So DC Comics has been making some pretty big news last week, huh?
Personally, I really like the idea. While it may turn out to be just a bigger version of the usual post-event shake up, I think this is a genuine attempt by DC to sell comics to more people than the usual comic book readers. There is overwhelming evidence that the general public not only likes superheroes; they love them. From blockbuster movies to video games to toys to clothes, comic book properties sell just about everything but comic books. DC, a perpetual number 2 in market, appears to have finally decided to bite the bullet and change the way they do things. So whether fans like it or not, DC is re-launching their comic line and pushing hard into the digital sales market. DC might save the dying comic industry with this endeavor, it is just as likely they flame out spectacularly. It is a brave and bold risk.
Fan reaction has been hilarious. It is the sort of petulant, entitled complaints one would expect from “comic book geeks.” (Which are not any worse than other sorts of geeks. For instance, check all the LeBron talk during the recent NBA finals. We are all geeks, the only difference is the subjects of our geekdom.) Not that there haven’t been thoughtful, insightful responses, but many fans are just angry about what DC is doing to their characters. Reading lots of reactions this week tells me that the fan base is septic, reacting to every proposed change with pessimism and bile. Kudos to DC for trying to break free from the anchor currently sinking comics.
Not that I’m convinced it will necessarily be successful. Is the audience actually there of for digital comics? Will DC ruin any chances of success by trying to have their cake and eat it too? This things make this a big risk.
DC’s pricing strategy is the only one that makes sense. People say they will only buy digital if it‘s $.99 , but most of those would probably not buy any no matter the price. But keeping them the same as print to start, 2.99, and dropping to 1.99 after a month is a good compromise. 1.99 is not too much, that is about the same as a bottle of soda.
DC has also claimed that they are actually going to try to market Comics to a wider audience. The Green Lantern App is a good start, but if they are really serious they should put an add in the trailers for the coming Green Lantern movie. With comics being available in more bookstores, like Barnes and Nobel and Hastings, it should be easier than it has in a long time to get comics. I have nothing against comic shops, but if they are the only way to get comics then the comics market will continue to shrink.
When every thing is said and done, though, what really matters is how good the books DC puts out. Below are my thoughts on each and every one of the 52 number ones as well as a quick rating of my interest in each title (Excited, Intrigued, Dubious, or Pass):
- Justice League, written by Geoff Johns and art by Jim Lee. Lee is not my favorite artist, but he is really popular. This is going to be the center point of the line and it has a great creative team. I’m in for Geoff Johns writing the JLA. Excited.
- Wonder Woman, written by Brian Azzarello and art by Cliff Chiang. Azzarello seems like an odd fit, he seems more at home with gritty stories than what I would want with Wonder Woman. But Chiang is the best. Even if Azzarello’s story falters the are will be good. Excited
- Aquaman, written by Geoff Johns and art by Ivan Reis. Johns again, and he has done good work with Aquaman over the last year or so. This should be some good, solid Superheroics. Excited.
- The Flash, art and writing by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Manapul was the artist on The Flash and his art was perfect for the book. I’m not sure about his writing skills, but his art is good enough that I’m going to give it a chance. Intrigued.
- Fury of Firestorm, written by Ethan Van Scriver and Gail Simone, art by Yildiray Cinar. I have just north of zero interest in Firestorm, but I do have interest in Gail Simone. It like VanScriver’s art, but I again haven’t read his writing. Still, I’m buying at least one issue just for Gail. Intrigued.
- The Savage Hawkman, written by Tony Daniel, art by Philip Tan. Another artist writing and so far Tony Daniel has shown no great writing aptitude. There is little to excite in this book. Pass
- Green Arrow, written by JT Krul, art by Dan Jurgens. JT Krul was writing Green Arrow before the re-launch and it wasn’t very good. There is no reason to believe that this will be better. Pass.
- Justice League International, written by Dan Jurgens and art by Aaron Lopresti. Dan Jurgens is a solid if unexciting writer, but with a great artist like Lopresti and the team in this book (Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Fire, and Ice) it would be hard to fail. Intrigued.
- Mister Terrific, written by Eric Wallace and art by Roger Robinson. Mr. Terrific is a cool character, but I know little about the creative team. I will give it a try, but I’m very wary. Dubious.
- Captain Atom, written by JT Krul and art by Freddie Williams II. Freddie Williams II’s art is a good fit for Captain Atom, but Krul is not a writer I have faith in. Another book I’m not interested in. Pass.
- DC Universe Presents, written by Paul Jenkins and art by Bernard Chang. A book with rotating creative teams and stars, my interest will change with them. First up is Deadman and it sounds all right, but not very exciting. Intrigued.
- Detective Comics, writing and art by Tony Daniel. More Tony Daniel, more disinterest from me. He isn’t terrible, but neither is he very good. There is no shortage of Batman to be had in this re-launch, I’d say get you fix elsewhere. Pass.
- Batman, written by Scott Snyder and art by Greg Capullo. Scott Snyder has been doing really good work on Detective Comics recently (as well as American Vampire). Him continuing on a Batman book is good news. This is the top book for the Dark Knight. Excited.
- Batwoman, written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman and art by JH Williams III . When Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams were doing this a year ago it was great. The art is sure to be terrific, definitely good enough for a purchase with even a mediocre story. Intrigued.
- Batgirl, written by Gail Simone and art by Ardian Syaf. Barbara Gordon is back, to much consternation. The previous Batgirl book was one of my favorites, so I am a bit disappointed, but Gail Simone writing Babs is always great. This one is high on my list. Excited.
- Catwoman, written by Judd Winick and art by Guillem March. Judd Winick is a writer, much like Krul, that DC has a lot of faith in, but I really do not care for him. I also have no great interest in Catwoman. Pass.
- Batman and Robin, written by Peter Tomasi and art by Pat Gleason. Tomasi and Gleason are a great team, and this should be a good book. After Batman proper this is the next best Batman option. Intrigued.
- Batman: The Dark Knight, art and writing by David Finch. This one fights with Detective Comics for the bottom of the Batman pile. Finch couldn’t get the book out on time before the re-launch and I doubt he will after. Bleh. Pass.
- Red Hood and the Outlaws, written by Scott Lobdell and art by Kenneth Rocafort. It has been a long time since I’ve read anything by Scott Lobdell, but I think I remember liking Generation X way back when, and Rocafort’s art is pretty cool, but conceptually this does not sound that promising. Dubious.
- Nightwing, written by Kyle Higgins and art by Eddy Barrows. I’m not too sure about Kyle Higgins, the only thing I know of his is the current Gates of Gotham series with Scott Snyder. But the old Nightwing series was usually fun and Dick is a fun character. I hope this one is good. Intrigued.
- Batwing, written by Judd Winick and art by Ben Oliver. Winick is a writer I do not love and this character is an unknown quantity. This has some possibilities, but I’m going to pass. I have no inherent interest in a black Batman. Dubious.
- Birds of Prey, written by Duane Sweirczynski and art by Jesus Saiz. Birds of Prey has not fared well under anyone but Gail Simone, but this take is significantly different enough to have a chance. It could really go either way, either a great success or a disaster. Dubious.
- Green Lantern, written by Geoff Johns and art by Doug Mahnke. Have I made it clear I like Johns? I’m going to keep buying this book; I fully expect it to keep being good. But the last year or so has not quite been up to Johns’s standard. Intrigued.
- Green Lantern Corps, written by Peter Tomasi and art by Fernando Pasarin. Tomasi’s supplemental Green Lantern books have mostly been even better than the main book. As he is still working with Guy, I’m still in. Excited.
- The New Guardians, written by Tony Bedard and art by Tyler Kirkham. This is an interesting concept, but Bedard produces bog-standard comics usually. I might pick it up, but I have no great hopes. Dubious.
- Red Lanterns, written by Peter Milligan and art by Ed Benes. The Red Lanterns are pretty over the top, but this could still be decent. The only reason I’m giving it a second look is that I’ve enjoyed the Green Lantern books overall lately. Dubious.
- Swamp Thing, written Scott Snyder and art by Yannick Paquette. Scott Snyder has shown himself to be a really good writer and Paquette is also great. And Swamp Thing should be a good fit. Excited.
- Animal Man written by Jeff Lemire and art by Travel Foreman. Lemire is great with heartfelt weird, and that is a perfect tone for Animal Man. I’m on board. Excited.
- Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, written by Jeff Lemire and art by Alberto Ponticelli. Same as above, pretty much. Excited.
- Justice League: Dark, written by Peter Milligan and art by Mikel Janin. The title is pretty dumb, but the idea is sound. There is potential to be had in Constantine in the DC Universe. Intrigued.
- I, Vampire, written by Josh Hale Fialkov and art by Andrea Sorrentino. This looks awful Twilight-ish. Vampires are definitely not my thing. Pass.
- VooDoo, written by Ron Marz and art by Sam Basri. Ron Marz has fans, but I’m not familiar with his work. This one is an enigma to me. Dubious.
- Demon Knights, written by Paul Cornell and art by Diogenes Neves. This sounds great. A Swords and Sorcery Magnificent 7 should be awesome. I am definitely in. Excited.
- Resurrection Man, written by Danny Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Fernando Dagnino. This is a well remember character brought back by his original creators. I don’t know anything about it. Dubious.
- Teen Titans, written by Scott Lobdell, art by Brett Booth. This is dire. DC refuses to do Teen Titans as anything other than dark and dreary. Please don’t bother. Uber Pass.
- Legion of Superheroes, written by Paul Levitz and art by Francis Portela. I know nothing about Legion of Superheroes and I prefer to keep it that way. But this shouldn’t be too bad. Dubious.
- Legion Lost, written by Fabian Nicieza and art by Pete Woods. A Legion team goes into the past to fix something. It has a good creative team and a decent decent concept, but I don’t care about the Legion. Dubious.
- Static Shock, written by Scott McDaniel & Jeff Rozum and art by Scott McDaniel. This should be pretty good, but I don’t really care for Static. McDaniel’s art is spotty, and I don’t know much about him as a writer. Dubious.
- Hawk and Dove, written by Sterling Gates and art by Rob Liefeld. I like Sterling Gates. I hate Rob Liefeld’s art. I don’t really care about Hawk and Dove. If Liefeld leaves early I’ll give it a try. But for now no chance. Pass.
- Stormwatch, written by Paul Cornell and art Miguel Sepulveda. I’ve never been a fan of Wildstorm. I’m not happy that Martian Manhunter is not in the Justice League. I am a fan of Paul Cornell. This one is a wait and see for me. Dubious.
- Blackhawks, written by Mike Costa and art by Ken Lashley. The old WWII fighter pilot team is being re-imagined as basically G.I. Joe. I like G.I. Joe. Money permitting I’ll give this a chance. Dubious.
- SGT. Rock and the Men of War, written by Ivan Brandon and art by Tom Derenick I like that DC is doing some stuff that is not superheroes. I want to give this a shot. It will probably come down to this or Blackhawks. Dubious.
- All-Star Western, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and art by Moritat. This looks to be mostly a continuation of Palmiotti and Gray’s Jonah Hex. I like this writing team. I like Westerns. I’ll be buying this. Intrigued.
- Deathstroke, written by Kyle Higgins and art by Joe Bennet. I’m giving Higgins a chance on Nightwing because that is a character I like. I don’t like Deathstroke. Pass.
- Grifter, written by Nathan Edmundson and art by Cafu. More Wildstorm. I don’t care at all. Pass.
- OMAC, written by Dan Didio & Keith Giffen and art Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish. I’m not a fan of Didio’s writing, but I am a fan of Keith Giffen. And if this OMAC is similar to the old Kirby stuff it should be good. I might give it a chance. Dubious.
- Suicide Squad written by Adam Glass and art by Marco Rudy. Suicide Squad is a great concept, but the redesigned characters on the cover (save for King Shark because Hammerheads are the best sharks) look terrible. I retain some hope, but I’ll let someone else test it out. Dubious.
- Blue Beetle, written by Tony Bedard and art by Ig Guara. Bedard is a decent but unexciting writer, but Blue Beetle is a great character. If it even slightly resembles his previous series it should be great. Intrigued.
- Superman, written by George Perez and art by Jesus Merino. The only writing I know George Perez for is his Wonder Woman, and that was pretty good. I also like Merino on art. There isn’t as much variety in the Superman titles as the Batman ones, but this should be decent. Intrigued.
- Action Comics, written by Grant Morrison and art by Rags Morales. Every time Morrison writes Superman it is great. This is probably the highlight if the re-launch. Excited.
- Supergirl, written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson and art by Mahmud Asrar. It sounds like they are going back to dark and mysterious Supergirl, which is and always has been a terrible idea. But the solicit could be misleading. Sterling Gates’s Supergirl run was largely really good, and it was not dark at all. If this is what is seems I have no interest, but if it is a slightly more fun take I’m in. Dubious
- Superboy, written by Scott Lobdell and art by RB Silva, Lemire’s recent Superboy series was really good, but this looks kind of dreadful. Silva’s art is pretty good, and this is not necessarily going to be awful, but I can’t justify jumping on early. Pass.
So the grand tally is 11 books I’m excited for, 12 I’m intrigued by, 17 I am dubious about and 12 I’ll definitely pass on. That is actually a pretty spread for DC. I am reasonable satisfied in the new line.