When DC’s Future State begins in January 2021, DC will be publishing much of it in what they hope is a bold, new format for superhero comic books … one that fans from Japan and England are have been familiar with for decades.
For the first two months of 2021, the core DC titles will be eight over-sized anthologies containing all-new stories - unlike the mostly-reprint format of the similarly-sized DC Giants.
The oversized anthologies are:
- Future State: The Next Batman - four issues, twice-monthly
- Future State: Dark Detective - four issues, twice-monthly
- Future State: Superman: Worlds at War - four issues, twice-monthly
- Future State: Superman of Metropolis - two issues, monthly
- Future State: The Immortal Wonder Woman - two issues, monthly
- Future State: Justice League - two issues, monthly
- Future State: Green Lantern - two issues, monthly
- Future State: Suicide Squad - two issues, monthly
Although anthologies have been a part of comics for decades, as a format it hasn't been popular sales-wise for North American comic books for a while. But with the advent of DC's anniversary specials and spectaculars in the past three years, the publisher has brought some clout back to the format and retailers have come around to order some of them as among the top books on the sales charts each month. The #1 best-selling comic books in the Direct Market for the past two years were oversized anthologies with all-new material, albeit as one-offs - DC's Action Comics #1000 and Detective Comics #1000.
The success of those titles was no doubt due in large part to the 'anniversary and milestone issue' part of the equation, but it also seems DC believes the format is worthwhile for more general application - like it has been elsewhere for decades.
The format is essentially the anthology format that's been popular in Japan (i.e. Shonen Jump) and the United Kingdom (2000 AD, Beano) for the past half-century.
In talking to Batman group editor Ben Abernathy about Future State, the similarities to Shonen Jump were brought up - and he chimed in that he's a "huge fan" of it.
"I love anthologies! The first book I edited was Dark Horse Presents. I've always been an advocate for anthologies, and I've edited a few at Wildstorm and with DC's digital group in 2011 and 2012. And of course recently with the Batman group."
Each of DC's Future State oversized anthologies is headlined by its DC's most popular characters - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, etc. - but it also works to slide in other characters DC wants to readers and retailers to check out, that might not get that opportunity in a solo, tie-in title.
"These Future State anthologies are an opportunity to expose readers to new characters that might not get a full order for a miniseries or monthly," Abernathy says. "It's in that kind of vein of wish fulfillment."
And for retailers, there is a bit of "wish fulfillment" as DC is offering all of the Future State titles with full returnability - meaning whatever doesn't sell can be returned to the publisher for full credit.
Will DC continue this monthly/twice-monthly anthology format past February? That remains to be seen - although high sales of these Future State anthologies would certainly encourage more.
"The stories, the talent involved… it's the best flavors possible," Abernathy says. "We're breaking from the standard format, and hopefully retailers and fans will enjoy it as much as I have."