Four titles are getting the axe this time around, with my analysis on them individually below.
- Legion of Super-Heroes - This is quite a surprise, especially since the Legion is a traditional DC Comics mainstay since the late 1970s when they took over Superboy's monthly book. DC Comics has rarely been without a Legion title since. Heck, it was popular enough in the mid-1990s to sustain two monthly titles (Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires).
What went wrong? The Legion had one reboot too many! 1994 saw the first reboot under the auspices of Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and Stuart Immonen. It was an attempt to update the Legion, which was mired with a lot of history and very dark storylines during the Tom & Mary Bierbaum/Keith Giffen era just a few years prior, as well bringing youthful energy back into the franchise. 2004 saw the second reboot (oddly enough again by Mark Waid), which proved to be less popular. Not even Jim Shooter could save this version of the Legion.
Geoff Johns would ultimately tie all three incarnations/versions of the Legion together in 2008's Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, ultimately leading to the return of the original adult Legion from the 1980s and Paul Levitz back at the helm of the franchise. And then New 52 came along and demanded another reboot (of sorts) and by then it is not hard to imagine that readers and fans alike simply gave up.
- Demon Knights - Along with O.M.A.C., this was a title I took a risk on back in September 2011. The original creative team of Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves crafted a surprisingly fun read detailing the medieval adventures of Etrigan and Jason Blood, Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, and Ystin the Shining Knight, along with new characters such as Exoristos, Horsewoman, and Al Jabr. Along with the hinted connections to StormWatch and how the team shaped the secret history of the modern day DC Universe, this book was filled with storytelling potential. Again, it was obvious that something went wrong as the connection with StormWatch became thinner and thinner, and storylines involving Merlin and King Arthur did nothing to combat the malaise the title fell under. Paul Cornell was recently replaced by Robert Venditti, who is doing an amazing job with Valiant Comics' X-O Manowar, but he proved to be an ill-suited replacement, with an arbitrary fast forward 30 years into the future and an unoriginal storyline involving vampires and the Holy Grail. With dwindling sales (below 20K copies I think), it is no surprise that this title is cancelled, despite my hopes that Robert Venditti would be able to turn things around with a second story arc.
- Dial H - The only title edited by Karen Berger, founder of the Vertigo imprint. It should come as no surprise that this title had a very heavy indie feel to it, and would be at home with Vertigo. Unlike Swamp Thing and Animal Man, two characters that had been with Vertigo for quite some time, Dial H failed to find similar success out in the DC Universe. I myself am guilty of not sampling this title, mainly due to disinterest in the odd book China Mieville and Mateus Santoluoco were producing. It was simply too quirky and too odd for the marketplace.
- Threshold - A title featuring C-grade sci-fi characters from the farthest end of the DC Universe? No surprises why it got canned after only eight issues, especially now that Orange Lantern Larfleeze has graduated to his own solo title.
Of the 45 surviving New 52 titles, the only ones that stand on their own without ties to the other franchises are Flash, Constantine, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Katana, All-Star Western, The Movement, The Green Team, StormWatch, Suicide Squad, Teen Titans, and Wonder Woman. (yes, even though some of these titles are bunched under the Justice League family, I am excluding them because they aren't exactly Justice League titles per se).
This means that 73% of the New 52 titles are franchise books! I don't know about you, but I find this rather unhealthy for the DC Universe as a whole. Do we really need three Superman monthlies, four Batman monthlies, and four Green Lantern monthlies?
So what do I predict is next for the next round of cancellations? I'd place my money on StormWatch, The Green Team, The Movement and Batwing. Geoff Johns obviously has plans for Vibe, so Justice League of America's Vibe would get a longer lease on life than the other titles.
What will DC Comics introduce to bring the number of titles back to 52? Perhaps the oft-rumored Justice Legion, the return of BWAHAHA with another incarnation of Justice League International (itself one of the earliest First Wave cancellations), and of course Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Shazam!. Considering how badly the WildStorm characters are doing, I'm not surprised that there is no sign of Wildcats yet and even the Daemonite storyline seen in early issues of StormWatch and Superman have disappeared altogether.