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The temptation to follow up to the comments on my Robot 6 interview is strong, but I think I’ll try to resist…mostly. A few folks there noted an actual, physical aversion to the very texture of DC’s 3D covers, which is a reaction I hadn’t heard at the shop. I did have a few people reject the 3D covers because they didn’t care for them visually, and others who expressed an aversion at paying $3.99 a pop, but people just plain not liking how they feel is a phenomenon I didn’t expect. Personally, I liked rubbing them together and listening to the zzzzzzip zzzzzzip sound, but perhaps I’ve said too much.
Interesting also is the gap between one commenter’s statement that “the idea any of these titles are going to be worth money in the future is laughable” and another’s statement that “these are going to be worth money.” The truth is somewhere between, as it often is, unless the eventual answer turns out to be “these will be worth exactly one visit to the King of the Moon!” which is waaaay outside the range established by the initial responses, admittedly. Right now, yeah, some of them are commanding Big EBay Bucks, but they’ll settle down to Slightly More Reasonable EBay Bucks in a few months, and I suspect future price guides, assuming a future industry to support publication of future price guides, will reflect slightly higher prices for these 3D issues over the issues that surround them. If the vast majority of them are going for any more than about $5 to $10 a year from now, I will be shocked, and thankfully the comments on this post will be closed by then in case I’m wrong. Anyway, in a year someone remind me to go look at the aftermarket pricing on these books and maybe I’ll write up a follow-up post, unless by then I’ve ejector-seated myself out of this crazy business and finally started doing something sensible, like deep-sea fishing.
The negative response to the comics themselves, not just in those comments but elsewhere on the Internet, are a bit of a surprise, too. Well, not much of a surprise since it’s currently DC’s turn to get kicked around by the online comic-gnoscenti, but in general my customers seemed to enjoy reading the comics, when they weren’t being frustrated by availability issues. Most of the ones I read I enjoyed, but, as I noted in an earlier post, I was generally just picking up the Villains Month issues for comics I was already reading (or featuring concepts I enjoyed, but shoved under the Justice League banner for the month), so I was predisposed to like the Villains Months issues I was buying. I liked most of the one-shots that tied into the main Batman book, for instance, but I passed on the Bane one-shot because, well, aside from the animated versions, and the amazing live-action version from the third Nolan Bat-film, I don’t much care for the character. I enjoyed the Doomsday issue of Superman/Batman, with its crazy-pants Krypton story and implications for how the Death of Superman now fits into New 52 continuity. We also got a new Mongul story in one of those Green Lantern one-shots, written by Mongul’s creator, Jim Starlin! That was pretty fantastic. And I enjoyed Swamp Thing‘s Arcane one-shot, as I’d discussed previously, and my issues with that particular comic were more related to the general Swampy-reboot as a whole than any specific Villains Month hoohar, but then, I’m Swamp Thing-obsessed so that should be expected. …And I’m sure some of you folks out there liked reading some of these villains comics as well.
In a more general sense (and I’ll stop using the word “general,” I promise) I don’t object to the idea of DC doing a big special event like this. If it gets people in stores and looking for comics, well, beggars can’t really be choosers, especially as the marketplace continues its ever-ongoing and seemingly-eternal upward scrabble out of the pit of the ’90s crash. I wish the event had been handled differently — let me insert right here the “NO DUH” you’re thinking right now. I wish it didn’t effectively make a bunch of titles weekly books for the month…I mean, if you were already getting all the Green Lantern books, you were basically buying a weekly GL comic anyway, but if you were only getting the main Green Lantern title, you may have felt compelled to get all four Villains Month issues, quadrupling your GL input, and that hardly seems fair. (Much in the same way Superior Spider-Man fans got about twenty issues of their title in nine months, Lucy-and-Ethyl-working-the-chocolate-conveyor-belt style). At the same time, just doing a Villains Month special for each of their regular titles would not have generated the same sales levels, probably; an All-Star Western 3D Villains Month special issue wouldn’t have generated the numbers of a fourth Superman special, hence that marketing decision.
In conclusion, I wish things were different and better and that everyone would be happy, and also I want more Swamp Thing titles, so long as I’m wishing for stuff. I also hope the next Big Event is not quite as headache-inducing, as long as I’m really wishing. And hopefully, that’s enough discussion of 3D covers on this site (until the aforementioned year-later post I may or may not do).
Next up: DIE-CUT COVERS – why these are a huge pain in the ass.
So I was asked, in response to my post on Monday in regards to DC’s 3D cover allocations, which title was the one I’m getting more copies than what I originally ordered. I probably should have noted it at the time, but, you know, how do you keep a blog reader in suspense? I’ll tell you Thursday: it was the Darkseid issue of Justice League, and I don’t entirely understand DC’s mix of numerology and voodoo in determining how many copies of each comic that each retailer gets in relation to the actual number of copies DC ordered, but apparently they thought Darkseid was going to be A Big One and set print runs accordingly.
I mean, I have no idea how true that is. DC’s allocation formula is apparently based on each retailer’s ordering history for the titles, or something like that, so maybe the comic publishing stars aligned in just the right way for my Darkseid orders to be increased rather than decreased. The mileage of other retailers may, as they say, vary. At least I’m getting all the copies I ordered of that Joker issue, which apparently means DC also anticipated demand and ordered a forest-leveling amount of them. Anyway, in conclusion: 3D covers! I’m looking forward to never talking about them again!
In other news, comic collections, like buses and taxis and Adam Sandler movies, seem to come all at once, and in the last week or three we ended up with about three collections of ’80s and ’90s indie comics, resulting in yet another copy of Yummy Fur #9 in our possession. As you may remember, that was one of the big missing links in my collection that, after a decades-long search, finally was acquired a few months ago. So now here’s another one, mocking me with its availability so soon after I finally found a copy. Sigh…it’s MacKenzie Queen #5 all over again. Please note my accurate prediction regarding current events in that post.
And in variant cover news: why, hello there awesome Jim Starlin variant for Superman Unchained #3:
I enjoy Superman Unchained
well enough as is, but baby, like I wrote about at the end of this post
, I would much rather read the comic this
cover is selling me. (Take a look at this oddly creepy yet amazing Brian Bolland variant
So following up on my brief grumbling about DC Comics and their handing of the 3D covers for Villains Month….
To recap briefly: DC Comics is replacing their regular superhero series for the month of September with what is essentially 52 supervillain “one-shots” as part of their line-wide “Forever Evil” crossover event, though they are all branded and numbered as part of particular series. For example, what would have been one issue of Action Comics for that month is now Action Comics #23.1 through #23.4, four weekly issues of Action each featuring a different villain. And on top of that, DC is using advanced lenticular imagery to give each cover a 3D effect.
In ordering these special issues, I had to take into effect the following considerations:
1. I needed enough copies to cover in-store sales, both for customer pull boxes and for sales off the rack (based on sales histories for each title over previous months).
2. I needed to gauge how many extra copies I’d need to cover extra interest caused by being a crossover tie-in.
3. I also had to estimate interest based on the specific villain being featured in each issue. (A Joker comic will sell forever…a Count Vertigo comic I’d probably have to staple dollar bills to the cover to get people to take it home.)
4. And then, of course, I had to use the immense precognitive powers all comic retailers must develop to foresee how many extra copies I’m going to sell because AWESOME 3D COVERS, DUDE!
After too many weeks of agonizing over these things (particular over Justice League: Dial E, tying together one of DC’s highest selling titles with one of their lowest, and wondering how stuck I’m going to be with copies), I finally settled on numbers I could live with for each title. I had enough to cover regular monthly sales, I believed I had enough to handle any additional interest each individual title might bring in, and I thought I had enough of a buffer to accommodate folks attracted by the 3D novelty.
And then this happened. DC wasn’t able to produce enough copies of the 3D versions of these titles to meet demand, resulting in allocation of retailer orders and the announcement of alternative editions of these comics with regular 2D covers.
In my case, it’s not as bad as it could have been, but Good Lord it ain’t good. Out of 52 titles, my orders on eight remain unchanged. On eleven books (including some particularly significant ones, like some Justice League titles), my orders were cut in half. Even more than half, in a couple of cases. Some orders were only dropped by about 1/3, but that’s enough of a cut to be problematic. In a number of cases, I only lost a few copies, sometimes as little as two. And, oddly enough, in the case of at least one title, I was allocated more than I ordered (which has me wondering if DC way overestimated the popularity of that one issue when originally setting their print runs).
For a couple of the drastically reduced titles, I am going to be stuck with not enough of the 3D covers to even cover pull lists, though discussion with some customers has shown that they’re sympathetic to the situation we find ourselves in, that it’s not our fault and they’re okay with receiving 2D covers if necessary.
Plus, there’s another potential hiccup, even with the titles for which I’m receiving my full orders (or close to full orders). The news regarding the allocation of the 3D covers has been widely disseminated, which means it’s widely known (or at least perceived that) these books are in short supply, which will jump up demand beyond that which I anticipated. As I noted, I based my orders on particular factors, but not one of them was “DC won’t be able to print enough of them, ensuring I don’t get even the numbers I ordered.” I was doing my level best to estimate sales levels on previous histories, demand for specific characters, and general interest in the 3D effect. Now that we’ll likely have “speculation” and “other stores trying to buy copies for their shelves” and “I hear these are rare, we better buy ‘em” goosing sales, rack copies are going to dry up immediately, even with one-per-customer limits that we’re almost certainly going to have to impose. Even on that one Joker issue, for which I am getting my full order, but will now surely blow off the shelves.
Ordering the 2D cover alternatives to make up the 3D cover shortages was bit of a bear as well, though, as I said, some of my customers are cool with having 2D replacements. But now, I have to reconsider what my potential racks sales are going to be, as my estimates were at least partially based on the 3D covers attracting attention. Point 4 is now no longer a consideration in my numbered list above, which would have been the dealmaker in at least a few of the more borderline titles being offered. No offense to the World’s Biggest Count Vertigo Fan, who is very likely reading my website right now and is about to shoot off an angry email to me, but a Count Vertigo comic with a cool 3D cover might have sold to someone with no prior interest in Count Vertigo out of the novelty of it all. A plain ol’ Count Vertigo cover may not have grabbed that same customer.
Of course, Harley Quinn and Joker and Lobo and the like will sell comics regardless of how many dimensions their covers have…I plan on getting plenty of the 2D versions of those titles. Regardless, this whole hoohar DC caused by their overreach and inability to provide the product they promised is going to make a very nervous September for us, as I hope the orders I did my best to estimate will actually reflect reality. Otherwise, you may see me in front of the shop, rattling a tin can and asking for spare change.
Sigh. I hear if you look closely, you can actually see the grey hair shooting out of my scalp.
• • •
In other more amusing news: where I lead, Grant Morrison follows! Big news over the last couple of days, as Morrison revealed his interpretation
of the end of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke
. Basically, Morrison thinks at the end of the story, based on particular storytelling clues, Batman kills the Joker.
Why yes, that is an interesting interpretation, and old news to longtime readers of this site, who may remember I came to the same conclusion nearly a decade ago. …Of course, I’m sure I wasn’t the first, and in the end it’s just an interpretation of the ending, and not necessarily reflective of any direct intention of the authors. Not that I got anywhere near the blowback on this at the time that Morrison’s receiving now, since Morrison seems to attract his share of folks getting the vapors whenever he says anything. But anyway, I was a bit bemused by this turn of events, and my thanks to folks on the Twitterers who did their best to point out my original post.
• • •
One last item: Bully
, the Bull Who Walks Like A Little Stuffed Bull, was responsible for my corner box image
last week, in case you wanted to know what that was all about.
So due to DC’s recent announcement that they’re allocating the 3D Villains Month covers, my position on my orders for the books has gone from “I’ve ordered way too many, I’m probably going to take a bath on some of these” to “oh Lordy I’ve ordered not nearly enough.” As I write this (late Sunday evening) the page on the distributor website that will tell me the exact numbers I’m being allocated only results in an error page, so I have no idea how badly my orders are being curtailed. DC is offering 2D versions of the books to make up any shortfall, but the primary selling point on these were the 3D covers, so I suspect the 2D covers will be the disappointing consolation prize.
Since the allocation has been widely publicized, I may have to go the “one per customer” route on many of the books to avoid rampant hording and speculation from those folks who only show up at the store when the faint whiff of a buck to be made wafts gently through the breeze. We’ll see what happens, but let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun to agonize over orders, finally get some numbers down that you can live with, and then have to address the same problem all over again just a few weeks later. Ah, well…I figured there likely wouldn’t be any reorders to be had, but I had hoped at least our full initial orders would ship.
And in conclusion: I’d better get my 3D Swamp Thing covers.
…Anyway, I apologize for the shortness of this post. I try to have longer posts for Mondays, but I’m actually frustrated enough with this situation that I really don’t want to think about comics right now, beyond getting this hoohar straightened out about as much as I can manage. Not knowing how my orders are being cut is probably the worst part at the moment. I’ll let you know how things work out.
So I was looking through this DC Sneak Previews freebie:
…which you know came out several years ago, since it actually cover-features superheroes who are (gasp) not in their mid-20s, and featuring previews of the Justice Society of America
mini-series and Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II
. Of note is the intro to the GL:EDII preview:
…which features this phrase that pays:
a slogan that would have brought attendees to movie houses in droves, should Warner Brothers’ marketing division only have dared to use it. Of course, that would have required a slight rewriting of the film to facilitate its use, but I think we all agree a rewrite for the GL film would not entirely have been out of order.
• • •
In other news:
images from DC Sneak Previews #1 (1991)
Batman and Batman – Batman teams up with Batman to fight their arch-nemesis…Batman! Guest-starring Batman!
Swamp Thing Team-Up – Your favorite hero teams up with the rest of the DC Universe in this exciting new title!
Superman and the Flash – Earth’s two fastest heroes compete in race after race, in this dark and terrifying tale of obsession and fierce rivalry!
Justice League: Binky and His Buddies – Binky and pals get into wacky hijinks in each and every issue! Special guest stars: the Justice League!
All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder – the only Batman title worth reading returns in an all-new series, and is now part of official continuity! Everyone wins!
Jonah Blechs! – Mad Magazine gets a New 52 makeover in this all-new western-themed parody anthology! Cringe at our new mascot, Alfred E. Hex! Special guest star: Batman…er, I mean, Blech-Man!
O.M.A.C. – screw sales…we’re bringing it back! It’s awesome! Deal with it!
The Legion of Super-Pets – Finally, a Legion title that will sell, starring Krypto the Super-Dog, Comet the Super-Horse, Streaky the Super-Cat, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Proty II, and a timelost-from-the-20th-century Rex the Wonder Dog!
Superman Celebrates the Bicentennial – All new Revolutionary War adventure with Tomahawk! Not guest-starring Superman!
Detectives in Action – Slam Bradley and Congo Bill team up to fight crime, from the darkest city alleys to the deepest jungles!
Superman Dies! – Superman dies in each issue! How does he come back? Read the next issue!
Aquaman – Aquaman beats people up, swears a lot, smokes cigarettes, drives fast cars and gambles! He’s badass, yo!
Atom and the Hawkman – the powerhouse duo team up for another seven issue run!
Superman: The Married Life – we follow Superman through multiple ongoing
what if Elseworlds scenarios, as he marries Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Lex Luthor, and more!
Fishnets Ahoy! – Paul Dini and Brian Bolland bring you the Zatanna/Black Canary team-up comic you demanded!
Alfred – Batman’s butler gets up to awesome stuff while Bats is out doin’ his thing! You know you’d read this!
Justice League: G.I. Combat – hard-hitting war stories told by today’s top talents! Special guest stars: the Justice League!
Hot Wheels – the classic ’60s DC title returns, featuring the DCU’s most famous vehicles in exciting races! The Batmobile! The Supermobile! The Arrowcar! The Whiz Wagon!
Superboy and Supergirl – Copyrights are just as easily maintained in one title rather than two! Twenty pages filled every month!
Swamp Thing Forever – Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson pick up where they left off on their legendary horror comic!
Justice League: Swamp – Swamp Thing teams up with his predecessors, Alex Olsen Swamp Thing, the one that totally isn’t Man-Thing, the one that totally isn’t…well, okay, it’s the Heap, that awesome trilobite Swamp Thing, and Swamp Knucker just so we can say “Swamp Knucker” on a regular basis!
Dark Mansion of Forbidden Lobo – mysterious gothic romance and plenty of fraggin’ starring the last Czarnian!
Furry of Firestorm – our nuclear-powered hero finally finds a way to connect to his arch-nemesis, the Hyena — via the power of anthropomorphic costuming!
Bat-Mite Incorporated – the extra-dimensional imp sets up business in our world, with new Bat-Mites in every country! Thrill to Monsieur Mite!
Superman Chained – complete mundane daily activities with Superman, doing things that barely involve his powers, in strict six-to-nine panel grids! Sometimes he’ll warm up his coffee with his heat vision!
Birds of Prey Season Two – continuing the fan-favorite WB TV series! Batman still won’t be in it!
Nightwing Swimsuit Spectacular – Dick “Nightwing” Grayson fights crime in the sexiest, most daring swimsuits! The Sling! The Swimjammers! The simply shocking Gun Turret!
Suicide Squid – directly pandering to the few people left who remember comics Usenet! Will probably receive typical direct market sales figures!
Watchmen Plus – a brand-new ongoing series taking place immediately after the award winning graphic novel drawn by Dave Gibbons, and by an endless stream of creators you can add to your boycott lists! Guest-starring David Lloyd’s legendary character V!
Superman’s Weird Stalker Jimmy Olsen – pretty much self-explanatory! The dude made a signal-watch to bother Supes! I mean, c’mon!
Captain Marvel – the Big Red Cheese gets his own title, under his real, actual name! Bring it on, Marvel — try to sue us! We dare you! We’re not scared of Disney!
Justice League of Skeptics – Doctor Thirteen leads his group of skeptics (Randi, Plait, Novella, Wiseman) around the DC Universe, explaining to various superheroes why what they’re doing is actually physically impossible!
Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis – updated for the 21st century! Jerry sees a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye…but when he turns, there’s nothing there! Creepy supernatural mystery!
Superman-Tim – the nigh-forgotten Golden Age title returns in an all-new revamped series, and Superman and his pal Tim Gunn take on the fashion disasters that have spread across the DC Universe!
Sugar Vs. Spike – those plucky toddler pals have grown up to become teenage rivals! And how does junior software magnate Bernie the Brain fit in?
Metal Men – the hardest rockin’ robots of all — will their tour dates take them to your town?
Challengers of the Known – Follow Ace, Haley, Rocky and Red and their continuing struggle against evolution, physics, biology, medical science, climate science, and more!
The Many Deaths of Dobie Gillis – an adult Dobie becomes a rugged and deadly vigilante, taking out criminals that the law can’t touch!
Scooby-Doomsday – what unspeakable events shaped a congenial talking dog into the universe’s most terrifying supervillain? Follow the tale of tragedy in this new ongoing series!
Beware the Creeper – the ongoing anti-heroic adventures of the super-”hero” who behaves really inappropriately towards women! An object lesson for the socially inept!
Teen Titans – Teen Robin! Flannel Flash! Wonder Goth! The heppest, grooviest, new-waviest super-kids in their own happenin’ title! It’s gnarly, daddy-o!
Justice League: Preacher – Jesse Custer moves to the DC Universe and reteams with his best pal, the vampire Cassidy, along with his girlfriend Tulip, as well as special guest star Cyborg, as they battle against the nefarious Captain God and his partner-in-crime, Felix Faust!
Phantom Stranger – the continuing saga of that dude who’s always hanging out, a friend of a friend or something, but never around when you need to, like, move a couch or paint a house or any stuff like that!
Justice League: Deathstroke – the Justice League fights Deathstroke issue after issue after issue, following up on their conflict from Identity Crisis which may or may not have happened, who knows!
The DC Avengers – Marvel’s popular super-team makes its most shocking brand-extension yet — into the DC Universe! Captain America recruits Looker, Blue Beetle, Elongated Man, and Blue Devil into an exciting new fighting force!
Batman and the Justice League – Batman takes on the role of headmaster at the Justice League School of Super-Heroing! Guest-starring Batman and the Justice League!
The New Green Lantern – based on the hit movie starring Ryan Reynolds! Will Sinestro go bad? Will that giant cloud-Parallax-thingie seek revenge? Will Hector Hammond continue screeching unpleasantly? Read this series and find out!
The Omega Men – Primus and his crew find themselves on a far-flung future Earth, fighting a world of vampires!
The Water No Longer Flows – a sensitive and informative biographical tale of a young man struggling through poverty and the loss of his family and friends in a war-torn Third World country. Special guest star: Booster Gold!
Superman’s Trunks – Superman’s little red pants make their triumphant return in this ongoing solo series!
Justice League: New Gods – okay, maybe THIS time it’ll stick! We’ll make some real money on these Kirby characters yet!
Wonder Woman – all-ages adventures featuring Wonder Woman fighting super-villains in bright, colorful and fun stories! …Hey, might as well dream big!
So in response to the recent news about DC’s lenticular covers for their Villains Month special event, Twitter pal Joe and I had the following back ‘n’ forth:
This is the Eclipso: The Darkness Within
cover in question, by the way, straight outta my collection:
And here’s a close-up of the gem:
Geez, I should have looked a little more closely, and picked one that didn’t still have that bit of flash by the top corner, there. Ah, well. Way to go, younger me.
Now it’s been a while…like “over twenty years” a while, so my memory was that there were two versions of the Eclipso comic, one with a plastic gem and without sans gem…well, that bit is right, anyway, but I thought that you paid a little extra for the privilege of having a big lump on the front of your comic that would dent the comic ahead of it in the box. Turns out I was wrong, thankfully, because I didn’t want to think I dished out an extra fifty cents for that. I do notice that the drawing of the gem is actually removed from the cover that had the plastic gem glued to it, which is nice attention to detail, I think.
Anyway, after a close investigation of the comics surrounding that issue of Eclipso in my storage box, I can determine no damage caused by said gem to any of the comics in front of it. The box was not tightly packed, however, whether by accident or by subconscious desire to avoid pressing anything too heavily against that Eclipso, because like I said in that Twitter post up there, it did occasionally cross my mind that storing that comic was going to terrible, terrible things to other innocent comics. I didn’t worry enough about it to put a backing board or something in front of it as other Twitter pal Christopher suggested, but it was just one of those comic related things floating around in my head, like “which issue of X-Men did snowy Iceman become icy Iceman” and “hold on, I didn’t actually buy X-Force #1, did I?”
Of course, writing about this has me wondering about how our backstock of this Eclipso comic is being stored at the shop. I sure hope we packed the box properly way back when.
Anyway, back to that DC Villains event…I don’t know about the rest of those comics, but we’re gonna sell a billion of those Jokers.
So I noticed that All Star Western received a slight bump in sales over the last couple of issues, thanks to Booster Gold’s guest-appearances. I suppose this currently storyline may put out a Jonah Hex purist or two, but let’s face it, Jonah Hex is part of the DC Universe, and if the occasional crossover from that universe helps to keep a DC title on the stands that isn’t yet another variation of a Batman, Superman or Green Lantern title, then crossover-away, sez I. Plus, if you’re a fan of a certain age, the certainly deliberate evocation of the mid-1980s Hex series may inspire a nostalgic twinge or two…assuming you were a fan of that Hex series in the first place, but of course, why wouldn’t you be?
An interesting note about my old post that I linked there…I make a brief aside that we never learn how Jonah Hex returned to his own time from that future, that maybe it’ll be a plot point in some future Booster Gold story or something. Well, given that Gold is in the current Jonah Hex comics now, and that we know that Hex ends up in the present day DC Universe at least briefly…so maybe I kinda sorta foretold the future there. Well, not that it’s the same continuity or anything, but that’s close enough for me to toot my own horn for a few dozen words in a blog post.
Speaking of Green Lantern, in that I wrote the words “Green Lantern” in the first paragraph, I’ve noted that the special extra-sized “so long to Geoff Johns”/”so long to Geoff Johns’ storylines” Green Lantern #20 is being taken as a good jumping-off point for a few of our customers, which has me wondering about future sales on the franchise. DC did it to itself, really…it was able to grow its Green Lantern line into four heavily-linked core titles so long as interest in the ongoing storyline in those titles was strong. It was a rare case of reader reluctance to pick up yet another related series being overwhelmed by desire to keep up with the franchise. Not that there was a one-to-one correlation in sales…the main GL book usually outsold the others by about 2 to 1, but there were still some customers buying all the titles. However, now that the story, or at least Geoff Johns’ iteration of the story, is “done,” as much as an ongoing superhero comic can be done, the impetus to follow all the GL franchise books is diminished, particularly with the turnover of creative teams on all the books occurring simultaneously.
Okay, it’s not like Green Lantern sales are going to dry up overnight, but I am expecting some dropoff as folks reconsider whether they need to follow four ongoing GL titles a month.
On the topic of franchise books, there’s that Superman Unchained comic that’s headed our way soon…a comic being ordered in such hideously large numbers I actually had one of our distributor reps ask me “why are people getting so many of these?” The answer is…well, a bazillion variants based on sales plateaus (a Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez one for me, thank you!), plus the fact it’s written by Scott Snyder, who’s had some success with that Batman series, and illustrated by Jim Lee, which is kind of a big deal, but yeah, there’s going to be a lot of copies out there in the marketplace, making this the 1991 X-Men #1 of the 21st century (or the Shazam! #1 of the 21st century, for those of you old enough to get that implication).
I am looking forward to the book, and I do suspect it will sell well, though probably not at the numbers everyone is ordering. I have enough interest locally in the variant covers to help subsidize the order I placed, but still…sheesh. DC cast out the line, they successfully reeled me in. But Scott Snyder and Jim Lee on a Superman book…I think this will be the series that gives us a New 52 Superman that actually feels like a big ol’ Superman comic, unlike most of the attempts at trying (with varying success) to reestablish Superman since the whole New 52 relaunch was dropped on us. And that Greg Pak/Jae Lee Batman/Superman series feels promising, too. We’ll see soon enough.
Anyway, what your pal Mike is saying is that he wants to enjoy good, new Superman comics. Like that Adventures of Superman…it’s not New 52 Superman, which I imagine is a selling point for a lot of you, but it’s swell to boot, so thankfully the hoohar around that title all worked out for the best.
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.
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