Earlier this week - as you may have read on this very website - DC Comics announced their “second wave” of the New 52, which boils down to the cancellation of six books, and the addition of six more. Its not as ballsy a move as, say, canceling and rebooting your entire superhero line, but at the same time its a continued step in the right direction for the publisher... Though hopefully this is just the beginning of changes to the way they do business.
First, assuming you’ve read the newsie bit of this already, they cancelled six of their lowest selling series: BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C. and STATIC SHOCK. I’m personally not going to miss them terribly, except O.M.A.C., which was a delightful throwback, though I know each had its fans. But this is a part of the market nowadays, and I’m glad that unlike Old DC, they’re not dragging out dying titles too far past their expiration date.
Even better, its laudable that they’re essentially saying, “Look, we have fifty-two slots for books. In order to make room for more, we have to cancel a few first.” Its a television model, where you only have a certain amount of time slots, and it makes sense. Not only does it not overtax the Editorial staff by piling on book after book; it also allows a clean start to a “season.” In fact, this is a direction I’d like them to go even further into:
Have comics released by seasons, rather than all the time. I don’t think this is the right model, but why not have the big DC books return every September (Superman, Batman, etc.), and have them go on hiatus during the Summer, making room for quick hit, blockbuster mini-series? That way you really focus the attention on a massive launch, the way they seem to want to do with this six for six switch, as well as building anticipation for fans, and a chance for the creative teams to get farther ahead on their books?
It’s essentially how things are working anyway, as Flashpoint was the big push for most of the Summer months last year anyway. So why not build to that, put the line on hold, and then build it back up again, giving yourselves breathing room and time to truly assess sales figures?
That’s the bigger picture. On a smaller scale, there’s the new series to look at, and some questions that arise:
BATMAN INCORPORATED: This is a no-brainer, its Grant Morrison finishing up his massive Batman story. It will sell like hotcakes.
EARTH 2/WORLD’S FINEST: I’m kind of fascinated by both these books, as they’re opening up the parallel universe can of worms so quickly. Not that a modern audience can’t deal with parallel universes, its clearly a part of pop culture; but if they start to tie in with the other titles too tightly, rather than having their own specific pitchline, things can get messy real quickly. Point being, DC have had massive problems with Earth 2 in the past, I’m hoping they’ve learned from their mistakes.
DIAL H: Another weird concept is always a welcome thing, but I hope this deals with the fact that there’s no dials on phones anymore. Perhaps “TXT H” would have been more appropriate?
G.I. COMBAT: I love all the stories coming back here, and War Comics are clearly a large part of DC’s history. But why they think this will succeed where MEN OF WAR failed is head scratching. Can’t wait to read Haunted Tank, though.
THE RAVAGERS: A spin-off from two of DC’s mid-range titles that’s not a mini-series, this early in the game - particularly one with no marquee characters or name recognition certainly sets off warning bells. That said, its a nice clean pitch-line, and we’re all for DC doing original concepts in the New 52 here.
Point of all this is, other than Batman Incorporated, there’s no sure thing in this new list, while still somehow playing things safe. Particularly with a second wave, we’d hope there’d be some bigger, bolder choices that make us jump up in our seats in excitement. Will we give them all a chance? Well, sure, we like comics. But to keep the New 52 heat going, and really, truly redefine the way the business is done, they’re going to need some news that makes our jaws drop.
We’ll just have to stay tuned...