set them apart from the core DCU.
“DC Black Label offers leading writers and artists of any industry the opportunity to tell their definitive DC stories without being confined to canon,” executive editor Mark Doyle added. “We are carefully crafting each series to fit the vision of the creative team. All of these creators are masters of their craft.”
The announcement of DC Black Label comes just a few short weeks after DC revealed expansive plans for the DC Ink and DC Zoom imprints catering to Young Adult and middle-grade audiences, respectively, and just days after unveiling The Sandman Universe overseen by creator Neil Gaiman.
The full rundown of the initial DC Black Label titles is below. Superman: Year One kicks off the imprint in August 2018.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons Announcement Art by Phil Jimenez & Romulo Fajardo Jr.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Renee 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.
Batman: Damned Announcement Art by Lee Bermejo