Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Iconic Covers for DC Comics

I don't pick up all that many monthly 32 page comics these days.  Well, more than YOU most certainly, but less than I had been.

DC still very much wants to sell monthly comics, but its made the act of doing so somewhat frustrating of an experience, and a fairly expensive one, too.  Add in the fact that, frankly, I'm not crazy about some of the talent DC has put on some of the books (and the directions either the talent or DC have decided are a good idea).

So some books I haven't read and won't read for some time.  And others I likely won't read.

As I say, DC wants for me to read the monthly books because that's more or less their core business.  Its much easier and cheaper to put out a monthly comic than commit upfront to a trade paperback or graphic novel approach, and forget about getting stats off digital at this point.

In the just-released January previews, DC seems to have gone for this "iconic" approach to its covers and characters, and I quite like it.

I invite you to check out the covers here, at Newsarama.

Superboy!  and KRYPTO!!!
Not only has the artist rendered Superboy as a teenager, but the iconic image with Krypto right there next to him may not tell the story of the issue, but it does tell you "this is a comic about a Superboy and his super dog."  And, hey, I'm going to buy that comic.

No, I do not expect a comic about a Superboy and a Super Dog to be particularly "edgy", but I do expect it shall be awesome.

Blue Beetle on the cover of Justice League: Generation Lost
I am an unabashed fan of the latest iteration of Blue Beetle and am thrilled that DC has decided to continue on with the character.  Jamie's sci-fi powers are very cool in a Green Lantern-y sort of way (only with hardware instead of energy constructs).  But I'm trade-waiting on this actual series, and so far I only know the basic premise.

But, man, that cover gives BB a chance to look pretty rad.

And, yeah, I do miss Ted, too.  But I think he's the new Barry Allen.

I have a deep, dark secret about Steel.  Three years ago I found the entire run of the original series of Steel for sale for a fraction of the cover price, and I bought it.  But I've never read it.

Anyway, Steel here looks heroic and you get an idea of his shtick.   He's an armored guy who teams up with Superman and hits things with a hammer.  There you go.

John Henry Irons is the DCU's Iron Man, only without the ego issues and alcoholism.  He's not had a huge chance to develop in recent years, but when he was in Superman: Man of Steel and JLA, I thought he was a GREAT supporting character for the Superman titles.  He was like Superman's pal who could actually keep up with Kal-El without constantly asserting himself like a kid with low self-esteem, ala Batman.

This is the cover for a Steel one-shot, likely to test the waters for a Steel mini-series or series.  Personally, I think he could be built up in the pages of Action or Superman or a hypothetical and non-existent rebirth of the old Superman Family comic, but nobody asks me these things.

yurgh.  this is what DC is selling as JLA these days.

So this is one of those places DC just lost me.  I have a complete run of the last volume of JLA that started under Grant Morrison.  I will argue you into the ground that Brad Meltzer's take on the JLA was very, very correct when this volume started. I will even forgive Dwayne McDuffie for struggling with what was obvious and unfair editorial management of the team and comic.  But after Robinson's less-than-stellar run on Superman,  I wasn't excited at all about Robinson coming onto JLA.

There's just nothing that says JLA to me about this line-up, with Robinson on words and Bagley on pencils or not.  Maybe Morrison or Waid or Johns could pull off this line-up, but the point is almost moot.  While a Batman appears on the cover, the flagship title of DC Comics should not feature supporting the players from DC's flagship books.  I may even LIKE these characters (and in most cases, I do), but DC needs to work on branding.  Flat out, Justice League needs to always have at least 2 of the original 7 in the line-up (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter).  This line-up feels like "JLB" or "JLC".

If you're going for Iconic Covers, this just tells me this book will need a new direction before I'm likely to read JLA again.


Simon MacDonald said...

My monthly comic buying has fallen off to one subscription, Thor the Mighty Avenger. Other than that I'm picking up trades I like at a store downtown which has 20% American cover prices. Hello Unwritten volume 2 for $10. Other than that I'm reading everything I can get my hands on via the library.

Did you notice that with the price and page reductions everyone is still paying the same if not more per page of story? Mind you you pay a little less and aren't stuck with some of the back ups that you wouldn't want to ready anyhow.

The League said...

Yeah, its meant I've had to do a lot of shifting of how and when I buy. And from what I see from guys like you and me online, I'm not alone. I didn't run the numbers and see that the price per page is the same, but its an interesting factor.

It kind of just makes me sad anymore.

Simon MacDonald said...

The breakdown on prices is as follows:

22 pages of story for $2.99 = $0.136 per page
30 pages of story for $3.99 = $0.133 per page
20 pages of story for $2.99 = $0.149 per page

So while you are paying a dollar less per issue you are paying more per page.

Now a 5 issue trade from Vertigo, the aforementioned Unwritten Volume 2 is:

110 pages of story for $12.99 = $0.118 per page

Which is kinda hard to parse but you end up saving $2.95 by buying the collection. Plus if your LCS is anything like mine you get deep discounts on trade buying.

I really want the comic book companies to offer something like free or low cost digital comics if you pre-order the trade from them. Not my idea, Chris Neseman came up with it.

The League said...

I have mixed feelings on this. Certainly I shop for things at the grocery based on unit price, but I'm not sure I feel like when I go to the movies that the movie's price should be based on running time. It's a complicated problem. I will pay $4 for Action with a back-up feature from the Superman Family. I am less excited about paying $4 for Doom Patrol with a Metal Men story that I find to be not terribly great.

And, frankly, when I hear Jim Lee complaining that it will mean the end of dual page splash pages... most of the time those things seem like a much bigger deal to the artists than they are to me as a reader and consumer. Maybe 1 out of 5 of them achieve any sort of powerful narrative effect (there was one in early in Blackest Night that actually had a story point to it showing Barry everyone who had died), but just getting a two-page pin up of Batman kicking someone isn't really going to be missed. If it leads to less decompression, or higher numbers of panels per page, I'm okay with that.

Yeah, I'd like to maximize my entertainment dollar, but I am not ready to start "panel counting". What I do know is that $4 is where DC was headed, and I don't know what would have happened to the industry as a whole if that had happened.

Austin Books has a 10% discount every day on trades, so I guess its a bit like your shop, and I don't need to worry about the cost of bags and boards or boxes with TPBs.

The League said...

I almost considered starting a new post on this, but decided not to. But here's Bleeding Cool's number crunching, and its very interesting:


Simon MacDonald said...

I'm much more into the story so the loss of 2 page spreads won't affect me at all. Most of the books I really like tend to be panel dense anyway.

The biggest think to take out of Bleeding Cool's analysis is:

And yes, for many of you, you will be getting less content for your money in terms of page counts. But you will also be able to collect your chosen continuities for less. And for some that’s much more important.

Anonymous said...

Trades are the way to go. I have no patience for floppies anymore. I culled my pull list down to one comic now, Fables. The only reason I'm even collecting Fables is because I have every original issue when it first started and was not popular at all. I think I made my comic shop owner cry.

I like trades. I like having the entire story instead of waiting for the next stupid issue. Especially these days. It used to be a regular 23-25 page floppy was packed with storytelling. Ready any 80s-90s era Keith Giffen comic and it was chock full of dynamic panels, dialogue and plotting. I really lost it when I bought Bendis's New Avengers and it was filled with double page spreads that took 6 issues to do a story arc that could have been done in three. It was more like reading a screenplay than a comic.

The main problem with trades now is the stupendously idiotic method of collecting issues. The Blackest Night trades are the most recent asinine example. The Green Latern issues of Blackest Night and the Blackest Night miniseries are chronological. Yet the trades are divided up strictly between Green Latern issues and Blackest Night issues separately. It makes no sense. You are also prey to the trade editors whim on one shots or special issues that are left out of the trade. Not all trades collect the issues chronologically. Maddening!


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, as for that JLA cover, I'm intrigued by the lineup! It looks like a lineup of the sidekicks finally graduating to full adult superhero status. No more mucking around in the junior AAA leagues of Infinity Inc., Teen Titans and Young Justice!! You got Donna Troy (Wonder Woman), Jade (Green Latern), Successor Batman (presumably not Bruce Wayne, I haven't read the comic) and Supergirl (Superman). Plus, it's following the DC rule #11 where if you can put a talking simian in the comic, do it!! (See Shadowpact, The Flash, Ultra-Humanite).

This lineup is levels above my first introduction to the JLA when Aquaman was leading Vibe, Vixen, Steel and Gypsy in Detroit!! C'mon!

I would actually read this...In a trade.


Simon MacDonald said...

@NTT from all reports and some of the issues I've looked over the latest roster of the JLA is pretty terrible. James Robinson seems to have completely lost the ability to tell a good story which saddens me considering how big of a fan I am of his Starman work.

Anonymous said...

Well that's disappointing. Can't really believe anything is worse than the Detroit JLA.


The League said...

I've only read an issue or two of JLA Detroit, so I don't feel capable of commenting, but...

(And I never understood why Aquaman was supposed to want to be in a landlocked city, but...)

Anyhoo... I was very excited when (a) Robinson was returning to comics, and (b) he was going to revive Congorilla. Whatever muse got Robinson through Starman left him before his return to DC with Superman and Cry for Justice.

And I get what you mean by Justice League partners hitting maturity and forming up a team, but I think that has to be a secondary brand for DC. As I say, I am a fan of most of them, and maybe without Robinson, this could have worked, but... DC needs a book starring its Big 7. They may think this is overkill, but as Marvel finally figured out an Avengers with their most popular characters was a great seller and gave their universe a core, DC needs the showcase of their most iconic in one place not just to give new possible readers a "gee whiz" sort of book, but to center the DCU.

Second stringers are second stringers. Even if its not important to the season, people pay to see the All-Star Game.

Anonymous said...

Well I agree with you there. The running joke on the New Avengers were that Wolverine, Spiderman and Iron Man had clones because they were always in 5 separate situations at the same time.

So sure. They do need to put in Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. I think the problem is that all the Trinity is caught up in their own editorial mandated shenanigans, i.e. JMS's Superman walk-a-thon, Wonder Woman's alternate reality twist and then the world of Batman according to Grant Morrison. Maybe Robinson doesn't have much pull in the matter to bring in the heavyweights.


The League said...

Yes. 100 times yes.

Ensuring continuity in JLA and other titles has meant that these year-long storylines have meant JLA has definitely been repeatedly punished and led to poor Dwayne McDuffie flailing as he tried to write JLA stories. It was a total waste of his time (and mine).

I just doesn't seem like its worth the continuity purity. But, then again, this is the THIRD storyline that took the Trinity out of pocket for a year since 2006. I... don't get what DC is trying to do.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of JLA/sidekicks-ish, there's a new trailer for the Young Justice cartoon coming out. It looks great, a continuation of the the Justice League Unlimited series. All new voices though :-(