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).