Archive for June 24th, 2011

24
Jun
11

New looks in the new DCU

As you’re probably heard by now, especially if you read my columns or listen to my podcast, starting in September DC Comics is relaunching its entire line. This means restarting every title with a new first issue, launching several all-new titles, and tweaking the continuity and costumes of several long-standing heroes. Looking at the stuff that’s been announced so far, I’m mostly excited. There are some changes I don’t like (Harley Quinn’s new costume) and omissions that I’m not thrilled about (Power Girl and Xombi), but we’re also going to get ongoing series for great characters like Mr. Terrific (who has never had one before), new starts for deserving characters like Static, and the integration of the Wildstorm characters in the DCU. There’s a lot of potential there.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about much, though, is what the books are going to look like. I heard a quick reference somewhere that seemed to imply the books will have new logos and a new trade dress, which is to be expected, but so far we’ve only gotten one glimpse of them: what will apparently be the new logo for The Fury of Firestorm.

Firestorm is one of those characters that’s been around for a long time — over 30 years now — and he’s got a devoted following, but he’s never quite cracked the upper echelon of DC’s top heroes. I’m really looking forward to reading this title, though, because I do like the character and the creative team of Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar is a great combination.

What interests me at the moment, though, is this logo. It’s a cool look — contemporary, with that sort of spiral coming from the “O” that I think is intended to evoke the atomic nature of his powers. It’s also very different from his previous logos:

Firestorm’s popularity has waxed and waned over the years, you see. This is the fourth attempt at a solo series for the character, and at least the seventh logo. Looking at the older ones, it looks like they either tried to evoke the “fire” part of the name or the “nuclear’ element, with only the sixth one (bottom right corner) trying to bring in both.

I was looking at this and thinking about it, and I suddenly found myself wondering… when did I become such a nerd for logos? I blame the great comic book letterer Todd Klein, who often runs logo studies on his blog, where he goes through all of the different logos a particular character has had and discusses the design. I never really put a lot of thought into them before, but I’ve really come to appreciate logo creation as an art form of its own.

This, of course, got me thinking about the other logos. Will DC change them all? They haven’t said one way or another, but I think it’s highly possible. Even something as venerable as Superman’s logo is probably up for a change. And unlike most other characters, the changes to Superman’s logo over the years have either been small or temporary. Look at the graphic to the right — the logo from the first issue of Superman and the most recent issue. Small changes — turning angles into curves, streamlining the characters, but it’s still clearly based on the original design. Bigger changes (like during the dreaded “Electric Blue” period of the 90s) never lasted. It’s kind of like the costume that way — small changes have taken, big ones have gone away. Of course, he’s also getting a slightly different look, so a very different logo I think is very possible.

Then there’s the question of related titles. This new DCU will feature three different Justice League titles, numerous characters in the “Batman” family, and of course, the four Superman-related titles. My question is, will the logos for these titles have any sort of visual link? The Batman books often don’t, but the Superman titles — except for Action Comics — have been pretty uniform. Supergirl and Superboy, as you can see to the left, have had the same basic design as the Superman logo for the past twenty years or so. I like this. It gives them a nice, uniform look, and makes it plain that they’re all part of a group of titles. But this hasn’t always been the case. Before the late 80s or early 90s, the characters often had very different logos, both from Superman and from each other:

The real question, I suppose, will be of the characters themselves. In this “new” DC Universe, will they still be the close-knit family they are now? If so, I’d like whatever new logo design they have to reflect that by sharing some elements. If not, going completely different with each of the three characters may make sense.

It’s interesting. While there are a lot of new DC books I’m excited to read, I’m actually interested in how all of them are going to look.




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