The GeeksverseWhy Does This Book Exist? Part 2

Why Does This Book Exist? Part 2
Published on Monday, March 21, 2011 by

Last column I talked for awhile about different reasons why a book should exist. Why it should be published. I found five reasons why a new comic book should be published:

A) A brand new ongoing or mini-series (note, this is not a new X-Men book, new Batman, new Green Lantern, etc..): this is a book centered around a new character or a new team
B) A spin-off/new book based on an existing series (this is where the new X-Men, Batman, etc.. books fall)
C) A spotlight mini-series focusing on a character that doesn’t have his/her own book (this would be things like the recent Hawkeye mini-series)
D) A mini-series featuring a character that has his/her own book
E) An event series and it’s associated tie-in mini-series

But does that mean these are the reasons a book should exist? No. These are the reasons for making it, but to find out if it should exist it needs to answer one question:

What does it bring to the table?

So let’s start examining these, and we’ll even use real examples, to see if these books should exist. Remember, a comic fan has a limited budget as well as different tastes. So there needs to be a good reason why a book comes into being and takes away a fan’s hard earned money.

Reason #A is pretty self explanatory and this is one that brings the most to the table. It’s brand new. It isn’t one of a thousand Batman books. It’s not fighting for a share of the X-Men fandom. Now this doesn’t mean that this book will last, or even has a leg to stand on. To many books nowadays come out without solid foundations to be built off of.

I thought of this today when heard about the new Ghost Rider series. The premise sounds good. But is it strong enough to build an ongoing series off of? No. It’s a limited premise. The storyline will run it’s course and then what? What comes next? An ongoing series shouldn’t be built off one storyline and then followed by “what comes next”. If it does that, then it’s nothing more then a series of mini-series.

Which is what the new adjectiveless X-Men comes across as. We’re in the second “arc” and there really is nothing to connect the first to the second. It’s just two mini-series under same umbrella. But isn’t that what Astonishing X-Men has become? So why do we need two X-Men titles that do the same thing? The new X-Men is supposed to integrate the mutants into the greater MU. But wasn’t that Joss Whedon’s original mission statement for Astonishing X-Men? So again, what makes the two titles different? Why do we have the two titles?

What do they bring to the table?

Help me out with this one because I can’t figure out what either title brings to the table now. Why should I spend my money on either title?

The new X-Men, and Astonishing X-Men falls under Reason B. As does Batman: The Dark Knight and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors.

Is there a longer reason why Emerald Warriors exist? It launched, and the first arc, is centered on leading up to the War of the Green Lanterns. Great. That’s fine. But what next? Does the creative team have a plan in place for the book beyond the War of the Green Lanterns? What reason does a third GL title need to exist? Is it because the cast is so big that it’s needed so each can get spotlight time?

Now that would be a valid reason. And would work for Green Lantern fans. So really, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors does bring something to the table. It brings the chance to spotlight more of the overly large cast. Not all writers can be Paul Levitz and handle 20+ characters in one book.

But what about Batman: The Dark Knight? It might actually be better to ask what Batman, Inc brings to the table. Batman: TDK is the book that centers on Bruce Wayne. Batman, Batman and Robin and Detective Comics are the Dick Grayson Batman. So Bruce Wayne needs his own solo book doesn’t he? So that would be Batman: The Dark Knight (when it comes out).

So where does that leave Batman, Inc? I think it falls into the “a limited series that pretends to be an ongoing series”. After Morrison wraps up the story and leaves, where will it leave the title? In limbo.

So why would I want to invest my money in something that will probably end up leading nowhere? Wouldn’t it be better to spend my money on series that I know will be around for awhile and tell adventures for awhile? Instead of a series that the premise will eventually end?

I see Batman, Inc becoming some kind of anthology series with different creative teams telling stories of the different Batman, Inc members around the world. But would that really be bringing anything to the table?

It’s a difficult question to ask when looking at different books. We always have to remember that the publishers and creators are trying to tell a story. And they have to remember that fans become invested in these characters. We don’t want a “flavor of the month” story. We want stuff with substance that will impact these characters for a long time to come.

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