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DC Black Label: The Next Age of Comics Starts Here

The best comic book creators are being let loose on DC's most iconic heroes, starting the new age of DC Black Label. Today the comic publisher announces the launch of its new prestige imprint, along with the first wave of industry-leading and Eisner Award-winning talent recruited to do it. In the spirit of groundbreaking graphic novels like The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns, DC Black Label aims to produce a new generation of classics, unrestricted by canon or DC continuity.

Hoping to recreate that conditions that spawned the likes of Watchmen, the creative teams and titles are a true all-star lineup. With some of the best creators working today dreaming up standalone tales of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, fans may have a hard time predicting which of Black Label's first wave stands the best chance of reaching graphic novel immortality.

RELATED: DC's Comic Universe Gets a New Origin Story in METAL

The first book released as part of DC Black Label will be the previously announced Superman: Year One from Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr. scheduled to launch this summer. But don't expect follow-up dates for the other comics just yet. As part of the prestige format, DC says the release schedule and structure will be just as open-ended, varying with each title and creative team. So, which creators and graphic novels are on the way from DC Black Label? We hope you're sitting down (and be sure to hit the links for more details):

The first up is the aforementioned SUPERMAN: YEAR ONE from Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr., a reinterpretation of the Man of Steel's origin story. With the title obviously meant to evoke Batman: Year One fans would be thrilled to see anything even close, since Miller's retelling of Bruce Wayne's early career changed Batman forever. No need to worry about the story getting too grim, since it's officially about the "most inspiring superhero of all time."

As a treat for newer Dark Knight fans, BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH reunites the team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo for a story just as bonkers as Dark Nights: METAL. The short version? Batman wakes up in a future he doesn't recognize, where the villains have won, and chaos now rules. Advertised as "the last Batman story ever told" fans of Batman need little else to convince them. In which case, the fact that Batman's partner is a jar containing Joker's living head is just a bonus.

Every fan of Batman's greatest villain knows Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's Joker, and with BATMAN: DAMNED they're delivering what sounds like a spiritual sequel (and then some). Their acclaimed re-imagining of a gangster Joker ended on a lonely Gotham Bridge, and that's right where this story begins. The dead body of Joker is just the start, with Batman calling on John Constantine to guide him through a side of Gotham even he can't see. The result? The discovery that "the city’s supernatural recesses are laced with hints about a killer's identity" - but the horrors of this story are the real hook.

If you're looking for the best talent on a Wonder Woman book, it's hard to do better than Greg Rucka. WONDER WOMAN: DIANA's DAUGHTER shifts the Eisner Award winner into a future without heroes, and a young woman among those left fighting for freedom. A woman who, as the story's working title makes clear, is about to find out she is anything but ordinary. A risky premise, but with Rucka behind it fresh off of Wonder Woman: Rebirth, one that could pay off handsomely.

After earning acclaim with Captain MarvelBitch Planet, and Pretty Deadly, Kelly sue DeConnick comes to DC for WONDER WOMAN HISTORIA: THE AMAZONS . Working with artist Phil Jimenez, the story puts the Amazons front and center. Not for the sake of Diana, however. HISTORIA will be diving into "monsters and myths" to tell a "Homeric lost history" of the female nation, and how Queen Hippolyta became the unquestionable leader. Told across three parts, the story will end where Diana's begins - with some pilot washing up on Themyscira's shores.

Finally, THE OTHER SIDE HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE will be released as part of DC Black Label. The previously announced series is being written by Oscar winning screenwriter John Ridley, shifting the spotlight from DC's biggest battles to the most commonplace. That is, the everyday challenges and struggles that heroes of color encountered when NOT in costume. Characters like John Stewart, Extraño, Vixen, Supergirl, Katana, and Rene Montoya will be used to tell stories less about superpowers, and more about "having the strength to simply be who you are."

That's just the first wave of DC Black Label, but the talent assembled drives home the point. Which of these stories are you most excited to see take shape, free from DC continuity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and we'll keep you posted as more updates arrive.

RELATED: DC's Sandman Comic Universe Being Led By Neil Gaiman

Source: DC Comics

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