It was announced a couple days ago that five DC Comics titles: Justice League United, Lobo, Doomed, The Omega Men, and Gotham by Midnight have all been cancelled. And just yesterday, three more books followed: Batman ’66, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern: The Lost Army. Cue sad violin music. Did anybody read those books? Is anybody sad that they are over? Only two of those books interested me enough to read issue #1, and then I was done.
With so much troubling DC Comics these days, it seems only natural that a handful of the metaphorical fecal matter they threw at the drawing board would continue to slide off and plop sadly on the floor. From the time of its half-assed “re-relaunch” following Convergence (see: “DC’s Convergence, What the Hell Was that About?“) – another failed direction, DC has unashamedly spewed out over a dozen titles that nobody really asked for. For an audience that doesn’t care anymore. From a pool of creators that have all but abandoned the company for either a fresher idea or more pay – sometimes a combination of both. It was recently revealed through Bleeding Cool just how much more Wytches creator Scott Snyder takes home on his own book versus Batman, even though the latter is a constant Top-10 seller. Sometimes, as in Rick Remender’s case, it’s for the freedom of schedule and peace of mind that the smaller, independent companies give them. Whatever the reason, we (well, DC really) need to face the fact that they are losing the comic book game. Badly.
As much fun as it is to kick DC while they’re down, it does sadden me. I’m a DC fan. Like, a FAN. Just in the New52, I remember how bugged out I was that the Joker cut his face off. I read on as Wonder Woman killed (and then became) a God. I remember being legitimately upset that Geoff Johns was ending his run on Green Lantern. I even remember how they almost made Aquaman cool after decades of ridicule. Almost. Point being, the New52 had some great moments, but DC in general seems to really be left behind when it comes to the metamorphosis happening in the industry right now.
Whether it’s intention, or even deserved, DC has become the New England Patriots of the industry when it comes to offending people. From Batgirl to Teen Titans, DC has become that womanizing friend from high school you don’t want to bring around your wife. Whatever cultural revolution the industry is experiencing, whether it be LGBT, ethnic diversity, more women characters and creators, more stories from more walks of life… DC is largely missing out on it. Of all the current books on its roster, only a few really stick out to me as amazing, special, or even enjoyable:
– Batman: Snyder/Capullo are one of the best creative teams in the biz.
– Batgirl: Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr know how to bring the cute, but still keep it engaging.
– Deathstroke: Tony Daniel’s baby is a gore-fest. A splendiferous one.
– Justice League: Geoff Johns knows how to write a comic book.
– Prez: The only non-superhero book in DC’s lineup. Mark Russell’s commentary is spot-on.
– Superman: John Romita Jr. has almost single-handedly made Superman cool again
– We Are Robin: Brian Azzarello is reading the teenage tech revolution.
– Wonder Woman: David and Meredith Finch write a good story; the art is reason enough to read.
Aside from Batgirl and Prez, my readership of every book on this list can be accredited to an established creative team behind it. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of skilled creators in DC’s stable, but a majority of the books that follow long-time characters fall flat with cliché villains, zero fallout from shock value-driven story arcs, and constant reboot syndrome.
It’s not like DC doesn’t want to keep up with the times; they’ve made several attempts to be “cool” again, most notably DCYOU. They rolled out the carpet for a line of new books recently that include more diverse characters, but even the promising ones (Dr. Fate, Justice League 3001, Bizarro, DC Bombshells, Cyborg) are being drowned out in the white noise of all the other uninspiring crap they release each week.
Marvel is constantly kicking DC’s ass in sales, and it’s embarrassing. Many long-time “old-school” fans have been vocal against a PC movement in the industry, but clearly they are not buying these books either, so the head cheeses at DC are going to have to rethink what is important to the brand. And that’s where I have the most faith. DC has Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, and the entire power of Warner Bros. at their disposal, so there’s no reason that the actual comic book aspect of the company should be doing so poorly.
The upcoming months have enough new and different content to get readers excited, and the collectible lines that DC keeps putting out prove that fans absolutely love the franchise. Even with Vertigo’s Fables closing the book at issue #150, it might not be time to hit the panic button. In the next few months, the market will be flooded with new, unique content that doesn’t have to do with superheroes at all, as well as some that are. In a time before any of us were born (apologies to the 80 year-old readers we have out there!), Detective Comics survived before the concept of a superhero existed. After all, Batman can’t carry the entire company by himself… can he?