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So the newest iteration of Legion of Super-Heroes is kaput (along with three other DC titles, which I’ll discuss in a moment). I went on about it on the Twitter yesterday, where I suggested a couple of options as to what to do with this particular franchise because, you know, DC’s totally listening to me:
1. Just give Legion a rest already. Every reboot/restart boosts sales on the title for a little bit, then it always settles back to the numbers it usually sells at. Or maybe a little less. Maybe a little time out of the public eye would result in an actual fresh start for the book, removed from the previous decades’ worth of continuity that may or not still be valid because who the hell can tell any more. A little testing of the waters with some guest-appearances prior to any relaunch wouldn’t be out of order.
2. Pick one Legion character, give him or her a solo title, and make the Legion background/supporting characters. There could still be occasional Legion adventures, but it would be all told from the perspective of the title character. My personal pick for this would be Brainiac 5, because good gravy I’d love to read a solo Brainiac 5 comic, and also he seems like the one interesting/complex enough to carry a series on his own. Super-genius, doesn’t really “get” the emotionally volatile non-geniuses around him, always inventing crazy machines that are more trouble than they’re worth, HAS A TIME BUBBLE…c’mon, that’d be fantastic. But whoever is the star…that at least would give us a fresh perspective on an old dusty comic.
I don’t know. I’ve liked the Legion about as long as I’ve been reading comics, and easily have about three decades’ worth I’ve bought off the rack, and I’m still getting the sporadic and progressively more dear Archives reprints of the older material. I did stop reading new Legion some time back, prior to the New 52 relaunch, simply because I think I lived through one reboot too many and just couldn’t get into a comic where the constant threat of yet another restart to get themselves out a painted-in corner was always there. But I would love to read a good Legion comic again, particularly one that did something interesting with the franchise beyond “we need to have a Legion book on the stands.”
Okay, that sounds like I’m slagging the folks who are working on the comic now, and I’m really not. It’s just that…well, Legion isn’t grabbing new readers. With no current movie/cartoon/video games/action figure line to drive kids into shops looking for comics with those awesome Legion characters, the potential audience is restricted to people already buying comic books, and by and large, the people buying Legion are usually the people who always buy Legion, with some attrition over time (such as yours truly). To grab money out of the pockets of comic fans, you need to grab their attention, and the perception is that Legion is just same-old, same-old…this is your grandpa’s comic book. Esteemed Twitter colleague Max said that “Legion needs to be J.J Abrams-ed,” and that’s probably what it’ll take.
There have been some nice shots at it before…I really enjoyed Mark Waid’s take and the subsequent One Year Later (geez, remember “One Year Later?”) revamp Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Those worked, at least for a while, in grabbing new readers.
As for those other cancelled DC titles that I was reading…I’m pretty sure Dial H was no surprise to anyone. It was a fun and intelligent comic, but maybe a little too off the beaten path for your standard line of superhero funnybooks. Threshold‘s main selling point was the Larfleeze back-up, and even that wasn’t too much of a draw…maybe a cover or two actually featuring him may have helped. The lead story is entertaining, but the Green Lantern hook is slight enough to not have grabbed much of that franchise’s audience. And Demon Knights…I really liked Demon Knights. I have no idea why that’s getting cancelled. Well, okay, I know it’s low sales. Let me try again…”I have no idea why more people weren’t reading it.” I believe I mentioned a while back that the early issues were a tad on the chaotic side, and I wasn’t 100% sure I was following all the plot threads, so maybe that was an issue with more folks than just me. But I thought the rough spots were smoothed over of late and it’s been a highly entertaining fantasy/horror adventure. Ah, well.
• • •
In other news:
So that DC publication outlining all their graphic novels ‘n’ such I mentioned a few days back? Collected Editions does the thorough overview of this item that I was totally too lazy to do myself. Good work, gentlemen and / or gentleladies…give yourselves a raise.
Trying to get a read on Batman’s expression on the cover, there. Bemusement? Concern? Anger? Bewilderment? Who can say.
Anyway, this is a freebie book that should be available at your local funnybook slinger emporium, spotlighting DC’s back catalog of trade collections divided up by character, imprint, panicked line-wide relaunch, kid-friendly reading, et cetera. There’s even a section spotlighting graphic novels by Alan Moore, which probably thrills him to pieces.
Of note is a section devoted to “suggested reading order” for books featuring some of their major superhero characters, which is useful since I kinda lose the thread of the Batman continuity after Final Crisis. The Superman section appears to give up on continuity order about halfway through its list, placing New 52 reprints before, like, all the pre-New 52 Superman/Batman reprints, among other things, and lumping all the non-continuity-ish books like Red Son and All-Star Superman and Birthright at the end. Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali is also near the end of the suggested reading order, when in fact it should be first in line. Heck, it should be the only Superman comic you need to read.
At the end of this book are three “blank” pages with a “NOTES” heading, in case you need to jot down your thoughts and feelings about Superman: Earth One being placed in the “25 Essential Graphic Novels” section of this freebie. The notes pages are designed to look like original art boards, which is a little strange…make sure your notes don’t result in more than about nine panels per page; you’re not George Perez.
In conclusion…I like the cover. Ryan Sook did a good job. Even Superman’s new costume is almost bearable. But surely the Justice League has better things to do than waste their time reading comic books.
Also out this week:
Okay, I figure if they make at least two
more Smurfs movies, that should give us enough time, and the publisher enough incentive, to keep reprinting the Smurfs comics in U.S. editions ’til they’re caught up.
…I have big dreams.
So I received a used copy of this hardcover in a collection I purchased the other day:
And, well, I did have it in the shop as a new item before, but I never really did sit down and give it a good looking-at then, despite my enjoyment of Don Newton’s Batman. Thus, before putting it out for sale I thought I’d take it home and give it a read…what, it’s going to get more
used? …Well, okay, yeah, I suppose it is, but I’ve the gentle touch of a professional comics handler, and can easily peruse this volume without causing further discoloration, dogearing, spine stress, or, God help us, foxing.
Anyway, I was a fan of Newton’s work, both on Batman and on Infinity Inc., which he had just started to work on when he passed away in 1984 at the too-young age of 49. Reading this book, I find myself struck by one thing, which will hardly be a new or original comment in regards to these sorts of reprint projects, but nevertheless it’s still an honest reaction. The pages are just too white and clean. The Young Mike that’s still rattling around in my head is expecting to be reading these stories on brown-ish newsprint. In fact, when I mentally picture Newton’s art, I imagine dark, moody images…all shadows and mystery. Reprinting in this book on bright pages with bright coloring, even the shadows look like you’re staring at the sun. …Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but still, it was a bit jarring to have the art right in front of me and contradicting my memories of same.
And before you say anything, yes, Infinity Inc. was printed on bright white paper with eye-searingly bright colors, but Newton’s sadly brief tenure there doesn’t have the nostalgic hold his Batman work has for me.
As I was writing this, another sorta unsung comics artist fave of mine came to mind that I’d like to see reprinted in a book like this. I’d totally be all over The Complete Irv Novick.
• • •
One of my readers was kind enough to point out that, in an old post of mine…I mean, really old, within the first month of this site’s life…one of the links I’d posted way back then had apparently since gone feral and now pointed to a porn site. Okay, first off…porn on the Internet? When did that start? And secondly…yeah, link rot. This site is on the verge of turning nine years old, and I’m sure many links in a lot of my old posts now go to destinations I did not originally intend. I mean, if I was sending you to a dirty filthy dirty site
, I was usually pretty good about warning you up front.
I’ve heard about some people going through and consistently maintaining and / or removing links on old posts, but frankly, it’s hard enough to find the time to keep with new posts, or sleep. And then there was the great Blogger-to-Wordpress shift I underwent in early ’10, which resulted in some formatting and archived-post issues, and then whatever that company was that was supporting the old commenting system cut that support, so links to those comments are now no bueno, I guess, and…man, sometimes I feel doing a reboot, and just starting this website from scratch. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNEW BEFORE: WELCOME TO THE NEW PROGRESSIVE RUIN! and then I’d never refer to anything before that date ever again.
I’m not going to do it, but, back past a certain point, my site’s a mess. I do still go back and fix links and formatting and stuff if I have occasion to link to an old post, so I’m not letting things totally fall into barbarism, but…well, just assume any super old link is probably taking you straight to a site that’ll sell you V1aG4a or promise you pictures of people inserting Tab A into Slot B.
However, I am happy to note that I still occasionally edit my very first post to make sure it’s still sending you where I want you to go. Man, had I known they’d be fiddling with those addresses every year or so, I’d have picked something else for my debut entry.
• • •
Reader d asks
“Hey Mike, we all know you have every Swamp & Man Thing appearance, but do you collect The Heap as well? Just curious.”
Well, I don’t have every Man-Thing appearance…I do have every one written by Steve Gerber, as well as the first appearance in Savage Tales (not by Gerber), but from about the ’90s forward, I’ve been a little pickier about touching Man-Things.
That has nothing to do with the actual thrust of your question, which is all about the Heap, the original comic book swamp monster dating back to the 1940s. Sadly…no, I haven’t gone out of my way to seek out Heap comics, though I have picked up some of the latter day revivals, such as this 1971 one-shot I’ve discussed in the past, or this new version from Moonstone, or the Airboy/Mr. Monster one-shot from 1987, in which the Heap plays a prominent role, and is a great comic, to boot.
The original Heap comics are about to be reprinted in a series of three hardcover volumes, and I’m still waffling a bit on whether I can afford to pick these up for myself. My usual argument to talk myself into such things is “if I don’t get them now, I’ll probably never have another chance, at least this (relatively) cheaply,” so we’ll see. I am tempted.
• • •
On a related note, in that it’s asked in the same comments section, Casey wonders
“Mike, have you ever done a post about toxic Teen Titans continuity?”
Oh God, no. What I’d wished I had done is recorded pal Dorian and myself going on and on and hashing it all out and realizing that some of the time frames involved would make some of the adult characters a lot older than they should be, or that some of the lengths of time of team membership would be extremely short, or…hell, I don’t remember now. This was prior to DC kind of pushing the “sliding scale” of the Modern DC Superhero Universe to being about 20 years old, as of Identity Crisis, which I recall thinking was a slightly more reasonable time frame, given the amount of “important” events and continuity, not just for the Titans but for everyone, you had to squeeze in there.
Of course, post-Flashpoint, that scale is now about 5 or 6 years, depending on who you ask, I guess, so it’s all a moot point. And I hear tell Titans continuity has even more exciting problems now, as in some indecision whether there were previous Titans teams or not, but I leave the pondering of that question to younger, abler folks than myself.
• • •
And then sometimes I repost a gag I already made on the Twitter
, such as presenting this gag header from Archie’s Joke Book
#134 (March 1969 – hey, my birth month!) and lamenting the fact that in no way does the story live up to this title:
…which is just as well, since Archie couldn’t participate anyway:
Oh, scatological humor! You’re the best
• • •
To bring things back around to the nostalgia of Young Mike from the beginning of this post, just before I soiled it all with continuity nitpicking, porn, poop jokes, and Man-Thing innuendo, I found myself the other day discussing the joys of Omega Men
with a customer of mine.
Although I had read the introduction of the Omega Men in those three or so issues of Green Lantern, I didn’t follow them to their own series (which experienced some small controversy in its early issues due to depictions of violence, back in the “they didn’t know how good they had it” days of fandom). It took Alan Moore, a writer of some note, writing a back-up in two successive issues of the series (#26, pictured, and #27) to get me to take a look…and quite wisely, a new storyline in the main feature started up at that same time, giving Moore-ites like me a solid jumping-on point. It helped that 1) the new regular artist on the series was Shawn McManus, for whom I was developing a strong appreciation, and 2) that the comic itself was just a darned weird, creepy, and plain ol’ interesting sci-fi adventure.
As I was talking about the book with the customer, a couple of things dawned on me that, I suppose, shouldn’t have surprised me but did anyway. The actual run of that “new direction” for Omega Men, from #26 to the book’s eventual cancellation, was only 13 issues, plus an annual. It sure felt like it was longer…not in a bad way, I mean. It’s that a whole lot of stuff happened along the course of that comic, and it’s hard to believe they managed to fit it all into only about a year’s worth of stories (well, technically a year…I think some issues ran a bit late, if I recall correctly). Also, there was a Teen Titans crossover, and, of all things, a Crisis on Infinite Earths-engineered Blue Devil crossover, and an appearance in DC Comics Presents, so that probably helped in the perception of the comics’ apparent length.
The other thing that dawned on me was that the series wrapped up while I was still in high school, which doesn’t feel weird for anyone but me, I realize, but still, it seems like it’s more recent than that. Ah, well…tempus fugit, and all that.
I’ve since picked up the remainder of the series, which of course includes the first appearance of Lobo (which guides at a low $7.00, which sort of surprises me, except I suppose Omega Men print runs at the time were fairly large), and despite the occasional terrifying Kevin O’Neill art job, those earlier issues were fairly staid compared to the outright craziness of the McManus-era stories. Still fun, and worth checking out if you can find ‘em cheap, which they usually are.
• • •
Just to let you folks know, I’m probably entering Low Content Mode for the rest of the week, or at least lower
content mode…the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, and I’ve also got another project I’m working on at the moment that requires the focus of my creative energy, he said in a hopefully non-New Agey way, so probably you’ll not be seeing much more out of me this week aside from maybe a pic or two. Or you can follow me on the Twitter
where I’m still likely to spout off about something. At any rate, I’ll see you on the other side, and please enjoy your Thanksgiving, where applicable, and everyone else, enjoy your Thursday. Thanks for reading!
• • •
the end of the post! I was wondering where that was.
THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO: Somehow completely forget that the comic order is due, like, THAT EVENING, and you completely drop freakin’ everything to get that bastard typed into the computer and then suddenly there’s like a thousand different Uncanny Avengers #1 variants you have to figure out and you’re all “Uncanny Avengers, oh dammit Marvel” and you’re trying to balance out order plateaus and ratios and what have you to get the right amounts of everything and oh Lordy I was actually feeling nostalgic for the time when we were only dealing with pre-bagged copies of X-Force #1, each with a different card.
Anyway, the order’s in. Hopefully I didn’t have a slip of the finger while speedily entering the order and accidentally got 5,000 copies of the Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan statue. I mean, I only need a thousand.
Also, there are some Avengers Vs. X-Men follow-up series, which hopefully won’t go the way of the Fear Itself follow-ups, where we went from the main series selling pretty well to the series that followed having us think “hmmm, well, maybe we can glue these back together into trees.” My general feeling is that once the main event is over (whether it’s Avengers Vs X-Men or Fear Itself or whatever) then the readers are pretty much done with that particular idea, too, and don’t need these supporting series after the fact. It’s like “yeah, okay, we did that, what else you got?” I mean, nothing against the comics themselves…maybe they’re fantastic. But it’s better to move on before the diminishing returns set in, which is something that goes against everything that’s ever happened in the comics industry ever, but still, c’mon.
In other news, a lot of hay has been made about Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up in Justice League, which, yeah, I don’t know. Hasn’t the point of nearly every previous story featuring an attempted Superman/Wonder Woman romance been “Superman and Wonder Woman really shouldn’t be romantically involved?” Well, okay, maybe not Kingdom Come, and I’m sure there’s another story somewhere I’m forgetting. But, hell, why not, so long as DC’s new publishing policy is “throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks,” this isn’t any better or worse than other decisions they’ve made. And I’ll link to this news story about it because the headline is kind of amazingly crass. This is showing up in real world news sources too, which is even more amazing.
I get some folks at DC want to try new things, which is cool, and I’m sure the attention doesn’t hurt, but DC Comics only has itself to blame for teaching me over the years, among other important life lessons, that Supes and Wondy aren’t meant for each other. Besides, I prefer the Batman/Wonder Woman romance that they sorta danced around in JLA.
Also at DC, Rob Liefeld is outta there, apparently unhappy with how things were going behind the scenes. I honestly figured he’d be done and gone three issues into Hawk & Dove, but he worked on ‘em all, I believe, and went on to do even more titles, at least for a bit. Ah, well. …I was thinking “maybe Marvel can get him back again” and then I was wondering what the absolute last title would be that he would do, and Howard the Duck was the first thing that popped into my head. I would break my “no non-Gerber Howard the Duck ever” rule for a Liefeld Howard.
For some reason, I was reminded of Image United…if you don’t remember this as yet uncompleted mini-series, ask your grandpa if he recalls buying it off the stands. Anyway, checking with the distributor, issues #4 and #5 are in the system, with “scheduled” shipdates for the end of the year. I put “scheduled” in quotes because they both have the same date, the last shipping day of 2012, which makes me think they’re placeholder dates and not the real thing. I guess we’ll see. We’re not quite up to Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk levels yet, but soon. Soon.
So y’all know Matt Digges, right? The artist of Awesome Hospital? The guy who drew me this?
Well, the man is in need of a little extra scratch, and thus is now taking commissions to draw your favorite character…and if you ask nicely, he might draw characters other than Swamp Thing or Sluggo, too. You can read all the details on his Tumblr-thingie. But in all seriousness, Matt’s a swell cat and well deserving of your dollars, so go give him a few and get a wonderful drawing in return.
In other news:
- Hey, have I mentioned I’m doing a little lite-blogging on this site for my place of employment? We needed a new blanket site to cover both stores, I ended up doing a quickie WordPress install, and voilà, suddenly I’ve got another blog to maintain. It’s mostly a lot of “hey, look at this stuff we would like you to buy!” but we’re having fun with it. It’s just starting out, and I need to slap another coat of paint on it, but I think it looks nice, though I’ll have to beat Employee Mark if he uses another emoticon in a post again.
- We got in a copy of the Infinite Crisis Omnibus hardcover, and I sort of wish I remembered to take a picture of it, because this thing is just goofily thick. I mean, physically thick, not, you know, thick as in “not very bright,” which I suppose some of you would mention if I didn’t. But this thing is a real bullet-stopper, the kind of book you’d use to knock out a moose prior to surgery. It has purt’near every tie-in and mini-series to Infinite Crisis, and it’s like four inches thick, and it’s just amazing.
…Now, there have been similar books, like those Omnibii that Marvel has been doing (for example), so it’s not as if this kind of tome is anything new. But while big ol’ Gutenberg Bible editions of Fantastic Four, Watchmen, and even Howard the Duck sort of receive the “yeah, sure, we get it” reaction, this special Infinite Crisis: Overkill Edition tends to get The People’s Eyebrow and the occasional disbelieving “Really? They made one of those for that?” and all I can say is “hey, I got a dude who wants it, and that’s good enough for me.”
Of course, that there is not yet a Swamp Thing Omnibus with every 1970s appearance of the character is a crime that comics will pay for someday, oh yes.
- Pals Dor and Ken have another look at trailers for forthcoming movies…I always really look forward to each new installment of this column!
- Pal Andrew has another installment of “Nobody’s Favorites” and this time he takes on The King! Yup, one of Kirby’s latter-day creations gets Andrewified, and you can read the results right here. …A few years back, I had a brief discussion on this site about fandom’s contemporary opinions on Kirby’s later output (here and here) which generated some lively discussion (link goes to old commenting system…don’t post new comments there, please!). I only bring those posts up, not just to complement Andrew’s post, but to point out a certain realization I had about fandom’s reaction to that period of Kirby’s work:
“Okay, we look back on that stuff now and we can appreciate it for what it was. I don’t know if it took us 30 years to catch up to what Kirby was doing, or if it’s just nostalgic fondness for the comics of yore, or if it’s ‘ironic’ appreciation, or just admiration for Kirby’s energy in producing just pure ‘comic-booky’-type comics with no pretense at being anything other than what they were: escapist entertainment for kids. And I’m sure part of it is an unwillingness to take any portion of Kirby’s output for granted, since, obviously, there ain’t no more comin’”.
“There ain’t no more comin’.” I put in sort of a fake-folksy way, but it doesn’t make that thought any less depressing, and it’s sort of stuck with me all these years since I originally wrote it. Looking at that Witchfinder series John Severin drew last year, and thinking “no more Severin art.” Or “no more Gil Kane drawings.” Or “no more Steve Gerber stories.” The fact that there are still some stories and art from departed creators in the vaults, as it were, such as that Infernal Man-Thing mini featuring Gerber’s previously-unpublished scripts, simply serves to remind that we can only look forward to unearthed archived material, and That One Guy/Gal You Really Liked Who Just Passed Away isn’t sitting at his/her typewriter or art table and working on something brand spanking new at this very moment.
…Sigh. Sorry. “People die and it sucks” is today’s lesson, apparently.
Speaking of which…so long, Andy.
So here’s a thing that popped up at the shop the other day…a 1982 children’s book called The Superkids and the Singing Dog:
The story involves a group of young friends who enjoy dressing up as their favorite all DC Comics-published superheroes — pictured here rushing into action with their “Batmobile”:
…and their chance encounter with rock star Huckleberry Jam:
…who is looking for his missing dog, Chocolate. …And the kids of course help out, canvassing the neighborhood and getting into hijinks before (SPOILER ALERT) finding the dog and reuniting him with his master.
It’s a cute book, with some nicely-expressive illustration: there’s a good bit in one of the images where, while “Batman” is working on the Batmobile and everyone else is tending to the dog, “Flash” is just running around in circles in the yard.
A quick Googling also seems to show this was the only book with these characters, at least by this author. Of course, I’m just conditioned, I suppose, into thinking everything has to be part of a series, and that there’s nothing wrong with a book like this only being a one-off. But, still, it feels like this is the sort of thing that would have lent itself to a follow-up or two. Ah, well, such are the vagaries of publishing.
Anyway, I was trying to decide what my favorite entirely-out-of-context quite from the book was, and while this one was an early contender:
…I think the winner is clear:
Also, as a reminder…in addition to all the superheroes represented in this story:
…Huck and Chocolate are also
property of DC Comics, so keep your fingers crossed, and maybe they’ll get their own “New 52″ book soon!
…courtesy Young Love #122 (November 1976):
Giant sewing props on loan from 1950s Batman comics, presumably.
So Trevor A asked in a comment yesterday if I’d discuss some of DC’s post-New 52 titles and how they’re doing in this brave new retail world. The two he mentions specifically are The Shade and Huntress, and…they’re both doing…okay, I suppose, with Huntress selling just slightly better. They’re definitely at the low end of the sales scale when compared to the New 52 line…not as low as Static Shock or I, Vampire, but maybe around Voodoo levels. Not great, but they seem to be consistent from issue to issue at least, enough so that when I heard that talk about The Shade mini-series possibly getting canned halfway through, I was a bit surprised. It doesn’t seem likely now, as that would be definite egg in DC’s face if they had to cut a mini-series short so soon after their big publishing initiative.
Plus, not that I’m some big publishing marketing genius or anything, but I’d think there’d be a payoff in finishing the mini and collecting it into a trade as a companion to the Starman series it spun off from. …Which of course begs the question why they wouldn’t just go straight to graphic novel format to begin with, but that wouldn’t be a strategy they’d take with a third-stringer like the Shade, I’d imagine.
Well, that went off on a tangent a bit. So, Trevor A, what I’m trying to tell you is that those two series at least are selling okay, if not great. Other post-52 series like T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and My Greatest Adventure are selling about as well, with Penguin: Pain and Prejudice being kind of the surprise hit, necessitating multiple reorders to fill back issue requests.
In other news:
- Super-Team Family presents…Swamp Thing and Man-Thing!
- A new storyline over at The Rack begins with Three Days of the Con, Part One.
- Tony Isabella re-presents: Watchmen 2: Rorschach’s Revenge.
- REMINDER: you need more robot detectives in your life. Thus, Copernicus Jones.
- Oh, right…this isn’t a link to anything, but I wanted to thank longtime reader and commenter philip (with the lowercase “p”) for dropping by the store and daring to meet me in person, thus getting to see me in my natural unshaved and mostly undyed state. I of course thanked him for his visit by prying as much money as I could out of his hands. Thanks, philip, for coming by!
- Pals Dorian and Ken have another batch cooked up of those movie trailer reviews that I like so much.
- Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull That Walks Like A Little Stuffed Bull, brings us all what we didn’t know we wanted, but what we definitely needed: 366 Days of Alfred Pennyworth. …It is far more than we deserve.
- Also, I wanted to thank all of you for still coming back and reading my site. December was…not a great month for me, with health issues and working extra hours and just plain getting a bit burnt out, which of course affected content here. I’m feeling a lot better now, so hopefully everything will be up and running here as normal. Or whatever passes for normal. …Thanks, gang, and I’ll see you tomorrow.
Now on with part two of my “so how is all that new 52 hoohar doin’ five months on” overview, following up on that long-ago post where I asked you, the faithful reader, what you thought of them. Part one was yesterday, in case you forgot, and in case you didn’t, I’m sure I’ll link to part one once or twice more.
Grifter – Now had I been thinking, I probably would have ended yesterday’s post with Grifter since this is one of those titles I don’t really have anything to say about, beyond that it’s selling at all which is nothing short of a shock. Another one of those titles that isn’t generating a lot of buzz or attention but still has a small, stable following.
Hawk and Dove – Gotta give it to Rob Liefeld, he’s still on the book. And it’s maintaining…not great sales, but certainly respectable sales, and our customers do seem to be enjoying it. So, hey, that’s fine with me.
I, Vampire – Unfortunately, probably one of the two poorest selling titles of the new 52 for us. Vampire backlash from the comic fans, maybe? Perhaps seeing it as too…pandering, or something? I don’t know. Even the Constantine appearance in the latest issue didn’t do anything to spark interest.
Justice League – The best seller of the bunch, and, as I said before, it’s actually improved a bit since the debut. Okay, it’s still big, loud, and stupid, but it’s big, loud, stupid and entertaining. The mindlessly fun box office blockbuster of DC’s current line-up.
Justice League Dark – I’m not even quite sure what’s going on in this book…probably one of those titles that benefits from reading successive issues at once rather than with a month between, losing the nuances. Not that there’s a lot of “nuance” here, but c’mon. Still, oddly enjoyable and it’s Peter Milligan writing Shade the Changing Man again, and there’s gotta be value to that.
Justice League International – Haven’t looked at it since I didn’t finish reading the first issue after losing interest halfway through. Sells about a third of what Justice League does, which means it’s got some reasonable sales.
Legion of Super-Heroes, Legion Lost – I honestly think it’s probably time to mothball the Legion for a while and make people miss ‘em. Seriously, despite the occasional sales bump that comes from yet another reboot/relaunch (like, oh, say, the New 52 #1s) sales always drop right back down to where they were before. And I do mean “down.” Maybe it’s just us…maybe our local Legion fans have simply just dwindled in number. But that their comics do occasionally spike in sales tells me that at least part of our customer base is interested in the Legion, they’re just not interested in the Legion comics coming out right now.
Men of War – Another of the lower sellers, probably not surprisingly, though the people who do read it seem to enjoy it quite a bit.
Mister Terrific – Noted before that this book was kind of a disappointment for me…and apparently not just for me, as some of the prerelease excitement for this book among our customer base had us thinking it’d do really well…which it didn’t. Well, okay, that’s not fair…it did okay, and it’s still maintaining some lower mid-range numbers, so it has its fans.
Nightwing – Kinda surprised the hell out of me when I found out how well this book was selling for us. Not Action/Justice League numbers or anything, but certainly well up there. Lot of you kids out there are Nightwing fans, I guess.
OMAC – Such the best comic. A total Jack Kirby riff, and rightfully includes a credit for Kirby in the book now (which was overlooked in the first issue). Lots of noise and punching and crazy characters and even pulled off a two-page splash in the latest issue which didn’t make me immediately think “hey, you’ve only got 20 pages, cut that out” because it was awesome. Does okay for us, a lower mid-range title, but the folks that read it love it. As well they should.
Red Hood and the Outlaws – One of the better sellers at first, though it’s dropped just a bit. Despite all the fanguish about Starfire’s particular…portrayal in the first issue, we were getting the most requests for this title from our female customer base. Also, one of the employees is really into this title. Maybe a little too into it.
Resurrection Man – A lot of our longtime customers were equal-parts happy and surprised to see this title come back. Not a big seller, but selling more than I expected a revived non-big name title from a decade ago would.
Savage Hawkman – People want a Hawkman title, but it doesn’t appear to be this Hawkman title. Started off okay, but has seen some attrition and drops from comic saver files over the last month or two. It’s just not catching on, unfortunately. Still selling well enough, but probably needs a change in direction right quick to hang on to the readers it has.
Static Shock – The other poorest seller of the relaunch for us, which surprises me a bit. Are people seeing the name “Static Shock” and associating it with the cartoon, and thinking that they don’t want to read a “cartoon adaptation?” Is it maybe just too little, too late past the character’s peak popularity? I honestly have no idea.
Stormwatch – Didn’t really expect this to sell, but it’s doing fine. …Pretty much all I have to say about it, really. Some folks are surprised DC went with this instead of another Authority relaunch, but I’m kind of Authoritied-out so I’m glad they didn’t.
Suicide Squad – Started strongly, dropped about a…third, maybe, in sales, but even so still selling above-average numbers for the New 52 titles. Another one of those comics where the online reaction to the comic was belied by actual sales. Had a lot of people asking about it in the first month or two.
Superboy, Supergirl – Both these Superman tie-ins are selling quite well, with Supergirl having the edge. Supergirl is also getting a lot of back issue requests.
Superman – I can appreciate that George Perez is trying to give people their money’s worth with each issue, cramming as much story in there as possible, but it still feels like it’s getting in the way of telling the story. Like I said, it’s improving, and with a creative team change imminent, it’s very possible these problems will go away…or be replaced by whole new problems, but we’ll see. Sales were strong at first, and are slightly less-strong now, though still doing very well. Probably selling at about two-thirds of Action.
Swamp Thing – Another surprise from the New 52, where, like Animal Man, it’s selling a lot more than anyone would have predicted. And in our store’s case, I promise it’s not because of me pushing the book, honest! Kind of wish that the long, slow build-up to the eventual Return of Swamp Thing (no relation) was maybe a little faster-paced (and the lack of Swamp Thing thus far has cost the title a reader or two at the shop), but response has mostly been very positive for this series.
Teen Titans – That initial promo image was pretty roundly mocked, and rightfully so. However, the series is selling fairly on par or slightly more with the last Titans series or two, and I’ve had a pal or two whose tastes I trust tell me that it’s actually a better comic than you might have thought given that initial negative buzz.
Voodoo – A lower seller from the New 52, which shows nekkid gals can’t sell everything. Has its fans, and while not a big seller, it’s a consistent one, and that’ll do.
Wonder Woman – I really had a negative reaction to the first issue, as we were given a dark, moody and violent Wonder Woman comic instead of one that perhaps could sell to that potentially large audience of little girls that maybe, just maybe, might be interested in a character that, as pal Dorian has so accurately described, is a superhero who is also a princess. Sounds like printing money to me, but that’s not the audience DC wants coming into comic shops or buying comics online, so oh well. (And while we get little girls wanting superhero comics in our shop, I suspect we’re more the exception than the rule.) But, Wonder Woman is selling very well, and people I respect are telling me it’s good, so don’t pay any attention to me.
Overall, even with my being a bit of a Negative Nelly here and there, the new 52 relaunch has been a net gain for DC, with relaunched titles generally selling at or over what they were selling before, and several of the new titles maintaining consistent, if not always heavy, numbers. Despite a few clunkers here and there, a not unexpected result on some of the non-superhero…or less traditionally-superhero…books, this relaunch is doing well for us, and it’s certainly stirred up interest from our customer base, not just in DC Comics, but in comics across the board, which is definitely welcomed. In a marketplace that’s been relatively moribund for far too long, any excitement about the comics themselves, in the stories and characters as opposed to simply just as investable commodities, is something I’m glad to see. (Not that there weren’t some people with dollar signs in their eyes when all these new #1s were cranked out, but that period came and went fairly quickly.)
And besides, it was all worth it just to put Swamp Thing back on the stands. All worth it.
I…really wasn’t sure what I was planning when I asked you folks what you thought about DC’s New 52 thus far, whether I was going to comment on the responses individually, or do some kind of meta-analysis, or what. And frankly, my need to address that post, at least in my mind, has been looming over me like a really large thing that loomed over me.
I think what I’m going to do here is borrow this list of the New 52 that Siskoid already typed out in his comment, and briefly discuss each book (or family of books) in regards to customer reaction, sales, etc., and let that stand as my final (or at least part one of my final) response to the matter. But honestly, thank all of you who took the time to leave comments…I read every one, and found them informative and interesting.
So, here we go…the first half of my comments on the whole shebang:
Action Comics – Like I said the last time I attempted this, there seems to be a vague level of disappointment from some quarters regarding the pacing of this comic, but plenty of people seem to like it just fine, and it’s certainly one of the top sellers of the New 52 here at the shop. And I think people who haven’t liked the last couple of issues may enjoy #5, due out…today, in fact, and I’m not saying I’ve already read it, but may very well have, and it may respark some interest from those of you out there who have been less than enthralled with the title. (Also, I saw some folks out there in Internet-land who are somehow using what they’ve seen in previews for #5 as more ammo for their ol’ “Grant Morrison hates superheroes/the Silver Age” complaints, which is just crazy-talk from Crazytown, frankly.)
All-Star Western – Started off well, but seems to be back down to the folks who had already been buying the Jonah Hex…plus one or two more, so, you know, there’s been some improvement.
Animal Man – Probably one of the Big Surprises of the New 52, selling well and critically acclaimed — nice when those two qualities actually match up with each other on the same thing. The comic is very good, though (like I feel with many of the other comics) the pacing could stand to pick up a bit. It is quite a compellingly-disturbing story, one of the few true examples of a superhero horror comic. (Steve Gerber and Gene Colan’s The Phantom Zone (scroll down to #1) being another strong example, I think.)
Aquaman – Another surprise hit, and one customers seem to be talking about the most. Mostly in the context of “wow, I can’t believe I’m digging an Aquaman comic this much!” …It has been pretty good, I think.
Batgirl – This one’s been getting pretty mixed reviews from the get-go, though I thought it was pretty entertaining. And it’s certainly selling very well for us.
Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics – All these Batman books have seen a definite uptick in sales since the relaunch, though most of them had been selling pretty well to begin with. Detective probably benefited the most.
Batwing – A low to mid-range seller, still doing better than expected considering it’s a Batman spin-off not featuring one of the main Bat-family.
Batwoman – Solid mid-range seller…the art definitely sells the book. Brings in people who don’t normally buy comics.
Birds of Prey, Blue Beetle, Deathstroke – Selling okay, which is really better than I expected Deathstroke to do, to be honest. But otherwise, not really generating a whole lot of chatter or specific enthusiasm from the customers.
Blackhawks – Probably one of the lower-selling of the New 52. Have had a couple of customers note that the art really didn’t do anything for them.
Captain Atom – Good mid-range seller…haven’t really paid any attention to it, though people telling me (at the store and in the comments to that post) that it’s kind of a riff on Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan sort of has me intrigued.
Catwoman – I know people complained about the ridiculousexy in the first issue, but man, people do like Catwoman, regardless. Solid midrange seller.
DC Universe Presents – Good seller, will be interested to see if sales change when this series switches from Deadman to the Challengers of the Unknown. (Just had the thought that the series should just cumulatively add characters to the rotating stories. The first arc would be just Deadman, the second would be Deadman and the Challengers, the third would be Deadman, the Challs, and, oh, I don’t know, the Omega Men, and so on. Would be quite the sight by the time issue #50 rolled around.)
Demon Knights – Considering the setting is in Ye Olden Dayes, and that it stars a lot of the magical DC characters…actually selling a lot better than expected. …There’s probably more characters in here than the book can really comfortably handle, but it makes for an entertaining read nonetheless.
Flash – Strong seller, and I’m being told it’s actually quite good. Alas, I’d pretty much hit my limit on how many Flash stories I can read, and dropped the franchise a year or two back, but people telling me it’s good got me to poke my nose into an issue or two recently. Sadly, it still didn’t do anything for me, but I’m glad people are enjoying it.
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. – One humdinger of a book…maybe a little too out there for most folks, but quite the treat for the reader who dares peek inside its covers. Like OMAC (discussed tomorrow), it’s one of those well-admired titles that has a small but loyal following. …It’s kinda like the DC Universe version of Hellboy, and that’s just fine.
Fury of Firestorm – Mentioned this in my initial post (which I’m not going to link to yet again in this post)…didn’t grab me at first, but it’s slowly growing on me now that I’ve wrapped my mind around the idea that this particular take is different from the one I’ve been used to for the last decade or three. Maintaining okay sales at the shop.
Green Arrow – Small gain in sales since the relaunch. Haven’t really heard any buzz good or bad about this title. It’s a Green Arrow comic that’s selling okay, so I’m not going to complain. Well, Swamp Thing’s not in it, so I’ll complain about that, anyway.
Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Red Lanterns – Still probably about one or two GL titles too many, but…well, they all have some entertainment value, and they’re all selling well so far. So long as they don’t add a fifth Lantern title, and honestly I wouldn’t put it past them. Anyway, Green Lantern is the best, and the best-selling, of the bunch, with the ongoing Hal Jordan/Sinestro disfunctional bromance. Man, I hope this stays a cop/buddy book, because I love reading Sinestro stories and the dynamic between him and Hal makes for a fun read. I’ve mentioned before, once or twice, about how Sinestro is one of my favorite supervillains. In fact, I’d be okay with a fifth GL book if Sinestro was kicked out of the main GL book and given his own ongoing series.
Corps and New Guardians aren’t bad, but I think I’m ready for those initial storylines to be over. But Larfleeze finally showed up in the latter series, and Everyone Loves Larfleeze so that series just shot up in quality for me, as far as I’m concerned. And Red Lanterns is interesting sort of despite itself, what with all the blood and grossness and characters being dicks to each other and whatnot, and yet still being readable. Yeah, I know, it’s hard to explain. Still needs to just turn into a Dex-Starr solo book. (And maybe he can team up with that cat from Animal Man.)
…Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of my overview of the New 52! …Ah, c’mon, come back. …Please?