Last week DC put their big 2021 foot forward, revealing that in March it will launch their next presumably years-long editorial era called Infinite Frontier.
There is still a lot we don't know about Infinite Frontier, which should go without saying for a one-shot special and an overarching line-wide direction and/or branding effort that doesn't begin for two-and-a-half months.
But that said, we do know what the January-February event Future State is, and we'll likely know a lot more about both Future State and Infinite Frontier in just a couple of weeks when Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 goes on sale. That event series finale will have an ending and two epilogues the publisher has promised will have a lot to say about the present and future (and maybe even the past) of the DC Universe.
Based on the information available to us now, however, we thought it was worthwhile to revisit comments made by DC publisher Jim Lee in September during the Warner Bros./DC Fandome virtual event about the future of the DC Universe and to take a look at what matches what we know, what seemingly doesn't, and what at the time was perhaps still to be determined.
As a reminder, in pre-recorded video segments, Lee selected or had selected for him a series of fan questions. One question inquired about '5G,' a rumored/reported DC editorial plan to reboot and/or relaunch its line starring a new generation of heroes taking over the mantles of the current heroes as the culmination of the original (and now canceled/reimagined) iteration of the Generations project.
Lee's response was to make it clear that DC had no plans for '5G' and no plans for a reboot. But what we've learned since the comments were published makes it deserving of a second look.
"There won't be a project called '5G', or a big reboot, or whatever," Lee said at the time. "We really want to focus on individual titles, and organically build up individual characters over the course of the next year."
Now the statement "there won't be a project called '5G'" is unequivocally true, based on what has now been revealed.
However, the two-month event Future State seems very much in line with what the basic premise of '5G' was rumored to be - a focus (in part) on the next generation of heroes like Jonathan Kent/Superman, Yara Flor/Wonder Woman, Jackson Hyde/Aquaman, Andy Curry/Aqualass, and Tim Fox/Batman.
Future State will likely be much different in execution to whatever '5G' was or was not going to be, but it's also very likely that they share significant DNA.
Let's keep going.
"We had a lot of great ideas that we were floating around," Lee continued. "And rather than dumping it all in one month and renumbering the line and going for that really short term spike in sales, we just naturally gravitated to the story ideas and concepts we love and building them into the mythology, the ongoing mythology, in a very organic way."
Now if Lee was referring to concepts that were involved in whatever '5G' was/Future State is, this one feels, let's say … fudgy.
Again, Future State is a two-month event taking over most of the DC line involving titles that all start with a #1 issue. So on a very literal basis no, what Lee described in September is not happening. But it doesn't require too much squinting to see how a line-wide two-month takeover that the publisher is marketing as a short-term unified event greatly resembles the sort of thing Lee was discounting.
An alternative explanation is that Lee was either not referring to the core 'Future State/5G' premise at all or that because we now know concepts like Wonder Woman/Wonder Girl and Teen Titans Academy would have a long, ongoing tail that he sees these things happening in an organic rather than an event-driven way despite some of the trappings of an event.
So moving onto the end.
"If you're waiting for '5G,' you're going to have to wait for a long time because it's not going to happen," Lee's comments concluded. "But if you're waiting for big developments in the DC Universe … Pretty big ones in 2021 across the board, but again it's spread out and approached organically when it makes sense within a particular title so not everything has to tie into a big epic event all at once."
Again, we can't argue with the premise '5G' isn't going to happen, but based on what we know, Dark Nights: Death Metal (which was current when the comments were made and then later published) begets Future State and Infinite Frontier and to some degree Generations: Shattered and then Forged too. So saying or implying the big 2021 DCU developments are spread out and don't tie into a big epic event all at once seems like something of an 'eye of the beholder' type of statement.
Most of DC's line will carry Infinite Frontier branding and will be preceded and seeded by the Infinite Frontier #0 special in a landscape very much affected by Death Metal. And March will include six new #1s, three of which (Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad, and Teen Titans Academy) are to a degree relaunches of existing titles just recently canceled.
Not even mentioning the new #1s to come in subsequent months and the new creative teams and fresh jumping-on-points almost all DC titles will feature.
It is entirely possible, however, that Infinite Frontier is more broad conceptual branding and that the titles "organically" found their 2021 story directions independent of an editorial directive, the events of Death Metal or another continuity "tie-in," and that the trade dress will be their most common element.
But that remains to be seen.
There is one Lee promise we haven't mentioned yet - that there will not be a reboot. And we've been reporting for months there won't be one. But right now, we're wondering if we need to take a second look at that as well.
That, however, is a conversation for another day.
Jim Lee created expectations for 2021. Now let’s check out Newsarama's countdown of Jim Lee’s greatest creations of all time.