Monday, October 3, 2011

DCnU: It Still Kind of Worked Maybe

Back in June, I wrote a story wherein I broke down and analyzed just how much DC's New 52 initiative actually "worked" on me, as a consumer.

Pre-New 52 I was buying 17 DC monthlies, not counting minis or imprint books under Johnny DC and Vertigo. I determined that, of the New 52, 21 of those titles would be making the cut for me. That actually ended up being 25. As the previews started rolling in and I was able to get a better grasp on some of these new titles, I swapped some I became disinterested in for others that suddenly grabbed my attention.

So all-in-all, I tried out 25 of the New 52. I'll bump that number to 26 if I can get my hands on a copy of Demon Knights which I suddenly find intriguing after listening to Monty and other reviews. 27, if you want to count this copy of Superman I borrowed from Robb, though I'm only reading it out of morbid curiosity and expect the worst.

But, having actually read these 25, I'm dropping 3 of them. Which, all-and-all isn't that dramatic. (though the reasons for dropping them might be)

That puts me at 22, which is a 5 book gain for me from what I was previously reading. (as though you couldn't do the math yourself)

Not a HUGE gain, but a gain. Softened, though, when you consider that I'm already predisposed to buying and reading a LOT of comics. (and 4 of those 5 are essentially Vertigo books turned PG-13) I'm not who this initiative is for and I've been very judgemental about it and just because these 22 books will be getting a 2nd issue pass from me doesn't mean they'll all make it to the 3rd. I'm still looking at these books with an extra critical eye and that's probably only amplified now that I actually know just what my problems are with these New 52 books. You wanna make this much noise about your comics, you put yourself under the microscope. That's just how it goes.

I'll likely revisit this subject a month from now and see just where I am again after New 52 Month 2.

I'm very interested to hear other people's perspectives on this very thing and that's hopefully something I'll be able to bring up and gauge when we have our premiere Comic Book Summit next week.


  1. From what I have seen and read so far I am liking what this relaunch is doing. Though I am an atypical fan, I prefer newer concepts even if it means old ones have to shown the door. So the all new continuity doesn't bother me in the slightest. That said I do have some issues with all of this.

    First is the rather high level of gore that seems to be everywhere now. It is rather off putting which may be the one factor in me dropping some titles after the first arc (when I drop a book I prefer to wait for an arc to finish). Now I can understand violence in certain titles but others like Wonder Woman it just seems off.

    Next is the big one, the hyper-sexualization in certain books. Now frankly it doesn't bother me that much since I am a pervert. The thing is I really don't read superhero comics for that at all. If I want to read a story that not only debases the character but me personally I know where to find them. It's not that hard. We really don't need this in comics anymore, it's like "lad mags" (think Maxim) the internet has made them pointless. Honestly if people want to Starfire naked or Batman/Catwoman sexcapades I'll get them the links, let's just move on.

    Despite all that I think my biggest complaint has to be that not enough has changed. As I have said I love new concepts in comics. And there hasn't really been much of that here. It not so much reinvention as it is just tweaking a few pieces here and there. I really wanted to see DC just go wild. Though to be fair they have done with a few titles, it would have been great to see it done with the headliners.

    I am not sure if anyone else has read these by the Tangent Universe books for the late 90's is kinda what I was hoping for. Not so much in execution but in scope and spirit. In those books they not only were able to set up a whole new world from scratch but you were able to see a flow between them. Not only that everything was just so fresh and fascinating. It really showed what creators could do when just gave them some basics and just let them go. I am hoping that sooner or later we will start to see this in the relaunch.

    Overall though I am still more than willing to support this initiative since I do believe it is trying to grow the market and make comics commonplace again. They still need to work on it though. What is needed now is to find a balance with the content, which honestly comics have struggled with for decades now.

  2. I agree with everything said here, outside of the violence in Wonder Woman. Maybe it's just because Wonder Woman, for me, is the Greg Rucka run and below that, the Gail Simone run. And I feel the violence just fits for an Amazon warrior surrounded in Greek myth. The Wonder Woman animated film was pretty violent as well.

    And it was, in my opinion, more "fantasy violence" than just out-and-out grotesqueness. (like, say Detective Comics) The type of violence you'd find in the PG-13 Miyazaki films.

    Or maybe it's just that Cliff Chiang is so good, he brings a level of class and style to it.

    That's not to say I wouldn't love a Wonder Woman comic that little girls could read without getting creeped out but, as it stands, I don't think we've even had a Wonder Woman that teens and adults cared to read. So hopefully this is that book and maybe we can start to work backwards. Relevance first, wider appeal second?

  3. You're both right. I've still not read many of these titles yet. But the feedback has been mixed. I'm glad the top characters are doing well, but sad that some of the core, base, under appreciated, under known characters are going to be treated poorly. And was this worth the confusion? I will post my "grades" after I finish all my 52. But I can already tell what's getting dropped.

  4. As I have said before we need to give all of this a little more time before we come to a final conclusion on the relaunch. It may just be me but DC does seem to honestly want to deal with the criticism that has been levied against them. This month more than anything was about getting retailers behind them so they can actually have time to deal with other aspects of the relaunch. For the first time in years DC has unrivaled support from the retailers. One of the things I wouldn't be surprised that returns is some kind of permanent returns program.

    I bring this up since with retail support DC doesn't have to worry about chasing the buck as much which will actually give them more time to deal with more content based criticism. Which they do seem to be taking seriously this time, why else bring in Nielsen as they have. This actually a bigger deal than most new sites are actually making out to be, since it is first time that a publisher is actually treating their audience along the same lines other media venues. From the start this has not just been about stabilizing the market or even just giving it a boost, this has been about growing the market. And for better or worse content be it sex or violence is going to be closely looked at.

    Further more we have to look past all of this being solely about the first month because it's not. September was merely the first shot in what is likely to be a long campaign. Yes September was very important in getting retailer support but don't expect it to end there either. It is best to think of this along the lines of a military campaign, there are going to be multiple fronts. Right all the attention has been on expanding the "traditional" comic book shop market and starting up the digital front. I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see actively on the bookstore front with not only more original graphic novels but also a revamp of trades program.

    As for female readership this has always been a harder nut for DC to crack, but unlike a lot of people I really don't get the impression DC doesn't care about it. I think this more than any other demographic DC is going to have to come with new tactics. Personally I think instead of the traditional comics route DC should try "light novels". Light novels are a type of popular Japanese fully illustrated short novels aimed at the young adult demographic. This would not only make them bookstore ready it could also easily bypass a lot of the stigma that comes with comics.

    But more than anything I think the next major front is going to be the younger demographic with a major overhaul to Johnny DC line. I think this a major reason DC stressed the ratings with the Starfire controversy. Next is going to be a big year for DC with regards to the push they are going to give the younger market. With a new Batman cartoon in the works which is going to be pulling interest from the Dark Knight Rises DC is hoping to have a new BTAS on their hands (remember BTAS was made to channel some of the hype and excitement that surrounded Batman Returns). And more importantly we have the premiere of the DC nation block on Cartoon Network is probably going to be one of more direct cross-media promotions in industry history. Add into that a new Ben 10 series set for next years we have all the part ready for a major expansion and push for Johnny DC line. I mean not only having tie-in series but original ones promoted weekly on a major network. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them ended up getting some shorts being produced.

    There is more coming we just have to be patient. The major milestone for us is going to March 2012 solicitations. It is going to be 7 months in and we going to have a clearer picture of what is staying and is going to be brought in to replace the rest. DC is keeping the NDA current for a reason.