Tag Archives: DC Comics relaunch

The Ax Hath Fallen…

The first casualties of the New 52 are official.

Earlier I posted my personal predictions, based on just the first set of numbers, saying that any book selling less than the lowest selling Vertigo title was at risk of cancellation.

You will NOT be missed. DIE. DIE. DIE!!!

There were a few surprises, but all in all, much of what I thought would happen, has.  Mister Terrific, Hawk and Dove, OMAC, Static Shock and Blackhawks were my likeliest candidates and they are all now going to end with issue #8.  No I am not supernaturally gifted with a power beyond mortal ken, this was just simple numbers.  A bit more of a surprise to me was that Men of War is also ending.  The impression I had gotten was the sales of that were climbing, and was really developing a following.  Many of these will end their runs selling better than other titles that I predicted for the chopping block.  House of Mystery and Captain Atom appear to be getting a few more readers and holding on though.  I would expect announcements of some getting the ax will come once numbers on the first trade and hardcover collections come in.  There have always been books that survive only because of the sales of the collections in the past and the New 52 will be no different.

I can’t imagine that there was anyone inside or outside of the DC offices that expected all 52 to survive and this is just the first wave of cancellations.  There will almost certainly be another bunch, 3 or 4 titles at least to end with their second arc.  To DC’s credit, they are spinning it well and making it feel organic.  They were ready, as we all would have suspected, with the launch of a new group of books to replace them.  In some cases, the replacement is pretty obvious continuations of concepts and characters that we saw in the cancelled books and other recent DC projects.

The new books have a great deal of promise.  Everyone expected to see another Batman Inc to conclude the arc and it is now official.  Not a surprise.  Also announced early on, and now on the schedule is Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott.  The characters have been a fan favorite since their return to the DCU and Robinson’s take on them has been excellent and mostly well received.  On my must get list is World’s Finest, starring Power Girl (yay!!) and the Huntress by Paul Levitz with George Perez and Kevin Maguire rotating art duties for each arc.  These are the Earth 2 versions, stuck in our world and trying to get home.  Makes me wonder what will become of this Earth’s Karen Starr though, as she has been relegated to girlfriend in one of the now cancelled books.  This new book looks to be a continuation, of sorts from the Huntress mini series, and Levitz is the only writer that has ever really done justice to the Huntress.  Of course he DID create the character, so one would hope that to be the case.

Dial H, G.I. Combat and The Ravagers all look to be interesting books.  But only Dial H will get a look from me.  I have never gone in for combat books and anything spinning off from the mediocre Teen Titans holds no interest for me.  I have always been surprised that war books do well.  Men of War  is likely going to have its audience carry over into the new book.  China Mieville on Dial H will be a draw for a while at least, but I think The Ravagers will not hold on very long, just a hunch really.

I am still enjoying the New 52 and think that it is being handled well.  I am looking forward to what happens next, and that is what DC really want to hear from the fans.  Love the books or hate them, they are still generating interest nearly 6 months in, and when was the last time a comics “event” did that?

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Women creators in the big time…

Wow, DC really can’t do something big without stirring up the storm can they?

Art by Amanda Conner

With the relaunch announcements grabbing more headlines than the real news (that being the day and date digital releases) DC has managed to not see one issue coming.  Or they see it, and just don’t care.  Where all da wimmin at?

Gail Simone is writing 2 of the new monthly books and Jenny Frisson is doing a cover.  Just one cover.  There is more out there in the world than Rob Liefeld.  Did we really need to bring him back?  There was not ONE other woman out there that could write Hawk & Dove?  This is a book that will more than likely, be on the short list for cancellation within 3 issues.  Maybe that is why no one would touch it.  There are, to my knowledge more female artists out there than writers, but I know there are more than just the wonderful Ms Simone!  In the artist end of things I am even a bit more surprised.  There are some real fan favorites (artists and writers) that have nothing on DC’s schedule in September.  Amanda Conner, Katie Cook, Nicola Scott, Trina Robbins, Louise Simonson and the list goes on!  True, some were probably offered something and were not interested for reasons of their own, but just Gail Simone and Jenny Frisson?

There was a point in the past I would have said that this was just the women complaining, then I grew up some and try to look at it intelligently.  Or at least as intelligently as I am able.  True, there are not all that many women in the field these days compared to the men, and a lot of that is a cultural issue.  Women have not been mainstays of the industry in any point in its history.  The days when a Dalia Messick could get work because she went by Dale are gone.  The internet makes all of that kind of insulting tomfoolery transparent.  There has always been a serious  lack of women but I believe that it can never be truly equal.  There just are not as many women as men interested.  The reason for some of that has shifted.  It used to be simple enough:  girls didn’t read comics.  That is no longer true.  Many books, and not just the ones you would assume, have larger female readership.  And it is not that women are not artists and writers.  One look at the bookstores will tell you that.  Now I wonder if it may not be the fact that there are other, more attractive mediums/markets to go into.  There is a talent drain that has happened slowly over the years from comics in the traditional mainstream sense, to other medium peripheral to the traditional comic book.  Web comics seem to have a much better ratio of men to women.  A couple of the standouts here would be Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots) and Lora Innes (The Dreamer).  In other media there is quite a draw also.  Design, book illustration art of all kinds that would draw someone, not already interested in comics further away.  In fact, I think it may be a safe bet that if someone, man or woman, is not a comic book fan to start with, they are not likely to enter the field professionally.  As the medium slowly fades away (yes, it is slowly fading away) fewer young people are influenced by it and chose it as a career path.  So there is that factor, but it does not explain this huge shift.

As I look at this more, I really do wonder if this isn’t something different.  This level of exclusion is SO out of the norm, that I wonder if it might not be deliberate.  This is not to say that I think Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Dan Didio are sitting in the dark halls of the DC compound planning ways to exclude Ms Frisson et al, but there can be an institutional mindset that can be so much a part of the industry, that even the newer blood is not immune.  It does not have to be a conscious choice to be something that is made to happen.  The “old boys” network is not just for the long serving, and it need not be worked at.  At some point, to reverse this trend, a deliberate choice to go the other way may be needed.  No, not quotas or preferential hiring.  The need for a meritocracy is still there.  Bringing in female writer “X” just because the is female does not solve the problem.  In fact, it will make it worse.  Nevermind the inevitable male backlash, the issue here is that bad books by less than stellar talent, again male or female, will drive readers and other talent away.

What is needed, I think, is a concentrated search for new talent ALL the time.  Just like any kind of marketing or recruiting, you tailor it to fit a demographic.  Just like you want to sell a car to a thirty something male with no kids and a lot of disposable income, you can target any segment of the market you want.  You can choose to bring in new talent in very much the same way.  Even the days of the old Marvel Try out book are well past, and no longer likely to be of use.  (Any one who thinks products are not marketed that specifically needs to wake the hell up!  I knew an ad guy for a car manufacturer many years ago that was quite proud of a campagne he helped design that marketed one specific model of a car to gay men over 40.  And it sold to that demo just as planned.)

I remember there was once a lot of talk about the big two recruiting in the art schools, but that never seemed to materialize.  Now you get portfolio review at cons.  The attitude that the talent will show up when needed does not bring the top talent, it brings in whatever comes through the door.  Comic as an industry has always been more than willing to cannibalize itself.  I think that comes from the trash product mentality from the earliest days of the medium, and it is unfortunately still with us.

Get it together DC.  For that matter, the entire industry.  While some publishers are better than others, and most are better than DC in this case, there is a long way to go.  The diversity created by women and men sharing the creative duties can only help comics.  This all just seems so short sighted…

 

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A new Action Comics # 1?

Well, it is official.  The DC reboot will be a truly line-wide one.  Even Action Comics will not be safe.  The bright spot in this is that the book will be by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales, two people who can do great work!  Morrison is likely best know in recent years for All-Star Superman and the current Batman Incorporated storyline, and Rags Morales has done piles of great books.  The book that stands out for me is Identity Crisis, the best of the various DC Crisis books in my opinion.

This is a slightly scary and slightly thrilling idea for me.  I didn’t get a chance to buy a copy of the first Action # 1 as I would not be born for three decades when it originally hit the stands, so yes, I will most likely buy it just for the geek factor.  There are some concerns though.  This will be, for all intents and purposes, a full reboot.  It sounds like they will be de-power Superman, assuming Morrison continues some of the ideas about the character that he has expressed in past interviews.  I have an issue with too much of a de-power though as the other books are not all changing to the same degree.  It looks very much like some of them (Green Lantern) are not really making any significant changes.  If that is the case, will Superman, as his name needs to imply, still be the most powerful hero in the DCU?  It also looks like there may be a real return to the “social crusader” that Superman was in his earliest days.

The two images of Superman that I have seen so far have been very different.  The George Perez preview image for Superman # 1…

Superman # 1(?) by George Perez

…looks very different to what we have seen as a preview image for Action # 1…

Action Comics # 1 (?) by Rags Morales

The differences in costume could be that one or both are not the final look.  The Action image is a clear homage to the original Action # 1, and the superman one has some similarities to the original # 1 of that title, but that may only be because I want there to be.  These are both fairly big redesigns if you know what you are looking for.  The loss of blue tights entirely on the Morales design, the angular Perez look that loses the underpants on the outside and simplifies the “S” somewhat.  These could be responses to the legal issues of copyright and trademark thanks to the various legal battles that have been going on, almost since the first Action # 1.  (See my post on this from May 29th)

Another, more concerning possibility is that the two books may exist in slightly different continuity.  This last one is concerning to me as it defeats the purpose of the intended, jump on friendly nature to the reboot, but the official statement regarding the book makes me wonder if that is not exactly what the plan is.  Action will start the DCU off and tell the earliest possible days of Superman.  DC’s official statement for Action # 1 is “This momentous first issue will set in motion the history of the DC Universe as Superman defends a world that doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.”  The reads to me like it is the true start point for the entire line.  You can’t have Superman show up one day and then everyone else the next.  Doesn’t work.  Is this book, at least from the start, in an earlier timeline, that will become the rest of the main continuity?  An intriguing possibility from a story standpoint, but maybe a little less new reader friendly.  Then Superman # 1 is the current continuity that Justice League etc all exist in?  The change in costume from Action to Superman would lend credence to that possibility.  Bleeding Cool seems to be painting the Action  Comics Superman as a “liberal activist”, basing that opinion on Morrison’s own statements from recent interviews.  That would certainly be in line with the original concept of the character as created by the two kids from Cleveland.  I don’t think that would be all bad either.  It would certainly make the stories more relevant for a modern audience, regardless of which side of the liberal line you come down on, and the media will certainly grab onto whatever will stir up the most controversy.  There is a lot of upside to making the character more relevant not least of which is the greater potential for projects outside of the comics medium, like the upcoming Man of Steel movie, currently with director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and Chris Nolan (Batman Begins, Dark Knight) as producer.

I will always give Morrison a chance, as he always make the ride an interesting one, even if I don’t always like the end result.  And George Perez doing Superman?  Where do I sign up?  But these look like two VERY different books, at least given the small amount of info we have been given so far.  That may well be the key to this reboot working.  Give fans a clear choice, and a bit of variety.  Marvel has never managed to keep multiple books fresh and different for very long.  Pick up any Spider-Man book out there and, to a casual or new reader, there will be very little difference.  Maybe a change of pace is in order.  For this to be the game changer it is intended to be, it needs to not only change the status quo for DC, but the entire industry.  They need to re invent the rules of comics publishing, and hope the readers like it enough to inspire the other publishers out there (I’m looking at you Marvel) to up their game and do it not only better, but differently too.  This reboot is make or break.  More people who I speak to, my friend Kurt started me on this fear, believe that if the reboot fails to put DC back on top of the market, or at least make it a much tighter race, that it could kill the line.  I think that is worst case, but at least it could seriously cripple the publisher.  And anything that is bad for one of the big guys in the market, is potentially bad for all.

UPDATE:  As of the next day at the LA TIMES HERO COMPLEX, the reveal in an interview with Jim Lee and Geoff Johns is that the new JLA book will start in the past and then jump forward into the new continuity.  This makes me think my theory above is getting more plausible.

SECOND UPDATE:  George Perez made a comment on his Facebook page to clarify his involvement on the new Superman: Man of Tomorrow book.  He is writing and doing thumbnail layouts for artist Jesus Merino to work from.  He will also be supplying covers.  Bit of a bummer there and now not as exciting.  Merino is pretty good though, so I imagine this will still be quite a book.

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Well, it is certainly hard to ignore…

52 #1’s in September.  The reactions have begun to get at least a little more varied.  Ranging from “Oh boy! 52 jumping off points!” to ” But I actually LIKED where Batman inc was going”.  There have been piles of announcements ahead of the full official list and there are a few interesting things.

George Perez writing and drawing Superman (confirmed).  Just freaking cool.  I’m there.

Grant Morrison doing another Superman book (still unconfirmed).  I loved his All-Star book.  I’m there.

Batman inc is on a break until sometime next year.  I went on a break from a girlfriend once.  That didn’t work out all that well.

David Finch on Dark Knight.  What?  He pumps out 2 cruddy issues in 6 months and they are “rebooting”?  I can see the solicitation for  September 2012 already…”superstar Finch to release 4th fabulous issue!”  Ooh!  Can hardly wait to miss this one.  But since it will not be on time much, we will all “miss” it.  On the whole the Batbooks seem to be getting kind of the short end of the stick.  There is a little shuffling of names from one book to another, but nothing really cool.  Greg Capullo on a Batman book is pretty cool.  He is always a fun artist and getting away from Todd MacFarlane will do nothing bad for his career.  Looks like Jason will still be around, and they will continue to clean him up and make him an anti-hero.  Damian is still Robin, and Dick Grayson will go back to being Nightwing.  The part that bugs me is that Barbara Gordon will be Batgirl again.  Not from a continuity point does it bug me (The Killing Joke was never intended to be in canon), but rather the fact that I liked the Oracle angle.

A couple of things HAVE gotten my interest though.  Justice League Dark looks to be written by Peter Milligan and has a fabulous cast.  Any chance to see Madame Xanadu back in a book, since her great series by Matt Wagner and mostly Amy Reeder on art, is a real treat.

Also looking good is Animal Man.  A possible cover is below, along with the third book that looks super cool, Resurrection Man, a character from the late 90’s being brought back by its creator’s Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

At least from the odd corners of the DCU, things are looking interesting.  But to be honest, the whole “women need to cover their legs” thing is really stupid, and Power Girl in pants is gonna suck.  It is as if DC thinks that no one will notice the huge boobage on all the femal characters if thier legs are covered.  Take PG out of the mix and the cup sizes are still pretty spectacular.  We shall see, but I’m guessing this last only as long as the readers keep coming.  Sale dip, and off come the pants!

Justice League Dark cover by Ryan Sook

The return -again- of resurrection Man

Animal Man

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Just Like DC, I am starting over with a new #1!!!

Don’t worry though, I will be returning to my “legacy numbering” in a couple of years, when sales drop off or a new crossover occurs to me.

Amazing how negative the reactions to this have been so far.  Do we as fans have as short a memory as the industry as a whole?  Is there an issue of a comic this month starring “generic guy”?  Yes?  Then who cares what the numbering is?  Justice League will be starting with a new number one by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee (it will either be awful/late all the time or the most amazing 6 issue series in history).  Yes, you heard me, 6 issues before Lee either leaves or is so late there are fill ins.  I think there is amazing potential in that book.  But this is just the newest in a really long line of JLA number ones.  It is one of the worst, and that’s even before you start counting the other series that were multiple per month titles.  Birds of Prey #1?  They have not managed to get a book yet that will sell well after the 3rd issue, despite some world-class talent.  The longer Gail Simone run a while back is as close as they got , and it was always closer to the bottom than the top.  Too bad too, it has generally been one of the better DC books.

So, yes, there will be 52 new titles in September.  And if you don’t think there is significance in that number, you are drinking the wrong kool aid.  So many books have re numbered, then gone back again and again that it really makes no difference at all.  It would be news if they stopped publishing a character entirely for a few months, but even that is a rare occurrence.  Hell, even when Superman died, there were piles of Superman books!  “Yes, he is dead.  And now we are going to do one book with no Superman for one month, but he will still show up as flashbacks and memories.  Then we will tease you forever with several Supermen (4 if memory serves) and then tell you it is none of them.  BAH!  Finding change in comics that lasts is like trying to nail jello to a tree, and has always been that way.  Fans seem to think that SOME change is acceptable, but other change, that when you look at it, is identical, is bad.  If DC has said “there will be a new series of Justice League by Johns and Lee (better yet, called it “All-Star JL”) and quietly let that be the only book, no one would be saying anything but positives about it.  The other books really are not different.  You can never win by giving the fans what they want as they will always rebel against it as “not QUITE what they had in mind”.  Just as an aside, when I say “fans” I don’t mean “you”.  I mean the group of us.  All of us.  We are generally pretty smart, sensible people individually, but as a group we are short-sighted, and have no long-term memory at the best of times.  So there will be new branding on 52 character’s books.  Some of these are likely to be new books entirely, meaning an all new title for a fella that has not had a book in a while, say Deadman.  Others will be re-branding old books or the same book with a new number and creative team.  Bets will be flying as to which ones become limited runs and how quick.  If the 52 has any significance, they will likely last as long as they need to so they can move the arc along.  Believe me, this is not being done as an end unto itself, but towards another goal entirely.  I’m betting the overall number will not move much as there is a goal here.  I have no interest in Flashpoint, but what will come out of it with the reboot, has me very interested.  If only in the hope that there will be real change that sticks around for more than 10 minutes.  I know that is not likely, but like all fans, i always hope that what I am going to read next is the coolest thing I will EVER read.  Just like the one after than and so on.

One last note on the book here that CBR mentioned.  See the caption for what they sparked in my head…

Could Action #904 end up being the highest consecutively numbered book on the stands?

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