|How sick are you of this picture already?|
DC Comics has a new strategy to be No. 1 in comic books: all-new No. 1's.
Yes, DC will be doing number ones all over the place!
Starting this summer, the publisher will re-number its entire DC Universe of titles, revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.
Or, in the case of some characters like Wonder Woman, re-re-revamping them. Again. Also, nice to know that the 21st century is more modern than all the other centuries that have been or will be. That's modernity for you - it's contemporary!
The first book to be released under this new era: Justice League No. 1, out Aug. 31. The series by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee reunites the famous lineup of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
I’m guessing they would have called Martian Manhunter but his phone doesn’t get service on Mars.
Taking the place of the alien outsider who stuck out like a sore thumb among the ethnically consistent faces of the world’s premiere superhero collective will be a black dude.
Johns promises a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC's trademark superteam. "What's the human aspect behind all these costumes? That's what I wanted to explore," he says.
“But instead it ended up being a lot of explosions and stupid dialogue, like I usually do.”
In September, an additional 51 first issues will make their debut, introducing stories that are grounded in each character's specific legend but also reflect today's real-world themes and events.
That sounds … groundbreaking.
It's wonderful that they're launching 52 new titles (or, if not wonderful, then "pretty much what comics companies do, publishing titles"), but if the goal is to draw in new readers and get them emotionally (and, more importantly, financially) involved with the new books and new looks, then surely the question isn't "how many titles they are launching" but rather "What's their commitment to these titles?"
DC Comics under Dan Didio has a pretty inconsistent history with follow-through on any of their big ideas. With that in mind, what is his dedication to what appears to be a Pre-Re-Implosion Universe? If a book isn't selling after three issues, does it go down the drain? How will that resonate with the new readers he's trying to generate?
Some of these books are going to be slow starters out of the gate, that's just to be expected when you've got 52 new number one issues starting up all at once.
The lion's share of the market attention is bound to go to the Bats and Capes, Rings and Tits, so what happens when one of these titles inevitably dips below 30,000 by their second or third issue? Does Didio plan to exercise any kind of sticktuitiveness with all of these new franchises? Justice League is bound to go the distance, but how much loving care is he going to be willing to shell out for Justice League Dark (which is just like the regular Justice League only with Dark Chocolate instead of Milk Chocolate. Coming this Christmas, look for Justice League Peppermint and Chunky Justice League with Raisins).
Lee spearheaded the costumes' redesign to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.
“I changed how they looked so people would recognize them better. Like, you know how in movies when an escaped criminal goes to a plastic surgeon and gets his face changed and goes back to get revenge on the people who ratted him out, the first thing everybody says is ‘Oh my god I totally knew it was you because you looked so different!’ … well, that’s what I’m doing here.”
V-collars make characters more accessible. Haven’t you read Understanding Comics?
"We really want to inject new life in our characters and line," says Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC with Lee.
“Any ideas on how to do that?”
"This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
“We’re starting at what I like to call ‘an arbitrary point that comprises no discernable milestone.’”
In an even more important move in the competitive comics industry, DC is making all of the re-numbered titles available digitally via apps and a DC website the same day they arrive in comic shops. It marks the first time that a major comics publisher has done so with its popular superhero titles.
You know what this is going to do? It’s really going to stick it to comic shops. By the end of the year, I fully expect that about ninety percent of all the comic shops in America will dedicate no more than a single wall to print versions of new comics, and instead stack their shelves with a seemingly limitless supply of toys, action figures, statues, tee-shirts, keychains, magnets, baseball caps, novelty glassware, Heroclix and other licensed comic book-related collectibles. Mark my words, I have seen the future*!
In all seriousness, I do wonder how much the same day availability of digital comics will ultimately affect comics retailers/ While I was being flippant**, I honestly rarely find a comic shop where the actual comics comprise more than five or ten percent of the store stock - out of six in my immediate area, I can only think of one that even HAS a back issue section, or a reasonable selection of alternative and indy titles. I honestly have no idea what this will do to brick-and-mortar options, except I'll continue to not really go into them all that often. I'm full up on Heroclix.
(*And it looks like the mall)
(** …the butler was murdered!)
The company has come in second to Marvel every year since 2002 in market share, according to Diamond Comic Distributors.
Can’t you let them have this one, solitary moment of happiness, USA Today?
While the two companies are making millions off movie adaptations of their comic books, print sales for both have dropped in recent years, as new technology gives readers many more options.
For instance, “seeing movies” instead of “reading comics”.
"We're allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look," Lee says.
“Before now, we strictly prohibited them from doing that, using remote controlled drones and off-duty border patrol agents.”
"Having the ability to give people access to these comics with one button click means we're going to get a lot of new readers."
"And there's no way they could just not click that button, right? Right?"