Of all the relaunched books in DC's New 52, perhaps none have enjoyed more universal critical success than the slightly twisted titles that make up their "Dark" and "Edge" lines. Sure, not every book's a hit, but the few titles that get panned are more than made up for by books like Swamp Thing, Animal Man, All-Star Western, and Justice League Dark, series that are routinely and loudly celebrated by readers and critics alike. If you were a fan of the earliest Vertigo efforts (like Sandman, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and Grant Morrison's Animal Man), this line of comics seems to be for you. It looks like that describes a lot of comics fans pretty accurately.
On Thursday, writers and artists on DC's Dark and Edge lines joined Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne to spill their guts about upcoming developments in their titles. What can readers look forward to from DC's dark side?
Animal Man/Swamp Thing: If you're following both these books, you know that their stories have kind of converged, as both heroes now fight the deathly forces of the Rot in their own way. Soon the heroes will unite, and the "Rotworld" crossover that's been teased for months will begin. Issue #12 of each series will serve as a prologue of sorts, while the real fun begins in #13. Though details weren't 100% clear, it seems like Rotworld takes place in the near future, when the Rot has somehow gained control of the Earth. A group of elemental heroes, including Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and less obvious choices like Batman villain Poison Ivy, now have to save the world, if they can. Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire teased that his character Frankenstein would also be joining the Rotworld fun, and that 19th century versions of Animal Man and Swamp Thing we saw in the Animal Man annual would return in the course of this story.
Justice League Dark: Speaking of Jeff Lemire, he just took over the reigns of Justice League Dark, and he had a few more spoilers to share than Bob Wayne was comfortable with. Mostly, this had to do with new faces who'd be appearing in the pages of JLD soon: again, the aforementioned Frankenstein ("writing Constantine-Frankenstein dialogue is one of the most fun things I do all week"); Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, a 1980s character DC's resurrecting later this year; finally, Tim Hunter from Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic will also be making an appearance. Lemire said that he got the blessing to do this from Neil himself, and it was the best e-mail he'd ever received.
Lemire also talked a bit about Justice League Dark #0, part of DC's September "Zero Month" initiative, where every book will take a breather from its main storyline to step back in time and look at a crucial aspect of a character's past. JLD #0 focuses on John Constantine coming to America for the first time and falling in love with Zatanna, only to find out she's got another suitor. Fans of Zatanna might guess this mysterious lover to be Batman. Could we have a Constantine/Batman showdown in our future?
Finally, Lemire spent time talking about his version of Black Orchid, a mysterious government agent/superhero who just joined up with the JLD. Lemire said that we won't learn her origin for quite some time, but that it will also, unsurprisingly, tie in to Rotworld.
Deathstroke: Writer/artist Rob Liefeld was on hand to talk about Deathstroke #0, which he mentioned would show us how merciless killer Slade Wilson finally turned into the genetically-enhanced assasin-for-hire he is today. We'll also start to see, he said, former WildCATS characters coming together, though he was not too forthcoming on details.
All-Star Western: Writer Jimmy Palmiotti said that ASW #0 will show the origin of bounty hunter Jonah Hex, but that it will be a personal, not superheroic, take. After that, the book will jump back to the relative present (meaning the late nineteenth century) and feature Jonah Hex fighting clowns, because who likes clowns? Though no explicit connection was drawn, fans of the series might be interested to see how clown criminals operate in 1890s Gotham City... could these be proto-Jokers?
Phantom Stranger: Artist Brent Anderson teased this upcoming series from DC, which had the briefest of previews in DC's Free Comic Book Day offering, if you knew where to look. All Anderson would say is that it's going to be dark, and that he likes drawing hats.
Amethyst of Gemworld: Going back to Amethyst, DC said that the fall-launching book would be in their $3.99 lead/back-up story format, so you'll get two tales every month, both with a sword-and-sorcery bend. The lead will, naturally, feature Amethyst, while the back will have a rotating crop of fantasy stories. Up first is a postapocalyptic, Mad Max-esque take on Beowulf from writer Tony Bedard and artist Jesus Saiz.
Team 7: Another new series launching in the fall is this covert ops action books that takes place early in DC's continuity. DC said that the book would feature heroes and villains working together before they really come into their own. For instance, this book stars Grifter, Deathstroke, the Black Canary, and Steve Trevor, though not all of them may be recognizable.
I, Vampire: Writer Josh Fialkov explained that the #0 issue of this title would show how main character Andrew Bennett first got turned by flashing back to 1591 London.