Thursday, August 18, 2011

DC's New 52 commercial has me concerned/ is pretty lame

1. This is basically a collection of still images from promo art. It doesn't tell a story, it gives an impression of "look - stuff with superheroes" that doesn't say anything outright about what DC is selling other than characters.

2. As still images, I see these every day on t-shirts, toys, cartoons, etc... there's nothing here to make me care.

3. The music seems geared at 18 year old dudes who are into bad Nu-Metal. Not kids, certainly. And not adults. And not people who don't take their "edginess" too seriously. This is disposable cock-rock, and it certainly doesn't project any sort of epic scale to the DC Universe. It seems to say "look, comics are for kids who wear safety pins in the clothes they bought at Hot Topic".

4. I am baffled by the lack of either story about "why comics" and the utter lack of a "value proposition" for reading comics inherent in what's basically a montage that looks like it might have been done on a Mac using the first version of Final Cut Pro and After Effects.
  • if you're selling to a new audience, they need to know why they should be buying your stories
  • pitching "the greatest creators" doesn't mean anything outside of the comics community. Keep in mind, most people think that directors and actors make up TV shows as they go along. They apply this same logic to comics. Artists just draw stuff.
  • its impossible to know what any comic here is about, its just a vomiting of semi-familiar faces from T-shirts and pop culture ephemera.
It DOES look like DC is courting 18 year old males, which is exactly who they said they were reaching out to in sales meetings.  Traditionally, this sort of marketing has also attracted those outside the demo, but this seems so specifically aimed at angry, suburban kids that...  I don't know.

There's a pattern emerging that I'm not comfortable with.  Didio and Lee seem to be trying to recapture the industry magic of the 1990's, but that audience has changed, and the young folk today aren't the same young folk of then.  lee will refer to teaching people to "collect" comics in an era when most people are reading stolen comics from a bit torrent site.  Didio is keeping the same cadre of talent on staff he's had around since pre-Countdown. 

The commercial reflects DC's myopia and inability to understand the audience they're courting.   The kids aren't going to look toward "grim'n'gritty" to legitimize their artform the way we did.  This is the generation who finds a wimpy British dude flying around in time and space in a blue box to be a really, really good idea.  They love My Little Pony and dressing up in silly costumes at Cons and will argue that Batman & Robin was a good movie because its wacky. 

With the 3 month lead of solicitation information, this ad, etc...  I'm increasingly becoming concerned that DC is blowing through money, time and creators, and in 9 months will be far worse off than they were in the spring of 2011.

Here's the extended version, by the way:

Boy, that music is really... something.


Matt A. said...

Wait, wait. Let me get this straight. I don't want there to be any confusion about this topic, and you may have muddied the waters a little. I want the straight answer, because I think you're implying something that causes me to fear everything that I hold close to my heart.

You're saying that Batman & Robin was a bad movie?

The League said...

Well, you know, different strokes for different folks. Let's just say it wasn't my cup of tea and that it killed several careers (while somehow NOT killing the career of Hollywood cockroach Akiva Goldsman.

Simon MacDonald said...

Yeah, as I mentioned in my email to you these promos fill me with dread. In all of the still images in the 2 minute long promo there is only one smile and that was from the Joker. That can't be good. The really seem to be going grim and gritty 90's realism which isn't very realistic. This doesn't look very targeted at 12 year olds but rather 20 year olds who grew up reading comics from the comic explosion of the early 90's.

MiraHartford said...

It drives me insane that some writers have to jump through hoops to get their scripts even considered and somehow, despite sh!t like Batman Forever, Batman and Robin, Lost in Space, The Da Vinci Code, I, Robot, and Angels & Demons, that hack still gets produced! Here, let me take every Hollywood cliche and pepper it with really bad dialogue that will hit you over the head with how this trite story will play out.

Simon MacDonald said...

@Helder My favourite scene from I, Robot was when one of the bad robots leaps 15 feet into the air and swings down a metal bar at WIll Smith's head. Only to have Smith's character block it with his robotic arm. I laughed so hard I fell off the couch. Regardless of the fact Smith has a robotic arm it is still connected to his fleshy body. A blow of that force would rip the prosthetic right out of his body and crush his skull. This would end the movie and lot earlier and we'd all be the better for it.

Jake Shore said...

Yeah. The marketing strategy seems to be "Look how cool our comic are!"

I can't believe they didn't even attempt to talk about what's new or different about the relaunch, or even "why?".

To Simon's point, I still wonder if DC or Marvel is interested in marketing to kids under 14. Have they written them off or just don't care?

The League said...

It really, really looks like they aren't aiming for kids at all. In truth, its probably easier to have a long-term relationship with an adult customer rather selling comics to kids and watching them grow out of comics like kids grow out of cartoons or toys. But it seems like trying to sell near-adults on comics is a harder sell to begin with.

Jake Shore said...

I was just looking over the lineup on's profile of the relaunch, and I'm trying to figure out why they need four Batman titles and a bunch more spinoffs (Batgirl, Nightwing, etc). I know he's probably the most popular character, but isn't that overkill?

Also, how is DC going to sell the Red Lanterns as a monthly book?

Jake Shore said...

Something else confuses me about this relaunch. How come they are rebooting the universe for some (Superman) and continuing from the established continuity for others (Batman, Green Lantern)? How do they explain this or make the DC universe congruous?

The League said...

I think a couple of cliches apply here.

"You can't have your cake and eat it, too"
"don't throw out the baby with the bathwater"

I think what you're seeing are the ripple-effects of a rushed, emotionally charged decision to "reboot" the DCU rather than deal with the problems of DC Comics as a company.

The strategy seems to be that Batman and Green Lantern books were selling well enough that to reboot them would put them in jeopardy. Everyone else - that was up for grabs.

My guess is that DC has VERY good intentions, complete with timelines their writers can access, that will tell them how the new continuity fits (this is how we're getting a Superman and a Justice League book that take place in the past - but set up our current status quo).

There's enough institutional knowledge to recall that DC failed at this for 20-odd years after COIE, and somewhat again after IC. So i expect they'll try harder this time.

As per the multiple bat-titles? Put the bat-ears on anything and it sells better than it should. It gives DC some room to maneuver while enjoying some predictability of sales.

But, no, I can't explain how we're supposed to read about the Red Lanterns.

Jake Shore said...

Thanks for the perspective.

Gee, it seems like DC is really missing an opportunity to, among other things, have a clean slate. I thought that was one of the biggest appeals of the relaunch. But I understand why they want to keep up all the good momentum they've built up with GL over the past seven years. And you're right, I'm sure they'll find a way to make it work.

Jake Shore said...

Do think it would have been smart for DC to focus all their energies and best talent on a smaller number of books, focusing on the characters that had the greatest potential (artistically and commercially), and expanding later based upon the results?

The League said...

As a disclaimer, this is my perspective, so who knows? Its possible that the masses will rush straight from the cinema to the comic shop.

On your second point, I think that's more or less where they were headed, and the New 52 is the culmination of that effort.

While DC is rolling out 52 books, the variety of characters has been greatly reduced to the JLA's original line-up, minus Martian Manhunter (who is in Stormwatch). Everything seems to tie back to these characters, and 52 titles is actually fewer than we're used to.

RANDY said...

I don't understand your hate for Akiva Goldsman. He produces bad movies, but so do a lot of other people.

The League said...

In the late 90's, Goldsman wrote the last two (terrible) Batman movies and wrote the trainwreck of "Lost in Space". To anyone on the street, it was clear that Goldsman was a trainwreck, but for some reason for YEARS following his work on the Batman films, he was tapped to do anything that was an adaptation of existing comic or sci-fi related material. Goldsman became my avatar of what is wrong with the culture in Hollywood of rewarding people for all the wrong reasons. He seemed like the CEo who runs companies into the ground, but because he's in the "CEO club", he keeps getting hired.

He also became the guy who would go on to make the Will Smith movie "I, Robot" happen. See comments above re: "I, Robot". That one, I steered clear of, as the book had been seminal in my reading as a youth, and I knew better than to expect Goldsman to adapt it faithfully and not just turn it into the exact generic actioner-garbage he'd made a name producing and writing.

Jake Shore said...

What's up with your sideswipe of the Doctor? It is the longest running TV show in history, so it's been popular for a few generations.

The League said...

I have nothing but love and admiration for the Doctor! I'm not a huge fan as I've only seen two seasons of the show, so I know I'm not up to snuff like the rest of you real Who fans.

What I was trying to say is that the Doctor is more or less the opposite of the sort of boobs, guns and mayhem approach of the 1990's. When i watch the promo and see the "Superheroes are rebels who punch first and ask questions later!" approach coming from grim'n'gritty-era comics, I think about the nebbish, tweedy Doctor, and that is show isn't just great, its super popular right now.

Mix that in with other trends, and I think Didio and Lee's "let's make them bad-asses again" approach may not click with the younger comics audience as well as a more Who-like approach.

Jake Shore said...

Ah, got it.

Simon MacDonald said...

@Jake Shore

It's been proven out in the sales numbers that people like to buy families of books. Hence the glut of Batman and Green Lantern books. If you look at the June sales of DC books and pay attention to the Flashpoint titles you'll see that both the Batman and Green Lantern titles were the best sellers.

Marvel does the same thing with their Avengers and X-Men titles. Sadly this is choking out the mid-market.

You were wondering how DC could get people to buy a Red Lanterns book. If I were them I'd have it focus on Dex-Starr and have Katie Cook draw it.