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Showing their true metal.

§ August 17th, 2016 § Filed under dc comics § 2 Comments

Speaking of the Metal Men comics I received at my shop recently, I noticed something on them that I don’t think I’d paid much attention to before:


I hadn’t noticed signatures on DC’s Silver Age books before with an affixed “ART:” or “ART BY” credit. These particular examples are from Metal Men #2 (1963) and #11 (1964/5), telling one and all that these swell cartoon robots were delineated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Just seemed a little odd to me, though perhaps inspired by the increased realization of the marketability of specific creators as the Silver Age progressed, particularly with Marvel’s “we’re all your pals here!” editorial emphasis and cutesy nicknames, making sure you knew which comics were by “King” Kirby and “Jazzy” John Romita.

Anyway, whatever the reason, these sure look neat blown up nice an’ big like that.

In other Metal Men news, I continue this current semi-obsession in asking a related question of the War Rocket Ajax fellas, at around the 1 hour 22 minute mark, more or less.

If I were in charge of DC, those characters would absolutely appear in Scooby-Doo Team-Up.

§ June 3rd, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 7 Comments

So when I’m not answering your questions, foolin’ around on Twitter, or allowing comic creators to vent in my comments, I’m running a comic shop, and of late I’ve been worrying about sales on the whole DC Rebirth thing.

batrebirthMy initial thought was that, like Marvel’s multiple reboots/restarts on their titles, the number of sales I can expect to receive on yet another round of first issues was not necessarily going to be very much. This wasn’t going to be like the New 52 relaunch from five years ago, where it was a month full of new #1s in a newly-formed (and, frankly, not quite done cooking) continuity all thrown at us at once, and the sheer novelty of it translated to big sales, even for the titles that traditionally didn’t do very well. Of course, sales atrophied on the New 52 eventually, with Batman and Justice League still doing respectable numbers, but everything else mostly just slowly fading.

DC’s “Rebirth,” by contrast, was going to be spread out over several months, with most titles effectively getting two first issues (a “Rebirth” one-shot, to sort of reestablish the characters vis-à-vis where they left off prior to the start of the “Rebirth” event, and an actual #1 to kick off the new thread of adventures, presumably). Add to the fact that most people weren’t 100% clear on what “Rebirth” was actually going to be (most of my customers seemed to assume it was another full-on reboot)…well, I had a hard time figuring how this was going to sell.

To DC’s credit, they probably assumed everyone was going to feel that way, so the early issues are returnable, which eases the burden on poor ol’ retailers like me a bit. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I’m going to order a thousand of everything to make darned sure I have enough to go around…I still have a budget, I still have other comics to order, and I don’t really want to tie up that much money in product for, likely, months while I wait for the go-ahead to send ’em back. So I ordered about what I estimated what I thought I could sell, plus a little more for good measure, and hoped for the best.

And then the DC Universe: Rebirth came out a couple of weeks ago.

Now, on that book, the 80-page, bargain priced one shot that was kicking off the whole thing, I ordered a ton. I ordered numbers on that book specifically so that I’d have it around for the next couple of months, as all the new “Rebirth”-branded relaunched books came out and people asked “so what’s this all about, hah?” I could hand them a copy of the 80-pagers and tell them “all the answers you seek are in here, my son.”

It, of course, sold out by the weekend.

Now, a second printing and a third printing have been announced, with the 2nd print due in stores next week (and at the more reasonable-for-the-publisher price of $5.99). That part didn’t worry me…I figured another printing would be rushed out. What did worry me was how many of those I sold, and how quickly. The first wave of new Rebirth comics were coming next week, Mike of Last Week thought, and judging by demand for that one-shot, does that mean I’m going to have crazy demand for all the Rebirth comics? Maybe I ordered too low! Can I get reorders in on time? Am I panicking? IS THIS THE END OF MIKE?

garebirthI worried mostly for naught, because for the four Rebirth titles that launched this week, I appear to have ordered more or less correctly. I probably could have used more Batman, but that wasn’t entirely my fault, as a portion of the order arrived damaged, with replacements hopefully arriving next Wednesday (and more copies heading my way, thanks to an early reorder). But even still, I appear to have had enough to meet demand. This wasn’t a New 52-scale epic rush on the stands to grab handfuls of books, but what I sold was certainly far above what I’d been selling on these titles…even Batman, which had been a strong seller prior to this Rebirth hoohar. Now that I have an idea of how Rebirth will be received, that helps me judge orders for future weeks, and it’s certainly a load off my mind after worrying about how these were going to do.

One question I’ve been getting since last week’s DC Universe Rebirth one-shot came out was “where are the plot threads introduced in that book going to play out?” I think everyone was expecting “BATMAN VS. [REDACTED]” in his first issue, or that there would be some central “Rebirth” mini-series where that stuff would be addressed. From what I understand, we’ll be seeing elements from that one-shot in the DC books over the next couple of years, but if it doesn’t culminate in a series of “DC Character Versus [REDACTED] Character” one-shots, followed by a big DC Universe Rebirth: Omega giant-size special to wrap it all up, I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Honestly, people, like, ran to the new comics rack.

§ February 22nd, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 2 Comments

Adam asks

“What do you think about the three-month rollout of new titles? I would guess that’s a better system than dumping all 32 new titles, with Rebirth special issues, on the market all at once like they did with the New52. Could that make the ordering a little easier? Or could June be like those Secret Wars months when people are missing their regular books? (Assuming, maybe erroneously, that everything DCU not ‘Rebirth’ is ending in May.)”

The thing about the New 52’s month-long onslaught of new first issues is that it felt like a Big Event, nearly unprecedented in the comics industry. DC didn’t even restart everything after Crisis on Infinite Earths, when it would have been totally justified. The excitement over this weeks-long parade of #1s just kind of fueled itself, and I think I remember mentioning at the time that, when we opened the doors each Wednesday for new comics day, people literally rushed to the funnybook wall to get their hands on the latest DC debuts. People I’d never seen before, people who told me “I heard about all these new first issues on the news and wanted to see what was goin’ on” – the immediacy of all these new comics appearing on the stands more or less at the same time got people in the doors.

Of course, keeping them coming back was the real trick, which, um, didn’t work out so well, as New 52 sales eventually dwindled down to pretty much where things were before. And then Marvel attempted their own rollout of new #1 relaunches, but spreading them out over several months, with some titles ending in the midst of others starting and not having a clearly specified line of “everything before this point is old, everything after this point is new” like DC did with the new Justice League #1…well, that didn’t quite build the same kind of buzz.

And in the meantime we’ve had more relaunches and new #1s from both Marvel and DC and it’s all just business as usual, so I don’t imagine we’re going to have anything close to the same sort of excitement with this new batch of DCs. Which isn’t what you’re asking, Adam, I realize, but it’s just something I’m pondering as I think about what I may do in regards to ordering. Yes, rolling ’em out over a few months instead of dumping them all at once is probably the better strategy this time ’round, especially since this is aimed at growing readership out of a market that already exists, rather than trying to attract new readers from outside the market via a big splashy “TONS OF NEW TITLES, JOIN IN ON THE FUN” New 52-esque carnival. I mean, yes, obviously DC would love to get those new readers into the marketplace, but the concern right now is having a solid base of reasonably-selling periodicals in the direct market as it exists, and hoping to attract new readers with other projects and their trade program and what have you.

I don’t think we’re going to have a Convergence (or Secret Wars) style dearth of sales, where folks just kinda skip over these side mini-series while they’re waiting for the regular titles to return. These are the “in-continuity” books, so Superman readers will likely continue getting Superman, etc., assuming people don’t use these as “jumping-off” points (which some readers invariably do). Now, I have no idea what the actual directions/content of these new line of DC books will entail, and whatever is actually in the books will naturally affect that transition of readers from the old series to the new ones.

I probably should look a little more closely at what the actual plans are, but it’s my understanding that 1) the old series end, and then 2) the one-shots and new series come out over the next couple of months. But during this time, DC will surely still be releasing their Vertigo books, they’ve got those relaunched Hanna-Barbera books, they’ve got Dark Knight III (speaking of comics bringing in non-traditional comic readers!) and their other minis, so they’ll still have plenty of books on the shelves for their customers.

So ultimately, Adam, ordering is still going to be a real bear, but I’m not expecting any wild fluctuations in sales numbers. Unless there’s some mind-blowing stuff going on in these new launches, it’ll probably just keep on keeping on, with a slight improvement in profit coming from DC paring down their line to titles that are more or less proven sellers (with one or two titles in the new line-up that just feel like they’re doomed from the start, but we’ll see).

In conclusion: there’s still no new Swamp Thing series listed, so phooey.

The New 32.

§ February 19th, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 11 Comments

Brad asked, in response to my Archie comments in yesterday’s post:

“Why do kids buy Archie Digests but avoid the same material in pamphlet or trade form?”

My guess is perceived value…digests may cost more, but contain a lot more content, and are closer to books than to periodicals in format. Just a matter of preferred packaging, I suppose.

“What DO kids buy these days anyway? The Disney titles from IDW? My Little Pony? Transformers? Manga? Captain Underpants?”

Yes to most of the above, as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (which is an Archie publication, so there’s that), Simpsons, Avatar the Last Airbender, Star Wars, Mad Magazine, Deadpool if the parents say “yes” — there’s a wide variety of comics to choose from, and kids’ tastes run the gamut.

rebirthcurtainSpeaking of comics, as I usually do here making that a fairly redundant transition, DC Comics announced yesterday just what they were gettin’ at with that image they’d been posting in social media here and there for the last few weeks. As it turns out, it is another linewide relaunch, rejiggering the DC superhero line-up to snap the company out of the publishing doldrums it’d fallen into after the massive New 52 debut sales back in 2011 had since faded away into a distant memory. Marvel’s had line-relaunches for their own books since then, initially goaded on by DC’s success, and have had scattered relaunches of several of their titles before their most recent sorta-post Secret Wars first-issue fest which we are still in the midst of. Basically what I’m saying is that this was a swell time to open a new shop, where I have to make some wild guesses as to how a bunch of new #1s are going to sell.

You can see the list of what DC’s planning to unleash right here, and on one hand, yes, good, they’re standardizing cover prices at $2.99, kinda of like a few years back when they were promising to “hold the line at $2.99” until stuff got pushed up to $3.99 anyway, and well, what can you do. It’d be nice if maybe that would pressure Marvel to follow suit, but it’s more likely the DCs will creep back up to $3.99 before Marvel does any extensive price-drops.

On the other hand, about half those titles are planned to be biweekly, so instead of spending a pocketbook-punching $3.99 on a new issue of Action Comics every month, you’ll be spending the incredibly low price of $5.98 each month for two issues of Action, so, um. But on the other other hand, instead of 52 monthly titles, there will be only 32, and it’s not likely you were going to buy Every Single Title DC was going to publish anyway, so maybe it’ll be at least a wash, or perhaps even a small savings for you. Costwise, $6 a month for 40 pages is a better deal than $4 for 20 pages, if you want to look at it that way. And that’s assuming the format will still include 20 pages of story.

I suspect the schedules are not set in stone…if there’s enough resistance to these selected titles double-dipping each month, DC can scale things back. I’m also concerned about maintaining that cover price…DC cut a couple of pages from the books during that original “hold the line at $2.99” push, so I’m wondering if more page cuts are possible. I would certainly hope not…I would prefer a price increase to that, and hopefully DC will remember that “$3.50” is a possible price point as well.

On the whole though, I do like that the number of titles have been scaled back to a reasonable amount, so that even if readers do decide to follow the double-shipping series, it won’t be as much of an impact at it would appear at first glance. For example, looking at what I’m likely to continue reading after “Rebirth,” it amounts to four biweekly titles, one monthly title, and maybe two or three other of the new monthly titles, depending on just what the actual contents are since all I’m going by is the name (like whatever The Super-Man is). That works about to about 9 to 12 comics a month, which isn’t too bad.

Of course, this is just the main DC Superhero Universe line of ongoing books. This doesn’t count mini-series and special event books and all those Hanna-Barbera relaunches and Vertigo and whatever else.

I saw a lot of comments online about how we should wait and see the creative teams/contents before giving the People’s Eyebrow to DC’s latest publishing endeavor, but I don’t think that’s entirely necessary. The idea of making half your line biweekly is a challenging one, particularly in this marketplace where consumers are looking to spend less money. And, especially after Marvel’s oddball scheduling issues over the last few years (ranging from “every two or three weeks or whatever” to “maybe we’ll see another issue again someday”), the last thing anyone wants is to feel like Lucy and Ethyl staring down that conveyor belt feeding them more candies than they could ever hope to wrap. I mean, yes, maybe the teams on these books will be so amazing that we’ll wish they were weekly, but I don’t think we should judge if someone finds, just from purely physical/economic response, the new DC plans to be a tad intimidating.

For me, the hapless retailer, the trick is figuring the numbers to order. Now, when DC did their linewide New 52 relaunch, that was fairly unprecedented, and received a lot of attention, and sales, not just from the initiated but from non-traditional consumers as well, driven to comic shops for the very first time to check out what was going on. As noted, there have been several attempts at relaunches/reboots from both companies since then, with diminishing returns, so the crowds that turned out for the New 52 aren’t likely to rematerialize. But if this stokes the excitement of the folks already coming to shops, well, that wouldn’t hurt. I expect a small bump in sales, and if the books are any good, and hopefully they are, maybe we can get some medium-to-strong-ish consistent sales on the ones that survive. That alone would be a welcome improvement.

The most unexpected announcement was that Detective and Action would revert back to their old pre-New 52 numbering. Good…I despaired of ever seeing an Action Comics #1000, and it looks like my weird prayers have been answered.

Spoilers for a DC Comics Christmas story from the late 1980s.

§ December 28th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, supergirl § 6 Comments

christmaskaraSo Roel asked, regarding my link to last week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics, just why that particular Alan Brennert Christmas story with Supergirl and Deadman was referred to as “infamous.”

To be honest, I didn’t think much about that particular description…I just figured it had something to do with the pre-Crisis Supergirl appearing in the post-Crisis universe and someone somewhere, either a pro or a fan, got bent out of shape over it or something. And, it appears, after being pointed in the direction of this article by my fellow Troublemakers, that there more hoohar swirling about this particular comic than I realized.

The article itself focuses on the (basically confirmed) idea that folks in charge of the Superman comics weren’t terribly enthused about the pre-Crisis, totally-wiped-from-continuity Supergirl all of the sudden being brought back for a Very Special Story that was not under the purview of the Super-editorial offices. And if one were to look to the comments on said article, rumors aplenty are to be had about what may or may not have happened in regards to the release of this particular story…rumors that I’ll thank my kind readers not to reproduce in my comments section here, please. But anyway, there’s the “infamous” bit of business about it, I suppose.

I also saw elsewhere (in a post on a comic news site that has since been deleted, it seems) some commentary inspired by the Trouble with Comics Question column, wondering just why this specific Supergirl/Deadman story is held in such high regard. I personally think it’s a good, strong story (in a comic filled with some top-notch funnybookin’), in which Deadman learns a Very Important Lesson that just because no one knows about the effort and sacrifice one makes to do the right thing, doesn’t mean that doing the right thing isn’t important or unappreciated. For Deadman, who is literally an invisible spirit that the living world can’t know about, it’s an idea he needs to learn to accept, that he isn’t any less a hero just because his heroism is unrecognized.

For the reader, who is presumably aware that this is the Supergirl who was written out of the DC Universe due to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, we are reminded that just because the characters don’t “exist” in “current continuity” anymore doesn’t mean those stories suddenly stopped meaning anything to us, now. It’s hard not to read a sort of implied criticism in this story about how stories and characters “count” or “don’t count” in terms of where they fall vis-à-vis universe-wide continuity-changing events. This comic is copyrighted 1988 (with a cover date of 1989), so this was only a year or two past DC’s kinda/sorta linewide reboot in Crisis, which would make Supergirl’s appearance here one of, if not the, earliest return of a pre-Crisis character that specifically references the pre-Crisis universe. Kind of a surprise kick in the pants to folks still getting used to the New DC of the “there’s-no-stopping-us-now” variety.

I don’t know that really explains why this is as highly regarded as it is, beyond it being a well-written comic with great art by Dick Giordano. It could be seen the sort of fan-targeted deeply-referenced insular story that isn’t good for the long-term health of the medium, with a punchline that only makes sense if you were there for Crisis and can understand just who that blond gal is talking to Deadman. But it is a nice Christmas gift to those fans, a quiet metatextual reminder after the bombast of the crossover event, that those characters and stories may be in the past, but they’re not forgotten.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good Deadman story? C’mon, let’s get serious here.

I’m really not kidding about Sugar and Spike.

§ September 14th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 1 Comment

The cancellation of a few DC titles was just announced, and, well, it was a mix of surprising/not totally surprising.

Gotham by Midnight was the most surprising to me, as, while not a huge seller, my sales on what was essentially a Batman horror series was slowly creeping upward. But I guess it was doing so too slowly, so that’s that.

Justice League United was another semi-shock, but of late getting a Justice League book going that isn’t the main series is bit of an uphill battle. It’s no comment on the quality — and in fact the recent new direction of the series has been fun — but more a comment on just how many different Justice League comics people really want to buy. Even the newest iteration of Justice League of America has shown a dip in sales from the first issue, but we’re only three issues in so who knows if this is a trend or just settling in at a particular sales level.

The Omega Men title was a little surprising, too, if only because of the good buzz it was getting. Alas, good buzz doesn’t always equal sales, and though it was beginning to get something of a following at the shop, it was too little, too late. Were people put off by the title, remembering that there was an old series by that name and thinking this was a continuation? Was there not enough Batman in it?

Now Lobo…the traditional problem with Lobo wasn’t his character design, but his overuse. We saw an awful lot of the character in the ’80s and ’90s, and I think most of us are still kind of burnt out on him. The solution probably wasn’t this New 52 redesign, which took our biker-tough ruffian Lobo and turned him into this sleek, sophisticated assassin with style. But, I guess, they had to try something, and if it didn’t work…well, that’s okay. I expect Lobo will return with a back-to-basics (well, not too far back) approach soon enough.

Doomed, according to the article linked about, simply doesn’t have an entry in the new solicitations, so the assumption is that it’s cancelled. Who knows if it’s gone or not. Wouldn’t surprise me, since the first issue barely sold for me, and the later issues don’t sell at all. I mean, literally…I get one copy for the shelf, and then a month later I back issue it and put one copy of the next issue on the rack. Funny, I sell a lot of comics here….

Now, the problem with this series is the problem we’ve seen lately with follow-up series/mini-series to Big Events: by the time the Big Event is over, everyone’s pretty much done with it and don’t necessarily want to revisit it right away. Like, after Fear Itself was finished, out came Fear Itself: The Fearless and that was mostly given a hearty “no thank you” by the market. Same with this…we just endured approximately 1,000 “Doomsday” crossover event issues in the New 52’s Superman line of books, and then here comes yet another Doomsday-themed comic, and not even starring the Man of Steel.

I mean, I guess DC likes that Doomsday money, but aside from 1) having Doomsday turn up in the Superman books every month or three, or 2) having a series starring the actual Doomsday (which would be crazy and I’d absolutely read that) I don’t know how else they’d continue that specific subset of the franchise.

I’m glad at least DC is trying some new stuff and revisiting some old properties, though, like I’ve lamented before, I wish DC would just try some of these things out as mini-series first, since “the mini-series has reached its conclusion” sounds a lot better than “more books got canned.” I hope this doesn’t put the kibosh on that Sugar-and-Spike-as-adults mini. I am so looking forward to that.

How I was never quoted in any kind of advertising or on any print edition for All-Star Batman and Robin, I’ll never know.

§ August 20th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, obituary § 6 Comments

So the other day I sold a copy of the Superman: Krypton Returns trade paperback, and as I flipped it over to get the price, I noticed the following pullquote on the back cover:

“Superman is still super.”

And, well…yes, I know it’s a play on words meaning “Superman comics are great!” but it’s hard not to look at that and immediately parse it as “Superman still retains super abilities, hence the name ‘Superman.'” But that got me to thinking.

I’ve been quoted by publishers in the past, once or twice. I know I had a quote on the back of an AiT/Planet Lar trade, and I was quoted in this Previews ad for a Rick Veitch book. But boy, I think it’d be pretty neat to get quoted on the back of a DC graphic novel.

And thus…DC Comics or representatives thereof, if you’re reading this, hear me out. Now, you guys ‘n’ gals publish, what, four or five dozen Batman graphic novels and trade paperbacks a month? I might be rounding up a bit, but it’s a whole lot. You’ve got plenty of space to fill on the backs of all those books with pullquotes from, like, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or Modern Bride or whatever. Now, my little site here, Progressive Ruin Super Adventure Hour and Family Recipes dot com, may only have approximately three quarters of the prestige of any of those fine publications/organizations, but surely there’s room for just a few words from your pal Mike.

You can use this quote for any Batman book you’d like. I would be perfectly okay endorsing any Bat-title with the following words:

“Batman is still batty.”

                            –Mike Sterling,

Perfect for every Batman story, I’m sure you’d agree. If you want to save it for the eventual print collection of Dark Knight III, feel free. If you want to use it on every Bat-collection over the next year, well, who could blame you? Anyway, I look forward to your usage of this pullquote, DC Comics.

• • •

All seriousness aside: just as there is the Best Batman, there was also the Best Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, who sadly passed away this week. Mark Evanier has a pretty good story about her that you should read.

So long, Yvonne.

In which Mike posts about DC Comics logos in the Year of Our Lord 2015.

§ May 11th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics § 9 Comments

So Reader Allan asked:

“I was browsing the DC Comics wikipedia page and realized today is the 10th anniversary of when DC announced the change of the DC Bullet logo to the DC Swirl and everyone lost their minds. Remember when that was a thing?”

Well, in fairness, folks with comics blogs at that particular moment in time lost their minds about just about anything, so what can you do? But yes, folks weren’t happy, but you know how we all are about anyone fiddling with our beloved superhero funnybooks.

At the time, ten years ago (and that I can refer back to something I posted on this site ten years ago puts some creaks in my joints, I’ll tell you what) I said:

“…A new DC logo? The heck? What was wrong with the old one? Okay, I guess we’ve had the DC Bullet for a while, and maybe we were due for a change…but all I can think when I look at this new logo is ‘boy, that’s going to have to be replaced in a few years.'”

And yeah, there was nothing wrong with the old bullet logo, really:

…aside from maybe being a little old-fashioned, which just won’t do when you’re a forward-thinking multimedia brand forging ahead into the 20th cen…er, 21st century. The replacement logo:

was a little fancier, and probably looked better in front of the cartoons and movies and whatnot…though, come to think of it, did that bullet logo ever get branded onto any of the cartoons or movies? I can’t really recall. Just imagine the DC Bullet spinning around here in place of the logo that replaced it:

I was right when I stated in that old post that they’d have to change the logo in a few years, because not much later we got this slightly more austere, if perhaps more professional “grown-up publisher” logo:

…which I’ve become used to, I suppose, which I’m sure comes as a great relief to DC Comics, Inc. I do like its use in the ending credits of the Arrow TV show, with all the arrows whizzing by:

But a part of me still misses this old logo:

I hope when the eventual direct-to-video Swamp Thing cartoon happens, that’s the one they’ll use.

Well, better make plans to visit the hat store.

§ March 30th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics § 4 Comments

So it has been pointed out to me on my site and elsewhere that DC Comics does appear to be planning a reprint volume of the very Doctor Fate comics I was dead certain would not be reprinted any time soon.

According to the Amazon listing:

“Collects 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #9, stories from THE FLASH #306-313, THE IMMORTAL DOCTOR FATE #1-3, DR. FATE #1-4 and DC CHALLENGE #11.”

…which is kind of a weird way to put it, since The Immortal Doctor Fate is a reprint series that features the stories from 1st Issue Special #9 and The Flash #306-313. …Unless it’s also featuring the other stories reprinted in IDF #1 (a retelling of the origin from DC Special Series #10, and a Golden Age story from More Fun #56), in which case why not say “collects all that other stuff and DC Special Series #10 and More Fun #56″ and leave out mentioning Immortal Doctor Fate altogether. Or maybe the book is reprinting the covers from Immortal Doctor Fate, which, as far as I know, were new to that particular series.

Oh, hey, let Webster’s know that I’ve got a new definition of “nitpicking” for them. Thanks.

Anyway, including the four-issue Dr. Fate mini feels just a little odd…on one hand not too odd since it does feature the art of Keith Giffen, who drew all those Flash back-ups also reprinted in the book. On the other hand, it is a bit odd since it’s very much a transitional series, doing away with the decades-old version of Dr. Fate that most of the book is covering, and establishing a new status quo for the character. It feels like it would fit more as a prologue piece to a second Doctor Fate trade, as the monthly series that followed directly spins off from that mini. Instead they could have reprinted a couple of those Superman/Dr. Fate team-ups (from World’s Finest and DC Comics Presents, and I’m sure there are one or two appearance here and there that could have been squeezed in as well.

But they didn’t ask me, and frankly I’ll be surprised if there is a second Dr. Fate reprint volume, though I’m too busy eating this remarkably tasty Glengarry bonnet to vociferously deny its possibility. I’m glad that any kind of reprint is in the offing, even if my preference is to get more stuff that only exists on crummy, decaying newsprint represented on nice white paper with modern printing, like those Superman team-ups I mentioned, since the rest of that Dr. Fate material has already made it into a longer-lasting format.

The one really oddball thing about the book is, as reader BobH mentioned, the inclusion of some of Giffen’s Dr. Fate pages from DC Challenge, which must only be included here for completeness’s sake. In brief, for those who may not recall, DC Challenge was a round-robin mini-series, where random creative teams were assigned to each issue (after an initial installment by prime instigator of the series Mark Evanier), who were to resolve cliffhangers left for them by the creators of the previous issue, while setting up more difficult situations for the next creators to deal with, and simultaneously attempting to push along whatever was passing for the plot. You can read more details at the Wiki entry, and I’d posted a couple of panels from the series a while back.

The whole thing was kind of a glorious mess, entertaining almost despite itself, and definitely outside of whatever was passing for regular DC Universe continuity at the time. I’d love to have this as a full trade paperback, which likely would sell about 10 copies, but it would be nice to remind people that the series exists. It was a fun book that brought in characters from all over the DC Universe and mixed ’em all up into a crazy jumble, not for “changing DC Comics and nothing will ever be the same” Big Event Stuff, but just for the heck of it. We don’t get enough of that kind of thing any more.

Um, oh, yeah. There’s actually a Doctor Fate reprint book coming out. Pretty crazy, right? It’s full of good comics, so if you haven’t read the material before, here’s your chance. And it’s nice to be surprised by what DC will put into trade…there may be hope for that DC Challenge collection yet.

I promise you, Red Lanterns isn’t a bad comic.

§ December 18th, 2014 § Filed under dc comics § 6 Comments

Yup, they’ve canned the latest iteration of Swamp Thing. Okay, they cancelled some others, too…some surprisingly, some less so.

Swamp Thing actually sold relatively well, both at my previous place of employment and at my current headquarters (which would be Sterling Silver Comics, conveniently located just off the 101 Freeway in lovely Camarillo, CA!), for reasons that had nothing to do with me forcing everyone who walked in the door to buy a copy, honest. No, really, it seemed like it was a pretty good mid-range seller for us…er, me, outselling most of the comics with “X-Men” in the title in fact, which may be a more damning statement about the X-Men than a positive statement about Swamp Thing, come to think of it. My suspicion is that Swamp Thing will return in a new, relaunched title, like New Swamp Thing or Swamp Thing Adventures or Swamp Thing A-Go-Go or, you know, like that. Even if not, at least we’ll have him in Justice League Dark or he can join one of the Lantern Corps or something.

Speaking of Lanterns, it wasn’t really much of a surprise that they’re scaling back the Green Lantern-and-related books. As I noted at the end of this post, DC making a big deal out of Geoff Johns leaving the GL franchise and publishing an extra-sized conclusion to all his plotlines and such essentially gave readers full permission to abandon the franchise as well. I don’t have the numbers right in front of me, since those numbers technically belong to a store I don’t work at any more, but my memory is that sales dropped by around half. The main GL title wasn’t hit as hard as the others, but there was still a big dip in the number of copies we were moving. The constant crossover events helped for a while, but eventually even the effectiveness of those wore off, judging by how not-well this current New Gods storyline is affecting the secondary GL titles. The big loss is Red Lanterns, which was far better than it had any reason to be.

Batwoman was sort of another surprise, since that seemed to have been improving slightly in sales, both at my old shop and at the new one, but it was the poorest selling Bat-title, so I guess it was only a matter of time. Others aren’t too shocking: they might as well have been titled Infinity Man and the Forever People’s Soon-to-Be-Cancelled Series and Star Spangled Cancelled Stories. I don’t say that snarkily in the slightest: these really did not seem like titles that were going to find sufficient audiences to survive from the get-go, an assumption almost immediately borne out by sales. I mean, good on ’em for trying, and I really enjoy Infinity Man, but, yeah, no surprise here.

Secret Origins was a $4.99 anthology title…the first issue sold well, as did the Harley Quinn issue, but that was pretty much all she wrote on that. Klarion just did not attract readers, and…I hate to say this, but I tried reading it and it just didn’t do anything for me, and I was one of the folks looking forward to a Klarion series. Trinity of Sin I’m surprised they even attempted…I liked it, anyway, since I’m always up for more Phantom Stranger comics. And Worlds’ Finest I had thought was already cancelled and kept getting surprised by its continued presence in the order forms, so that probably says something.

Aquaman and the Others…well, that we got one Aquaman comic doing reasonably well on the stands is surprising enough. A second Aquaman title was DC pushing its luck. I don’t really have much to say about Arkham Manor‘s loss aside from maybe there were one too many ancillary Batman titles launched at about the same time, perhaps?

I’m sure some of these concepts will pop up again, either in relaunches or, more likely folded into other titles. Justice League Dark could probably accommodate Klarion, Phantom Stranger and…hell, G.I. Zombie from Star Spangled, too. So long as they don’t crowd out Swamp Thing.

My idea of rotating intentional mini-series for DC’s New 52 program is one I wish could be implemented. Concepts could be tested in short runs, which could improve sales if readers know that they’re getting a beginning, middle and end on the comics they’re reading. Plus, a series ending as scheduled is probably better P.R. than “here’s our latest dozen or so titles cancelled for low sales.” If sales warrant, a mini could lead into a regular ongoing series. There are probably logistical reasons preventing this from happening, but something’s got to be better than constantly throwing titles at the wall and seeing nothing sticking.

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