Monday, August 29, 2011

Last minute questions on the new 52

We are basically only a few days away from the start of DC's new 52 and there are still a few unanswered questions bouncing around in my brain. So I figured I would bounced them off of the internet as well.

1) There are four Lantern-related books in the relaunch. However, none of them appear to feature Hal Jordan (either at all or in any major role). So for those among us who don't mind the existence and appearance of the other Lanterns but are for the most part strictly Hal fans and don't want to fork over three bucks (and the time involved in reading) to read tales of other Lanterns (even more specifically Sinestro) ---- what Lantern title is there for us? Which one are we supposed to read?

2) Oracle is no more and we have a young Barbara Gordon as Batgirl in her place. It stands to reason that a Lazarus Pit is responsible for this change. Not only can it heal her lower body paralysis, but it could also potentially make her younger. If that is the direction you want to go, so be it. But we've been told that Oracle did exist in the new DCU and that the Bat-titles are mostly being left alone. If that is indeed true, the Birds of Prey happened with Oracle, Dinah, and Helena (along with Zinda and several other heroes who helped on occasion). So if Barbara is back to her old Batgirl-self ... why isn't she working with Dinah? Why isn't she a member of BoP? Why isn't Helena? It doesn't make sense.

3) Where is Power Girl? (and don't say Earth-2 with the JSA because I might have to throw a heavy object at someone) And what about Terra (Atlee, not Tara Markov). Are we going to see her again?

4) Tony Daniel has mentioned that he is removing the Egyptian origins and reincarnation aspects from Hawkman's history. I'm mostly indifferent to this. But if those things are gone, does that mean there is no Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman? I think I'm ok with no Shayera. But what about Kendra Saunders? Do we have to lose her too?

5) Where is Wally West? And why doesn't the DC brass acknowledge the fact that the target demographic (essentially everyone under 35) doesn't recognize Barry Allen (outside of the recent Rebirth series) as their Flash? Essentially anyone who has been reading comics since the mid-80s has known Wally West as the Flash. He was the Flash in the comic books and he was the Flash in the Justice League cartoon (the initial version and JL Unlimited). The only people who give a rip about Barry Allen are 40 or older. And these are not the people who are going to be driving digital sales (and chances are, they are not driving a significant percentage of the physical paper comic sales either -- and if they are, then DC has even bigger problems than a line relaunch is going to solve).

6) If you're going to have an Earth-2 (it was announced at FanExpo Canada there would be a JSA book and it is set on Earth-2), then what is the point of folding the Wildstorm characters into the regular DCU? Why do they have to occupy the same world/dimension? Why couldn't they be on an Earth-3 or Earth-W or whatever? Do we really need StormWatch interacting with the Justice League? Grifter, Voodoo, and the rest of the Wildcats crossing paths with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman?

7) What happened to Rose Wilson (Ravager)?

8) We've already seen a few titles announced with different artists by the second and third issues (in fact, there is one title that has a different art team on the first, second, and third issue). And we are hearing some of the reasons are due to scripts getting to the artists late because of story changes or shifts in creative teams. One thing that turns me off from a new title faster than just about anything else is the publisher not having their act together enough to have stock piled enough enough issues to have a consistent creative team through (at the very least) the first arc. Given some of the relaunch seems hap-hazard at best (late changes to creative teams and the lack of cohesive creative teams following), why should we trust that DC editorial (from the top down) actually has their $h1t together on this whole thing?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

DCU Reading List (before and after the relaunch)

Now that the details of the DC 'non-reboot' (as they want to phrase it) have had a little time to sink in, I want to have a look at how the relaunch will be affecting my reading list.
To start, I will list the DC titles I have been reading regularly within the past year. A few of these titles were actually cancelled in recent months (even before the news of the relaunch was released), but they are titles I followed with much enjoyment, and given the characters involved are also part of the relaunch in some form, I feel they merit recognition in my list[1]. In addition, there are two titles that were actually mini-series. They only ran for a year, but they were bi-weekly titles so each one had twenty four issues published (which is the equivalent of two years worth of a monthly series) and thus I feel like these also merit inclusion[2].

Current DC Reading List
Batgirl - This is a title I only started picking up recently (with issue 14) and have really been enjoying. When the current series finishes up August, it will be with the 24th issue (meaning I will have read a total of 11 issues of this incarnation of the title).
Batman The Dark Knight - This series has been beset with so many delays that I'm frankly sick of it. I've only read the first TWO issues to this point even though the first issue came out in December 2010. Beyond ridiculous.
Batwoman - I read the intial story arc in Detective Comics by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III and would be reading the regular Batwoman series if it had not been delayed. I am counting it as part of my current reading list because it would be on it if DC had not decided to push it back (in other words, I don't want it to count just as a new book in the relaunched DCU because it was announced prior to that and was supposed to have debutted before it as well).
Birds of Prey - I've been reading this title since back when Chuck Dixon was writing it. Black Canary is one of my favorite characters (definitely in my top 10 and quite possibly in my top 5). I stopped reading the title briefly after Gail Simone left it the first time, but I jumped back on board when they relaunched it recently with Gail back at the helm.
Brightest Day[2] - This is one of the series that followed up Blackest Night. It was a mini-series that ran bi-weekly for a year (thus 24 issues were published) and followed a number of characters, among them Dove and the resurrected Hawk.
Gotham City Sirens - I used to regularly read the Catwoman series (in trade form) prior to its cancellation. This was somewhat of a replacement for that title and I have been reading it since it started two years ago.
Green Lantern - A staple in my reading list and probably one of DC's most consistently good over the past several years.
Justice League Generation Lost[2] - This is another series that followed up Blackest Night. It also ran bi-weekly for a year (24 issues) and featured Justice League members who were part of the Giffen/DeMatteis run (along with Captain Atom who was part of Justice League Europe during the aforementioned run).
Madame Xanadu[1] - This is a series that fell under the Vertigo banner at the time, but given a number of characters from the Vertigo books are being pulled back into the DCU and the fact that Madame Xanadu is appearing in not one but two of the new series in the DC relaunch, this one now counts for comparative purposes.
Supergirl - This is another title I only started picking up recently (with issue 60) and have also been enjoying. When the current series finishes up in August, it will be with the 67th issue (meaning I will have read a total of 7 issues of this incarnaton of the title).
Teen Titans - This is a series I started picking up with issue 88 (when JT Krul and Nicola Scott and Doug Hazelwood came aboard as the new creative team). This series will be finishing its run with its 100th issue in August (so I will have read 13 issues of that incarnation of the series).
Wildcats - I have been reading the various incarnations of Wildcats for years and years. I think my favorite of them all was Joe Casey's Wildcats Version 3.0, which I believe was the last series before Grant Morrison and Jim Lee were supposed to relaunch it. That never quite got off the ground (I think the first issue was published and then it was delayed to such a point that Wildstorm decided to launch it again with a new creative team). The series has been really awful the last couple of years (with the whole World's End direction), but I'm such a big fan of Grifter and Zealot and the rest that I continued to partake of it even though I really disliked it (yes, I know how stupid that is).
Wonder Woman - DC has made so many mis-steps with this series that it is really frustrating. The most recent new-direction that started under Straczynski (though he jumped ship rather quickly) has been forgettable. This is one title I am glad DC is relaunching because it is just a mess right now.
Zatanna - Zatanna is a character I haven't really thought all that much about one way or the other over the years, but given the creative team that launched the series (Paul Dini and Stephane Roux), I had to check it out. It has been a very entertaining series and I've enjoyed it quite a bit (and that is even with the recent departure of Dini and Roux).

Okay, so we have 14 titles in all from what we are considering the regular DCU (since many Vertigo characters and the Wildstorm characters are being folded in now) that I have been reading on a regular basis.

Now let's have a look at my proposed reading list for the new DCU. I am actually going to break it out into two separate lists. The first list is titles that I have high expectations for and believe I will be sticking with for the long haul (assuming they all sell well enough to survive). The second list is titles that I will be checking out, but don't really have good expectations for and figure that I likely will not be reading them some six or twelve months after the relaunch. Obviously I could be surprised by one or two of them and they might actually be enjoyable enough to keep reading, but I have serious doubts that will happen.
So let's have a go at it.

Expected DC Reading List
Batman - I have been hearing a lot of good things about Scott Snyder's current work on Detective Comics. I have very much enjoyed his work on the Vertigo title American Vampire. As he is moving over to the main Batman title with the relaunch, this seems like a good time to check it out.
Batwoman - I already mentioned above that I've been planning to get this series since it was first announced. Hopefully with the delay they put on the title, JH Williams III and Amy Reader have had ample time to get well ahead on this series.
Green Lantern - Already noted that this has consistently been one of DC's better books that I have been enjoyed for many years.
Grifter - I mentioned above that I am a big fan of Grifter so I am definitely onboard with this new series (though I have to admit that I have some minor reservations about what has been solicited on it --- I'm not sure how close to the Grifter character I really like this incarnation is going to be).
Justice League - I read Justice League for a good while previously, but when DC pulled all the A-List characters off the team several years back and didn't let Dwayne McDuffie tell the stories that he wanted, I decided I wasn't happy with the direction of the title so I stopped reading it. I'm looking forward to this relaunch, though I do have concerns about Jim Lee's ability to maintain the monthly schedule with the art.
Justice League International - The band is back together and I'm along for the ride. Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and Batman (I do find it a little odd Batman is participating in both the main JL team and this one), are joined by Vixen, Rocket Red, Guy Gardner and August General in Iron. Also helped by the fact Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan are handling the art chores.
Justice League Dark - I have to admit that I initially was on the fence about this title. But after reading comments by the series writer Peter Milligan, I decided it sounded like it would be a quality book. And since it features Madame Xanadu and Zatanna as part of the cast (and those two were carrying titles in my current DC reading list), it only made sense that I should be reading it.
Legion Lost - I like the Legion of Super-Heroes. But you will notice it is not on my current DC reading list. It used to be. I've ready various incarnations of the title over the years and I was reading the Waid and Kitson relaunch. After they left the title, I was about to quit it myself, but then DC hired Jim Shooter to write it so I stuck around. I actually wasn't all that excited by his first couple of issue because he had a different take on some of the characters, but the stories he was telling were intriguing enough to keep me around. But then Dan Didio decied to fire him and left us with an abomination of a series ending (you still owe me $3.00 for that final issue Didio - it wasn't what was solicited and was an absolute piece of garbage). I checked out the first five issues of Paul Levitz's relaunch of the book that immediately followed and did not like it, so that was the end of my Legion reading at the time. Levitz is still writing the Legion of Super-Heroes title that is part of DC's September relaunch, but it is pretty much the same thing he has already been doing, so I'm not coming back for that.
Legion Lost is a different beast altogether. It features seven Legion members who come back to the present day DCU on a mission and are then unable to return to their own time. One of the seven members is Timber Wolf, who happens to be my favorite Legion member. And this title isn't written by Paul Levitz. Add that all together, and this is a Legion series I am interested in.
Supergirl - Already mentioned that I recently started picking up Supergirl so I will be in for this relaunch. It sounds like the character is going to have a different attitude that the current incarnation, so there does exist a chance I might not like this version and end up dropping the book. I'm keeping a positive outlook though, which is why this title is on this list and not the second one.
Voodoo - Another title featuring a character from the Wildcats. There has been no mention of the Wildcats as part of the relaunch (though I have to imagine DC has plans to do something with them at some point in the future), so this title and Grifter are the only opportunity I have to read about the Wildcat characters that I like. I have no idea if this character has any current ties to Grifter or whether there are plans for them to join up in near future. Guess I will just have to read to find out what happens.
Wonder Woman - This one is on my current reading list and I'm very excited to see what Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have in store for the character.

So we have 11 titles I'm expecting to like and continue reading in the DC relaunch. That is a net loss of 3 series (there were 14 titles in my current reading list). Not a good sign. And of these 11 series, there is only 1 title that is completely outside of the family of books I was already reading. That title is Legion Lost. I did not have any Legion of Super-Hero titles on my current reading list. Everything else was represented in some manner. I had a Batman title. Had Batwoman. Had Green Lantern. Had a Justice League title (even though it was a mini-series of sorts). Had Supergirl. Had Wildcats. Had Wonder Woman. So in effect, DC is selling me fewer titles and hasn't really put me into any new areas.

But we'll have a look at the second list. This is where DC may be able to make some in-roads and either get back up to the same count (14 titles) or perhaps even higher. Remember, this is a list of titles I am going to try out but do not expect will have long term appeal to me for various reasons.

Potential DC Reading List
Batman The Dark Knight - Yes I'm already reading it (well, at least the two issues that have seen publication so far), but given all the delays the series has already experienced, I have serious doubts David Finch is going to be able to maintain anything resembling a respectable publishing schedule. If it falls off schedule the same way again, then I'm kicking it to the curb.
Captain Atom - I read and very much enjoyed the Captain Atom series back in the late 80s/early 90s. I also enjoyed the Justice League Europe series, of which he was a big part. The reason this title is on this particular list is just that I'm not sure DC can catch lightning in a bottle twice. Or at least not catch the lightning in a bottle that is going to have a strong enough appeal for me personally. I just don't think this series is going to give me that same sort of feeling I had back when I was reading that previous Captain Atom series.
Catwoman - You would think, given I read the previous Catwoman series and have Gotham City Sirens on my current reading list that I would very much be looking foreward to this series. Unfortunately, given comments I have read from series writer Judd Winick, I don't think this particular incarnation of the character is going to have the same appeal. Here are some of Winick's comments regarding the character in an interview he did with CBR: She's someone who is very aware of her sexuality, and we're letting her stay aware of it! [Laughs] On top of that is the fact that's she's not actually a superhero, nor is she a bad guy. She's a thief. She steals things. As we said in some of the copy floating around, she's addicted to danger. She's addicted to spontaneity. When she steals, she steals for the thrill of it. She doesn't steal so she can sock the money away and one day wind up on some tropical island retired. She blows through the money pretty quickly; she can't help herself, that's who she is.
That just doesn't sound like the Selina I've grown to like over the years. In fact, though there have been a lot of mentions that the Batman books are mostly staying the same through the relaunch, I'm curious if Selina still knows who Batman is under the cowl. Given these changes to her character as described by Winick, I'm not entirely certain that part of their history is being maintained. I'm just not getting a good feeling about this title, so my expectation is I'm not going to be sticking with it long.
Deathstroke - Deathstroke is another one of those titles I read back in the 90s and enjoyed quite a bit. That was the Wolfman scripted and Irwin illustrated Deathstroke series. I'm not really sure what to expect from this new incarnation, but I rather doubt it is going to strike the same sort of chord the original series did.
Demon Knights - I actually have little interest at all in the character of the Demon. In fact, the only reason I am checking this title out is because it also features Madame Xanadu. Since this series actually occurs in the Dark Ages (as opposed to the current day DCU), that adds a little more enticement. But if there is too much Demon and not enough Madame Xanadu in this series, I won't be hanging around.
Hawk and Dove - I really want to read a Hawk and Dove series and it has been way too long since DC has had a monthly series for this twosome. This series would be on the other list if it were not for one not-so-small detail. Rob Liefeld is drawing it. He drew the original limited series, and I admit that back in the late 80s/early 90s I was one of those comics fans who really liked his work. That isn't the case anymore though. I find his work mostly laughable now (what can I say, my tastes have changed -- for the better I think). Add to that, Liefeld has a poor track record in recent years in regards to his ability to meet any sort of regular schedule. If another artist was attached to this series, it would absolutely be in the other list. I'm checking it out just because there is the outside chance that Liefeld will fall back to his 'unable-to-meet-deadlines' ways and will quickly be replaced as artist on the series. Kind of sad that I'm hoping for that (I have nothing personal against Liefeld, I just don't want him drawing the comics that I want to read).
Savage Hawkman - I am a longtime Hawkman fan and have been reading Hawkman in various incarnations over a couple of decades. My favorite version was the Tim Truman Hawkworld incarnation. I somewhat liked the most recent series and really grew to like the new Hawkgirl - Kendra Saunders. Unfortunately DC killed her off during the Blackest Night/Brightest Day story and it doesn't appear she will be a part of this new Hawkman series. DC has botched so many different Hawkman series in the past that it is tough to expect them to do any different with this one. As I don't expect it will be anywhere near as good as the Hawkworld incarnation and without Kendra Saunders, I just don't think I'm going to like it.
I, Vampire - There are a couple of things working against this title. First, I am already reading a vampire series (American Vampire) and thoroughly enjoying it. So I don't really need another vampire title. And if this one doesn't at least match the quality of American Vampire, there is no reason to stick with it. The second reason is that I'm not sure how the art on this series is going to look. If the artist who did the cover for the first issue (Jenny Frison) was doing the interior art, then I would have a lot of reasons to stick with this series. Unfortunately, she is not the series artist.

So here we have 8 titles that could potentially crack my regular reading list, but are likely not to hit the right note with me. If three of them can somehow make a good enough case for themselves, then the net effect is that I will be reading the same number of DCU titles as I was prior to the relaunch. Somehow I don't think that is what DC really had in mind. I think DC wanted readers to be picking up more of their titles, not fewer.

Let's look, at what we've lost here.
Batgirl is gone (a title I just recently started reading). I happen to like Barbara Gordon (she is one of the reasons I read Birds of Prey), but I'm just not really excited about the prospect of her being back in the uniform again. I know I've only recently come to the title, but I happen to like the current Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) and I'd like to keep reading her adventures.
Birds of Prey is gone (yes - you read that right, Birds of Prey did not make either list). Black Canary is one of my favorite characters. But from what I'm seeing in this relaunch, this isn't a title I want to read. Yes, I do want to read Black Canary stories. Not this way though. Huntress is gone. Zinda (Lady Blackhawk) is gone. Barbara Gordon (Oracle) is gone. That is the Birds of Prey team I want to read about. Not Poison Ivy (why would Dinah be working with her?? --- or is this one of those changes that affects the Batman books wherein Poison Ivy's history isn't quite the same and maybe she wasn't the level of villain we've seen previously) and Katana and some other unnamed character. And here is something I really don't understand --- if Barbara Gordon's history is still mostly the same (she was Oracle, DC has already made that clear), then if she is now able to walk again and return to being Batgirl, why in the hell wouldn't she be working with her best friend (Dinah) and the rest of the Birds of Prey squad?? Those guys are like her family. So why wouldn't she be sharing adventures with them????? And then there is this comment from Duane Swierczynski, the new series writer: This time, everyone is after the Birds of Prey — the bad guys, the cops, the mob, the CIA, the Yakuza... and even some good guys, as well. Really? This is where you're going with the title, DC? No thanks. I'm out.
Teen Titans is gone. Again, this is another series (like Batgirl) that I had only recently begun reading (I did read Teen Titans many years ago, but it has been a while since I was a regular reader). The main impetus for my having started reading the series again was Nicola Scott taking over the pencilling chores and also because I wanted to read more of Ravager's story. I learned more about her through some of the Blackest Night tie-ins and wanted to follow her story. I don't really care about Superboy at all and don't have much interest in Wonder Girl or any of the Robins (I do like Nightwing and he is part of the reason I read Teen Titans many years ago). So with this new incarnation of the Teen Titans not featuring Ravager and the prominent players being Superboy, Red Robin, and a new incarnation of Wonder Girl, there is nothing here for me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The New DC

Get ready for a really long blog entry. The purpose of this blog entry is to take a quick look at DC's 52 new series and provide some thoughts on the potential of these titles and which ones will be finding their way onto my buy list.

Justice League by the creative team of Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams. This one is going to feature the big guns of the DCU and is a title guaranteed to be around for the long term. The one concern I have with this one is that Jim Lee's recent track record hasn't been good in terms of trying to meet a monthly schedule. As such, I expect this book will be late at some point during its first year of publication. And I'm also thinking Lee may not be around for more than an opening six issue arc. Even with those concerns however, it will be difficult for me to pass on this one.

Justice League International by the creative team of Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan. This title will feature the lineup of Batman (in both Justice League books?), Booster Gold, Guy Gardener, Fire, Ice, Vixen, August General inIron, and Rocket Red. As I'm a fan of several of those characters and I also very much like Aaron Lopresti's work, this is another one that will find its way on my buy list. As for the long term prognosis of the title, I expect it will be successful enough that it will still be showing up on the racks a few years from now.

Aquaman by the creative team of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado. Aquaman is a title that has had some level of success over the years, but it hasn't been strong enough to keep going long term. I expect this one will have some short term success (due to Johns' involvement), but I wouldn't be surprised to see it missing from the publication schedule four or five years from now. As I've never really care all that much for the character, this one will not be on my buy list.

Wonder Woman by the creative team of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chang. While Wonder Woman hasn't been a top seller for DC in recent years, it has still been a successful series for them and shouldn't be in any danger of cancellation in the future. As has been the current Wonder Woman title, this one will be on my buy list and I'm looking forward to Azzarello's take on the character.

The Flash by the creative team of Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul. The Flash is a title that will be successful in some form. I don't necessarily know that the current lead character (Barry Allen) will be the lead Flash several years down the line (Wally West could take over the book if sales ever falter), but I don't expect to see this title cancelled any time soon. If the title featured the Wally West Flash, there is a good chance it would be on my buy list. But since it is Barry, I'm going to give it a pass.

Captain Atom by the creative team of J.T. Krul and Greddie Williams II. DC had success with a Captain Atom series in the late 80s and later the character was a part of the Justice League Europe series. I'm not sure how much demand there is for a Captain Atom comic these days, but if the stories are compelling enough, there is no reason the title should be around less than three years. This one will be on my buy list, but it is also one that could quickly fall off if it doesn't deliver.

The Fury of Firestorm by the creative team of Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone, and Yildiray Cinar. DC had success with a Firestorm series in the 80s that lasted 8 or 9 years. I expect the title will be well written (due to Gail Simone's involvement), but that doesn't mean there will be a strong audience clamoring for this book. If enough people give it a shot, I would expect the book will be successful for at least as long as Gail is on the title. However, as noted in my previous post, with the number of new titles DC is throwing on the market at once, there is a good chance this one doesn't find its way into enough hands to stick around for long. I really have no interest in the title character so I won't be picking this one up.

Green Arrow by the creative team of J.T. Krul, Dan Jurgens, and Norm Rapmund. DC has had mixed luck with their Green Arrow franchise. The title did very well many years back under the directon of Mike Grell. In recent years sales have been mostly mediocre and I really don't see any reason for that to change. Likely sales will be good enough to avoid cancellation, but it certainly won't be one of their stronger books. While I was a fan of Mike Grell's run, I haven't really cared about the character in recent years and thus this one will not be on my buy list.

The Savage Hawkman by the creative team of Tony S. Daniel and Philip Tan. I've bought many incarnations of Hawkman series in the past and some I've liked better than others (Tim Truman's Hawkworld was my favorite of those). I can't really say I have high hopes for this incarnation based on the initial solicitation. On top of that, I'm disappointed they killed off Kendra Saunders prior to the relaunch as she was a character I had come to like, and there is no mention of a Hawkwoman in relation to this new title. I'm still planning to check out the first few issues, but the odds are stacked against it impressing me enough to stick with it for long. And given DC's recent track record with Hawkman titles, I have a feeling this one will probably be off the schedule within three years.

Mister Terrific by the creative team of Eric Wallave and Roger Robinson. I'm glad to see DC taking a chance by giving Mister Terrific his own series, but this is one of those titles I think will be a victim of having too many new titles hitting at the same time. Hopefully I am wrong on that front and the series develops a consistent audience but I'm not going to hold my breath. And while I appreciate DC rolling the dice on this one, I'd much rather buy a team book (like the JSA) involving Mister Terrific than a solo series, so I'll be giving this one a pass.

DC Universe Presents by the creative team of Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang. I believe this series will be similar to Legends of the DC Universe. It will be an anthology type series with rotating story arcs featuring a variety of characters from a variety of creative teams. This type of book will likely find it difficult to maintain a consistent readership. Instead, readers will come and go with specific character story arcs. The first story arc will be five issues in length and feature Deadman. I'm mostly indifferent about the character (though I do admit to being more interested following his story in Brightest Day) so I will be passing on this one initially. Anthology series don't tend to fare all that well so it will be interesting to see the sales numbers on this. I have a feeling it is going to be another victim of the 'too many new books at one time' curse.

Action Comics by the creative team of Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, and RIck Bryant. From what I understand, this title is set in the past and will be about the early days of Superman. So readers will see how the public reacts to the so-called first super-hero and witness Clark's evolution from novice hero. I've never been much of a fan of Superman in general (for some reason the character just hasn't appealed to me enough to dilgently follow), so while I will check out the first issue or two, I don't expect I am going to be sticking around much beyond that. This series is not going to be in any danger of cancellation.

Superman from the creative team of George Perez and Jesus Merino. This series will feature the modern day (and supposely unmarried) Superman. As noted above, Superman doesn't really hold much interest for me, so I will be skipping this one. Much like Action Comics, this title will also not be in any danger of cancellation.

Superboy by the creative team of Scott Lobdell, RB Silva, and Rob Lean. The Superboy of this series will again be a clone (grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA). As little interest as I have in Superman, I have even less in Superboy. This is a definite skip. I think if DC doesn't present compelling stories in this series, sales could easily falter enough for them to do another revamp (I don't think they will be in any hurry to cancel it though).

Supergirl by the creative team of Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Mahmud Asrar. The Supergirl of this series is a teenager who apparently doesn't have the same affection for the people of Earth as does Superman. I actually only recently started picking up the current Supergirl series and was finding it to be mostly to my liking, so I'm a little disappointed that the book is getting a reboot with a character that seemingly is going to have a much different attitude. I will be picking this title up, but if don't find this new incarnation of the character interesting, then I will quickly move on. DC has really had a lot of trouble with their Supergirl title the past several years (seems like they were changing direction about every 18 months) so there is no guarantee they are going to find the right combination this time around. So I wouldn't be surprised if yet another revamp is in the works sometime within the first two years.

Batman by the creative team of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion. The Batman books are not really getting a reboot. For the most part, they are continuing as they have been the past couple of years, though Dick Grayson is stepping back into his Nightwing guise and leaving Bruce to be the sole Batman (of Gotham City at least). I've been hearing really good things about Snyder's recent stint on Detective Comics. I am not a regular reader of Batman (though I do like the character), so I am going to give this title a look and see if it really grabs me. I'm sure I don't have to tell you there is no danger of this series facing cancellation.

Detective Comics by the creative team of Tony S. Daniel and Ryan Winn. Daniel is moving over from Batman and I expect the same type of story readers were getting from that title the past few years will now the norm for Detective Comics. I don't really want to get stuck following a bunch of Batman titles, so since I'm picking up Snyder's Batman, I will be giving this a pass. Again, there is no danger of this series being cancelled.

Batwing by the creative team of Judd Winick and Ben Oliver. This series features a brand new character, the Batman of Africa, otherwise known as Batwing. I applaud DC for looking to expand the diversity of their headlining characters. And hopefully this title will have strong appeal to fans who who haven't found a lot of characters they can identify with in terms of background and/or ethnicity. But see, here is where DC is failing with their plan to drop 52 new titles on the market in a single month. If this book was coming out in a month where maybe there were only a couple of new titles, then I would be willing to give it look. But since there are 52 new series, a lot of which I am very interested in, this one is getting pushed aside. If I hear good things about it over the next few months, I may go back and give it a look, but for now I am going to have to pass. I fear there are a lot of people who might have checked out this series under different circumstances (said circumstances being not so many other new launches to draw their attention away), but given the reality of the situation, a lot of those people will be skipping it instead and thus it will probably not achieve good enough sales to sustain it very long.

Batman: The Dark Knight by the creative team of David Finch and Richard Friend. This title has a lot of strikes against it. DC launched this title last year but it quickly went off schedule. I think one of the issues actually got rescheduled twice because it ended up running so late. In fact, the 5th issue was just solicited for August. Yet I would not be at all shocked if that issue never actually ships and ends up getting shelved and pulled for later use in the relaunched series. So knowing how many problems DC has already had with this title, and given that the root of the late books is the person who is still writing and drawing the title, I don't have a lot of faith that it will be able to maintain anything resembling a reasonable schedule. So essentially, this title is practically begging me to pass on it. I'm going to pick up the first issue anyway. But it damn well better be a kick-ass issue. As for the survivability of this series ... if it goes off schedule too soon and DC decides to take Finch off of it, the book could very well end up getting cancelled entirely.

Batman and Robin by the creative team of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Mick Gray. This series will feature the father and son team of Bruce and Damian. I'm not a fan of Damian. In fact, I can't say I have ever really cared for any of the Robins in general (though I do like Dick Grayson as Nightwing). I'm just not really a fan of the whole sidekick concept. Pass. This title should not be in any danger of cancellation.

Batgirl by the creative team of Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, and Vicente Cifuentes. There have been several incarnations of Batgirl in recent years. There was Cassandra Cain who was initially a trained assassin. She was followed by Stephanie Brown (formerly Spoiler). And now we have the original Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) returning. No idea how the reboot on this one is going to work (whether the paralysis of her legs will never have been, or if somehow she is regaining the use of her legs). Like Supergirl, I had just recently started picking up Batgirl (featuring Stephanie Brown) and was actually enjoying it quite a bit. I don't have the history with Cass Cain like some readers do and certainly don't have the same length of history with Stephanie Brown like a lot of readers, but I do have a history with Barbara Gordon as Oracle. That, coupled with my liking of the Stephanie Brown Batgirl, puts me in a difficult position. I like Gail Simone's work and I know she will do a great job on this title. But .... sorry. I just can't do it. I can't support the reboot on this one. Gotta pass. I think the series will do well enough sales-wise so it should be around for at least as long as Gail Simone is on it.

Batwoman by the creative team of J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, and Amy Reeder. I enjoyed the hell out of the brief run Batwoman had in Detective Comics a few years back. Even though that story arc was written by Greg Rucka, I expect this series will do okay with J.H. Williams III handling the writing chores in addition to art. Add to that Amy Reeder providing the art on alternating story arcs and I'm sold. This is a definite buy. The Detective Comics arc featuring Batwoman clearly had solid enough sales numbers to merit giving the character her own title, so there shouldn't be any reason this book to fail.

Nightwing by the creative team of Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows, and JP Mayer. I mentioned that I like the character of Dick Grayson as Nightwing. That being said, I didn't find him interesting enough to follow him in his solo title previously. I actually like Nightwing more in a team environment, whether that be a group like the Titans or perhaps one like the Outsiders. So as with his previous series, I don't plan to pick this one up either. Nightwing's previous series had fairly solid sales numbers so it should continue to be a good performer.

Catwoman by the creative team of Judd Winick and Guillem March. I bought the previous Catwoman series in trade form and was picking up the recent Gotham City Sirens series that featured Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. With the reboot, it seems this Catwoman is undergoing some changes. This one appears to be a little more reckless and much less responsible (especially in terms of her finances). I'm not sure how this works in respect to Batman (whether this Catwoman knows who the man under the cowl is). I can't say I'm overly excited about these changes to the character. I'm really leaning toward a pass on this one. I will pick up the first issue to get a good idea of exactly what it is, but I'm fairly sure I won't be sticking around beyond that. Gotham City Sirens wasn't exactly burning up the sales charts and neither did the previous Catwomen series (hence its cancellation), so this new series is facing an uphill battle to remain safe from another cancellation.

Birds of Prey by the creative team of Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz. This series appears to feature Black Canary, a character called Starling (who may be new, I have no idea), Katana, and Poison Ivy. Black Canary is one of my favorite characters and I would really like to get this title. However, no Gail Simone, no Huntress, and no Oracle means no me. Pass. Birds of Prey suffered falling sales after Gail left the title the first time and it didn't really get a big spike when she came back. So without Gail this time around and with the loss of the Oracle dynamic, I think it may be difficult for this series to find a solid enough audience to keep it around longer than three years (unless DC decides to revamp it and brings back some of the characters from the previous incarnation).

Red Hood and the Outlaws by the creative team of Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort. This series features Jason Todd (Red Hood), Arsenal, and Starfire. Even though I very much like Rocafort's art, I couldn't be less interested in this title. Don't care a thing about Red Hood and after what DC has done with Arsenal recently, I don't much care for him either. Starfire is the only character I am even mildly interested in here. Pass. The last Outsiders series (which this series most closely resembles) was not a strong sales performer and I think this one is going to do even worse. I don't expect to see it on the schedule eighteen months from now.

Green Lantern by the creative team of Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, and Christian Alamy. This is the flagship GL title feature Hal Jordon. Really nothing in the way of a reboot here as the title will pretty much be continuing on as it has. This is the only GL book I've been buying previously and the only one I plan to continue to get. No danger of cancellation here.

Green Lantern Corps by the creative team of Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin, and Scott Hanna. This series is headlined by John Stewart and Guy Gardner. I haven't previously read this series and do not intend to start. I've never really liked Guy Gardner and though John Stewart is an interesting character, his presence isn't enough to bring me onboard. This series has been performing very well for DC and should continue to do so.

Green Lantern: New Guardians by the creative team of Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham, and Batt. This series features Kyle Rayner along with Lanterns from the full spectrum of the corps. This title sounds like it might actually be fairly interesting. As with Batwing, if this title were debuting along with only a couple of other new books, then I would be more inclined to check it out. However, since DC is determined to flood the market with all of these new books at once, I'm going to have to give this one a pass. I do think it will definitely have a solid reader base so it shouldn't be in danger of cancellation any time soon.

Red Lanterns by the creative team of Peter MIlligan, Ed Benese, and Rob Hunter. This title features Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps. Not interested. Pass. This one may end up being a bit of a hard sell for DC. Four Green Lantern related title is possibly one too many. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one off the schedule sometime within three years.

Justice League Dark by the creative team of Peter Milligan and MIkel Janin. This series will feature the supernaturl Justice League of Madame Xanadu, Deadman, John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, and Zatanna. I was originally going to give this a pass, but after seeing some preview art and reading an interview from Peter Milligan, I'm onboard. I actually don't expect this title will last more than a year, so I'm probably a sucker for picking it, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Swamp Thing by the creative team of Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Alec Holland and Swamp Thing are united once again. I really have no idea how the market is going to receive this series. It could carve out a consistent reader base that keeps it around for several years or it could be gone inside of 18 months. What I do know is I'm mostly indifferent about the character I won't be part of that reader base. I will pass on this.

Animal Man by the creative team of Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman, and Dan Green. More tales of Buddy Baker and his family. This is another series I don't have a good handle on in regards to how it will be received. It may have a good enough reader base to survive, but I think it will likely get bled out because of all the other new titles. I didn't follow the previous Animal Man series. And though I enjoyed his part in the the Countdown to Adventure series from a few years back, I'm not enough of a fan of the character to pick up a solo series. Another title I will pass on.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. by the creative team of Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli. This series features Frankenstein as part of a secret government organization: The Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. That is a bad acronym if you ask me. No interest in this series. I will pass. I think a lot of other readers will be passing as well and this one will be gone within a year and a half and possibly as soon as the end of the first year.

I, Vampire by the creative team of Joshua Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino. I think the two primary characters in this series - Andrew the protagonist and Mary (Queen of the Damned) the antagonist - may have originally appeared in an arc of the House of Mystery series (in the early 80s). There certainly was an arc known as I ... Vampire. I currently read American Vampire from DC's Vertigo imprint so I'm really already at my vampire quota, but I'm going to check this one out anyway. If they can hook me in the first couple of issues, I'll stick around. I have a feeling this one won't have a very long shelf life though. Likely another title that won't last beyond 18 months.

Resurrection Man by the creative team of Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Fernando Dagnino. Resurrection Man features a character who won't stay dead. And every time he returns from the dead he has different powers. I don't see this title finding an audience. I would be very surprised if it makes it past the first year. I won't be picking this one up.

Demon Knights by the creative team of Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves, and Oclair Albert. This is another title set in the past, though this one reaches back to the Dark Ages, and features Jason Blood (with the Demon Etrigan) and Madame Xanadu (yes, surprisingly Madame Xanadu is showing up in two of DC's new series). I'm not sure how this Madame Xanadu of the past is going to match with the Madame Xanadu of the recent Matt Wagner scribed Madame Xanadu series from DC's Vertigo imprint. It would be very disappointing if DC is discarding the back history Wagner established. I can't really say that I have any interest in Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon. I did very much enjoy the recent Madame Xanadu series from Vertigo (it was one of my favorite series at the time), but since there is no guarantee this Madame Xanadu is going to resemble that Madame Xanadu, I have a lot of reservations about this one. I believe I will be passing on this. I think the market is going to pass on it as well. I don't expect this title will still be around in the spring of 2013.

Stormwatch by the creative team of Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda. Even with the addition of Martian Manhunter to the cast, I really have no interest in this series. I did not read Stormwatch previously and don't have any connection with the original Stormwatch characters. Wildstorm books have not been doing well at all of late and I'm not sure why that trend should change. This series may not be under the Wildstorm imprint (which no longer exists), but given the previous fan base wasn't enough to keep it going, there is no reason to believe the addition of Martian Manhunter will have enough of a positive effect to keep it around longer than 2 or 3 years. I will be giving this one a pass.

Voodoo by the creative team of Ron Marz and Sam Basri. Voodoo was a member of the Wildcats (from the now-gone Wildstorm imprint) in a previous incarnation. As there is no Wildcats series in this initial group of 52 titles, we're left without any super-group connection (that we know of anyway). This Voodoo has some similarites to the previous version --- she is also a half-alien hybrid. Beyond that, the solicitations don't give us much else. I've really been enjoying Ron Marz's work on Witchblade (which unfortunately he will be leaving in the next few months to pursue other projects - this being one) so I'm going to give this one a shot. I don't think it will find a strong audience however and will be very surprised if it even makes it much beyond the first year.

Grifter by the creative team of Nathan Edmondson and Cafu. The DCU's most wanted man in his own series, Huh? According to the synopsis, Grifter will be branded a serial killer when he begins hunting 'phantoms' hidden in human forms. I happen to be a Grifter fan. But this doesn't sound like the Grifter I've read in various incarnations. That Grifter faced off against alien creatures, demons, super-humans, and gun-toting thugs. But never phantoms that no one else could perceive. Still gonna buy it, but there is a fair chance it isn't going to be close enough to the Grifter I'm familiar with to keep me around for the long haul. Plus, I'm giving this one about two years at the most before it is cancelled.

Deathstroke by the creative team of Kyle Higgins, Joe Bennett, and Art Thibert. This harkens back to the early nineties when DC spun a Deathstroke series out of Teen Titans. It was actually pretty good as I recall. Slade Wilson is the best mercenary in the DCU. That means he will be quite the menace when he crosses paths with some of the more notable heroes. I am definitely planning on picking up this title. And I see no reason why it can't be as successful as the Punisher is for a certain other comic publisher.

Suicide Squad by the creative team of Adam Glass and Marco Rudy. A team of death-row super villains recruited by the government featuring Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and King Shark. I've never really been a fan of the Suicide Squad in the past. And the team make-up here certainly isn't anything to entice me. Add to that, they've redesigned Harley and she essentially looks like a street walker (Nice DC, very nice. Way to completely completely cut out a good portion of your potential audience --- you do realize a lot of comic readers are women right? And a fair number of them tend to find Harley interesting. Don't think they are going to feel the same about 'street walker' Harley.) This one is definitely a skip on all counts. And it will definitely be cancelled within the first year.

O.M.A.C. by the creative team of Dan Didio, Keith Giffen, and Scott Koblish. DC has a new One Man Army Corp in the fight between Brother Eye and Checkmate. I read DC's most recent Checkmate series (the one that featured Sasha Bordeaux and Mr. Terrific). If this series was along the same lines (and had Sasha as a primary player), then I would definitely be interested. This doesn't appear to be anything close to that however so I will be passing on it. I expect most of the fan base will as well and it will be gone within 18 months.

Blackhawks by the creative team of Mike Costa and Ken Lashley. The Blackhawks are an elite force of military specialists equipped with the lastest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. So ... G.I. Joe then? Birds of Prey appears to have lost Zinda. I wonder if she will be showing up here. She isn't on the cover (unless they've completely redesigned her look). Can't say I have any interest in this series. I don't expect this one will last more than two years at most.

Men of War by the creative team of Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick. Joe Rock commands Easy Company - a team of ex-military men turned contractors. Will they survive the battle-scarred landscape carved by DCU's Super-Villains? So DC is bringing Easy Company into the present day and having them deal with Super-Villains? That sounds like a disaster in the making. I want no part of it. I don't expect this one to survive the first year.

All-Star Western by the creative team of Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Moritat. It appears Jonah Hex will now be operating in the Gotham City of the Wild West. Is that really necessary? Palmiotti and Gray have been doing a great job with the series (not that sales are necessarily a good indication). I don't think setting it in Gotham City is going to do anything to make it better. This title will likely achieve about the same sales as it has been (though it may drop a few readers since the price is going up). Not sure if those sales numbers will be enough to keep it around now that DC seems a lot more concerned with books achieving a certain sales level (which would be too bad). I wasn't a regular reader of the previous Jonah Hex series and that isn't going to change with this relaunch.

Teen Titans by the creative team of Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund. Red Robin (Tim Drake) is teaming up with a reimagined Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Superboy, and a couple of new heroes. I just recently actually started buying Teen Titans again (pretty close to the time Nicola Scott took over the art chores). One of the draws of that series (in addition to Nicola Scott's work) was that I was interested in seeing more of Ravager's story. Ravager doesn't appear to be a part of this new incarnation of the team, so I'm not going to be a part of it either. Teen Titans has usually done decently well for DC in the past so I don't expect to see this one getting cancelled anytime soon.

Static Shock by the creative team of John Rozum, Scott McDaniel, and Jonathan Glapion. The former Milestone character Static is back and in his own series. No mention of any of the other Milestone characters in ANY of these relaunched series. That is kind of a shame since DC went to the trouble of reacquiring them and folding them into the DCU (though they appeared to have possibly soured Dwayne McDuffie [RIP] on the merge in the process). I don't have any particular history with Static so I don't plan on picking up this series. I'm not quite sure why DC seems intent of making this series work in the regular DCU. I would think they would be better served by moving Static to their Johnny DC line and using the character to get more kids interested in comics. This series is kind of hard to predict (in terms of how it will be received). I am really hoping it finds a strong reader-base so that it doesn't end up getting canclled.

Hawk and Dove by the creative team of Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld. I really, really, really want to read a Hawk and Dove series. But do we seriously need Rob Liefeld drawing it? First, his track record for maintaining anything resembling a reasonable schedule is not good. I can definitely see this book being one of the first few to have delays. Second, it isn't the 90s anymore. Liefeld's art was the rage back then, but his style is the butt of jokes nowadays. If there were another artist on this title, I would absolutely be all over it. I can't commit with Liefeld handling the art though. The book is probably going to be late and the art is going to be laughable in a lot of areas. I've got to pass. I think the characters have enough of a fan base to keep the series afloat though, so I don't expect it to get cancelled early.

Blue Beetle by the creative team of Tony Bedard, Ig Guara, and Ruy Jose. Jaime Reyes is still the Blue Beetle and is still sporting the snazzy alien armor. I did not read the previous Blue Beetle series (sorry, nothing against this character, but I'm a Ted Kord guy). I've heard a lot of good things about the previous series though. And I think there is an established fan base for the character. So while I will not be picking up this title, I think it will sell well enough to stick around for a while.

Legion Lost by the creative team of Fabian Nicieza and Pete Woods. This series features seven Legion of Super-Heroes members who have traveled from the 31st century into the present day and now are unable to return to their natural time. I've read Legion of Superheroes in various incarnations over the years (though I haven't been reading the most recent version as I didn't care for Paul Levitz's current work) so I'm definitely game for a Legion series. And given this one features Timber Wolf (my favorite Legionnaire) and isn't being written by Paul Levitz, I'm all in. Because there is a strong Legion fan base, this book should likely stick around for a while.

Legion of Super-Heroes by the creative team of Paul Levitz and Francis Portela. This is another title that isn't really undergoing any significant level of reboot. The series will be losing seven members (though honestly, since it is a book that is occurring in the future and isn't necessarily beholden to what is happening in the present day, there is really no reason the seven characters from the Legion Lost title couldn't still be actively used in this title (with the excuse being the stories happen before they go back to the past ---- or because they eventually made it back). Since I didn't care for the relaunch under Levitz a couple of years back and the title is essentially unchanged from what it has been since that time, I will continue to pass on it. There shouldn't be any danger of cancellation on this series.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

DC Relaunch

DC has announced that following the end of their Flashpoint event, the entire DCU will be getting a jumpstart with every current title being cancelled and 52 new titles getting launched.

These new titles will bring many changes to the DCU and the characters readers have been following for years. While we won't know the extent of these changes until those books actually hit the racks in September, there have been some things revealed and there is plenty of speculation to go around to fill in the cracks of what we don't know.

The first thing in the new DCU we know is that Superman is the first superhero to appear. There is no Justice Society at this juncture, and in fact it appears the Justice League will be the first super team as well. There has been a lot of speculation that this new DCU will result in the dissolution of the marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane (sound familiar?). Those who know me know that I was very much disgusted when Marvel pulled this same act with Peter Parker and Mary Jane, so much so that I dropped every Marvel title I was reading and to this day still have not re-started my collection of Marvel titles (the boycott remains in full effect). Were I a big fan of Superman and his mythos, I would be just as disgusted with the dissolution of Clark and Lois' marriage (if that is indeed what is going to happen). However, I've never really been all that enamored of the character, so while I certainly feel for those fans who are going to be upset at this (potential) turn of events, it doesn't have a significant effect on me.

I'm not really sure what DC gains by ridding themselves of the marriage (if that is the plan). Unlike Spider-Man (where Marvel wanted the character to be a swinging bachelor with all the problems inherent with the bad Parker luck that always dogs him), Superman isn't a character who benefits all that much from having a single lifestyle. With his super speed, he wouldn't encounter as many missed connections as a character like Spider-Man does when trying to be someplace for a date. In fact, it is Clark's relationship with Lois that gives him a reason for trying to live a more regular life in what little spare time he has. Without that anchor, there really isn't much reason for the character to try and ground himself into that sort of normal reality. The only real benefit I could see to having a single Superman is that it would give DC the opportunity to potentially pair him up with a character like Wonder Woman or perhaps some other female superhero (a new incarnation of Power Girl?). And as for Lois, might we see her becoming more friendly with a certain Bruce Wayne?

There are some definite benefits to the new DCU however. It doesn't appear as though Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen are married. And perhaps they are not any sort of couple at all. That would be a significant improvement in my book. Deathstroke is getting his own book. We haven't seen the likes of that since the early nineties. Hawk and Dove are back in their own title (that is both good and bad --- I'll elaborate more on that in a later post). Captain Atom is getting a new series as well.

Is DC's plan to relaunch their DCU line a good idea? Reimagining some of the characters could certainly provide them a boost in readership. However, I think their plan to launch 52 brand new series in the same month is misguided. They are going to be cannibalizing their own sales because comic retailers are not going to be able to order all of these first issues in the sort of quantities they otherwise would if there were only a few new titles hitting each month. It is going to be a guessing game for retailers to figure out which titles are going to have the most appeal. DC will likely be forced to overprint and overship titles in order to make sure they can meet the 'unmeasurable' demand. But they are going to be playing the same guessing game. They don't want to print too many copies and then get stuck holding a lot of comics there is no demand for. But they also don't want to under-estimate demand by too much and miss the opportunity to get the titles into the hands of interested comic readers that same week those titles hit the stands. This plan really isn't going to serve anyone well (retailers, comic readers, and DC itself) because DC will end up selling fewer copies than they would with a more conservative release plan. And it will likely doom several titles to failure before they've even had the opportunity to really get out of the gate. In my opinion, DC would have been better served launching 52 new titles over the course of three (or even four) months. This would allow retailers to take a strong position on titles and allow comic readers the chance to sample more books (you can't expect most readers to afford 52 new titles from one publisher in a single month --- 52 x $2.99 = $155.48, and actually a couple of the books are going to be $3.99 so the cost will be a little closer to $160). Keeping these factors in mind, I think it likely that less than 40 of the initial 52 titles will still be around three years from now (I'm guessing the number will be closer to 36).

What I hope does not happen is another "Death of Superman" scenario where comic shops speculate too much on some of these titles (such as the big guns: Action Comics, Superman, Detective Comics, and Batman) and end up over-extending themselves. I mean, how often do you get a chance to have an Action Comics no. 1? It is going to be very tempting to some shops to try and cash in on the opportunity (and consequently, force them to order fewer numbers of a lot of the other new titles which may very well effectively kill any chance those books have to find an audience).

I recall the comic shop I frequented at the time of the Death of Superman issue went very heavy on that issue. Too heavy in fact. It wasn't too many weeks after that I went into the shop and there were no new comics on the shelves. The same was true the next week and the week after that. And then not long after the store closed. The owner had bought far too many copies of that issue and got stuck holding a lot of them. He didn't have the cash flow available to continue buying new comics when he wasn't able to unload all of those extra issues. That was a frustrating time for me as a reader because the shop wasn't honest with their customers and kept telling us that new books would be in the next week. And that went on for about three weeks before it finally became obvious there were not going to be any more books. Fortunately there were several other comic shops in the city so I was able to track down most of the issues I had missed. It was a major hassle though and in the end I also had to choose another comic store that was a good distance from where I lived to be my regular shop.

We'll just have to wait and see how this all works out. Hopefully DC will succeed in reinvigorating their line and won't alienate too many of their current readers with some of the changes they are making. This relaunch also has the opportunity to bring in a lot of new readers (as DC is also releasing digital editions of these titles the same day as the print edition). DC is supposed to be backing this relaunch with a lot of advertising to help generate more interest outside of the regular core readership. All in all, this is a big gamble by DC and may very well end up being a significant gamble for many retailers. I guess we won't really know the results until early next year. We should have sales estimates for the first couple of months of the relaunch by the end of the year, but that won't include the digital numbers so it may be difficult to determine just how successful this move is by DC (though we should get a pretty good idea of how it is going over for the retailers).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Finder Library Volume One

You know how you’re aware of certain things, but you’re not really ‘aware’ of them.
There are a lot of comics (both in print and web form) out there. A LOT.
So it is pretty easy to overlook stuff. Maybe because you just don’t know quite enough about some projects or you think you know enough but you really don’t, so you end up not really paying attention to a lot of stuff.
And in a lot of cases, you’re probably not really missing much. Certainly nothing life changing. Or nothing that would necessarily stand out in any special way.
But then sometimes, there is one of those projects that actually delivers something really special. If you only were to actually give it a chance and sit down and read it.

I’ve heard of
Finder before. I wasn’t unfamiliar with its existence. I knew it was a comic by Carla Speed McNeil. But I didn’t really know anything about it. Certainly not enough about it to make me seek it out.
And it has been around for a quite a while. Since 1996 in fact. So it isn’t some flash in the pan project.
It is one of those project you keep hearing good things about, mostly from other comic creators or maybe the occasional comic blogger.
Not to mention it is an Eisner award winning series.
I just didn’t know enough about it to know that I really should have been reading it).

So along comes Dark Horse. They are putting together a brand new collection for the series. The first volume came out in March or April. The fact they have made it available in a reasonably priced package (616 pages for $24.95) enticed me to finally check it out. So I bought the first volume and it has been sitting on my coffee table for the last month or so (along with a handful of other unread trades/graphic novels and a small stack of comics).

I noticed the second volume was solicited in the May issue of Previews (for products that will be shipping beginning in July). So clearly I needed to make a decision as to whether I would be ordering that volume as well. In order to make that determination, I first needed to start reading volume one. That would be the best way to see if it really was worth the time and money after all.

So I started reading it last night. It is a fairly large collection (616 pages as I mentioned). This first volume appears to contain three story-arcs. The first is Sin-Eater, and it is by far the longest of the three (coming in about 380 pages). I got through about six chapters (plus one interlude), which marks Part One of the story (and comes in about 210 of the 380 pages). I wanted to keep reading, but it was past 3am at that point and I really needed to shut it down for the night.

All I can say is 'Wow'.
Okay, I can say a lot more really. I think I knew about part way through chapter four that I would definitely be ordering the second volume, no doubt about it. And maybe I knew even before that.
I'm not going to give a synopsis of the story or anything like that here. You can find more detailed reviews in other places for that if you really need it. What I will say is that this story is outstanding. It kind of jumps all over the place early on, but all the little pieces start tying together and it really makes for an amazing tapestry. The characters are all incredibly interesting and intriguing and mysterious and just all around compelling in their own individual way. Some characters (through part one of the story at least) only appear briefly while others have more significant appearances in the story, but you want to know more about every single one of them. The women in the books, music, and miscellany store, the blur men, the First Church of Huitzilopochtli, the captain at the police station, Jaeger's moving buddies, and every other minor character you run across along the way. You just know they all have some interesting tales to tell if given the spotlight. And then you've got the more prominent characters: Jaeger and Emma and her three kids. They've got even more stories, bigger stories, to tell.
The art is quite good as well. Carla Speed McNeil does a really good job with facial expressions, and that really helps to sell the characters. It brings more emotion to the images and action on the page. Whether it is someone with a smirk on their face, or a smile, or just a calm look in a moment of relaxation, it really brings the characters and story to life.

You need to buy and read this book, simple as that. It is one of those special projects that you need to give a chance because you absolutely won't regret it. I'm not going to say it will be the best $25 (plus tax or shipping) you've ever spent in your life, because I don't know what kind of amazing (or not-so-amazing) things you may have purchased in the past for $25 (plus tax or shipping). It will be a *$25 that you won't regret for a minute having spent however. As far as entertainment for your buck goes, it is going to deliver and then some. Dollar for dollar, you will be hard pressed to find this degree of quality entertainment in this bulk anywhere else.

So seriously, let me be the last person to tell you this is one of the most amazing series that you haven't yet read. Let me be the last person to tell you that before you've finally discovered it for yourself.
Go buy the book. Read it. You will be glad you did. And then maybe you can be the last person to tell someone else so they can discover that as well.

The Finder Library Volume One

Carla Speed McNeil's Finder

* currently has The Finder Library Volume One for $16.49 (so you don't even have to spend the full $25 to find out how great this series is)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Zombies are not the only cannibals in comics

I realize I'm behind here since comics previews (from the February issue of Previews -- which will be in stores next week) for several of the major publishers have already been presented by the comics press, but I'm going to talk about the January issue of Previews (comics solicited for March publication), and more specifically the Marvel section of Previews.
Marvel is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Captain America's debut in March, and as such they have several comic projects slated to run. And when I say several, I mean a ridiculous number. I'm not talking about comics where Captain America typically appears (such as any of the Avengers titles), I'm talking about comics where Captain America is the titled character.
So lets have a look at that list:
Ultimate Comics Captain America No. 3 (of 4)
This mini-series obviously started a couple of months ago so it may not have been specifically planned to coincide with this 70th anniversary celebration.
Captain America No. 615.1
Marvel promotes this as -- Special POINT ONE issue. START READING with this Point One issue. This would seem to be a jumping-on point for whatever new direction the title is going. New direction you ask?
Captain America No. 616
Marvel's promotion states - It's the 70th Anniversary of Captain America's debut and we're celebrating by beginning a bold new direction. So yes, 'new direction'.
Captain America and Falcon No. 1
This is a one-shot. And yes, the title is correct. I didn't leave out the word The in front of Falcon. That is how they have it listed.
Captain America and Crossbones No. 1
Another one-shot.
Captain America and Batroc No. 1
Another one shot.
Captain America and the First Thirteen No. 1
Yet another one shot.
Captain America and the Secret Avengers No. 1
Yes, another one shot.
Captain America: Hail Hydra No. 3 (of 5)
Another mini-series that was started a few months back.
Captain America: Man Out of Time No. 5 (of 5)
Another mini-series that started several months ago.
For the sake of posterity, I should mention the price and page counts.
Ultimate Comics Captain America, Captain America: Hail Hydra, and Captain America: Man Out of Time are all listed as 32 pages for $3.99
All of the one-shots are listed as 40 pages for $3.99
Captain America No. 615.1 is 32 pages for $2.99 and Captain America No. 616 is 104 pages for $4.99
I should also mention another title debuting this month that will likely impact Captain America. Fear Itself: Prologue. This leads into the Fear Itself event which seems to be centered around the Red Skull's daughter. And given the Red Skull is probably the preeminent villain in Captain America's rogue's gallery, you have to expect Steve Rogers will have a major role in this series.
I neglected to include Captain America Comics No. 1: 70th Anniversary Edition (64 pages for $4.99) since it is a reprint collection. It might be something that interests new fans of Captain America, but if they have to make a choice between brand new material or something created decades ago, they are more likely to go with the new stuff.

So supposing one is a big Captain America fan, Marvel is dumping a lot of product on you this month. Even if you leave out Ultimate Comics Captain America (just because someone is fan of Captain America doesn't mean they will necessarily be interested in the Ultimate Comics version), that is still 9 titles prominently featuring Captain America this month (that also excludes the Fear Itself: Prologue).
That number of comics might actually be a full haul for some readers in a given month.
Nine comics with a price tag of $35.91 (before taxes).
One might also make the assumption that a Captain America fan is likely to follow his exploits in one of the Avengers books as well, so that is another title a reader would be inclined to want to buy.
I'm not here to say it is a bad idea for Marvel to put out this many one-shots and mini-series as part of an anniversary celebration. I am saying that it would have been a lot more fan friendly if they had spread these projects out over the course of three or four months.
Instead of dropping five one-shots in a single month, how about just one in March (since they have two other mini-series already running), two in April (when the final issue of Captain America: Hail Hydra would also be hitting), and the last one-shot in May.
By dumping all of these titles in the same month, Marvel is forcing budget-conscious readers to have to make a choice as to titles they are going to buy. In essence, Marvel is cannibalizing itself. A typical Captain America fan's regular monthly reading list could look something like this: Captain America, New Avengers, Secret Avengers and/or Avengers, one of the Thor titles, one of the Iron Man titles, perhaps Spider-Man or one or two X-Men titles, or maybe one of the Hulk titles. You've got anywhere between five and ten titles there (and obviously it could be even more -- especially as mini-series come into play).
So a reader who happens to be a fan of Captain America and potentially collects between five and ten Marvel titles a month suddenly has to make a choice as to just how big a Captain America fan he is. NINE new Captain America books are hitting in March. Supposing said fan was already buying Captain America and the two mini-series that had already started, he now has to contend with a second issue of Captain American plus five one-shots and how to fit those in his budget with the other titles he usually buys.
What is the reader to do? Skip those one-shots? Decide that one or two of those Avengers books he has been reading but maybe hasn't found quite as entertaining goes to the chopping block? Or maybe it is one or two of the mutant titles that have to go. Or Spider-Man. Or perhaps the Ultimate Comics line. Or maybe those other mini-series or new titles he was considering picking up now get skipped instead.
The fact is, the budget-conscious reader has to make a cut somewhere if he really wants those Captain America titles. And if the budget-conscious Captain America fan decides he doesn't want to make the cuts and thus foregoes those Captain America titles --- then what is the point of dumping them on the market in the first place? The casual fan isn't looking to buy these titles. The core Captain America fan is the one who will be buying them. And if that fan can't afford to add five one-shots to their usual haul in a given month --- who exactly is going to be buying them?
What is the point of a publishing plan that ends up cannibalizing the rest of their line?