In January 2018, as part of Black History Month, DC Comics held a DC in DC event at the Newseum. The highlight being their "The Many Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through the African-American Lens" panel which included the announcement by John Ridley of his new comic book for DC, The Other History Of The DC Universe. Ridley had recently won an Oscar for writing the movie 12 Years A Slave, and had seen his The American Way comic revived by DC Comics.
Then-DC President Diane Nelson led the event, did a little dance and invited Ridley on to announce the project. It also received the front cover of Diamond Previews for the solicitation of the first issue. But then? Nothing. No subsequent solicitations of a second issue and orders for the first were cancelled.
The Other History Of The DC Universe was intended to examine the DC mythology in a literary fashion. That it would analyze iconic DC moments and chart sociopolitical gains through the perspectives of DC superheroes who came from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including John Stewart, Extraño, Vixen, Supergirl, Katana and Rene Montoya among others. At its core, the series focuses on the lives of those behind the costumes, and their endeavours to overcome real-world issues. At the time, Ridley states "I could not be more excited by the opportunity to excavate the canon of the DC Universe through a vast array of characters who've earned their seat at the table. I'm very impressed with DC's commitment to making their history as reverent and urgent as it is engaging and entertaining for all its many fans."
The five-part series, initially lined up as part of DC's Black Label imprint, was intended to be published in January 2019, again, for Black History Month, with the first issue drawn by Alex Dos Diaz on art for the first issue, and rotating artists for subsequent issues. The series will be more illustrated prose rather than comics and the book's first issue was meant to follow Jefferson Pierce, who becomes Black Lightning, with future instalments featuring Karen and Mal Duncan, Tatsu Yamashiro, and Renee Montoya.
I am told that the original plan for the book was for this to be created as a companion book to the 1986-published History of the DC Universe limited series created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez which was published by DC Comics following the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. It was later collected and repackaged in 2009 with a cover by Alex Ross. As a result, DC decided the pages needed to have an 'epic' feel to them. And that when the first pages by Dos Diaz came in, DC believed they looked too much like an ordinary comic book and didn't support the text. Since then DC Comics has lined up artists they feel are more fitting to the project but they are taking their time, as epic-style artists tend to.
And now it has gone official and is scheduled for November 24th with new artists Giuseppe "Cammo" Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia, with covers by Camuncoli (with Marco Mastrazzo) and Jamal Campbell. I do wonder what Michael Davis will have to think about this all.
The new PR reads;
Ridley is no stranger to comic book storytelling at DC, having written The Authority: Human on the Inside (with artist Ben Oliver) in 2004 in addition to an issue of the 2005 The Razor's Edge: Warblade series. Ridley also collaborated with artist Georges Jeanty on the limited series The American Way (2006) and its sequel, The American Way: Those Above and Those Below (2017). On September 29, the Batman: The Joker War Zone anthology will feature a short story by Ridley, with art by Olivier Coipel.
"Following the American Way sequel, I was eager to tell a different story in the DC Universe, one that spotlights heroes who operate outside the prevailing culture," said Ridley. "Considering the events of the last few months, I don't think there has been a more urgent need to see the world through a variety of lenses and perspectives. I am deeply appreciative of DC, Cammo, and Andrea, and to all the artisans who have literally put years of work into these stories. I am so enthusiastic for the opportunity to share this series with both the longtime fans of the DCU and a new generation of readers who I hope will feel invited and encouraged to join in."
This five-issue series reframes iconic moments from DC history, exploring them through the eyes of DC Super Heroes representing traditionally disenfranchised groups. The series centers around the perspectives of Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning; his daughter Anissa, also known as Thunder; Mal Duncan (Herald) and his wife, Karen Beecher (Bumblebee); Renee Montoya (the Question); and Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana).
"The opportunity to have John, Cammo, and Andrea tell this story couldn't have come at a better time," said Mark Doyle, DC Black Label executive editor. "Comic books have a proud history of being a reflection of the world around them, and it only makes sense that includes the viewpoints and perspectives that show the diversity of the superhero experience. I think fans will be very pleased come November."
This series promises to be an experience unlike any other. DC fans may think they know the history of the DC Universe, but its true history is far more complex. The Other History of the DC Universe isn't about saving the world—it's about having the strength to simply be who you are.
The Other History of the DC Universe debuts at open and operating comic book stores and participating digital retailers on Tuesday, November 24th.