DC Comics, in a sales death spiral, continues to not fire the people making the same terrible decisions they've been making for well over a decade. On Thursday, DC Comics released a video of famed comics writer and live-action area liaison, Geoff Johns talking the mysterious "Rebirth" event hinted at by DC Comics Publisher Dan Didio via an obnoxious image released via twitter a couple of weeks ago.
|this isn't even no data, this is negative data|
This week is a sort of comics retailers meeting in Portland, OR, and DC has to say something to make retailers think the shoddy output and related plummeting sales of their company currently running comic shops right into the ground is due for am upturn. Knowing that Dan Didio has about the same level of credibility as the Sham-Wow guy (and Jim Lee is, let's be honest, not great at this sort of thing), at least for the public face they put good ol' Geoff Johns out there in front with a video and some announcements about new price points, new #1's and a return to the numbering on Detective and Action Comics.
While satisfying in some ways, telling in others, and possibly lacking in anything resembling self-awareness in yet others, Johns seems to admit that the New 52 is and was not all it could have been, and they're going to be doing something to improve the state of affairs. He throws around the idea of "Legacy" quite a bit, which seems to be less of a nod to the "Legacy" concept that ruled Flash comics post Crisis On Infinite Earths and in the pages of Justice Society of America, and more to the legacy of DC Comics as a company with characters and concepts that have spanned almost 80 years, not just the last six months of comics - which is about as far back as the Superman books seem to be willing to look back, from what I've seen.
|This is your marketing? Christ, guys. This is kind of embarrassing, right?|
Most surprising - this seems to be DC Comics as a company admitting that the New 52 experiment isn't working, exactly. Now, I don't expect TPTB at DC to ever admit defeat or wind back the clock on the New 52, not while there's breath left in their contracts. But this is as close to a moment of clarity as DC has ever come since someone gave Dan Didio a title.
Still, it's just rehashing another idea that sort of worked before. As Johns himself says, they've already done 'Rebirth" with Green Lantern and Flash, both in a period when the characters had been over-thought, mangled and mishandled to the point of choking the life out of the entire concept. Bored writers looking for quick thrills made major changes, leaving the characters in shambles before moving on and sales dipped precipitously.*
So, it's kind of obvious to this reader that the Rebirth brand is intended to be there for resurrecting moribund properties, and - applying this to DC Comics in general is admitting that a similar sort of failure applies across the line. Should give us a moment of good cheer.
But, until solicitations appear, who knows what that looks like? Yes, they've given us a slate of titles and a lowered price point to a more reasonable $2.99 - a bold move when Marvel seems to be creeing up to $4.99. They've also said they're going 2x a month on core titles (and some that seem to be wishful thinking in re: to core titles), which is such a mercenary business decision, it's a little shameful, but at the same time, I don't think is that crazy if TV can put out 22 episode a year of an hour-long TV show.
Most daunting of all is whether or not Dan Didio can keep his paws off the Rebirth event, or whether he'll just go back to S.O.P., grinding the characters and their worlds down, rejiggering the comics as they come out, like a mechanic trying to fix a car while its on the raceway. We saw it with Infinite Crisis, 52, One Year Later, the New 52, and pretty much every other major effort that seemed to have a promising start - so why not this?
And, of course, as Didio and Johns promise a return to the thing that the DCU was, pre-New 52, it all has the ring of "baby, it'll be different this time" we've all heard now a hundred times from Didio. We've been told again and again that DC is getting back to basics, getting to the core of characters, and then we get a year of comics with Batman absent from his own titles or Superman a kind of overly muscle-y guy fighting cloud computing.
How anyone can get excited when it's more shuffling of the same parts, I do not know. Shuffling, it may be, of deck chairs on the Titanic. And I feel okay saying that. DC is courting lapsed readers. Ie: You. Me. All the people they told the market they did not want or need both implicitly and explicitly via the New 52 effort.
Like everyone else, I'll be interested to see what they do, but since the New 52, I've learned I can sit back and just watch from the sidelines and jump in when and if it's worth doing so.
*it's well worth noting that the Flash Rebirth became necessary after Didio got involved with the Flash titles, mucked about with the very popular Wally West and replaced him with a terribly odd version of Bart Allen before throwing in the towel and just bringing back Barry Allen.