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CSBG Archive

Saturday In The Stacks, DC Edition

I am rude about a lot of the new books DC’s been putting out lately. I’ll own it. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to like them. I bought two new trade collections from DC this week, in fact, and one of them I liked a lot. The other one struck me as one-stop shopping for everything I really don’t care for about the New 52.

The good one first, because clearly no one currently at DC cares about it or has any interest in promoting it as far as I can tell. The trade collection of Joe Kubert Presents instantly became one of my favorite books in our home as soon as it arrived.

The hook for it seems to be “Joe Kubert’s FINAL WORK!” like he was racing the clock to get it drawn while he was on his deathbed or something. But it’s actually been in the pipeline for quite a few years, it was initiated under the Paul Levitz regime. Because Kubert was an editor as well as an artist, he knew how to put together a project and the vagaries of press scheduling and… well, all the different things that, for some reason, a great many editors today don’t seem to know. So he didn’t want it even solicited until there were at least three issues in the can and according to the book’s afterword the entire six-issue series was mostly done before it went on the schedule.

So what is it? It’s Kubert’s dream project, his final thesis statement on Comics He’d Like To See More Of. After reading this book, I can only say, “Geez, me too.”

The book simply reprints the six issues in order as they appeared. The anthology format was built around a lead feature from Kubert himself, usually reaching back to one or another of the classic series he made his rep on. Hawkman, Sgt. Rock, The Redeemer, something like that. Each one just a stunning tour-de-force.

Then there’s an installment of Sam Glanzman’s wonderful U.S.S. Stevens– new stories of his memories about serving in World War II.

This is usually followed by Brian Buniak’s delightful take on Angel and the Ape. This was one of my favorites from E. Nelson Bridwell and Bob Oksner back in the day, and Buniak does them both proud.

And an installment of Spit, a brand-new Kubert strip about a cabin boy aboard a whaling vessel.

Plus some unusual new original piece, maybe from Kubert in collaboration with someone else, maybe something brand-new.

The entire collection retails for $19.99, which is the hell of a deal for 300 pages of comics even if it wasn’t being discounted from online dealers (and it is; if you can’t find it for half-price, you’re not trying.) I don’t know how I missed it in the $4.99 48-page single issues but I’m kind of glad I did because the book is such an incredible bargain.

So why is it such a great example of what DC can do? Because it calls on the company’s legacy, of both bringing great new artists into the mainstream and also of their vast history of doing great strips in a variety of genres. As many of us in the blogosphere keep trying to point out, this is a feature, not a bug. When DC stops trying to run away from their history and just does what they can do really well, we get great stuff: Solo, New Frontier, Batman ’66. It frustrates me because there’s so much talent out there and the older folks largely get ignored because they aren’t the cool kids. Writing and drawing, for God’s sake, is not the same thing as being a pro athlete– it’s not such a physical job that those in the profession age out after a few years. Talent tempered with experience is always better than just raw talent. Steve Gerber, Nick Cardy, and Joe Kubert were doing sharp, smart work right up to the end of their lives. What’s more, this is exactly the kind of book many fans claim to want– no need for tie-ins or crossovers, no big continuity issues, just good stories. And yet DC is putting this book out stealthily, almost as an obligation they are feeling ill-tempered and surly about fulfilling, despite the fact that it’s gotten rave reviews from everyone who’s seen it.

On the other hand, the new collection I picked up of Justice League of America is everything that annoys me about the whole New 52 sensibility at DC, conveniently between two covers… and they are pimping this turd all over the place.

But Greg, I hear you saying, you knew going in this was Geoff Johns, you knew it was spun out of a Justice League book you didn’t really care for, so why would you go back for more punishment?

Well, I did feel stupid afterwards, if you must know. Especially since David Finch’s art is just as over-rendered and vaguely unpleasant to look at as I remembered. But I have enjoyed Geoff Johns stories in the past– I liked his JSA, and his opening arc on Aquaman worked for me, as did his first arc of the relaunched Flash up to the “Flashpoint” event. It’s not an automatic “no” for me when I see his name on a title, unlike some other folks.

Moreover, I like the Justice League as a premise, I always have, and this sounded like kind of a cool idea– worried about the original Justice League being too powerful, the U.S. government in the person of Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller recruit Katana, the Martian Manhunter, a new Green Lantern, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Catowman, and Vibe, among others, to be on a new government-sanctioned team, the Justice League of America.

It opened pretty strong with an unfolding mystery running parallel to the recruitment and gathering of the team, all leading to a battle with a new version of the Secret Society of Super Villains. It was done well, though as usual a bit grimmer than I’d like for a Justice League book, but it was entertaining me. And the personality clashes of the various heroes were amusing.

The new takes on characters like Vibe and Katana worked well enough for me and I was starting to think I could get behind this.

Then, about four issues in, it all started falling apart. Finch, as per usual, couldn’t sustain a schedule and the art was all over the place– a very jarring mix of styles, Mike Deodato, Doug Mahnke. The trouble is that for whatever idiot reason, DC editorial– which is basically Geoff Johns himself, at least in part– decided it would be a fine idea to interrupt the initial story arc for some ridiculous crossover thing called Trinity War, and rather than include any issues that ran up to that, they just printed the chapters of the crossover that ran in this title…. which is confusing enough, but additionally the characters crossing over from other titles were never introduced properly, I had no idea what the hell was going on– and I’ve been steeped in DC lore for over forty years. God help any kid who buys this because it’s the Justice League and it’s got Oliver Queen from Arrow on the cover. After that, they had the brass to just stop in the middle and blurb it as To Be Continued in TRINITY WAR!

So the headliners, the JLA, are in two stories– one unfinished, the other randomly excerpted. This is a “volume one” hardcover, the initial experience that’s supposed to get people interested. Here’s a hint, DC– the initial experience is vastly enhanced when you get a complete story.

So I went from being mildly intrigued to being hugely pissed off. There’s a bunch of Martian Manhunter backups also, from Matt Kindt with art by Manuel Garcia that are okay, I guess… but I couldn’t even get through them because I was so irritated. Why not use those pages to, I dunno, set up your goddamn stupid crossover that I didn’t want? Even a recap page or something would have helped.

The whole book just reeks of contempt for the readership and inside baseball. If you’re not up-to-the-minute on the New 52, well, the hell with you, apparently.

Let me spell this out in small words, before I’m swarmed for violating the DC loyalty oath. This reaction is coming from a fan. I was all set to LIKE this thing. I was on board for the first half, despite it being done in the New 52 house style where every part of DC history that’s referenced has been given a largely humorless, ultraviolent makeover. I have a wall full of DC team books and a great many are written by Geoff Johns.

And even after all that, they lost me, who was already forgiving a lot. No reader new to the DCU is going to give this thing a second look. Because this book is just terrible. Terrible design, terrible structure, and the art’s not very attractive. It’s not being a ‘hater’ to call a bad book bad.

Who the hell are book collections like these aimed at? Clearly not new readers. Not even older fans like me who are up on the DCU lore and want to sample the title. Nor are they for those fans who like the New 52 but are ‘trade-waiting’ since this mess was all in VOLUME ONE and no other trade collection exists yet to follow up with. It wasn’t a case of, “well, you expect a certain confusion when you start in the middle.” This was the rollout.

The worst part is, even if I was insane enough to invest in trying to follow this story and buy a boatload of back issues to catch up– and I’m not, it wasn’t that good– it doesn’t really matter because chances are good the whole thing will be overturned in under five years, given DC’s history.

But the damn thing sells, apparently. I have no idea who the audience is, and I’m hard put to explain the appeal of a book that goes nowhere and leaves you hanging, but this got the fancy hardcover treatment and lots of hype. Meanwhile, the Kubert book that’s a master class in how to do it RIGHT is kissed off with a discount paperback with no hype at all.

The current editorial staff claims to love DC’s history and stable of characters– and they must have some affection for the stuff because they keep name-checking it and giving it new kewl makeovers– but I don’t think they have the faintest idea of why the stuff worked in the first place or what the original appeal was. I know for damn sure that it wasn’t this Christopher Nolan Batman-style dark, edgy, let’s-do-the-classics-but-with-more-death-and-sex approach to frigging everything. Part of what DC used to do really, really well was diversity of genre and also of tone. Not any more. Worse, they can’t even manage to tell a complete story using the one-note ‘adult’ approach they’ve settled on.

On the other hand, one for two isn’t bad. I guess I should be glad the quirky off-brand stuff exists at all, but given recent trends, I fear for its continued existence.

See you next week.

35 Comments

DC doesn’t know how to handle trades: News at 11.

DC doesn’t know how to handle trades: News at 11.

That’s presentation. That’s actually the smallest part of the problem. I have lots of DC trades here that I like, many of them recent. The problem is editorial. They don’t seem to have any knowledge of how to use what they have. They are imitating Marvel, or rather what they think Marvel is doing, but blindly. The more New 52 DC tries to imitate Marvel with its shared-universe, worldbuilding serial approach that even Marvel itself doesn’t do across the superhero line any more, the more they tank it. They don’t seem to grasp what they are actually GOOD at doing.

I really want to print this column up and mail it off to DC’s offices. While I don’t love the gore, I do love the character’s reaction of … *sliiiiiiiides chair farther away.* The concept’s neat, and I started out interested on the description here. The rest of what you’ve said here though, tells me I’d just wake someone up yelling at the book when it cut off halfway through and vanished into that Trinity War thing.

Kubert thing’s going on my list, though.

I’m continually baffled by how things are done today at the big two. Plainly it’s working for them, but I’m hard pressed to understand how any new person can get in to it. I guess I’m sticking to their reprints for now?

Personally, I’m glad that the New 52 exists because its made it pretty easy to drop titles lately. I’d been reading Green Lantern and associated GL titles since 1994, and have just recently dropped them, as well as Batman (been seriously collecting those since late eighties.) Now it’s just Aquaman, and All-Star Western. For now.

In addition, with all the 52 hype going on it’s been great picking up DC tradepaperbacks published in the 90s and early 2000s. I’ve spent only a little cash and been able to acquire most of the Superman tradepaperbacks that cover the first 200 issues of the Superman reboot from the mid-eighties. I did read them back in the day, but traded them for other comics. It’s been great reading the “real” Superman from the likes of Byrne, Jurgens, and Stern. Also got that Gil Kane Superman hardcover that is absolutely gorgeous (and Wolfman is a great writer too.)

My money now goes to Dynamite and IDW’s Star Trek. With Daredevil ending Marvel is also losing me too.

Good for the wallet at least.

“it was initiated under the Paul Levitz regime”

Ah, that explains how it slipped past Didio. I bought JKP every month it came out and it was always at the top of my read pile. Wonderful book and you hit upon so many of the reasons why it worked so well and was such a joy to read. Alas, such a book is too pretty to live in Didio and Johns’ dark version of DC Comics we have now…

I got the singles of the Joe Kubert book, and while I haven’t finished reading the series yet (I’m bad, I know), I thought what I did read was absolutely wonderful. Angel and the Ape are great, and seeing Kubert kick out the jams on all these other characters was great.

One thing I liked about the singles was the paper. There was a grain, a tooth, a sketchbook feel to the paper, so the tactile experience of reading it was fun. From what other Greg said, it seems that the paper was your standard stock for this trade, which, while it likely keeps the price down, is a shame to lose that tactile experience.

I bought the first issue of that Justice League of America book, and didn’t pick up any more, because the entire premise encapsulated what’s awful to me about the new 52. The superheroes aren’t looked upon with reverence, or a thank goodness for Superman, or any sort of optimistic view. Instead, they’re looked upon with such suspicion that this JLofA team is brought together for the express purpose of the government taking out the Justice League when (not if) necessary. Pair this with how awful the Justice League book was, and I’ll stick with back issue bin diving. It’s way more fun overall.

This article reminds me that like Travis, I bought JKP in singles but still haven’t read the last issue. I need to get on that. Those were some pretty comics.

Count me as surprised that you weren’t buying the JK Presents singles – as you note yourself here, it’s right up your ally. Anyway, I was really intrigued when I first heard about the series, and then read all of the rave reviews and comments on the comics blogosphere, so I could hardly wait for it to be collected. This new trade is right on top of my want list.

So another supposedly “Dc Fan” not happy with the direction of the new 52. How cool he sounds putting down something he “wanted to like”. Grow up please.

@John S

I couldn’t agree more. People who write thoughtful, well-articulated critiques are so immature. Hatcher should be more like us grownups, put on a pair of dress shoes, and blindly consume inferior products out of a sense of corporate loyalty.

If Greg grew up, he wouldn’t like any of the new 52 at all, since it’s all for a 13 year old boy’s mindset. ZING!

Jazzbo and I not completing reading JKP must be a birthday buddy thing. We Leos apparently have a tendency to leave things unfinishe

First of all, I have no problems with the major part of your review of JLA. I only read it sporadically when it came out, and I imagine that it wouldn’t work in TPB form at all. Then again, this series was explicitly set up as leading up to an event, which in turn was explicitly set up to lead into another event, which doesn’t exactly bode for a story with a solid beginning, middle and end, and this certainly isn’t something that came along with the new52 re-launch. However, that this practice, wether heavily established or not, is hurtful in several ways is a valid view to be sure.

As for the rest of the JLA review, especially the usual tired “old fan” complaints of everything being given a “largely humorless, ultraviolent makeover” I’d like to quote myself from another post on this blog that reviewed the work of Johns and Finch:

“Did you ever consider the possibility that it’s not the fact that mainstream comics doesn’t live up to 35-year old men’s opinion of what “fun” is that’s slowly killing them, but maybe that new (young?) readers being scared off from comics because they aren’t allowed to enjoy the stuff that’s actually made for them without being told that they’re wrong and that everything was better and more fun before might have something to do with it?”

If I thought DC was actually trying to get 13 year old boys with the New 52, I’d support it. But I don’t actually believe that.

Alan, that wasn’t directed at you. I agree with your opinion completely, and it’s why you’ll never here me talk bad about Twilight, even though I’ve never read it. If Twilight fans hear traditional SF & F readers say, “Stuff you like isn’t what we like,” they might never look to our stuff as something they should take a chance on.”

I want kids buying comics on their way home from school again, like we did.

But the New 52 is more about getting sales through headlines and news articles. It’s all about the news articles and publicity instead of the stories.

This review reflects that. Who cares about a coherent story? We put out a product people could buy.We hyped it to get them to buy it. That’s where the money’s at.

I’m half-way through the Joe Kubert Presents.
What a wonderful experience!
When I was younger, Kubert—like Gene Colon—was one of those artist I didn’t ‘get’. Now, I think that I associated Joe with all the ‘war’, ‘real-world’ comics….and I wanted escapist, fantastical superhero fare only. Over the years having broadened my reading experiences and preferences when I reconsider Mr. Kubert and his more contemporary work….I’m just pleasantly flabbergasted at his abilities. This volume speaks to that genius.
(As for Gene Colon…I think Tomb of Dracula and Night Force just scared the crap outta’ me! Even Silverblade was spooky!! Then I matured into Nathaniel Dusk…wow!)

I have been an enthusiastic DC fan since childhood, with some Marvel mixed in. Most of my reading and collecting became serious from my college days to present. I maintain a database (from Collectorz.com) of all my comics, trades, and hardcovers; Books spanning from the 1960’s to present. Currently I have just over 9,000 entries in that database. Two years ago, my collection consisted of DC titles (55%), Marvel titles (18%), and Other (27%). Today, DC has slipped to 46%, Marvel to 14%, and Other has increased to 40%; The vast majority of these coming from independents like Dynamite, Dark Horse, and IDW. These latter publishers know how to tell good stories with good art. It seems anything I buy these days from DC consists of trades or hardcovers that collect stories from the 60’s through the 80’s, and even some from the 90’s. I even bought Marvel’s Death-Lok book after you or “Other Greg” posted about it.

All that to say, I want MY DC comics back. But I think that will not happen. However, if history has taught us anything, some creator is bound to come along eventually and give us something that will totally change today’s trajectory of storytelling, hopefully for the better. I want to believe that. Until then, the Big 2 will continue to get less and less of my money.

BTW – I just ordered the Joe Kubert book. Thanks for the heads up. I guess I missed it b/c I hardly even look at DC’s solicits anymore.

I only got into reading comics a few months before the new 52 reboot. I immediately got hooked on a few DC series – characters I already felt a loyalty to through film and TV – so I thought I had come into comics at the best time when DC were rebooting their whole universe to make it new reader friendly.

Fast forward to now…. I dropped every series I had picked up at the start of the reboot, as writers and artists seemed to change constantly. I figured DC was just going through a bit of an upheaval period and I would pick up some comics again soon. Then the cross-overs started, and never appeared to stop. I got lost trying to figure them out, and most of the time I wound up buying nothing.

It felt like the Superhero comics world was actively pushing me out. Only those with a encyclopedic knowledge of back story and inexhaustible bank account were allowed the whole story. I didn’t even know where to start with Marvel comics, and superhero stories from other publishers seemed to run to years worth of trades, without an obvious ‘jumping-on’ point.

Honestly, without sites like this to make me aware of the good books, and to warn me off the bad stuff, I don’t think I would be reading any comics at all, let alone still have an interest in superhero stories.

I only picked up the first issue of JKP due to not having a regular LCS at the time, but it was phenomenally good. This is coming from a young whippersnapper (I’m 21) who never read any of the classic Kubert from days of yore.

There are still good creative people at DC these days, but they are not in the top offices any more.

As I’ve always said since New 52, Marvel and DC are doing exactly what the other did in the 90s. Bob Harras is making exactly the same mistakes with regards to editorial control, but without Nicieza there to smooth out the storylines and mitigate his arbitrary ADD tendencies. And Marvel is letting great writers try new things and take chances while guiding things together for organic feeling crossover storylines. Hell, they are even making the specific good choice of giving James Robinson a book where he can play with legacy heroes and WW2 storylines, which he probably wanted to do at DC but wasn’t allowed to.

@Dalarsco, you are right of course

We just have to wait this out, fellows. Some great DC fan/professional will come in and “fix” the DCU.

And Vertigo is still doling out awesome comics right now

After reading a bit of JKP, I now want more Kubert goodness, looking to get his Tor comics now.

What a bunch of nagging old farts around here in the comments.

The new 52 still has some great stuff I really enjoy. Batman is great, Batman and Robin is great, Wonder Woman is great, Lemire’s Green Arrow is great, Animal Man is great, Aquaman is pretty good, Batman/Superman is pretty good, ‘Tec was pretty good since Daniel left, GL and GL Corps is good, Red Lanterns is good since Guy is the lead, Swamp Thing is good, All Star Western is good, Flash is ok, Nightwing is ok. All in all, doesn’t seem so bad to me.

But I am also of the mind that Marvel are currently as good as they never were before, so what do I know, right?
I collect comics since 92 and I never enjoyed it more than now.
This negativity really bums me out.

This was an excellent essay, and encapsulates a lot of how i feel about DC lately. I love DC…at least I WANT to…but they do seem to be doing their level best to insult and annoy me, and it’s getting tired. Who IS the audience for all the death, and gore and “adult” attitude? It certainly doesn’t seem to be the actual Adults.

I’ve been buying Justice League, up until a few issues ago, hoping against hope that something would happen, but it does seem to be mired in the whole Evil Is GREAT mythos, and I’ve simply given up at this point.

As for the rest of the JLA review, especially the usual tired “old fan” complaints of everything being given a “largely humorless, ultraviolent makeover” I’d like to quote myself from another post on this blog that reviewed the work of Johns and Finch:

“Did you ever consider the possibility that it’s not the fact that mainstream comics doesn’t live up to 35-year old men’s opinion of what “fun” is that’s slowly killing them, but maybe that new (young?) readers being scared off from comics because they aren’t allowed to enjoy the stuff that’s actually made for them without being told that they’re wrong and that everything was better and more fun before might have something to do with it?”

Did I consider it? Yes, I did. To the point where it was actually IN THE REVIEW; to the point where I explained that despite being an older fan who is not as enamored of the New 52 as others, they were winning me over– and then they threw it away.

I really don’t understand the reasoning that I must just be a crabby old man because I said a book doesn’t rise to a level of baseline competence. Go ahead and let’s hear the defense. They couldn’t help doing a shitty job because it was “leading to an event that was leading to another event”? So, what, someone held a gun to their head? A writer with as much editorial power as Johns couldn’t structure what he’s doing to make sure the first volume of a new title, the one most likely to be sampled by new readers, is even coherent? Because he was a prisoner of the event he himself had set up? That’s the argument? Because that doesn’t even make sense on its face, especially since he had to know it was going to go into a trade collection listed as “Volume One.”

But if you say so, okay. I must have missed the part where that’s welcoming to readers who are trying to give a book a chance. Sorry to all those young hip folks out there who got their feelings hurt by having this pointed out, and by all means, all of you should continue to reward DC’s contempt for you and their dismissal of any responsibility to put together a complete read because they would rather just depend entirely on blind OCD fan loyalty to sell their collected editions.

My actual point, which keeps getting buried, isn’t that DC can’t or doesn’t do good books, or that good comics don’t come out of the company. It’s that the people running editorial can’t seem to tell which ones they are. They keep hyping the ones like this JLA hardcover instead of shining a light on the books they have that really ARE showpieces.

I agree with Marius: “All Star Western is good.” Old Farts or Young Farts, either way, good storytelling should rule the day. Forgive those of us Old Farts who have seen better days. And, btw, every decade has had its bad days, as far as comics go.

What we older farts uderstand is this: EVERY decade/era has its GREAT books, its good books, and its bad books. You just have to read and buy what you like and not worry about what others think. It’s that experience of reading both good and bad that helps the seasoned reader learn how to distinguish between the two.

I disagreed with AlanWilder’s premise before, and I still do. I have a hard time imagining that any new readers are going to stop liking something because people on the internet said they didn’t like it. Especially considering that that’s pretty much what the internet does; talk about how much everything sucks. If people were scared off of comics they liked because someone online said it sucked, they also would be scared off from every single movie, tv show, book, video game etc. they’ve ever liked too, because somewhere on the internet there are people talking about how those things suck. Existing comic fans are not the primary reason why there are less new comic fans.

Dalarsco: That’s a great way of putting it.

Greg Hatcher:

I’m not critisizing or judging you from your actual review of the book, on the contrary I agree with the vast majority of it. Our differences there lies mainly in the fact that I’m a bit more understanding towards writing a series that was concieved as a lead up to a lead up to an event in a way that is pretty hard to transition smoothly into a TPB format than you are, but it’s not a big deal. What I did critisize was you connecting your negative opinion of the book to the new 52 re-launch, and “modern comics” as a whole, mostly through these quotes:

“…despite it being done in the New 52 house style where every part of DC history that’s referenced has been given a largely humorless, ultraviolent makeover.”

“The current editorial staff claims to love DC’s history and stable of characters– and they must have some affection for the stuff because they keep name-checking it and giving it new kewl makeovers– but I don’t think they have the faintest idea of why the stuff worked in the first place or what the original appeal was. I know for damn sure that it wasn’t this Christopher Nolan Batman-style dark, edgy, let’s-do-the-classics-but-with-more-death-and-sex approach to frigging everything. Part of what DC used to do really, really well was diversity of genre and also of tone. Not any more. Worse, they can’t even manage to tell a complete story using the one-note ‘adult’ approach they’ve settled on.”

In short, I think that you’re making a false connection between the way a certain TPB is written and your dislike of the new 52 re-launch, which I feel works as an example of what I mentioned earlier about old fans scaring away potential new fans through general conservatism.

Jazzbo:

I see your point, but I don’t agree with it. Movies, video games and TV-shows hold a much higher cultural presence and less social stigma than comics, which means that you can discuss them anywhere and with anyone. You would probably not even need an internet connection to have rich discussions on TV-shows or movies (in school, at work or wherever) on a daily basis. On the other hand, comic book fans are more or less banished to tumblr and blogs, where they are pretty much constantly told how everything new that they might like suck. You are probably right that existing comic book fans aren’t the primary reason that there are less new comic book fans, but the old guard certainly seems to try their hardest to keep their hobby for themselves.

@AlanWilder

Your argument about new comics fans doesn’t hold water. Usually, the older fans complain about decompressed, told across lots of titles mega-events. That, and the relentlessly grim n gritty tone of newer hero books. All these factors work against newer fans, especially kids. Moms aren’t going to buy Junior any cape and rape mags and Junior’s not going to spend his allowance on 1/20 of a story for 4 bucks. That’s why the demographics of comics-buyers keep skewing upwards: because no one else but existing fans would want to waste money on such humorless, vapid fare as the modern superhero comic.

As for those saying everything new sucks, well, it’s been like that since the dawn of comic collecting. You think fans of the Silver Age wanted constant reminders about how comics were so great and ubiquitous before the Comics Code? Even the name of their era signaled “second best”! It only got worse in the Bronze Age, where you had Golden Age Hero fans, EC fans, Age of Marvel fans, etc. all pronouncing newer comics “bad”. That’s the way it’s always been, but not how it will always be, because the editorial policies of the big 2 are more concerned with the fans they already have (that and their movie empires) than the newer readers. It’s not the older fans you have to worry about; it’s the comics companies themselves. Soon, new fans will be reading nothing but manga, ’cause that at least caters to the younger demographic.

sad to see dc proving that they seem to be ashamed of a legend like Joe by not promoting and doing more to make it known about the trade which i will be tracking down a copy. though one can sadly say the same thing with marvel and kirby still. as for the new 52 the only dc books i read now are just batman and green lantern. and the trinity of sin books with phantom stranger and pandora. for the ones in charge of the dc universe seem to want to bury its rich history including going so far as deciding Amanda need to not be a lovely robus woman any more.

@AlanWilder

I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with your premise. Enjoyment of any medium, including comics, is ultimately personal. The fact that old guard comic fans say the New 52 sucks isn’t going to deter new readers who enjoy what is they’re reading, as Jazzbo said, look anywhere on the internet and you’ll find someone who says that something sucks. No, what will probably deter new readers from becoming comics fans is the horrifying truth that comics may actually suck. The quality of the work is the only deterrent a new reader really needs.

mrclam:

While I agree with some of your points, I don’t think what you’re saying debunks my argument. I was mostly referring to that juicy tween/young adult group of potential customers, who generally spend their own money without much influence from mom or dad. Besides, how many parents who could potentially buy comic books for their younger kids would have the slightest idea whether the books they bought took part in a crossover, were decompressed or what general tone they had? I don’t think they would go beyond “Spider-Man is on the cover” when trying to assure quality. I still believe that the very attitude you’re illustrating by referring to “the relentlessly grim n gritty tone of newer hero books”, “cape and rape mags” and “such humorless, vapid fare as the modern superhero comic” has a lot to do with the lack of new young readers.

Bill Williamson:

Check out my response to Jazzbo a couple of comments ago, it responds to the same point you’re making.

If existing fans complaining about comics are scaring away newer customers, then shouldn’t the opposite be true; that new customers would be buying the stuff that existing fans say are good? So wouldn’t stuff like Batman ’66 and Waid’s Daredevil and All Star Western that get mostly good comments be selling to new fans like crazy? It seems as if the opinion of existing fans is so important to new fans, that it would work for things they say are good as well as bad. As far as I know none of those titles are blowing up the charts.

And while there is a certain amount of bitching about comics on this site, not only is it much less than most places, but there is way more talk about comics that are good. And not just old comics, but new stuff coming out. So new readers reading these posts and comments are exposed to at least as many positive messages and recommendations as negative ones. So unless there’s a large portion of new readers that will stop reading something they like because someone on the internet doesn’t like it, but won’t try out anything new that those same internet people say they like, I can’t see how that’s more than a tiny part of the reason why there are fewer new readers.

funkygreenjerusalem

November 26, 2013 at 8:46 pm

The hook for it seems to be “Joe Kubert’s FINAL WORK!” like he was racing the clock to get it drawn while he was on his deathbed or something.

He died just before it came out, and in the singles, the opening issue text piece by Kubert not only makes it sound like the work is fresh to him, he was looking forward to letters and discussing it with fans. As mentioned in the text piece in the final issue, the final issue itself was still be finalised when he passed.
So final work or not, it was solicited before he passed, but came out after he did – it certainly felt like a swan song/goodbye/victory lap/final work as it came out.

And yet DC is putting this book out stealthily, almost as an obligation they are feeling ill-tempered and surly about fulfilling, despite the fact that it’s gotten rave reviews from everyone who’s seen it.

Is it a stealthy release? I got it in singles, and found it to be as advertised and available as the majority of their titles – I heard about it despite my rapidly diminished interest in their line.

Having watched the sales on the series as it came out, I’d say DC didn’t make a hoopla about the release of the trade, because once again the audience has shown little interest in material produced by a previous generations creators. It didn’t sell well at all.

I just feel it’s slightly off base to criticise DC for this one not receiving more attention or advertising campaign, because despite what fans claim they want from DC (if they do) they don’t seem to actually want to buy books like this when DC does publish them.

Is it a stealthy release? I got it in singles, and found it to be as advertised and available as the majority of their titles – I heard about it despite my rapidly diminished interest in their line.

Having watched the sales on the series as it came out, I’d say DC didn’t make a hoopla about the release of the trade, because once again the audience has shown little interest in material produced by a previous generations creators. It didn’t sell well at all.

I just feel it’s slightly off base to criticise DC for this one not receiving more attention or advertising campaign, because despite what fans claim they want from DC (if they do) they don’t seem to actually want to buy books like this when DC does publish them.

Well, that conflicts with my experience, and I use the biggest comics retailer in Seattle and because of the blog I get a lot of press releases and so on, and I read a smattering of other comics sites too– and this is something I’d have been all over when it came out. And I missed it.

But it’s perfectly reasonable that you are right about it. It may well be a chicken-and-egg thing… John Seavey used to say that since we went to the direct-market, comics-retailer only model to sell superhero comics, the audience has self-selected down to the middle-aged arrested-adolescent Simpsons Comic Book Guys and every time the big publishers try to break out of that and try for a wider audience, they lose money, so why should they bother?

The trouble with that argument is that if we– and more importantly, if the big superhero publishers– believe that, then it never gets better. The audience continues to shrink until superhero comics die off.

So I can see the point, but my position is that the publishers should lead the audience, not the other way around. My big complaint with DC isn’t so much that their flagship characters are constantly being presented in this grim-n-gritty house style that seems to be all Nolan-movie Batman all the time, whether it’s Batman or the Flash or the Metal Men or whatever. It’s that they’re so BAD at it. It feels clumsy and forced and desperate. My feeling is that they should look at what they’re actually good at and try to reverse-engineer an editorial policy out of that.

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