The GeeksverseDC 2.0 – Not Good For The Industry

DC 2.0 – Not Good For The Industry
Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 by

This is going to be long. Just warning you.

Let me preface this by saying that if this DC reboot is a short-lived gimmick, then all comments following are null and void but I still think it will do harm to the industry.

That being said, let me also say that chances are good I’ll probably like a couple of these new DC series. I may even like more of them and end up getting more books in my DC pull list then I do currently. That doesn’t mean I like the idea or think it’s a good one. Kind of contradictory I know, but hear me out.

From alot of stand points this just doesn’t sit right. It comes across as an overreaction to the fact that DC has been behind Marvel in sales for years. Does that mean you need to completely reboot your universe? No. It actually means you need to stop with the reboots. DC’s continuity is such a mess that they need to refresh it every couple of years. This makes it hard to get invested in the DCU. They also need to get better creative teams. Who’s idea was it to put Guggenheim and Kolins on JSA? That book took an immediate nosedive into horrible from their first issue.

A drastic change like this was not needed. All they need to do is look at the backlash that Wonder Woman generated with her most recent change (wait, WW will end with her back to normal only for her to be revamped again.. I can see WW fans running away in droves, just absolutey fed up with this and I don’t blame them). Sure it generated some attention and some press and the first couple issues did really well. But how have later issues done? On par with before? Much better? Less? I don’t know for sure but I’d hazard that it’s doing about what it did before the JMS change. Which means that this new direction, intended to generate alot more new readers, didn’t accomplish anything.

One thing needs to be understood by the publishers. New readers are needed, that is a fact, it’s the only way to grow the industry which is now moving towards stagnation with the same fanbase that will eventually tire of the medium and stop buying books. So new readers are a must. But you can’t do it at the expense of your long term fans. The long term fans are invested in the properties. They will keep the books afloat. They will buy horrible creative teams (like the aforementioned JSA and this is the boat I currently fall into) because they know that it’s not forever and their favorite characters will get a new creative team soon enough.

New readers? They don’t have that invested time and emotion. Three issues into a new book they’ll drop it and not care because they don’t have the attachment to the property that a long term fan does.

People have been reading for 20+ years and they are incredibly loyal to their books. Change is good, but not at the expense of what made people fall in love with the characters in the first place. I’ve been reading Wolverine’s solo series since Chris Claremont and John Buscema first started it years ago. I enjoyed Jason Aaron’s Wolverine: Weapon X. I HATE the “Wolverine in hell” storyline. But I’m not going to drop the book because I’m invested in Wolverine and I know that Aaron will soon do a storyline that I’ll like.

A new reader that picked up Wolverine with the recent new series? Why would he continue reading it if he didn’t like the first storyline?

And that is where DC will find themselves in September. They will be asking that question and hoping that the answer is positive.

I bet that DC will be atop the charts for that month and 2 or 3 after that. It’ll be the 4th month and beyond that proves whether the risk was worth it. They’ll sell a helluva lot of copies of these 52 new series. But will people stay? That is the question. The sales of first issues mean nothing. Nada. Zip. Absolutely worthless.

The recent ‘Hawkeye And Mockingbird’ series from Marvel needed to have second printings of the first two issues. The series didn’t last past issue #6. What does that tell us? That people will buy the first couple of issues, test the book out, and then drop it if they don’t like it (which sucked because H&M was a great book).

So DC shouldn’t be happy when the sales figures come in for September and October. They need to wait until December and see where they are at. Don’t even get excited until March of 2012. Wait and see if the sales are sustained and go beyond the inflated false numbers of the first couple issues.

But why is this bad for the industry as a whole as well as DC?

I may not be the biggest DC fan around, but I’ve read a ton of the books over the years and have some characters I’m loyal too. But I’m nothing compared to the people that have Green Lantern rings tattooed on their fingers or shoulders. DC has been around for awhile and there are alot of incredible loyal fans. And it’s those fans that have been keeping the company going. It’s those fans that allow DC to remain at #2 in the charts.

What is DC telling those fans with this move?

“Thanks, we appreciate all your years of support but we feel like you just don’t matter enough. We want more.”

And they are saying and doing it in a way that says their characters don’t matter. They don’t come across as caring that the fans have fallen in love with this continuity. That the fans support this continuity. They just say “It’s Superman. It’s the name that matters.” They are saying their own history, that fans know backwards and forwards, doesn’t matter.

This is Marvel’s Ultimate Universe on a larger scale. Marvel tried the same approach. Making the books more accessible to new readers. But they also kept the older books around. DC needs to take a long look at the Ultimate universe, which did hugely well when it first appeared. Which books sell more? That’s right. The older stuff is still doing better.

This is almost a slap in the face of the long time fan. The stories you love? They don’t matter anymore. They didn’t happen. But look, here’s Superman, he’s got nothing to do with the one you’ve been reading about for 20+ years but it’s still Superman. Right?

And what about storylines? Alot of books will end in mid-storyline. That’s going to anger alot of fans that really get into the storylines. Why would anyone want to buy a new Teen Titans book when the last one just ended in the middle of a story?

Where is the incentive for the long time fan to buy the new books? With Marvel’s new Captain America new #1 the incentive is there. It’s a continuation of the long form story Ed Brubaker is telling. It’s the same Captain America (okay, it’s Steve back in uniform and not Bucky but you know what I mean) that they’ve been reading about for awhile now. It’s just the start of a new storyline. Same characters. So the incentive is there to move from Captain America #621 (or whatever number it is) to Captain America #1.

Where’s the incentive for a Superman fan to continue on to the new book? It’s not the same character. It’s not even a “Fantastic Four becomes FF” situation either. In that case it was the same story just continued into a new book. Incentive for old readers to follow to the new book and new readers to jump on board.

Where is that with this reboot?

For retailers this is going to create a problem. Look back up about the false sales figures for new #1s. And now DC is throwing 52 of them at us?

Say there’s 200 people that read Teen Titans (small numbers used for this example, not real). 50 of them get turned off by the reboot and drop the book. 100 new readers pick up the new title (because of creative team, new direction sounds interesting, whatever). The first month the sales are at 250. That’s great right? 50 more books then previous. Next month it’s at 225 because of the normal drop off of sales from a #1 to #2. The month after it drops another 25 books and sits at 200. You’re right back where you started again.

Now DC and the retailers have to hope that those 50 remaining new readers stay with the book. If they don’t, then the book drops below the level it was at before and both DC and the retailer start to lose sales.

Think the retailers will be happy if this starts happening across 52 titles? What if the worse happens and instead of just 50 people dropping the book it ends up being 100 or more?

Yeah, that’s doomsayer kind of talk, but it is extremely relevant. Chances are that not all of these 52 new series will strike gold. Can the retailers afford it if even just 5 of the new series generate less sales then before?

This is an all or nothing experiment it seems. DC, and by default the retailers, need this to do good. Really, they need it to do amazingly well. Or else it’ll all be for nothing.

And 52 new series? 13 new books a week? Can anyone afford that? The idea is that this generates new fans. Say I get 10 DC books a month. DC is hoping that I’ll get that same number (even if it’s different books) plus more. I have a limited budget, there’s really no way I’ll be able to get more.

But some of the current DC books I get are Batgirl and Red Robin. Will they survive the reboot and if so, will it even be something I’m interested in? So maybe there’s two slots that free up in my budget. But that’s hoping for alot.

As a member of the media, I like to cover as many #1s of new series as I can but there’s no way I can cover 52 new books as well as the other publishers. I’m having nightmares thinking about it already.

I just don’t see this helping DC in the long term and I see it having a bad impact on the industry as a whole. This has the potential to drive away customers and readers. I don’t see that many new readers coming into the industry to cover all those that will probably/potentially leave. DC is hoping for alot.

And why? Why does this need to happen? What’s wrong with being the second largest comic book publisher? What’s the issue with that? I don’t see why DC has to do such a drastic change.

The potential is there for this to be successful and open the doors to alot of new readers. But the potential is even greater that this will be a disaster and hurt DC and the industry severely.

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