C2E2, one of the nation's largest pop culture events, is happening this weekend in Chicago, and I have an all access pass to everything. On Thursday, April 20th, I was given a sneak peek into some exciting DC Comics news before the con even began.
DC publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, along with heavyweight industry artists, Greg Capullo, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr., unveiled their newest project, Dark Matter. Dark Matter will be a series of books and comics presenting all-new superheroes to the DC canon. These heroes will be a part of the DC Universe, but instead of creating another Batman, they are bringing in new characters with their own history.
"Dark Matter is not an imprint, it's a sensibility that we are trying to instill in our comics, and it's a bannering on our books to show where we are introducing new characters coming out of the Dark Days, Dark Nights metal story line." said DC publisher Dan DiDio at the C2E2 press release, "Dark Days, Dark Night is our big event, it's our crossover event that will be starting in June/July for the first two parts."
And one of the most exciting parts of this new series is that diversity and art are at the center of these new works. Dark Matter titles will include The Silencer, featuring a female lead, Sideways, The Immortal Men, Damage, and The New Challengers. The kickoff will be Dark Days: The Forge, released in June, and Dark Days: The Casting, released in July.
In order to ensure the success of this project, DC is going back to its roots and letting the artwork drive the story, which is why they are bringing in such heavyweights such as Lee, Capullo, and Romita Jr.
"We are really leaning on bringing the sense of craft back into the comic storytelling," said DiDio, "the collaborative aspect of the writer and artist together to really enhance, and grow the business, and grow the art, and make it dynamic again the way we haven't seen in awhile."
I was naturally inquisitive as to the female hero, The Silencer. She is a non-white assassin. According to her creator, John Romita Jr., she is a female John Wick, but unlike Wick, her back story is not based on tragedy. She put in her time working as an assassin, left the business to lead a normal life, and is reactivated by Talia Gould to return back into the business. This character's qualities have a realistic touch, with the artwork reflecting a normal woman.
"She is not the average looking superhero," said Romita Jr., "I love the combination of the real and the fantasy. If there is too much superhero and not enough melodrama, you get too much overweighted. She is not superman, but she is a super assassin. She's buzzed her hair because long hair is a problem when you're fighting animals, and she's lean, she's cut she is chiseled and emotionally as well, and there is no tragedy that has happened on why she wants to kill anybody. This is a job and she loves what she's doing."
With the launch of these new characters and stories, DC is looking to expand its audience and gain new readers. And it's not just new characters but these stories are also bringing in other genres such as sci-fi and horror.
"We have the multiverse and that is going to play in how we do things," said artist Greg Capullo, "We're going to be able to open doors that have not been open before that are going to remain open and in place after it's all done hopefully it will also have you day dreaming on the potential of where we can take things."
And those daydreams are the real meat of the story here. By creating new diverse characters and expanding the universe, DC seems to be laying the groundwork for these veteran and future artists to create new iconic characters.
"We want everything to be reflected of today," said DiDio, "I think what's important is that we are capturing today's world. Not just speaking about the characters relatable but related to the world. This is about growing an audience and we want to be as inclusive as possible."
If this excites you, the fun doesn't stop there. As they are creating new characters, these heavyweight artists will also be mentoring younger generations working with DC comics. According to DiDio, there are more female artists rising than male artists right now within comics right now. If you are an artist or writer who hopes to someday work in comics, DC's talent development program may be what you are looking for. DC wants to continue to create new legends and you may have what they need.
"We have our talent workshops and what we are going to do is make sure talent gets the opportunity to work into the system and the process of DC," said DiDio. "This is about passing on the craft and knowledge of comic books onto the next generation. But this isn't just about DC U, DC itself is getting ready to expand our appeal and this is the first stage of a long plan on how we're going to expand who we are and reach out in as many ways as possible.'
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Isabel Sophia Dieppa is a writer and actor. She is a part of the performance duo Of This World in Chicago, IL. Dieppa is the recipient of a 2018 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grant, which she has used to report on property rights in Puerto Rico. Her interests lie in science, art, and history. Past writing includes interning for the Chicago Field Museum ECCO program, the national theater blog HOWLROUND, music reviews for UR Chicago, and in a former life was a beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She loves archaeology, kitties, and dancing. The next big adventure may include an archaeological dig in Peru. Follow her on twitter @isabelsdieppa.