Saturday, June 11, 2011

DC Relaunch, outreach and the rebuilding of The World's Greatest Heroes

So, I am told that the titles we've seen til now are the complete deck of 52.  I'm a bit surprised to hear this as I hadn't been counting, and I figured we'd hear more next week.

It doesn't feel like a particularly huge change from the DCU of recent history for a longtime DC reader, but any rebooting will most certainly leave many longtime fans feeling put-off (see: 95% of the commentary at  The Superman, Wonder Woman and Flash books seem to be the most changed, but I'd make an argument that in doing some remodeling on this house that's seen so many changes and tenants, DC may find that there's been a lovely original wood floor under the carpet all along.

No, I'm not thrilled with every decision made, and I won't follow even half of the DC titles within a few months of their launch, but I agree with a few things:

1)  I salute DC for attempting to show a not-all-white DCU by bringing Mr. Terrific and Static into the limelight (but I do have to note that Hispanics remain underrepresented and I don't know that DC had one Asian character in the foreground of a single cover).
2)  Speaking of making the DCU look a little more like your workplace (well, mine, anyway), we'll have two books featuring gay characters, in Batwoman and then with Apollo and Midnighter  in Stormwatch.
3)  Its never going to be a good time for a reboot.  The more I ponder this and the more I ponder the last 20 years at DC, the less I've been asking "but why now?"  Now is never a good time, so, sure.  Now is fine.
4)  If you feel that Superman's 1920's circus-performer look may be standing between your superhero selling lots of movie tickets or comics, its probably time to make some alterations.  I'm not sure this is the optimal change (I don't immediately get it), but it could have been worse.
5)  From a business standpoint, the JLA needs to be composed of at least a handful of DC's most recognizable characters.
6)  Given how complicated Green Arrow had gotten since his "rebirth", I have to think "guy dresses as Robin Hood, stops crime" is probably a good place to bring it back to.
7)  Its interesting that loved heroes who don't sell great on their own have been tucked in here and there across the DCU.  Martian Manhunter.  Booster.  Tim Drake.  Its a welcome strategy.

My personal sadness about the relaunch

  • No sign of Krypto or Steel at this time
  • If DC were going to do a war book, I wish it would have been a bit more of an anthology like All-Star Western.  Then I'd have a chance to see Enemy Ace and the original Losers.
  • I have no idea what's become of the JSA, and I have a big fondness for Alan Scott, Wildcat, Jay Garrick, etc...
  • How can you do a major relaunch and not give Jimmy Olsen his own title?  (oh, yeah, right.  That's just me, is it?)
  • Truthfully, my biggest reservation is that DC seems to be trying to do something new with the same old writers.  I really don't know what they think is going to happen.
I read at Bleeding Cool that DC will run TV ads to support the relaunch this September.  If so, then the rumor I heard on day 1 about DC moving out of the direct market is likely true.  We KNOW DC will be doing digital day-and-date release of digital and print, but I strongly suspect that DC will be moving into your local bookstore, newsrack and chain big box store.  I can't imagine they would spend that much money on a national TV campaign only to push people to their local comic shop (especially when much of the country is underserved by comic shops) and the iPad is far from ubiquitous.  

Look, Direct Market, I know you think this is a threat, but its not.  Your industry is not growing, which means it is failing.  And if you're over the age of 30, its highly, highly unlikely you bought comics exclusively at comic shops until the mid-90's.  But I bet you learned to love comics at the comic shop.

This is nothing but good for you.  You will have Walgreen's and Target doing the legwork for you to teach kids to buy comics.  Its your job to make it a hobby and cultivate all the fun parts of comics culture.  You already have your regulars, and they won't stop coming to your shop just because they can pick up some man-handled copies of JLA at the Piggly Wiggly.  

I'm excited about this push, even if its going to make the next eight months as a fan a bit less predictable.  

And I'm very, very curious about what seems to be Grant Morrison's Superman: Year One approach to Action Comics (if I had to guess from looking at the cover).  


Anonymous said...

Change is all well and good but you don't have many shots at this.

A massive campaign on rebooting the entire DC Universe and DC brings Judd Winick, Dan Didio and Dan Jurgens to the table with launch titles??? Talk about going deep into your bench and pulling the C-List team. And Grant Morrison gets tabled until NEXT YEAR?

DC doesn't have the horses to pull the reboot train through the station. Half of those writers and artists no one is excited to see or read. Seriously, cut the list of premiere titles in half. Make some exciting hires from the indie ranks and Marvel. Matt Fraction, Robert Kirkman, Mike Mignola. You're telling me DC with the backing of Warner can't get some actual A-list writers and artists to jump on board a DC internationally promoted reboot? Why is freaking Greg Rucka writing Punisher instead of Batwoman?

They're rolling out same old folks who couldn't write compelling stuff currently. What makes people think they'll do better with a new reboot?

Blah. Why do I care anymore. I'm going to play some videogames.


The League said...

I may not be quite as, uh, vociferous about it, but I agree. I don't understand the move to bring in Bob "Clone Saga" Harras as EIC and then hiring writers like Lobdell. Or why Winick is still getting work.

As I understand it, Rucka has a hard time getting along with DC, and has since 52. I'm not sure we'll see him on DC again until Dan Didio moves on (and his work on Action last year was adequate, but I suspect he was doing it as a favor to Geoff Johns).

But, look. DC finally has someone in charge who is (a) paying attention and (b) isn't going to tolerate business-as-usual for very long. She's already demonstrated her willingness to shake things up, and I imagine she's going to keep going until we see a new industry.

I still contend that the end game here is to get comics in the hands of as many people as buy video games. To that end, whether online or at supermarkets, these writers are going to move comics or be gone. Old alliances and friendships are going to only take these guys so far, and the vanity industry based on writer-name recognition (and Winick has an oddly large fanbase) is going to matter less.

If I'm enthused, its because I'm okay with what's happening with a few core titles, and I expect the rest will sort itself out within a year.

And, dear god... let Didio write a comic if he wants, but don't actually print it...