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DC Universe to become premium comics service, TV originals move to HBO Max

For months, many have wondered what would happen to DC Universe — DC Comics’ streaming service and digital comic book platform — following the launch of HBO Max and recent restructuring at parent company WarnerMedia. Well, its fate has finally been decided. Like Arrow‘s Oliver Queen, it’s becoming something else.

In January, DC Universe will transform into DC Universe Infinite (more on the name in a minute), a premium digital comic book service that will feature more than 24,000 comics from across DC’s 80-year history at launch and offer subscribers earlier access to digital-first series and recently released issues, invites to exclusive events, and more. This pivot means that DC Universe’s remaining original TV shows — Titans and Young Justice — will exclusively join the recently renewed Doom Patrol on HBO Max, which also just ordered a third season of the irreverent Harley Quinn animated series.

With DC Universe’s evolution, it seems as though DC has finally found its answer to Marvel Unlimited, the House of Ideas’ digital subscription service that gives readers access to its entire comic book archive. It’s easy to imagine they chose the name DC Universe Infinite after someone wondered, “Hmm, what’s better than ‘unlimited,’ since that’s already taken?” in a marketing meeting over Zoom. We should pour one out for whoever pitched DC Universe+ and was shot down.

That said, DC truly loves the word “infinite.” Historically, whenever DC uses the term, it means the company is taking that thing you love and turning it all the way up. In the mid-’60s, the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America, who inhabited different Earths in the multiverse, annually crossed over in stories like “Crisis on Earth-1, ” “Crisis from Yesterday!” and “Crisis Times Five.” Eventually, that gave way to Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s groundbreaking 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which spanned the entire multiverse and rewrote all of DC’s continuity — hence the word “infinite.” Twenty years later, DC went even further with Infinite Crisis. In regards to this recent news, “infinite” takes DC Universe and extends it.

In any case, DC Universe Infinite will also produce its own original comic book content featuring beloved characters. And that’s on top of allowing subscribers to read recently released issues six months after their physical release date and digital-first comics like Batman: Gotham Nights, Injustice: Year Zero, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red, and Wonder Woman 84.

“Our fans love the platform’s robust library of comic books and, with the transformation, we will not disappoint,” DC publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee said in a statement. “I’m excited to share that not only will DC Universe Infinite members still be able to read all of the great comics that they’ve enjoyed but new issues are debuting on the platform quicker than before, digital first exclusives are being created, and the members-only events will begin as soon as possible. There has never been a better time to be a DC fan!”

The decision to move away from television production and streaming isn’t surprising given how things have progressed over the past year. Doom Patrol went from being a DC Universe exclusive in season 1 to airing on both DCU and HBO Max in season 2 to fully becoming an HBO Max original series for its upcoming third season. Similarly, DC Universe and the CW shared custody of DC’s Stargirl — which was developed for the former — in season 1, but season 2 will only air on the broadcast network (According to the DC Universe Infinite press release, Stargirl season 1 will be available on HBO Max, along with classic DC shows.)

DC Universe Infinite will cost $7.99 a month or $74.99 a year and launches Jan. 21 in the U.S., before going global next summer.

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