“Welcome to Walt Disney’s Progressive Ruin.”

§ February 28th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 8 Comments

So the follow-up to last week’s release of Batman #89, which nobody had enough of because everyone decided they needed it after orders were locked down, was this week’s Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3, which also experienced a huge amount of demand that wasn’t there prior to its orders being solidified.

And unlike Batman #89, which at least had a chance at being ordered in reasonably high quantities, Hell Arisen #3 was, at least in these quarters, ordered pretty close to the bone, for pull lists and to accommodate numbers sold on the shelf for issues #1 and #2. Probably not a lot of extras of those floatin’ around, I’d imagine. Batman‘s got a shelf life beyond its initial week of release, the presumably concluding mini-series to an event that, despite its title, was definitely around for like eight or nine years, ain’t going to be picking up a bunch of brand new readers, so I’m presuming orders were very conservative.

But it’s an early appearance of a new character, or characters, I’m not even entirely sure, so I don’t even have to check in on the eBays to see what usually happens when short supply meets high demand. (Remind me in about six months or so to check in there and see where values may have settled.)

The next big, well, milestone, I suppose, will be Batman #92…specifically, the “cardstock variant cover” illustrated by Artgerm, for which I’m already receiving requests. Finally, DC found a way to get people to want to pay a dollar more for these cardstock covers. It was supposed to be the variant for #94, but DC, smelling a buck anticipating current demand, pushed up its release. And I’m just going to post a picture of it here so I don’t have yet another giant wall of text on my site:

Okay, Joker’s new partner in crime, that’s all well and good, assuming 1) DC learned its lesson regarding the abusive relationship Harley Quinn was in with the Joker (and to be fair, it looks like they have, at least with HQ’s modern portrayal) and makes Punchline more of an equal, and 2) any issues with Orientalism can be avoided, making the character part of a commitment to diversity rather than surface level fetishism.

Okay, okay, bit early to be dumping this much heaviness onto a brand new character that’s barely shown up. I may be a bit soured on the whole thing because of the sales situation, so maybe I’ll feel a little more positive about the whole thing once there’s a little distance. At the very least, the comic market can use a little excitement once in a while just to keep things interesting, even if it makes my grey hair just slightly more grey.

And speaking of going more grey, it’s going to be tricky ordering this cover for #92. I’ve got preorders, which helps, but am I going to get much additional walk-in traffic for it? It’s far enough in advance that everyone can order as much as they want of it right now, but if there’s plenty of supply, the sort of demand that would come if copies weren’t plentiful may not materialize. I can see some stores getting stuck with piles of this issue, and I need to make darn sure I’m not one of them.

• • •

In other news, in the wake of former copublisher Dan DiDio’s departure, I’ve been seeing online, and hearing from the occasional customer, things like “Is Marvel buying DC?” or “is DC licensing their characters to Marvel?” or “is DC going to get shut down if their next event doesn’t pay off?” …And all I can think of is that long ago issue of Comic Shop News, either an April Fools issue or maybe their issue #50 or maybe both, that had a fake headline and story headlined “MARVEL BUYS DC.” I still have a copy around my house, somewhere…probably should have found it before writing this post, but oh well, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, that sort of rumor has been going on a long time, even long before that issue of CSN. And interestingly, I don’t recall such prevalence of the reverse rumor, DC buying Marvel, even when that seemed like an even greater possibility during Marvel’s lean years prior to the Disney buyout.

Anyway, it’s all horseshit. DC licensing characters to Marvel makes no sense, since Marvel has no publishing advantage over DC, really, and besides, Marvel’s already licensing out their own characters to somebody else to publish. The major thing Marvel has over DC is its movies, which all tend to be successful and have consistent cultural traction. Despite that, DC’s movies on the whole do make money, aside from a few underperformers, and it seems unlikely Warner Bros. would wish to endure “Marvel Studios Presents SUPERMAN.” I see WB continuing to try to make money with DC, rather than giving it up for someone else to make money, or canning it entirely.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that someday Disney won’t buy Warner Bros. and merge Marvel and DC together at some point, but Disney’s eventual acquisition of everything is inevitable. We shall all be one with The Mouse.

Oh, and my guess for who’s replacing Dan DiDio as co-publisher, assuming Jim Lee doesn’t become sole publisher or that someone at Warners installs someone in the position? …Brian Michael Bendis. Put me in the office pool for a dollar, please.

8 Responses to ““Welcome to Walt Disney’s Progressive Ruin.””

  • Jer says:

    re: the Marvel/DC thing – people spreading this rumor seem to think that there’s significant money to be made in the monthly publishing arms of Marvel and DC, instead of these being areas of Disney and AT&T that account for basically rounding errors in profits. The value they bring to the two companies is in shepherding the IP that they own – that’s about it.

    My biggest fear personally is actually that AT&T looks at what DC is doing with monthly publishing, decides that unlike Warner they don’t think it has value as part of the IP farm, and drops new publishing entirely – content to use reprints and other media to be the IP farm. I actually don’t think anyone could offer AT&T enough money to license the characters and profitably publish them if AT&T decides that publication of new material has value beyond the dollars it generates.

    (Also that rumor was started (probably maliciously IMO) by a certain artist who has a beef with the comics industry as a whole – once I saw who touched it off I realized why it sounded so stupid).

  • Tenzil Kem, Esq. says:

    Way back in 2005 or 2006, I fell for an April fool’s joke hook, line and sinker in the aftermath of the Siegel estate’s lawsuit against DC over Superman. An article on either CBR or Newsarama claimed that the estate had sold their recently acquired interest in Superman to Marvel and Marvel would be launching a Superman title. I thought it was true for a few hours until I finally realized that it was April 1st. In my defense, it was really early in the morning and I was still half asleep and yeah, I still should have known better.

  • googum says:

    I would love it if every time Punchline appeared, it was a different Punchline: this month, gothy girl; next time she’s a Grace Jones-type, next it’s a beardy, facepainted Galifianakis-looking guy. That would give the speculators what-for!

  • Mikester says:

    Jer – I mean, yeah, sure, it’s always a possibility…I personally thought that, given the rushed nature of the New 52 reboot, that was sort of a “last chance” thing for DC before everything got parted out to the licensing department. But DC’s still hanging in there, and Marvel is too (though being under Disney’s wing it’s probably on even more unstable ground). But I think we agree current rumors are very much of the “consider the source” kind.

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    Milestone and millstone, it’s a fine line isn’t it?

  • Rob Staeger says:

    Googum, I know it’s tongue-in-cheek, but I love your idea for multiple Punchlines! Especially if they don’t explain it, or wait a few years before they do.

    And the idea of Bendis becoming the new publisher or EIC delights me, if only* because the usual suspects can continue tearing their hair out at a publisher they’ve built up decades of irrational hate for. Otherwise, what will they do with all that rage?

    *Actually, judging by Wonder Comics, it also seems like he’d do a good job. The idea has its parallels to the rise of Joe Q after the success of Marvel Knights. (Jimmy Palmiotti would also be a good choice, IMO.)

  • Dave-El says:

    New publisher for DC Comics? Mike Sterling, of course. But what would that look like, I wonder? (cue harp music as I stroke my chin) I wonder…..

    Swamp Thing
    Detective Comics starring Swamp Thing
    Teen Swamp Things
    Swamp Thing League
    Legion of Super Swamp Things
    Action Comics starring Nancy and Sluggo (Wait! What?)
    Our Army At War starring Sgt. Swamp Thing
    Weird Western Tales starring Jonah Swamp Thing
    Frank Miller’s The Spirit by Frank Miller
    Swampy Thing, Where Are You?

  • Johnny Bacardi says:

    Personally, I hope there or multiple scenes of Joker showing up without her, and wisecracking “Oh dear, I forgot the punchline.”

    Well, I do.