Yes, it’s a reboot, shut up.
I’ve kinda/sorta/maybe been following the whole DCnU (what a stupid, annoying term) thing since it was announced back in May and I have a few more things to say about it before it is officially launched, for better or worse, this coming Tuesday. I had a few thoughts on the matter back in June but hey just consider this post a reboot of that one.
As I understand it, the whole idea of this is not only to re-energize DC Comics but also the entire comics industry, which has been slowly dying off for years thanks to a variety of reasons: gimmicks/stunts, event overload, constant relaunches/renumberings/reboots (just like this one!), aging fan-base, etc. DiDio, Lee & Johns (attorneys-at-law) want to modernize the company by making their characters more accessible and giving them a fairly clean continuity slate and shiny new #1s while going line-wide day-and-date with digital comics.
By all accounts, maybe this revamp’ll work as it’s being reported that Geoff Johns & Jim Lee’s Justice League title already has 200k orders in place, already securing its place as the best-selling issue of the year. A number of other DC titles are apparently sitting north of 100k copies ordered, so good for DC.
Truthfully though, DC hasn’t exactly been the brightest crayon in the box for a long, long time. I love their characters more than any others but they’ve made some really bone-headed calls in the last decade. Who knows though? If Levitz & DiDio were still the powers-that-be, I doubt this ‘New 52’ would’ve come about. Maybe now that Johns & Lee have some power perhaps some real (good) change will happen in this company and they won’t drop the ball when it comes to promoting the titles, shipping on time, writing stories that make sense and utilizing characters/creators properly.
Obviously, some of the books being launched next month are cannon fodder and I can’t imagine titles like Demon Knights, Hawk & Dove, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Grifter, Blackhawks, O.M.A.C., Legion Lost or I, Vampire sticking around long term. Does anyone honestly expect these titles to perform better than books like Power Girl, R.E.B.E.L.S., Booster Gold, Red Robin, Zatanna or Azrael? Considering the characters, I’m sure there’s going to be a decent amount of interest in these books the first two or three months but you’re basically swapping out x number of C-level books for x number of C-level books. And why 52 new titles? Why is that the magic number? And why are there still so many freaking Bat-titles? It really is a case of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. It still looks like the hodge-podge of waste that DC & Marvel shovel out every month.
I’m not sure if DC is just being lazy or if they naively believe these low-tier books can succeed. I hope I’m wrong. I hope these books provide great art & great stories and they rocket to the top of the sales list and maybe we’ll get a whole stable of I, Vampire titles that can rival the Bat-Family… I just don’t think it’ll happen because I don’t see a demand for much of these characters nor do I see how many of these books are supposed to appeal to younger fans and bring them in. I mean, that IS why they’re doing this right? DC is trying to build up a younger fan-base so they can actually still be in business 20 years from now, right? So why are they rehashing old properties? Why not try something TRULY brand new so that an 11 or 12 year old can feel like “hey, this is MY generation’s superhero”. There’s a high number of niche titles that will only appeal to the same old fan-base even that fan-base isn’t going to support the titles for very long.
As someone who mostly got out of comics almost 3 years ago (after having been pulled back in by Identity Crisis in 2004), I will admit that while I’m not sure DC can accomplish their goals, I am excited about a few of these titles and I wholeheartedly agree with them going day-and-date digital. The industry has dragged its feet against this for too long. I’m not a numbers go so whether this actually hurts or kills off brick & mortar shops, I don’t know. I don’t imagine it would have much affect though. Most comic geeks are pretty hardcore and would still rather spend their $2.99 or $3.99 on a physical copy all in the name of collecting. It’s a hard habit to break so I don’t see much cause for worry in that regard.
Now, for myself, who is a bit more casual when it comes to comics and hasn’t bought a comic in years (other than a few trades), I am very intrigued by the idea of digital comics since this relaunch has been announced. I have very little interest in going into a comic book shop other than for the occasional nostalgic urge to just look around. I just don’t care to have a shop pull and obligate me to $50-100 of comics every week and I honestly don’t want to add any more “stuff” to my home. I have enough “stuff”. I have enough old comics that I should probably throw out, I don’t need any new comics cluttering up matters further so the idea of throwing down $2.99 whenever I feel like it (I’m assuming titles will be available to purchase for a long time after their release date) for a digital comic is neat. Granted, this isn’t a new idea, but the fact that DC is going line-wide makes digital comics look like a much more interesting & powerful option these days.
I don’t necessarily think this big push for digital comics is going to “save” the industry though. I think it’s too little too late for that. As I briefly touched upon above, despite what DC says, they aren’t actually doing much to appeal to a wider base. Yes, the first week of the announcement got them some newspaper press but all they are really doing is making big waves in a slowly, evaporating pond. The industry has cannibalized itself (also for reasons mentioned above). The downfall of the industry can be blamed upon the industry itself. DC spent the last decade appealing to and catering to specifically it’s aging fan-base and now they’ve decided it’s time to get kids and teenagers reading? Like I said, too little too late.
$2.99/$3.99 for a comic isn’t that great of a deal, to be honest. You can spend $50/60 on a video game and that game can last you for the better part of a year or more if you’re a big multiplayer gamer. You can buy a magazine for $5-10 and that may last you a few days or a week (even longer, if you’re like me). A $3 or $4 comic provides 10-15 minutes of entertainment and then you’re done. You either throw it away or throw it in a box and let it take up space. Something like that just can’t compete with all the technology and entertainment out there now. I don’t think comics will ever truly go away but the pie will continue to shrink to the point where basically comics exist as a feeder system for licensed properties such as movies, cartoons, video games, clothing, etc. and even then it seems like those glory days are going away.
I’m not really trying to be negative, I’m being a realist. I’m not upset with DC over this idea, I just don’t think it’s going to do much good. I think too much damage has been done and DC has dropped the ball so many times before I don’t see much reason to believe they won’t do it again here. I hope all goes well though and it will be great if it does and I applaud them for at least trying SOMETHING.
But heck, as I said, I’m at least interested in picking up comics again so after 3 years of inactivity, I’m going to give a few of these books a try in the digital realm. So if it’s working on me, maybe it’s working on tons of others as well.
Here’s the full rundown of titles: http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/the-new-52/
Justice League, Justice League International, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Green Arrow and I, Vampire I will almost certainly check out while I think I’ll wait to hear feedback on the rest of the Super/GL/Bat-books. There are a number of other titles I’m on the fence about listed under the ‘Justice League’ and ‘The Edge’ headings so I’ll wait for feedback on those as well.