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What’s next for DC?

Unlike my last DC-specific post, this is almost completely non-snarky (sorry, I can’t get rid of all the snark)! With Final Crisis hurtling toward a conclusion (although “hurtling” might be a poor verb, given its schedule) and January’s solicits out, it’s germane to ask, “What next?”

For those of you who haven’t been reading your DC Nation columns at the back of your fine National Publications (shame on you!) or haven’t picked up your latest copy of Previews (double shame!), DC’s plans for January are interesting. Final Crisis #7, originally planned for December (at least a monthly comic with the skip month built in starting when it did would have come out in December), is now coming out in January. Many of the other mainstream DC superhero books are part of the “Faces of Evil” event. What could this be, you wonder?

Well, DC is publishing a bunch of comics focusing on their villains. Interestingly enough, they occur in the regular series, not in specials. Therefore, Cheetah is featured in Wonder Woman #28, not a “Cheetah Special” (this issue was chosen at random, by the way, and should not be construed as an endorsement or rejection of Wonder Woman #28). Why is DC doing this? Well, I don’t have last month’s DC books in front of me and therefore don’t have the DC Nation column handy, but DiDio wrote something about how interesting the villains are, so why not have a whole month of them?! This speaks, on one level, why DC’s superhero comics are so fucked up right now, but I’m not going there, I swear (see? only a bit of snark!)! I’m more interested in what will happen in February, after the “Faces of Evil” month has run its course.

Bear with me: Final Crisis is ending. DC is publishing what amounts to a month of books that regular readers can skip with impunity (which I plan to do, as none of the books interest me at all). Everyone assumes the God of All Comics will somehow show the heroes winning against Darkseid by shooting the Atom into his brain (wait, he wouldn’t do that again, would he?). But what if we’re wrong? What if G-Mozz does the (relatively) unthinkable and has Darkseid win completely? What if the Anti-Life Equation simply destroys the DC Universe? This is FINAL Crisis, after all. And as DiDio has sold a portion of his soul to the Mozzer (the other portion he saved for Geoff Johns, presumably, although Winick may have gotten a piece), why wouldn’t he let him do whatever he wanted, including destroy everything?

So what does this mean for February? Well, my theory is that DiDio is going to simply reboot the entire DCU. That means everything ends on 31 January. That means new #1 issues. That means new versions of classic DC characters. Absolutely everything is different. How would this work, you might ask? Well, I would argue there are very few things in the DCU that need to stay the same. Superman and Batman would have to be Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, and their origins would need to stay the same. Wonder Woman would probably have to be an Amazon. Everything else can be thrown out. Sure, you’d probably need to name the Green Lantern character “Hal Jordan” just so some crazy people don’t organize a boycott, but nothing else, ultimately, matters. If I were DiDio, I would put new creative teams on every book and tell them to go nuts. I suppose you would probably have to have a character called “the Joker” and one called “Lex Luthor,” but again, why would they have to be anything like the characters before the reboot? I would also make it clear that you’re not getting a book unless you want to play by the rules of the sandbox. That means if Batman happens to guest-star in Superman’s comic and gets his leg broken, the writer of Batman better make sure our hero has a broken leg in the next issue or explain why he doesn’t. If a writer doesn’t like that, screw him (or her). Don’t write superhero comics. DiDio is paying you good money to be a corporate tool. Write poetry in your attic if you don’t like it.

I’ve ranted before that this is what DC needs, but it’s interesting that they’re publishing something where “evil wins” and then taking an entire month off to focus on villains. My theory (and it’s only a theory, of course) is that because Final Crisis is late, DC had to come up with a plan so that Final Crisis wouldn’t come out after the reboot. I believe that if Final Crisis had come out as planned in December, the new year would have seen a completely new DC. DiDio is keeping everything under wraps in order to stun the hell out of us. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if DC published nothing from their mainstream superhero line in February and then hit us with stuff in March, just to raise expectations. The only things that would survive are mini-series that have already started and might not finish until after February (they would survive as a cute relic of the previous age) and, of course, Vertigo books and even WildStorm books. But if you’re a DCU mainstream superhero book, you’re done. Everything sets up for it: Batman is “dead,” a bunch of books are getting cancelled, Darkseid has taken over, and, let’s face it, the DCU could use a huge shot in the arm.

You might claim that DC has done this before, with the first Crisis. Well, yes and no. They did a reset, sure, but they didn’t go far enough. If this is what DC is planning, there can be no integrating Batman’s 1950s history into his present. Nothing prior to February 2009 would be allowed. Make up your own damned weirdo robot-alien-giant typewriter Batman story, Grant-O! If any writer didn’t like that, see ya! Go work for Marvel.

Of course, DC will never do this. It’s just a theory, based on the way Final Crisis is going, the weirdness of the Bald Scottish One, and the fact that DC seems to be hitting the “pause” button in January. The reasons DC won’t do this are idiotic, too. “The fans wouldn’t like it.” You know, screw fans who think like that. If fans are buying your books just because they read Batman when they were 12, they’re idiots. Fans will buy your damned books if they’re good comics. “We don’t want to end our huge numbering system on our Batman and Superman books.” You know, I think this might a major hurdle, as moronic as it is. DC and Marvel seem inordinately proud of the fact that they have high numbers on their books, so much so that Marvel has now renumbered Thor (more on that in another post). Keeping the numbering system in place, if that’s a reason to not do this, is just another reason why DC is childish. “Fans want a sense of history with the character.” I would argue that most fans want two things from their DC comics, other than them being, you know, good (I’m probably wrong, but bear with me): a sense of closure, and a sense of continuity. I know that last word is a dirty one among the comics literati (and the fact that there’s a comics literati makes me chuckle), but these are mainstream superhero comics we’re talking about here. If Morrison is allowed for the heroes to go heroically, that’s good. If DiDio slashes and burns 70 years of messy continuity, he could start fresh and build a new continuity. Yes, in 50 years it will be hopelessly convoluted again, but then you just slash and burn again. Nobody says you can’t do this over and over. Well, the crazy H.E.A.T. people do, but they’re, you know, crazy.

So that’s my theory. What do you think will happen after Final Crisis? Will DC have the cajones to do anything radical? Or will it just be the same old same old and they’ll continue to lose readers? Any thougts?

91 Comments

No DC will not be going for a complete reboot. They just won’t. They know the value of having Action Comics and Detective Comics running consistently from the 1930s.

A restart would be cool for a few months then it will just get boring.

BTW: I liek the villains month concept. Some of the best issues of the Geoff Johns run on the Flash focused on the Rogues.

Well, DC is publishing a bunch of comics focusing on their villains. Interestingly enough, they occur in the regular series, not in specials.

I was under the impression that Faces of Evil was mostly a cover gimmick, and that the various story lines will be continuing as usual. (So for example, New Krypton will continue in February, but have villains on the covers.) Also, there are four villain based one shots.

The existence of Blackest Night seems to be a strong indicator that they won’t be doing a hard reboot. My general feeling is that Didio just thought “Villains are cool. Ooh, cover theme!”

Bernard the Poet

October 30, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I bet that whenever two DC executives end up in a bar together, then by the fourth beer, they start daydreaming about wiping the slate clean and starting again.

They’d never have the balls to do it though.

The reason they won’t do this is simple: you can have your cake and eat it too (see Ultimate Marvel universe).

I imagine All-Star was originally intended to be DC’s competing brand in that regard, but they quickly turned into creator vanity projects (not passing judgment …)

FINAL CRISIS might give DC the opportunity to revisit that idea again, but I doubt it. The fact that FC, up until this point, has had nothing to do with parallel Earths or Monitors or Superboys leads me to think there won’t be a radically new status quo post-FC.

“That means if Batman happens to guest-star in Superman’s comic and gets his leg broken, the writer of Batman better make sure our hero has a broken leg in the next issue or explain why he doesn’t.”

In one sentence you managed to encapsulate everything that is wrong with superhero comic books. If I’m reading Batman why should the story in a completely different book dictate what happens to Batman. While 70 years of continuity may make people hesitant of reading DC books having super-strict continuity would only make it worse. Reading a Batman comic shouldn’t require the reader to pick up the entire DCU line.

The problem isn’t 70 years worth of stories; the problem is how writers use the 70 years worth of stories. There wouldn’t be any continuity problems if writers would stop using the same villains over and over.

FINAL CRISIS might give DC the opportunity to revisit that idea again, but I doubt it. The fact that FC, up until this point, has had nothing to do with parallel Earths or Monitors or Superboys leads me to think there won’t be a radically new status quo post-FC.

You mean other than the Monitors that showed up in issue 1 (and who banned a Monitor to Earth), and the Monitor and parallel Earths that appeared in Superman Beyond?

What’s next?

More sales drops, more apathy, more lateness, more botched events, more online outrage over tacky cannon fodder, gore and sex.

Business as usual under Didio.

I haven’t seen anything in the pages of FC itself (SUPERMAN BEYOND is a whole other story) that requires the rest of the multiverse get involved. Right now, it’s a pretty straight-up evil New Gods versus DC superheroes story, albeit with plenty of Morrisonesque touches.

i don’t think idea is that far fetched. check out this interview with Gaiman where he says that DC asked him to write the last issues of Batman and Detective Comics: http://splashpage.mtv.com/2008/10/15/neil-gaiman-writing-batman-as-we-speak/ if it’s really true that he’s writing the “last” issues of those series, i think that some sort of reboot is a definitely possibility. i mean, this is a way to integrate the popular film versions of characters without having to worry about continuity. plus, the publicity on something like this would be huge right now (especially as it coincides with the Watchmen film).

I’ve ranted before that this is what DC needs,

And right there is the big flaw in your theory: it is what DC needs, it will help the industry and it MAKES SENSE. Basically, everything Didio is against. It’s not ass-backwards enough to be a Didio idea.

My prediction, 400 more earths and a miniseries dedicated to exploring them, 6 new Hawkman origins, redoing the timelines and origins of every character, plus a run-up to the next event will begin.

I’m pretty sure Faces of Evil won’t affect stories in ongoing titles. JSA is starting a Black Adam and Isis arc, Action Comics is ending New Krypton, Wonder Woman is doing Rise of the Olympian, the Batman books are dealing with Catwoman’s revenge on Hush. I wouldn’t consider those “skippable.”

As for what happens after FC, I don’t see why they would do a restart. RIP, New Krypton, Rise of the Olympian, Blackest Night, Flash Rebirth, what’s the point of any of them if they were just going to re-start the universe?

What I hope for is this is all a big blind. They say that the JSA book is “Part 1″ and then, with no explanation, everything ends. Sure, people might get pissed, but if the books the following months are good, people will come around. I would love to be reading a comic and in the middle of a storyline, have it simply end because Darkseid destroys the universe. I might be peeved a bit at the beginning, but if the new JSA (or whatever) was any good, I wouldn’t care.

David: I’m not being snarky at all here, but what is the exact value of having Action and Detective running consistently since the 1930s? Nostalgia? I honestly don’t get it. I like owning issue #700 of Detective as much as the next guy (I don’t own #800) but I don’t care all that much.

Lawrence: I completely agree that that’s what’s wrong with superhero comics. But DC and Marvel have made their beds with continuity, yet nobody takes it seriously. I have advocated before for completely separate universes in each book, so the Batman writer could kill off Superman in his (or her) book but the Superman starring in his own comic could continue, but that’s not going to happen. I hate the fact that “continuity” is so important. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Starting over would help fix that.

If they were to do what you suggest, I might actually pick up a DC book again (besides Jonah Hex).

I would love to see DC start from scratch, so we could see things like the first meeting of Superman and Batman, the founding of the JLA, etc.

But what would that mean for titles like Nightwing and Teen Titans?

My bet is that Didio upsets more rellancers by having sex with their wives, then everyone takes a month off.

“I have advocated before for completely separate universes in each book, so the Batman writer could kill off Superman in his (or her) book but the Superman starring in his own comic could continue, but that’s not going to happen.”

That’s still continuity. Unless the next comic has Superman miraculously alive again with no explanation (guaranteed no one will buy that book for long), the only difference is you have “independent” continuities … which will eventually become bloated and self-contradictory after decades and decades, just like a “full company” continuity would.

The real solution is better editing, so two books coming out in the same month don’t say completely opposite things. This means a return to old school editing, not all the creative mandates, moronic groupthink, and cowardice that passes for editing these days.

I dunno. We keep coming back to this idea. I really do think it’s the best creative solution. Every time it’s been tried on a smaller scale– Superman, Kyle Rayner, the Ultimate Universe– it’s worked, at least in terms of creating the reader interest and the sales bump.

I’d totally get into a rebooted DCU. At the moment I’m only buying two from DC; Batman and Green Lantern.

Greg B, I feel obligated as a member of the reality-based community to inform you that your “theory” isn’t so much a theory as it’s a half-assed notion borne of your own wishful thinking and directly contradicted by all available evidence and common sense.

“As for what happens after FC, I don’t see why they would do a restart. RIP, New Krypton, Rise of the Olympian, Blackest Night, Flash Rebirth, what’s the point of any of them if they were just going to re-start the universe?”

Marvel went ahead and unmasked Spidey on Civil War just because they knew they were going to reboot him the year after that. While what you are saying does make sense, it is not without a precedent.

New #1s (which almost inevitably accompany reboots) ALWAYS get big sales bumps, which inevitably level off over time and return to their normal levels. The Big Two know this, that’s why they do new #1s all the time. People are just excited to see a new direction, regardless of whether it’s a true “reboot” in the sense that’s talked about here. Look at the resuscitation of the Avengers franchise in the 2000’s … it was all done in-continuity.

The only solution to continuity that doesn’t have huge negatives is the “creative ignorance” doctrine. If some creator did something in the past, and a future creator decides its unworkable, he either (a) explains it away or (b) ignores it wholesale. Does Marvel or its readership really quibble over all those Soviet Union stories in 80’s CAPTAIN AMERICA, when we know Cap was revived AFTER the fall of the Berlin wall in Marvel time? Not really. Is it okay to have this perfectly contradictory set of assumptions in your head at once? Sure. It doesn’t make Brubaker’s CAP any less enjoyable.

Editorship is implicated because too many bad ideas in need of future retconning see print in the first place (DC kills ‘em, Marvel just ruins ‘em). DC is also having a hell of a time being self-consistent over the span of months (stupid), let alone decades (trickier).

@Greg Burgas

A bad idea isn’t going to work no matter how many times you reboot it. I think separate continuities is actually a better idea, only I don’t think it should be quite as extreme as yours. Here’s how I try to view my comics and so clearly I think it’s the way DC should treat its comics: In the Superman comic Superman should essentially be the only superhero in the world, you can introduce Supergirl or even new superheroes, but leave the other big names out of it. In Batman you focus on a world with only Batman (and the bat “family”), every once in a while you can throw a little easter egg like Batman mentioning Metropolis or the Daily Planet, but never confirm that Superman and Batman exist in the same universe. It makes the threats seem bigger if you know the Justice League won’t swoop in to save the day.

Now for a book like Justice League, you make this book totally shameless. All these big name heroes exist together, but other than their basic powers and origin you keep the continuity separate from the characters individual titles. Every issue should be an event itself. We should strive to move away from strict continuity and allow each comic to live and die on their own, not because people want to know everything that happens in their fictional world.

Huh?

Am I missing something? How could a reboot be possible when there are interviews by many writers announcing projects that depend on a largely un-rebooted DC Universe? Geoff Johns’s return of Barry Allen for one, seemed more like Green Lantern: Rebirth than like Byrne’s Man of Steel. James Robinson’s “pro-active” Justice League book also seems to depend on this new League trying to get justice for some fallen superhero and Hal and Ollie as old veterans.

I think it’s more likely that Final Crisis will allow then to do a “selective reboot” and changing some minor stuff while keeping most of the chronology and characters the same. Just like Infinite Crisis.

I probably wouldn’t be interested in a reboot since the only book I get is Blue Beetle (and Legion but I’m that’s gone in a few issues). However, if the reboot managed to keep Jamie around then it wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, this could be a great opportunity to get some new blood into the Universe. You could create new heroes/villains or remake some lesser ones into bigger players in the universe. A hard reboot opens up a lot of possibilities.

And I’ll just be the cynical balloon-popper and say that I think if DC did do an across-the-board reboot, it’d accomplish precisely bupkiss, creatively and financially. The fans, whether they liked it or not, would be the only ones who cared, just like they were the only ones who cared about the half-assed reboots brought about by Crisis and Zero Hour. Most people, if you walked up to them and said “DC Comics is rebooting their universe and starting from scratch,” would look at you like you were speaking Basque (except for Basques, who would look at you like you were speaking Tagalog). The status of the DC Universe matters to exactly one group of people, and they’re already reading.

As for creatively, I guarantee you, within six months you’d have most of the books choked with sly references to old stories, outright retellings of other old stories, and “updated” characters where the changes are primarily in wardrobe and hairstyle. Again, just like after Crisis and Zero Hour. It’s not like people with actual new ideas are going to be anywhere near the characters regardless of what happens.

There’s no such thing as a “fresh start” for publishing characters that are over 70 years old. Especially not in such a history-fetishist and masturbatory milieu as superhero comics.

I think a reboot is neither necessary nor desirable.

Reboots alienate fans.

There’s nothing that a reboot can fix that can’t be fixed better by just waving your hands.

And I think that DC has come to believe some version of this too.

(Finally!)

Michael: I don’t know if you’re being a jerk or just being sarcastic, but it’s comics, for crying out loud – “reality” doesn’t really enter it too much, does it?

Rene: That’s true, but maybe they don’t know about it!!!!! They could think everything is fine, but DiDio is about to spring the new state of affairs on them at the Thanksgiving summit in the secret hideaway behind Mount Rushmore!!!!! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

Reality enters into the business and making of comics quite often.

I don’t think DC would reboot the entire Universe after Final Crisis. That would totally screw up the countdown to the Blackest Night. Maybe after that they will do a big crossover with the Titans Tomorrow.

Greg B, I feel obligated as a member of the reality-based community to inform you that your “theory” isn’t so much a theory as it’s a half-assed notion borne of your own wishful thinking and directly contradicted by all available evidence and common sense.

100% right on the money here. It isn’t going to happen and would likely be a total disaster from a sales standpoint. Dan Didio probably doesn’t even have the authority to do something like this.

What DC could do instead is run their entire superhero line like the current Superman titles by Johns, Robinson, and until recently Busiek – cherry pick the better elements from any aspect of the character’s history and gloss over the continuity issues. For example, Johns’ Brainiac is far more interesting than any version of Brainiac since the Byrne reboot, with the exception of the Animated series Brainiac (who Johns definitely drew from). Previous Brainiacs are quickly explained away as “probes looking for Superman.” Move on to the story.

I hate to sound like a politician, but rebooting an entire line of comics (or just a series) whenever sales are down sets a dangerous precedent, where any concept that isn’t selling just gets rebooted ad infinitum.

The Comic Geek Speak podcast crew ended up in this line of thought in their Final Crisis #4 podcast.

I think a hard reboot, with an ambiguous background (we don’t need to see the characters starting at day 1 again, but keep the previous stories ambiguous [not ‘dramatic’ mysteries!!]) is a great idea. Move forward and be committed to it. Keep the characters in their own continuities. We don’t need Superman showing up in Batman comics… I passed around two Batman stories recently because of interest in The Dark Knight. I got the same reaction from everyone to The Dark Knight Returns and No Man’s Land. “I like it, but why does Superman have to show up in every Batman story? I hate that!”

Imagine Batman comics like the 80’s Grell Green Arrow comics. Grounded. Self-contained. Stories that come out over about 2 issues, not 6+ months.

Michael here is right when he says:
As for creatively, I guarantee you, within six months you’d have most of the books choked with sly references to old stories, outright retellings of other old stories, and “updated” characters where the changes are primarily in wardrobe and hairstyle.

This is the problem with or without a reboot, wherever DC comics choose to go creatively. You need extreme, consistent quality control. If I went to the comic shop and bought 10 DC titles for $3 each, I bet only 1 or 2 would be worth the price. It’s not worth the gamble to consumers. You can’t be on the mark some of the time, or even most of the time. You need to have a guarantee of quality to your customers.

What I’m saying doesn’t require a reboot. Just wholly moving forward with quality control

If I had my druthers, I’d reboot the Giffen-era Justice League back into existence.

But I’d also keep the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, because his book is consistently worth buying.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 30, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Does Marvel or its readership really quibble over all those Soviet Union stories in 80’s CAPTAIN AMERICA, when we know Cap was revived AFTER the fall of the Berlin wall in Marvel time? Not really. Is it okay to have this perfectly contradictory set of assumptions in your head at once? Sure. It doesn’t make Brubaker’s CAP any less enjoyable.

You should go work for Marvel and DC, that’s the type of answer they normally give, and of course it ignores the sort of problems Greg is talking about.
Of course we don’t give a shit if it was WW2, Vietnam, Iraq War or where ever it was Iron Man got his powers, it’s more when other writers start messing with things that change WHO the character is that really bothers people, or when they ignore stories that were important to the readers, but jibed with whatever genius idea the writer thought he was having.

The only one that never needed rebooting was Batman, because mediums other than comic books did it for him. He’s like the Madonna of comic books.

What if Batman finally became Master CEO of the DC universe, and remained its only constant!?

I have no idea how serious I am.

Wow, I can not believe anyone would want such a thing to happen. I would completely stop reading comics if that was to happen. A lot of people’s favorite characters would be gone if they started over and I love the DC Universe and it’s history. WTF are your people’s problem? But yes, I hate Didio as well.

It’s been mentioned, but the biggest reason I would be against a reboot would be that for years all the stories would simply be updated origins of villains and re-tellings of old stories. Unless they had an absolutely amazing creative team doing it, I couldn’t care less about reading that kind of stuff. It’s been done too much. For example, I’ve enjoyed Geoff Johns run on Green Lantern, but I couldn’t wait for the recent Secret Origins story to end. It was done well, I’m just sick of constantly adding to and/or re-telling origins. Give us new stories. And a hard reboot wouldn’t give us new stories. It would give us updated versions of old stories.

I agree with Micheal’s second comment; an across the board reboot would be well and truly buggered by authorial whims and editorial weakness before Year One was out. Better to do an Ultimate-style line – possibly using extant series, but clearly rebranded under the new imprint/banner: Action Comics, Detective Comics, and Justice League of America, brought to you by National Periodicals, perhaps.
Clearly define the rules: No reboots or retroactive continuity fudges, no crossovers with the DCU proper, remember that the best sort of fan service is providing interesting, intelligent, and coherent stories.
Writers who don’t/can’t check their egos at the door and abide by the rules aren’t welcome.

Put that bald-headed guy who talks funny in charge as EIC for life, and ta-da! All Star DCU!

“it’s more when other writers start messing with things that change WHO the character is that really bothers people, or when they ignore stories that were important to the readers, but jibed with whatever genius idea the writer thought he was having.”

I perfectly agree.

That’s why I made the point that “creative ignorance” MUST be accompanied by good editing and bashed the sorry state of modern editorship in two posts.

The fact is that editors nowadays are performing less of their traditional roles (proofreading, fact-checking, coordinating with other editors) and just out-and-out co-writing books. EXCEPT they won’t put their names on the books as co-writer, so when the fans call bullshit, the writer takes all the heat. We saw the system exposed for what it was during the JMS/Quesada credit debacle on One More Day.

The more corporate these characters become, the more subject they are to editorial group-think, which is about the lowest form of cognition. What sounds great in a boardroom after six hours of arguing rarely works great on the page. The last half-decade of Marvel’s “event” books have rested on heroes acting wildly out-of-character or ignoring crucial developments wholesale.

I love DC. I’m loyal to it, much more so than to marvel, but as of late, with the exception of mostly Geoff Johns books, I have begun to wonder why i read them. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy Final Crisis, and am looking forward to all the Red Lantern fun that’s coming, but I think (and this isn’t just for DC) we need to be free of the event comic (I know that’s not the most original thought either). I love my regular characters (Green Lantern, Superman), but only in their own titles. Even when you look at Marvel, I love X-Force far more than anything else in the Marvel Universe. I pick up a few titles from time to time, but X-force is the only think I grab consistently. It’s just plain fun that doesn’t seem to have too much consequence on the rest of the universe, while still remaining in said universe. It’s the same reason why I pick up the trades of the blue Beetle. It’s just plain awesome superhero fun with some great story elements; It’s the superhero book that most superhero books need to remember how to be. These titles I’ve mentioned are free from the event (ok so x-force spun out of an crossover, and blue beetle did have a tie-in but it fit into the story). We need a few years of rediscovering what good fun comics can be and put so much of this seriousness to the side.

When we were kids did we think that the skrulls could launch a holy war against the humans? No! They were just green, alien, evil, villain things. Comics have gotten too serious, and while I do think that some are great for their adult content (ie X-Forces violence), I think so many of us have forgotten what comics really need to be. Fun.

Anti-life Justifies this post

“Write poetry in your attic if you don’t like it.”

I understand the need for greater editorial control. But I doubt that will come from a collectors system were some fans follow their favorite creators and others demonstrate loyalty to the brand. In each case, a reboot wouldn’t affect either group of fans. Nor would restarting Superman, Batman, or Flash encourage new readers. Many times these or any characters are relaunched successfully. Soon, though, legacy and memorabilia are invoked to propel a storyline. Love it or hate it, these are the facts.

Also, where it the compelling evidence that DC is doing anything wrong. There is no rule that says fans must buy every comic. What you don’t buy, somebody will pick up the slack. Or not.

I couldn’t see DC permanently doing what you’re talking about, Greg, but I could see them trying some sort of “Age of Apocalypse” gimmick for a few months. Why not? If the ’90s X-books could pull it off — and turn in probably their best storytelling of the decade, to boot — then the modern DCU should certainly have the skills. They already got Morrison, who sidelines as God of All Thematic Crossovers (DC ONE MILLION) and God of All Collaborative Projects (52, though he’s a four-faceted godhead in that aspect, known to Dr. Fate as the Existing Quadurinal), and if the likes of Busiek, Simone, and Johns can’t equal Lobdell, Loeb, and Raab, then DC oughta close up shop anyway.

Why not, DC? Go nuts. Have a Source Wall Wave “end” the universe, then reimagine everyone for four months, six months, whatever. Then have Wally sacrifice himself to bring the real universe back (don’t forget to bring Candy Guy, Genocide, Dark Beast Boy, and S-Girl along!). Seriously though, get creative. Don’t just fall back on old multiverses; hell, let Stan Lee just imagine it all, if you’re stumped. Then revert back to the real universe like nothing happened and tell all the stories that had been put on hold. But if any of the alterna-versions prove popular, use them (if X-Man could sustain 75 issues…). If the AoA proved anything, it’s that such a move isn’t even much of a risk. Imagine if we’d had the 853rd Century Superman seeking out his 5th Dimension ancestors in ACTION or “Batman One Million and the Outsiders”?

Then again, Didio hasn’t been able to put together any of his previous crossovers in any sort of cohesive fashion (INFINITE CRISIS ran off the rails even more than FC has, it just had OYL and 52 around to hide the mistakes, and WW3 and AMAZONS ATTACK aren’t exactly textbook events). The problem DC has is that it every time it steps in front of traffic, gets run over by a car, and isn’t killed, it thinks it defeated the street and decides to then stand on the freeway in front of a truck, rather than learn how to use a frickin’ crosswalk. They even almost effed-up the SINESTRO CORPS WAR, as if someone at editorial thought GL readers were sensible folk who like to be trifled with. No, I think it’s best if DC learn how to stand up before it can shake up.

Horrible thought: DC are gonna use this to integrate the Watchmen characters into the DCU to capitalise on the hype/success of the film

Random Stranger

October 31, 2008 at 2:40 am

I’m going to do the silly thing and post before I read the replies, but what I’d kind of like to see is that Final Crisis end with Darkseid winning, but it’s all okay for DC fans because his victory fragments the multiverse all over again. Again.

Again.

(Yes, again.)

The idea being that they go with a “Screw interbook continuity!” attitude. Each book will be an Earth unto itself. If they want a Batman who’s an urban legend that’s fine because on that Earth he is while over on Earth-JLA he’s making public appearances. If someone wants to bring in a hero or villain they can stick to their own vision of that character without worrying too much about stepping on someone else. Is Black Adam an anti-hero or monster this week? Who cares since which role he’s in for that story is right there on the page.

Turn the whole thing back into a playground again, justify it by saying the multiverse is infinite, and let people go on. Right now they just pay lip service to that kind of continuity; they need to just let it go.

So out of the event you’ve got a ruined Earth with revamped gods to use as a setting or villains, an acknowledgment that they’re not even going to make a pretense of interbook continuity any more, and more editorial freedom across their entire line. There will be fanboy whining but there always is.

(Now to go back and read that fanboy whining. ;-) )

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 31, 2008 at 4:44 am

Everybody needs a good reboot and a overhaul every now and then.

Even Batman, Superman, and what’s ‘er name? – Wowza Woman.

A revamp seems perfectly at odds with the editorial trends of the Didio/Johns/Morrison years. DC for the past five-plus years has been about bringing back as much old continuity as possible, in any way possible, and emphasizing only new ideas that elaborate upon older continuity (Zatanna mindwipes, the rainbow Corps). Current editorial clearly views continuity as a strength, and is probably going to continue to do so even in cases like Countdown where that view ended up being totally counter-productive.

Firstly, the entire reboot thing won’t happen as we already know about events that are lined up post FC.

Secondly, DC would NEVER do a complete hard reboot. Why? It’s all about the money. DC knows most comic readers are completely anal about who is in the costume. Even the writer of the article wants Clark to remain as Superman and Bruce as Batman. This is further evidenced by the loud clamouring on comic boards all over of fanboys threatening to boycott Iron Man 2 because ‘Terrence Howard IS War Machine’. Not to mention the whole Hal Jordan incident. Doing a reboot would get rid of certain characters and we know how us comic book fans LOVE to moan. So yeah, they’re cash cows they’re gonna milk and milk and milk.

Third, personally reboots are something I hate. I’d like to see progression and closure when it comes to my favourite characters. Not having them whored out for decade after decade. I like legacies, which is why I enjoy the DCU a bit more than Marvel. There’s real history, real legacy which the MU is severely lacking. It’s the reason why I embraced Wally and Kyle and the JSA and the like. That’s progression, not moving backwards continually. As mentioned previously, all reboots generally do (there are exceptions) is retread old ground. And please don’t get me started on characters whose stories have been told back from the dead. I’m as glad as any to see Barry back but after the way he bowed out I feel kinda disappointed as well, just hope Johns can reinvigorate the Flash like he has with Hal Jordan in Green Lantern (one of the few times a return has been done right). As for the lIkes of Jason Todd (errrrr…..why again?) and Marvel’s Captain Marvel (so you bring him back, but not him and the guy is tossed aside? Huh?) save me.

For those calling for seperate universes with seperate Batmn, Superman,etc. continuities: Well DC had the perfect opportunity to have it’s cake and eat it. And you know what they did? They baked a turd and slipped themselves cyanide. The climax of Infinite Crisis saw the return of the multiverse. What better opportunity to create universes (and by default rebooting things) that had these seperate continuities? They could have tested out fan reaction to them through a string of mini’s set therein while still having the main universe progress forward. That’s what I would have liked to have seen. The reboot wanters get what they want while people like me who like progression could have seen things like even Batman and Superman growing old. And to be perfectly honest I would have gotten the tales of my fave characters in any universe regardless. But no, what does DC do? They whore out beloved Elseworld stories hoping to score big bucks on the popularity and fan feel good factor regarding the original tales. After all comic book readers are creatures of habit. So what do we get? Countdown? Search for Ray Palmer? Arena? The Tangent Again, it’s all about the money. Making cheap and easy money. Why be creative when you can just re-use old stuff? And you know how those pesky creators get all finicky about new creations. You know? Wanting a piece of the pie and wotnot? How dare they.

Crazy @$$e0 rant of the week, done.

Marvel used to do the whole “if something happens in book A to hero X that better be referenced in their own book” thing back in the 80s. At least in the X-Titles. When the Wolverine mini came out he was out of Uncanny the entire time. When they did the Fallen Angels maxi, Sunspot (I think it was Sunspot) was out of New Mutants. Totally a marketing ploy sure, if you want a Wolverine and an X-Men story for those 4 months you have to buy Wolverine and X-Men. They won’t do it today, but I thought it was great back then, it made sense.

sorry if this was brought up before and I missed it, but wasn’t there a focus on Villains for the “New Year’s Evil”/Neron focus a few years back.

It is scary when I have been reading/collecting comics long enough to note when history is repeating itself.

I would really love to see a huge company-wide reboot. They’ve already established precedent for it… We had all the zero issues after zero-hour. The OYL badges after Infinite Crisis, etc.

Fans boycotting it? Yeah right… Not in sufficient numbers. Amazing Spider-man’s doing alright isn’t it? They might actually INCREASE sales doing this. Everyone would be starting from the same place.

I don’t think it will be as early as February though… I think we’re going to build up more to Blackest Night. Barry Allen’s Rebirth will be an integral part of that. And then the Green Lanterns will see the end of the DCU.

Maybe having “Elseworlds” style stories but branded as “DC Classic” or something for the nostalgics.

I think Zee makes a brilliant point. QUALITY CONTROL is essential… I thought years ago the point of having editors and sub-editors was to co-ordinate everything, maintaining a good product actross the entiore range… But as we have seen across the entire publishing (and media) industries, decent editors and proof-readers are fewer and further between now…

For all the abuse thrown at Didio, he does seem willing and able to take a lot of flak and stand by his decisions… Maybe he really could pull it off…

I think Zee makes a brilliant point. QUALITY CONTROL is essential… I thought years ago the point of having editors and sub-editors was to co-ordinate everything, maintaining a good product actross the entiore range… But as we have seen across the entire publishing (and media) industries, decent editors and proof-readers are fewer and further between now…

Blackjack makes this point best, though a lot of people make the same one:

DC doesn’t need to reboot its characters. DC needs to reboot its editors.

Where’s my “Jim Shooter was Right” shirt?

MInd you, having been quoted, I then see the irony in not spell-checking my own work… “entiore”?? well done me…. :-(

This is the most asinine idea I’ve heard in some time. But hey, DC, if your looking for a quick and easy way to alienate what readers remain and drive the company into bankruptcy, by all means, follow this moron’s advice.

Anyone who says that this would alienate the hard core fans doesn’t know anything about hard core fans. Anyone who is a hard core DC fan will NEVER stop buying DC comics. They bitch and moan about it, but they will always come back. It’s the same thing in sports. How many hard core baseball fans bitched about the wild card? Did they leave? No. And more teams were involved in the postseason. Ratings suck for baseball, but attendance continues to rise. Personally, I don’t care what DC does. If they publish good comics, I’ll buy them. If they publish comics that feature blood-vomiting cats (you know which one I’m talking about!), I won’t buy them. I just think it would be a cool thing if they did something interesting. But I don’t really care all that much.

As for being a moron – well, I can look at sales figures, and DC isn’t doing that well. I may be a moron, but at least I’m not a moron running a major company!

But…but I already LIKE my comics!

Anyone who says that this would alienate the hard core fans doesn’t know anything about hard core fans. Anyone who is a hard core DC fan will NEVER stop buying DC comics. They bitch and moan about it, but they will always come back.

It’s worth noting that many members of HEAT never gave up actually buying and reading Green Lantern.

Anyway, the ‘alienating fans’ argument is symptomatic of the larger problem. This is something we’ve come at on the blog from a dozen different angles and it always boils down to the same argument. The readership for mainstream superhero comics is continually shrinking. Period. This is an inarguable fact to anyone who actually can read a chart.

So those of us who write about comics are looking at these numbers and wondering about possible approaches to make the books more palatable and inviting to new readers. We wonder about price. We wonder about format. And we wonder about the decades of continuity that are currently driving storytelling choices.

Every time we wonder about these things and if it’s worth making serious, radical changes to lujre in new readers, there is a chorus of CURRENT readers who scream bloody murder and complain that they’ll be pissed off and alienated and change will be the death of the form.

I’m sorry, but I truly believe that catering to these folks is what GOT us into this mess in the first place. DC and Marvel clearly think that the only strategy they have left is to give up publishing superhero comics for anyone other than the hardcore fans; that their best bet is to gert EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU reading the books. Hence the incessant tie-ins, the crossover events that never actually end but segue right into the next (How long has DC been spinning stuff out of Infinite Crisis? Two years? Three? And this “Final” Crisis itself now spins out into “Blackest Night,” doesn’t it?)

That’s nostalgia publishing. That puts the 32-page monthly superhero comic right there next to those pulp reprint books from Nostalgia Ventures and Adventure House. A niche market that will never get any bigger but instead is relentlessly shrinking.

Some of us think that’s dumb. That this same marketing energy might be better spent getting some of those millions of people who love the Batman and Spider-Man and Iron Man movies to actually look at the books that inspired those movies. However, as long as DC and Marvel are run by overgrown fanboys themselves,. that’s never going to happen and we stay in the downward spiral. It’s great for us– I’m writing this in my library, surrounded by paperback reprints of comics I loved in my youth– but not so great for the business as a whole surviving in the long term.

That’s the argument. Possible long-term survival tactics vs. The Comics We Want Right Now. Pretty much every variation of it we see here on the blog comes down to that.

I think the biggest reason for the comic readership shrinking is that it is very difficult to FIND comics now. They don’t sell comics at supermarkets or gas stations or even most bookstores anymore (excepting Graphic Novels). The only way to really get your comics is to go to a comic book shop. And the only people that go to comic book shops are the people already buying comics!

But hey, DC, if your looking for a quick and easy way to alienate what readers remain

DC has already found a quick and easy way to alienate readers. It’s called Dan Didio.

Patrick, I agree with you. But every time I’ve suggested looking at changing to a bookstore-friendly format the way Tokyopop or Viz have done, I get a bunch of people yelling at me about THAT. It’s just that today Mr. Burgas brought up the continuity part of the problem so I was talking about that. But no matter which angle we talk about, there’s always a group of fans to swarm us telling us that if we change those things, they’ll be forced to quit comics.

The thing is, you don’t have to constantly reference continuity to have continuity. It’s really a matter of saying, “Yes, that happened then. This is what’s happening now.” If you want Flash to guest star in Superman, do it. You don’t have to drop any references that encourage people to figure out where it happened in that character’s book. That’s how books like JLA and Avengers worked for years.

It’s when you focus on big “world changing” stories that it gets messed up. So long as Batman’s fighting the Joker, there’s no problem with his “Stay Out of Gotham” attitude. When he’s dealing with a major earthquake and the city’s abandonment by the U.S. government that it becomes ridiculous that Superman doesn’t step in and help.

As to attracting new readers, I believe price, availability, and decompression are more guilty than continuity. As a kid in the 70’s, I read comics occasionally but would get pissed when the story didn’t end and I knew that there was little chance I’d ever see the next issue. However, back then there was some attempt to have each chapter of an arc have its own beginning middle and end, like a movie serial. Now, the whole thing is written as if one long story is written and then broken into six parts, so you get an issue that’s nothing but setup without any action, another that’s nothing but slugfest, etc. If you look at today’s comics, there’s actually less time for supporting casts, because the hero is on a single case for six issues at a time.

In retrospect, I think the whole direct market setup has been a case of short term gain, long term loss as it only encouraged the idea of focusing on a specific group of people. If you look at any other entertainment form, they focus on a demographic, not maintaining the same audience. They acknowledge that some people will outgrow their product or grow into their product. If someone in their 30’s leaves, they know someone in their teens will replace them. By “aging with the audience”, DC and Marvel have adopted a model that ensures a shrinking market on deaths alone. Add that many in an aging audience will have changing priorities for their disposable income and you guarantee another dropoff.

What I would rather see is a series of books set on Earth 46985 or whatever where the heroes are new. That might actually interest me. These wouldn’t be Tangent-type or Stan Lee Presents-type interpretations but newly revamped updated versions that keep the recognizable classical elements but with new twists. Sure it’s an Ultimate rip-off but in this way the new corner of the DCU could develop on their own and when appropriate interact with the current slate of characters that are still continuing in their own adventures. And if these new characters happen to become more popular – like what happened in the 1950’s with the introduction of the Silver Age – then the current DCU characters could be moved to the background just like the Golden Age heroes were 50 years ago. That would be an evolution of the DCU, not a cop-out reboot. It’s also something that I believe long time fans like me could embrace – unlike the COIE reboot that drove me away from comics for 10 years – and that new fans could get into knowing that this would not be your father’s Superman et al.

To all the people calling for different continuities, isn’t that what led to Crisis on Infinite Earths on the first place?

I agree that comic companies need to find a way to bring in new readers, but is continuity really a major stumbling block to new people taking up the hobby? Are there a lot of people out there saying “I’d love to start reading Batman comic books, but he’s been around 70 years and I won’t know what happened in all those stories.”? I find that hard to believe. As mentioned, making comics cheaper, more readily available, and able to tell a satisfying story (or chapter or a story) in 22 pages will bring in new readers. Sure, if the story is super heavy on continuity it won’t be attractive to new fans. But as also mentioned, you can have continuity without it being overbearing to the story.

I think Busiek’s Avengers run is a good example of this. He told new stories, he referenced old ones. But you didn’t need to read the old ones to get the new ones. Busiek’s Avengers Forvever mini, on the other hand, was only for people who are into the Avengers continuity. And that’s fine, since it was a seperate title and if you didn’t care what happened the previous 30 years, you didn’t have to read it to keep enjoying the main title. Brubaker’s Captain America is very much set in the current continuity, and derives a major plotline from old continuity. But I think someone who had never read a Cap book before could read the title and enjoy it. It’s a balancing act. Unfortunately a lot of writer’s can’t pull it off, or aren’t forced to try to pull it off by editorial.

I think Busiek’s Avengers run is a good example of this. He told new stories, he referenced old ones. But you didn’t need to read the old ones to get the new ones.

Maybe you felt that way because you knew a decent amount about the Avengers, but as someone who only knew Stern and Milgrom’s run, I was lost most of the time. So much of the book was dedicated to resolving old continuity questions left dangling, the worst being Wanda’s powers and some mixup about Madame Masque. Long, convoluted explanations of things where I had no idea what the problem was they were resolving. It was a horrible, insular book to me with bad, wannabe-Roy Thomas scripting to boot.

I’ll agree with T here. I know Busiek & Perez’s Avengers was good, but I don’t think I could tell you why. It was my first time attempting to read Avengers for more than an issue and I found myself playing catch-up way too much with the stories. But still, I stuck with it until I learned, or figured out, what was happening. Getting into superhero comics is like getting into soap operas. It takes some dedication on your part, and you’ll be confused the first few times you watch it, but eventually you’ll learn enough back story and build up enough interest in the characters to where it doesn’t matter that you haven’t seen the previous 40 years worth of TV episodes.

That said, I also get what you’re going for. Writers in superhero comics can tell new and exciting stories that build off the past without being totally tied down to it. Remember when comics had the little corner boxes that referenced old comics? Marvel recently brought those back and I think that’s a great idea. If I need to know where Batman broke his leg, and the corner box tells me it happened in Brave & The Bold #567, then I could search for it if I wanted, but otherwise I can just move on and enjoy the story at hand. It helps contribute to the feeling of a shared universe that Marvel & DC have been building for 70 years, but doesn’t make you feel like you need to read all 70 years’ worth of comics.

Personally, these big “event stories” (and the hype) are what finally turned me off comics. Every few years, we’d near the same thing about how the latest “Crisis” would change everything FOREVER!

Supergirl’s dead! The Flash is dead. Oh, wait, now they’re back. Jason Todd is dead and will never be brought back. Oh, wait, now he’s back… but from another universe. But the multiverse doesn’t exist any more. Oh, wait, it does exist. Let’s have another “Crisis” series and fix it… again.

This is why I think there will be a “Final Final (really, we mean it this time) Infinite Crisis” in 2015, to fix all the issues created by Final Crisis and to once again “streamline” the DCU.

Until then, what about going back to the pre-Crisis era (as some posters have suggested) where none of the heroes knows anyone else. If the Joker is about to destroy Gotham, there’s no JLA to help Batman (and readers don’t wonder why Superman and the JLA don’t swoop in to save the day). Superman can fly across the country and visit Coast City, but it’s not the same Coast City in the Green Lantern book and he won’t run into Hal or Guy or Kyle.

Maybe there’s a cross-over between characters, but it’s a rare and special event… just like it was a special event when the JLA first met the JSA. And it’s a single issue, not a year-long event, crossing through every title and requiring readers to spend $100 every week just to read all parts of the story.
Maybe if there were less “everything changes forever” events, each more would be more special.

Its Funny how people seem to not be able to critique a book or a storyline, but also have to take personal jabs at writer and editors. As if they are personal friends or aquaintances of these creators and know them well enough to add such snarky comments. Its obvious that they read stories with a pre-set prejudice. Upset that in their mind they had Batman doing something different then the current writer has done with him.

Did any of you read Didio’s interview over at Newsarama? He said that at least 19 ( which I would think would be most of them) ongoings are going to be marked “Omens & Origins” and have everthing that matters Post-post-post Crisis. I think this will actually will be the last time they have to do this for a while, at least until someone else gets the job.
And do you guys really think Didio’s that bad?

I don’t care how awesome the story is or how glossy the paper it’s printed on is, I’m not dropping four bucks on 32 pages it takes me five minutes to read. I just don’t have that kind of money, and never will have. Everything else is moot as far as I’m concerned.

T, I guess I probably am a little off on my thinking of Busiek’s Avengers, because I do know most of Avengers continuity. I thought he did a good job of explaining what was needed for new readers, but it’s hard for me to be objective. Here’s maybe a better example. Robinson’s Starman. When i read it I knew nothing of Starman history, and very little of DC outside of Batman. But I loved the series. It’s very heavily tied into all kinds of obscure and not so obscure DC history, but tells a good story anyway.

Andrew also made a good point about how getting into superheroes takes some dedication from the reader, initially. I know when I started reading super hero comics in the mid to late 80s, the stories were very tied into past continuity and there was a lot of stuff I didn’t get. But each issue (usually) told enough of a story to keep me interested, and the stuff I wanted to find out more about I went and tracked those issues down. I loved the editorial boxes referencing the relevant issues back in the day, and think they’d be just as helpful now.

@ jazzbo –

Agreed on Starman. Lots of continuity, but done in a much more accessible way. And Busiek did try to explain what was needed, but it was often in long infodump monologues, like Agatha Harkness explaining Wanda’s powers to Wanda. Mind you I may have had more tolerance and patience to research and learn if it wasn’t for that groan-inducing “classic” dialoguing style he was using that drove me away. I couldn’t take it, and this is from a guy that LOVES Stan lee’s scripting style. That being said, Busiek’s Avengers to me was a book where even if I didn’t like it, I can at least understand why others did.

For what it’s worth, I’m all about the reboot.

But you don’t do it all at once. You create a new line, like “DC 2.0″. You put a big “2.0” at the top of every book that takes place in the new continuity. And then slowly, over time, you migrate everything over to that line. It starts with Superman and Batman, and then over time, as other books reach a good ending place, you end them, and re-launch them in the 2.0 imprint (if they want to). So things like “Blackest Night” have time to play out.

@John: “Supergirl’s dead! The Flash is dead. Oh, wait, now they’re back. Jason Todd is dead and will never be brought back. Oh, wait, now he’s back… but from another universe. But the multiverse doesn’t exist any more. Oh, wait, it does exist. Let’s have another “Crisis” series and fix it… again.”

You’re ignoring the fact that in most cases, there were years and years of time between the “death” and the “rebirth”. You make it sound like DC is constantly flip-flopping, when there are entirely different editorial teams dealing with the “death” and the “rebirth”.

Given that some of DC’s biggest commercial successes recently have come as a result of Johns’ ‘include and transcend’ method, it seems pretty unlikely that that the company would go for a hard reboot now.

It’d be pretty stupid of them to do so, IMO, at least while Johns is still in good form.

A total reboot?

Ain’t happening.

For one thing, “Darkest Night” won’t be done with by February, will it? Will even the Superman New Krypton arc be done?

A partial reboot I could see. Another case of selectively changing what they need to (or just plain want to) and leaving the rest of the dreck.

I think that part of the popularity of “mainstream” iterations of comic book stories, namely “Smallville” and “Batman Begins”, is that they give a wide audience an in to these characters without bogging them down in continuity – and they throw in bones for fanboys that make us feel appreciated. I totally geeked out on Lucius Fox in a movie, which my wife didn’t understand at all, though she loved the movie.

With comic book readership dwindling – I haven’t bought any comic books except for trades in years – giving a continuity clean reboot may open the door to that wider audience that made “The Dark Knight” such a huge hit, something that can’t be ignored. It may cheese off the bird in hand but if it lures any of the 500 million or so birds in the bush, that would seem like a good business decision.

With 007 getting an enormously popular reboot, the reboot has gone mainstream and while unlikely a company wide reboot is probably not as frightening to DC corporate as one might imagine.

“Well, my theory is that DiDio is going to simply reboot the entire DCU.”

Right, well, on the other hand that’s a terrible theory unsupported by anything, ever.

Just thought I should bring that up.

You know, for balance.

For a fanbase that is at least partly dedicated to (right or wrong) hating the everliving fuck out of Dan Didio, it seems odd (not really) a large portion of the commenters seem to use the exact same thought process as Didio with regards to how to run a superhero comic book concern.

To wit, the only viable solutions for improving the quality/profitability of a line of comic books involve one word adjectives.

“Darker.” (A favorite among the current editorial heads of state.) “Lighter.” “Tighter.” (with regards to continuity.) “Looser.” “Newer.” (What Burgas advocates.) “Older.” etc.

If the audience for mainstream super hero comics is truly shrinking (and despite what Greg Hatcher says, there’s no direct public gauge on the number of superhero comics readers; unless you’re a market analyst you’re only getting parts of the picture), then it’s ludicrous to suggest that applying a general fix to a one of a dozen specific problems is going to have any appreciable effect in the short run, much less the long run.

Suppose you make everything newer. New number 1 issues, new origins, new… whatever. Even if the project can turn a profit, despite the fact that most of the material will simply be rehashes of material that’s already been rehashed more times than necessary, you still have to A.) keep the continuity straight enough that the project’s original goals aren’t completely in vain, B.) keep the project’s quality high enough above the previous status quo to justify the reboot, and C.) find creators that are willing and able to bring relevance to characters that haven’t had any cross-medium relevance in a decade and a half.

It’s idiotic to expect that you can reboot Nightwing and it’ll become a quality comic book; no matter what issue number you put on it Peter Tomasi’s still a mediocre writer. And though he may be able to accomplish A; B and C are going to be ignored because Peter Tomasi just isn’t that good. You can’t improve your creative assets through editorial mandate, and if you think you can you might as well just cross your fingers or knock on wood for all the good it’ll do.

Of course, that’s just the creative problems. Nevermind that both of the major universes are still hamstrung by their distribution arrangements and facing hard competition from every other entertainment medium, we’re going to fix everything through the power of #1 issues!

The reason why Dan Didio has largely failed as an Editor in Chief is that his changes have been simplistic and poorly thought out. True to form, the internet (which, much like the real world, is mostly populated by idiots) has agitated almost every step of the way for different simplistic and poorly thought out changes. Simply put, Dan Didio is a fanboy who made it big, who is now hounded by fanboys who have not. Mind you, there’s no value judgment there, except that both Didio and his critics are by and large neanderthals.

As Grant Morrison would say, the comic book industry doesn’t need to be saved. The Didio’s and Quesada’s of the world will play in their editorially mandated sand boxes, unnoticed by the sane world and underwritten by vast licensing empires perpetuated by the iconic strengths of their characters along with TV and movie adaptations. Meanwhile the worthwhile from both companies will rise above and find acceptance through other distribution mediums; Marvel will put out highly lucrative Marvel Adventures titles for the little ones, DC will squeeze out the occasional bit of literary superheroics (ex: All Star Superman) for the bookshelves, and the Rob Kirkman types will get indy street cred by raging against the mainstream superhero shared universe machine.

All will continue to be right and as it should be in this best of all possible worlds, except for the fact that people will still accept mediocrity as worthwhile reading material, but ain’t that just the way?

“The Didio’s and Quesada’s of the world will play in their editorially mandated sand boxes, unnoticed by the sane world and underwritten by vast licensing empires perpetuated by the iconic strengths of their characters along with TV and movie adaptations.”

Sadly, mainstream press does pick up on what they are doing…

The problem with the post-Crisis DC Universe is the problem you have now.

DC is built on legacy superheroes, so how do you reboot, for example, Nightwing? Or any of the Teen Titans? Do you reboot Hal Jordan, but ignore Guy, Kyle, and John? Who is the Flash?

DC’s solution post-Crisis was selective reboots: Superman and Wonder Woman started from scratch, Batman got darker (in part through John Byrne re-vamping his relationship with Superman). The Titans just kept rolling along. And the LSH and JSA were messes that never got better.

So you got yer choice (A) start the Universe from scratch, without any legacy heroes. You got yer choice (B) try to ignore what doesn’t fit and just tell good stories, or you got yer choice (C) partial reboot, with an explanation of why everything’s better now.

I’m betting on (C). I’d like to see what they’d do with (A), but it’s a bad business move. I like (B) best, but it’s not a very good ending for FC, is it?

It seems that the biggest problems with DC (and Marvel) nowadays is that everything must be SERIOUS and UNIFORM. It all has to fit into one box, and nothing that strays will survive or last very long, and if it does, you can be sure neither company will have much interest in or luck with promoting it to the outside world.

Superhero comics are very insular now, to the point where they’ve developed an “us or them” mantra, and the majority of people who have various entertainment options would rather turn to those than spend $3 (or now 4?) a pop for something that’s completely marginalized and self-reflexive more than anything else. Look at the current product: you’ve got Final Crisis/Secret Invasion tie-ins, Ultimate universes that are basically just rehashes of the originals, Batman RIP, a weekly Trinity that you need to get in on the ground floor with to understand, a nearly-weekly Spider-Man that’s just a rehash of the 70s stories, Captain whatshisnuts part 3 of 5 (which is part of a much larger arc), and when it all comes down to it, the most important point to grok, in my mind, is that QUALITY DOESN’T MATTER.

It doesn’t matter how good your comic is if it’s lumped in with a maelstrom of self-indulgent, nerd-servicing crap that’s created merely to hit all the sweet spots, fulfill the requirements of the “summer crossover” or the “intelligent reader’s superhero book” or “the cape and tights satire,” etc, that exist merely to provide the current readership with a reason to get off of their asses and buy comic books. Because that’s what the majority of the direct market audience appears to be: people who like buying comic books, and just need a reason to put their money down on the counter and leave the shop with a stack of books, no matter how many of them Jeph Loeb writes.

It doesn’t matter how

““The Didio’s and Quesada’s of the world will play in their editorially mandated sand boxes, unnoticed by the sane world and underwritten by vast licensing empires perpetuated by the iconic strengths of their characters along with TV and movie adaptations.”

Sadly, mainstream press does pick up on what they are doing…”

I believe you mean, “unsurprisingly the mainstream press doesn’t care about a small niche that at this point is only relevant to the mainstream as a Hollywood IP farm.”

The superhero comic book industry has to give the rest of the world a reason to care. It’s not everybody elses’ responsibility to give a shit.

I completely disagree with starting from #1 on all the issues. Its confusing and pointless. In the early 90’s the thing was to crank out a bunch fo #1’s and most of those books don’t exist now. The problem with DC is this. First off, there seems to be no one in charge anymore. If the landmark summer event book is late, there’s a major problem. Someone should be fired for that in and of itself. Secondly, they’ve pumped up Morrison so much that he’s phoning in the stories on Batman and Final Crisis. Both of which are complete crap. There’s a problem when Nightwing and Robin have the best stories of the landmark R.I.P series. DC needs someone to step in and take control of the situation. If you can’t get your books out on time then they should find someone who can. Hell, Marvel isn’t behind on Secret Invasion because they understand that you can’t get behind on what’s supposed to be the top selling event of the year. Content wise, they need to find some new names in the writing pool. Hold a nationwide search or something because Morrison has lost it and doesn’t deserve to have the top two arcs under his control. DC also needs to open up a creative summit that ends with a who new Rogues Gallery for many of the major characters. Batman is the only one in the DC universe who has a great Rogues Gallery. Superman has a few but everything they add a good one to his books, a few years later they go back and make them weak write off their initial defeating of Superman as a fluke. DC needs new writers and a new Rogues Gallery and then, maybe they can contend.

Come on. Morrisons stories are anything but “phoned in”. His stories are vast and so interconnected that they lose the random reader. They work so much better when the whole picture is finally revealed. Its fantastic, but doesn’t work all the time for comics that are monthly. His vision can be so large that we don’t want to wait to see it. And DC and Marvel both have problems with getting books out on time. Look at Astonishing X-men. A story that could be told in half the books that took twice as long to come out.
The problem with BOTH companies are they put to much in the “golden boys” of the time. They let Morrisson, Johns, Bendis and Millar write so many titles or company direction stories that they forget all the old and new writers that have stories to tell. Johns and Bendis are much worse than Morrison in this. There is no reason for them to write more than 2 or three books at the most. The problem with DC is they had such earth moving events that seem to cry for follow up in other comics..but are never mentioned. Amazon Attacks.. it was bad.. but it should have been more shaking in other comics. The Kryptonians from the Phantom Zone.. they could have destroyed the world.. but never mentioned in other books.. even now the 100,00 Kryptons.. wil that be mentioned anywhere. Marvel kinda has the right idea. There big events are affecting the other books.,..and in a much more interesting way. Marvels main event lead comics are usually the problem. Millar ( Cival War) and Bendis ( Secret Invasion) are boring in the main stories.. its the other writers in their own books that pick up the ball and bring an inteesting view to the events.

“What’s next?

More sales drops, more apathy, more lateness, more botched events, more online outrage over tacky cannon fodder, gore and sex.

Business as usual under Didio.”

“DC has already found a quick and easy way to alienate readers. It’s called Dan Didio.”
I’d like to hear the reasoning behind these 2 quotes.

Mark me down as a big NO on a DCU reboot. I want to see DC telling new stories, not constantly retelling old ones. It was fun in 1986. In 2008 it’s just old news.

Dan DiDio has all ready stated in an interview what has post-crisis plans are.

“Here’s the way it works right now, and the reason why things will pick up from Final Crisis in March: where we stand right now in January, we’re addressing a common tonality in the DCU. That’s one of the reasons we created “Faces of Evil,” because we wanted to give a sense that the universe was coming back together again at the start of the New Year. Those stories are all stand alone, but tonally, address what it’s like to live in the DCU as a villain in regards to what’s happening in those issues.

In February, again, we’re bringing the line back closer together and working to bring the continuity back in synch. In that month, we’ll have a series of books – I think we’re up to about 19 in all now – that will have six page stories as backups, and each book will be branded “Origins and Omens.” What you’re going to see in those stories is a little of the origin of each character, what’s essential to know about each character to date, and more importantly, a little foreshadowing of what’s to come with the character. Each one of the “Origins and Omens” installments will have a common narrator, and that narrator has direct ties to Blackest Night later in the year.

So that’s why I said that the DCU will reflect ,b>Final Crisis starting in March – not only because we wanted to reach a point where we could give the lay of the land of the DCU and the various titles, and allow for the books to all have great jumping on points. Readers can get caught up with the six page stories, and then follow through in March and the rest of the year.”

Case closed.

“…address what it’s like to live in the DCU as a villain…”
Going for real deep, relevant stuff. Really, speaking to the common human experience.

“…give the lay of the land of the DCU and the various titles, and allow for the books to all have great jumping on points…”
They couldn’t pull their s*** together for One Year Later, but they’ll get it right this time! Promise!

I think marketing for these guys is making promises they don’t even intend to fulfill. They acknowledge what they think the audience wants and say they’ll deliver instead of just putting it in the damn comics.

How many reboots has DC done since The First Crisis? (ie – The Crisis On Earth Two, which was, what, the 1960’s?) DC lives and dies by the reboot. They will not reboot their entire universe. Or they will. It won’t matter. If the reboot doesn’t work, they’ll just reboot it again. DC is all about the reboot.

The only DC book I buy is Jonah Hex. And if they throw him into some post-apocalyptic future, I’ll stop buying it. Just like I did the first time they tried that.

Marvel’s no better, only they call it “re-interpretation” rather than reboot. Luke Cage – supercool Superfly or O.G. bad muthaf*cka? One and the same, baby. Sweet Christmas! Danny Rand – Kung-Fu’sploitation-wearing-little-yellow-booties or Full-On-Awesome martial arts comic? Both.

If you think Steve Rogers is dead, I have some real estate you may be interested in. The GIANT-SIZED MAN-THING lives there but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You’re not afraid, are you? Because that would be a bad thing …

I’ve been reading for a number of years now and I think one of the greatest problems that is faced by DC’s current thinking is the obsession with the SIlver age and the continuity of that era.
While there have been some sucesses (eg the return of Hal Jordan), the wholesale drag back has given the line as a whole a sense of confusion.
The original Crisis didn’t get everything right, but it did get most of the books back to the basics. In recent years we have seen so much of that thrown back into the mix and now they just don’t seem to know what they want the DC Universe to be.

And as someone said, the constant events can really screw a book up. Why care about the new status quo which has been set up by a protracted, year-long event when it will be changed and kicked on a different path a few months down the track?

[…] been trying to tell everyone about this for a few weeks. Now I’ve decided to go on record with this futuristic Batman vision in light […]

this will sure make the event, Final Night, they’ve been building up to for 5+ years, kinda WACKY.

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