PHILADELPHIA (AP) — DC Comics is going back to the starting point in September, renumbering its entire lineup of DC Universe titles with No. 1 and retooling nearly all of its major characters, including Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
At the same time, the company, which has been publishing comics for 76 years, also said it would start selling digital copies of its printed ongoing superhero titles through apps and a website the same day they're released in comic shops, a move dubbed by the industry as day-and-date sales. That will affect the company's superhero titles.
That means DC is joining a movement already embraced by Archie Comics, which began same-day digital and print sales in April, along with other smaller publishers.
DC's rival, Marvel Comics, has not yet implemented such a move but has routinely held more market share every year since 2002, based on sales statistics from Diamond Comic Distributors.
USA Today reported that DC's move will start with the first issue of "Justice League" No. 1 in September, which will reunite the classic lineup of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern.
The newspaper reported that 52 issues, all starting at No. 1, will be released starting at the end of the summer. "Justice League" is the first and will be written by DC's chief creative officer Geoff Johns and illustrated by co-publisher Jim Lee, the first time the pair have collaborated together, the company said.
Lee has also designed the costumes of more than 50 characters, the paper reported.
In a note to direct-market retailers, Bob Wayne, senior vice president for sales, said by rebooting the superhero titles and moving to day-and-date digital sales, DC was positioning itself to let readers experience characters in a new light.
"We have taken great care in maintaining continuity where most important, but fans will see a new approach to our storytelling," he said in the letter. "Some of the characters will have new origins, while others will undergo minor changes. Our characters are always being updated; however, this is the first time all of our characters will be presented in a new way all at once."
It remains to be seen if the renumbering will affect such long-published titles like Action Comics, which reached No. 900 this year, and Detective Comics, which is at No. 877.
Some of DC's titles are already available digitally through apps and in March it joined Comixology's Digital Storefront Affiliate program, which lets shops sell digital comics along with printed copies.
The move comes after the conclusion of the company's epic "Flashpoint" mini-series, also penned by Johns, that has changed the face of the DC Universe and made some well-known characters into different versions of their normal, and entrenched, personalities.