As 2021 begins, DC Comics is going back to the future. In a publishing initiative called "Future State," every ongoing DC superhero title from "Action Comics" to "Wonder Woman" will go on hiatus in January and February, replaced by 26 titles featuring the descendants and legacies of today's characters in various eras, from the immediate next generation to the end of time. When March arrives, most (but not all) of the regular titles will return in a trimmed-down line.
Weird? Yes, but only on the surface. Once you know the background, it almost makes sense.
This isn't the first time that DC has taken a two-month hiatus with all of its ongoing books. They did the same thing in April-May 2015, when a story line called "Convergence" replaced the regular books in a story where Brainiac takes various DC cities, puts them under domes on a planet outside time and space, and forces the superheroes to fight each other. Sorry, but none of it really mattered.
See, the real reason for Convergence was that DC Comics was moving from New York City to Burbank, Calif., and they gave their staff and regular freelancers a two-month break to facilitate the move.
There's also 5G. Not the fifth generation of broadband cellular networks, like you see on TV commercials. In comics, "5G" was a plan by former DC co-publisher Dan DiDio to replace all of DC's superheroes with a "fifth generation" of new faces. That was in the works when DiDio was abruptly fired in February by higher-ups in WarnerMedia. So what to do with all of that 5G stuff that had been commissioned? Well, duh.
So here we are with a two-month 5G instead of a permanent one. Which raises the question: Will Future State matter, or will it be another Convergence? Given its provenance, should we even care?
Yes. Because some of it will be reflected in DC's regular line when it returns in March. Also because there will be some "firsts."
To begin with, "Future State: The Next Batman" No. 1 — that's the actual title — showcases that The Next Batman will be Black. And the two-issue "Future State: Wonder Woman" introduces Yara Flor as the Next Wonder Woman. She's Latina, an Amazon from the Amazon Basin. We've had a bad-tempered Wonder Woman (Artemis) and a Black Wonder Woman (Nubia), and an army of Wonder Girls, who are almost always white. So a Latina Amazon is a new thing, one that makes one wonder what took so long. Yara is also a member in the two-issue "Future State: Justice League," and co-stars in the two-issue "Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman." But she's also going to have her own TV show on the CW, so yeah, she's a big deal.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. When all is said and done, DC Comics will return to its regular programming in March. It will be a much leaner publisher, with echoes of Future State, fewer titles and, yes, an anthology or two.
But that's a column for the future.