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The run-up to the holidays seems to have been quite a time for 5G plans at DC Comics. Bleeding Cool has been reporting on this publishing plan led by publisher Dan DiDio at DC Comics since the summer. A new generation of DC Comics characters to follow the laid- out Four Generations of DC Comics superheroes. The Fifth Generation would have new individuals take the traditional roles held in the big superhero books. And we started to get specifics – that Jonathan Kent would become Superman, Luke Fox would become Batman, Captain Cold Jr would be the new Flash, Jo Mullein would be the new lead Green Lantern, and the other characters would be aged out. Indeed, the plan was that at some point in 2020, the DC Comics Timeline as expressed at NYCC would see characters across the DC Universe suddenly aged, and the status of the DC Universe change. This is not something we have just pulled out of our asses, every aspect of this has been confirmed by multiple sources close to the stories, across executive, editorial, marketing and creative levels. This was the big plan.
But before DC Comics closed for Christmas, that plan was in flux. We told you about the plan for Marie Javins to run a new Convergence-style event in the spring of 2020 over two months, so that editorial could get a headstart on preparation for 5G. But it seems to the time to approve this event ran out, it was reduced to just one month and then to a handful of titles. Then delayed and taking up two months again, and now scheduled for late summer, early autumn. Unless it changes again. The plan is – or was – for the DC Universe titles to come to an end over the summer convention season, to lead into a two-month Convergence-style crossover and then 5G to launch in the autumn.
But the plan to suddenly age DC Comics characters between one issue and the next without notice, matching the new DC Timeline and waiting until 5G to explain it, has been put on hold. There have been huge editorial jitters it seems. The idea that a Black Label/DC Giant publishing line would provide a sop for those committed to the previous versions of the DC Comics characters also has had scheduling issues, as existing Black Label and Giant issues have fallen foul of lateness. And suddenly there's a lot more reticence, and firmly approved plans have gotten a lot softer in the run up to Christmas.
It was also around this point that DC Comics Executive Editor Pat McCallum, after months and months of work on this, seemed to have decided that enough was enough, and walked out.
Certain comic book creators, such as Scott Snyder, have been seen as treating 5G as their cue to exit the DC Comics Universe and go full Black Label/creator-owned. Just as soon as he and Greg Capullo complete their Metal 2 project, currently called Death Metal. There have been attempts to load this with 5G references that Snyder and Capullo had been resisting – and it looks like they may have won that battle. Though it may be used as the impetus that will see Superman and Batman age, along with the new DC timeline, and throw in an early mention regarding Dr Manhattan's trickery, it should be its own thing and will reflect the previous Metal series in throwing everything from across the wide DC Universe into the pot. Last time saw Sandman, Barbatos and Justice League Combining Robots in the maw, expect Death Metal to top that – and have a lot more Wonder Woman to it. No having to set up another Age Of Heroes.
Might this be the time for DC Comics to go back to Geoff Johns and ask him to smooth things out, as he did with Rebirth? DC Comics can't deny the popularity of his Doomsday Clock comic book, and the critical and commercial success that DC Rebirth initially brought to the whole line. No sign of his and Jason Fabok's Three Jokers yet on the schedules and Fabok is currently working on the third issue – but I am told there is a scene in the second book with Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd that will cause waves and probably irk certain fans even more than when Tom King did to Wally West and Poison Ivy combined. But when it comes to continuity, it will be as though these books never even happened, even though they grew out of big continuity changes in the DCU. Certainly not a living Alfred will be seen in the DCU as a result, so why would we see three Jokers in the Batman titles? Will Shazam #13 and the emergence of Superboy-Prime be Geoff Johns' attempt to sort this out? Or just his chance to have some fun?
As for the DC Timeline that DC publisher Dan DiDio showed off at NYCC on the big screen and Bleeding Cool did out best to thoroughly dissected, as we have mentioned before it was a) unfinished b) not meant to be seen publicly and c) wayyyy too early. It apparently has no relevance to whatever is going on in the DCU right now, until the event that launches 5G happens, and then that's the DC timeline going forward. But there will be changes to what we saw last year.
However, as we observed, everyone being aged up will be part of 5G. Instead of erasing continuity, it acknowledges that everything happened, had an impact and deals with the consequences – including ageing characters out of their roles, replaced by mostly-new characters. So that the current iteration of the Justice League basically fills the roles that the Justice Society used to …they pass their mantles on, but they'll still be a group of advisers, and have their own lower-profile adventures,
I was also told that one of the planned changes was that, unlike with the New 52, the Batman timeline now plans to have let every Robin "have their time." No more five Robins in five years… Dick Grayson will have been Robin for years, Jason Todd for years, Tim Drake for even longer, over a decade, before Damian came along. If everything still goes ahead, Bruce and Clark will both be about 60 years old when 5G starts (though Bruce will show it more).
The motto for 5G and the DC Timeline is that "everything happened" and Wonder Woman will be entrenched as the first DC superhero, even fighting in World War One, just like in the movie.
One comic I am told to look out for, where the first signs of what is actually happening will appear, is Metal Men, coincidentally written by DC publisher Dan DiDio.
The plan is for different series to organically, not all at once, but people will start to notice no more ongoing series announced for a while. And lots of books doing what seem to be 'final stories' – James Tynion IV has already teased what seems to be a final story between Batman and The Joker at the end of Batman #85. Look for more of those. Suicide Squad is probably the last big new ongoing series launch until 5G. All the books storylines will start to head towards a wrap-up around the release of Death Metal #1 and the Convergence-style event.
And if you start to see certain major creators from DC and Marvel drop off the landscape, it's because they are doing prep work for 5G. Just like with the House Of X books, where some of the titles were created up to a year before publication in secret, look for DC Comics to have been doing the same. Could this be what Brian Cunningham is working on? No one has seen him around much…
Just expect a lot from Wally West this year, while all this is going on. I have been told to keep my eye on Flash #750. And who knows, if we are all good boys and guys, we may even get Batman/Catwoman during all this. Maybe at the same time as The Three Jokers. At least the movie-based delays to the latter's scripts freed up Jason Fabok to work on the last days of Tom King's Batman run…
More as it spins out.