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AICN COMICS ROUNDTABLE: The @$$holes dissect DC’s September Relaunch—Day One!


Part One!
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Welcome to another @$$Hole Roundtable. For the next two days, you’ll be privy to a lengthy discussion held in the @$$Hole Clubhouse between all of the League of @$$Holes over the weekend after DC’s big announcement that they will relaunch their entire line in September with new number one issues; 52 to be exact. We’ve given a chance for the dust to settle and tried to set out to discuss our feelings about the relaunch and all that went with it. Before we dive into the discussion, let’s list the facts first and the teams attached to each of the 52 books.

Fact: DC will be releaunching 52 series in September all with new number one issues.
Fact: DC will be going Day & Date Digital, meaning comics will be available to be downloaded the same day they are available in stores.
Fact: This is not a complete reboot. Though may refer to it as such in the discussion below, Johns and Lee have said that some details (aka stuff Johns, Morrison and some of the other successful runs) will remain, while others (aka shit that wasn’t selling) will be retooled in these new books.
Fact: Elements of the Wildstorm Universe will be integrated into the new DC Universe.
The creative teams: The following are the 52 titles of interest and the creative teams behind them.

Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee & Scott Williams (art)
Grant Morrison (writer), Rags Morales & Rick Bryant (art)
George Perez (writer/breakdowns), Jesus Merino (art)
Scott Lobdell (wrtier), R.B. Silva & Rob Lean (art)
Michael Green & Mike Johnson (writers), Mahmud Asrar (art)
Tony S. Daniel (writer), Tony S. Daniel & Ryan Winn (art)
Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion (art)
David Finch (writer), David Finch & Richard Friend (art)
Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray (art)
Judd Winick (writer), Ben Oliver (art)
Gail Simone (writer), Adrian Syaf & Vincente Cifuentes (art)
J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman (writers), J.H. Williams III (art)
Kyle Higgins (writer), Eddy Barrows & J.P. Mayer (art)
Judd Winick (writer), Guillem March (art)
Duane Swierczynski (writer), Jesus Saiz (art)
Scott Lobdell (writer), Kenneth Rocafort (art)
Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy (art)
Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Fernando Pasarin & Scott Hanna (art)
Tony Bedard (writer), Tyler Kirkham & Batt (art)
Peter Milligan (writer), Ed Benes & Rob Hunter (art)
Geoff Johns (writer), Ivan Reis & Joe Prado (art)
Brian Azzarello (writer), Cliff Chiang (art)
Francis Manapul & Brian Buccelato (writers), Francis Manapul (art)
J.T. Krul (writer), Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (art)
Tony S. Daniel (writer), Phillip Tan (art)
Ethan Van Scivier & Gail Simone (writers), Yildiray Cinar (art)
Dan Jurgens (writer), Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (art)
J.T. Krul (writer), Freddie Williams II (art)
Eric Wallace (writer), Roger Robinson (art)
Paul Jenkins (writer), Bernard Chang (art)
Peter Milligan (writer), Mikel Janin (art)
Scott Snyder (writer), Yanick Paquette (art)
Jeff Lemire (writer), Travel Foreman & Dan Green (art)
Jeff Lemire (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (art)
Joshua Hale Fialkov (writer), Andrea Sorrentino (art)RESURRECTION MAN #1
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Fernando Dagnino (art)
Paul Cornell (writer), Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert (art)
Paul Cornell (writer), Miguel Sepulveda (art)
Ron Marz (writer), Sami Basri (art)
Nathan Edmondson (writer), CAFU (art)
Kyle Higgins (writer), Joe Bennet & Art Thibert (art)
Adam Glass (writer), Marco Rudy (art)
O.M.A.C. #1
Dan Didio & Keith Giffen (writer), Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish (art)
Mike Costa (wrtier), Ken Lashley (art)
Ivan Brandon (writer), Tom Derenick (art)
Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), Moritat (art)
Scott Lobdell (writer), Brett Booth & Norn Rapmund (art)
Scott McDaniel & John Rozum (writers), Scott McDaniel & Jonathan Glapion (art)
Sterling Gates (writer), Rob Liefeld (art)
Tony Bedard (writer), Ig Guara & Ruy Jose (art)
Paul Levitz (writer), Francis Portela (art)
Fabian Nicieza (writer), Pete Woods (art)

Now, let’s get this Roundtable rolling…

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): OK, so DC was in the news this week. 52 #1 relaunched issues. Day & Date Digital Releases. Superman court decisions. Comic shop ripple effect. Let's get the relaunch out of the way, because, honestly, that's the least interesting of the bits to me, at least. What do you think of the decision to relaunch the entire universe with 52 #1 issues coming out in the month of September?


OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): The brand diversification model only works to open new demographic targets, but is only successful if those brands sell. It did work for awhile, but now they have become cruxes with the parts weakening the core. I also believe that were the intertubes in place 25 years ago, there would have been a slew of forums bemoaning Crisis on Infinite Earths. Sometimes you raze the field to make it once again fertile.

HUMPHREY LEE (HUMPHREY): Kind of an austentatious way to put it, but I agree. In general, I almost think the world of comics needs a "reboot", though apparently that's not what this is exactly. Right now the model of comics is to bleed dry a meager and dwindling fanbase that is left in print and make your money putting those same properties on the big screen. Not only is that business model fucking insane and I don't get how people get paid to consciously maintain that decision-making process, but it obviously cannot endure.

KLETUSCASADAY (KC): Seems kind of weird because the reboots (if this is one) usually come at a time when comics being put out aren't as good as expected or things have become convoluted with a particular character. Like the first CRISIS was to get all the iterations of these characters organized in a linear fashion. INFINITE CRISIS was to get the big 3 back to prominence. FINAL CRISIS was ummm... I don't know but I'm left wondering what this is trying to correct.

SUPERHERO: Couple of things: CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was groundbreaking in that it had never been done before and DC was in serious trouble as a comic publisher and needed to clean up about 40-50 years of continuity because no one had been steering the continuity ship um, ever. It was a brave and desperate move by DC to compete and become just as relevant as Marvel was at the time. How many times has the DCU been "rebooted" since CRISIS? Bajillions. Now it's just a tired, sad, manipulative tactic that will more than likely end up being just as confusing as all the other reboots have been.

BUG: If DC were really intending to clean up continuity they would start from scratch with maybe 10-12 strong titles. But they would be taking a huge gouge in profit. It's the short term gain this act may achieve but by inundating the market with books not only dilutes your audience but it dilutes the talent. There is no way all 52 titles are going to be strong.

HUMPHREY: The huge gamut of books they are going to start this off with is another reason I'm be scared of this thing. Over-stretching your talent base and giving significant titles to guys who repeatedly wipe their asses with deadlines WILL be a stumbling block.

MATT ADLER (MATT): I think we're really talking about writing talent here; I could probably come up with a list of 52 available, talented artists. The consistently good superhero writers are fewer and further between though. Who has DC got? Johns, Morrison, Simone, Giffen, Jurgens...

KLETUS: Ouch. I think there's some solid folks over at DC but the more frequently shit like this happens the less excited I get about it...

BUG: It's not that they don't have talent. Just not enough for 52 books at once.

SQUASHUA: And yet, while this is completely true, it does apply to any company in this situation. Relaunching 52 books at once with new creative teams shouldn't affect any readers who blindly follow characters, which is the core of many hardcore readers who purchase every Batman or Wolverine book put out each week, but for readers like myself, I will get the opportunity (if I take it) to pick and choose brand new storylines from the writers who I enjoy. I wasn't going to get all 52 #1 issues, but I do plan to see what is out there and who is backing it. Then-again, this seems like a good time to stop buying monthlies at all and switch over completely to trade paperbacks or digital.

HUMPHREY: I also think talent is a reason why DC got so far behind is they genuinely did not recruit enough to the point where there was/is only a handful of talent you can trust. DC's been running a show of Gail, Johns, Morrison, Dini and Tomasi pretty much for the better part of four years now. Hell, even Vertigo, the bastion of talent finding, passed on CHEW apparently which probably hurt a working relationship with Layman on other things. The best intentions in the world for you line mean nothing when you are down to probably interns writing a couple of these 52 titles.

BUG: I have to say I'm with Squash on this. This is a perfect time for me to either drop all DC's or whittle my DC pull down drastically. I haven't decided yet but last week when I saw a new JSA on the shelves I put it back because I knew the book would have nothing but the same crap until September. Or worse yet filler until the end with dwindling art & story. Remember the crap DC put out while in the Morrison FINAL CRISIS holding pattern? I fear that's what we should expect for the rest of the summer.

PROFESSOR CHALLENGER (PROF): The 52 books means, yes, I'm out with the relaunch. I will probably look at filling in with other trades and Absolutes, and those sorts of things. DC just made my choice easier. But I applaud their effort to build a younger audience (which I assume is a large part of the relaunch). However, I am also enough of a cynic to believe that another part of this flood the market mentality is to intentionally kill enthusiasm for the printed versions to transition more quickly to digital only in terms of the weekly/monthly comics and go trades only in terms of physical printing.

BUG: Yeah I'm more inclined to stop with DC or stop buying DC floppies and just give the trades or downloads a shot as a trial basis for what is inevitable. I’ve been reading and collecting for 30 years and I ran out of room for them all long ago. I see the plus of going digital.

SUPERHERO: Comics cost about three to four bucks a pop. Digital and print. That's not gonna save anything. If anything piracy will go up. Who here thinks that any of these new origins are going to compare in scope or quality to: BATMAN: YEAR ONE, SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL, or GEORGE PEREZ'S WONDER WOMAN? Sorry, they won't. Because back then it was about taking chances. This is about corporate maneuvering, losing some rights to Superman's origins, and egos waaaayyy out of control.

HENRY HIGGINS IS MY HOMEBOY (HHH): Got to agree with superhero here. There just isn't enough power or talent behind DC right now to get me excited about this.The big thing that bothers me though, is continuity. It raises too many questions that have already been raised. Why will characters like Wonder Woman get full reboots, but Batman and Green Lantern stay in their basic story lines? I agree that those are the much better series, but a full reboot should cover everything.

BOTTLEIMP (IMP): Now, THAT seems royally screwed up to me. How is it that some continuity gets chucked while other bits remain canon? My guess is that Johns and Morrison bargained hard for the Blackest Night and Batman, Inc. stuff to stay, seeing as how they spent a couple of YEARS on it, and DC wants to keep their so-called "superstars" happy... while other writers who have been quietly doing excellent work are given the shaft.

BUG: Yep, as I said in the intro. Stuff that sells stays. Stuff that wasn’t making money is scrapped for a hipper, newer version…that seriously stinks. Basically if you're in anyway associated with Johns or Morrison you are ok. Everyone else seems to be screwed.

SQUASHUA: What about FLASHPOINT itself? I don't have enough information on what FLASHPOINT is besides an alleged line-wide reset and renumbering to issue 1 for all books. We have options as to what it might be. Modernization Option: If it is a Crisis on Infinite Earths-style reset that considers arbitrary events from "the past" to have taken place except Traci 13 was in the JLA instead of Zatanna, then they've already did that before with Crisis. Realign Option: If it is a timeline cleanup like Zero Hour / Infinite Crisis / Hypertime, where new characters are introduced and certain past events are rejiggered like Clark Kent got Lana Lang pregnant, they've done that before with Zero Hour, etc. Tangent Option: If it is a timeline where NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS like Superman is black and Wonder Woman is a robot, they already did that and called it Tangent DC. Modernized Tangent Option: If, as some have hinted, it is a true restart like Modernization/COIE where arbitrary prime events from "the past" (prior comics) have taken place, keeping some familiarity, but nothing is as it seems like Aquaman now has The Tick's personality, and Supergirl only has one iteration, and Hitman's history is intact, and cool shit like Batman Inc. and Xombi are continuing, and something readers care about is done with the Milestone and Archie and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. characters, and it all makes sense and works together properly, and the book price is reduced overall, then I'm OK with that.

JOHNNY DESTRUCTO (JD): After watching the internet break in damned HALF over this, I was pretty pissed at comics fans as a whole. Listen: if this goes well, Awesomotron. IF NOT: EVERYTHING WILL GO BACK. It'll go the way of SPIDER-MAN CHAPTER ONE, which is to say, into the continuity garbage bin. Quit your friggin' bitching about EVERYTHING. It's comics, it's supposed to be fun, and guess what: You aren't the only one reading them. Most of us are all post-CRISIS readers, and we grew up on that, and we loved it. It's not going anywhere. You still have those memories and you still have those comics. You aren't going to be brain-wiped. Everything will balance in the end, so knock off your selfishness and try to enjoy the god-damn ride.

BUG: Now DC is doing some kind of damage control saying it's not a reboot but a combining of the DC proper & FLASHPOINT universes.

SQUASHUA: It's not really damage control if people are just assuming what it is from all the #1 issues and restarts and DC hasn't exactly outright stated what it is. The merging of the two timelines is pretty much the Modernized Tangent Option I mentioned earlier, and as such I'm good.

MATT: As superhero said; how many "bold new reinterpretations" has DC had since then? ZERO HOUR, INFINITE CRISIS, the ALL-STAR line, EARTH ONE... more if you count the character-specific revamps; Superman's also had MAN OF STEEL, BIRTHRIGHT, and most recently SECRET ORIGIN. At a certain point it starts to feel like "here we go again"... like DC really doesn't know *what* they're doing with their characters. One of the things that attracts people to superhero comics is the soap opera aspect... and that's diminished if there's a sense that the stories don't "count" because they're likely to be wiped away in the next reboot.

OD: It's interesting that the Superman origin rehashing keeps cropping up in these conversations. We have some pretty devout DC readers in our stable and that's the big thing most of us remember from the past five years. I'm guilty of it myself, I can't think of another Superman story in recent memory that affected me as much as BIRTHRIGHT, SECRET ORIGINS...etc. This should tell us something when the best stories lived completely outside the intricate tapestry that is continuity. It's become too big too handle and needs a shave.

MATT: Look at this quote from JMS; "So I felt confident that it was coming soon (which is one reason why I felt there wouldn’t be a problem in the long run leaving the monthly books, since most of the things done in SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN would be erased by the reboot anyway, so ultimately it didn’t matter whether I stayed or left...)." I think that's just terrible, and sums up the entire problem with this mentality. That said, Bob Wayne is claiming now that this isn't a reboot, so we'll have to see what's what. But overall, I think these constant continuity shake-ups are a bad idea.

OD: Well I hope Mr. Wayne is completely and utterly wrong. The only way this will work and stick is if the whole thing is a double tap of CTRL+ALT+DEL. I also don't think that every twenty-five years is a bad time for a reset, if they could skip the mini reboots in between.

KC: See I do like that DC has this cloud over it that every few years there is going to be some big shake up that they can't escape...I like that sense of foreboding doom BUT when it's done half assed (not saying this is the case here) it just seems like a bad gimmick.

HUMPHREY: That, that right there is where I really think the worry needs to be. It's not so much that everything is a #1 again, but it's that we don't exactly know what it means yet and how well is DC going to execute upon that. The idea of getting upset over mass reboots is so blasé; they happen all the time and if you've read comics for any extended amount of time you've encountered one or two of them.

BUG: I remember when the @$$Holes first started out, we were all up in arms over the lack of respect for continuity that went on when Quesada took over at first. Back then, we were called old timers for being upset about it, but now this new generation of readers has a taste of what we felt waaaaay back in 2001. It still kind of tastes shitty.

HUMPHREY: If this a "fresh start" with new creative teams and new titles and a dedicated effort to let the books be the books (while bothering to be on time) or is stuff getting wiped out of existence or what? The real "losers" in this are the long-lived books, which should be able to revel in their history. Seeing a new #1 on ACTION COMICS instead of watching the march to issue 1000 will be depressing, even though we all know some of these numbers will tick back over to their real ones like Marvel's did when they saw a buck in selling an extra-sized 600th issue of ASM. I'd have left ACTION, DETECTIVE, BATMAN, and ADVENTURE COMICS alone though, numbering-wise.

BUG: Agreed, ACTION and DETECTIVE should not have been touched. I bet my entire comic book collection that the 1000th issue will be celebrated. Ridiculous not to and for DC to not see that or say that it won’t happen means they aren’t paying attention to mistakes other companies made already.

OD: I agree to an extent. Every reboot post-CRISIS though was half-hearted. ZERO HOUR...not really a reboot. FINAL CRISIS, I can't even say the word reboot after that phrase without chuckling. Even INFINITE CRISIS was still a continuation. Will this new reboot compare to the mid-80s glory days? I don't know.

JD: FINAL CRISIS was supposed to be a reboot? It was barely even a COMIC, let alone a reboot of comics!

HUMPHREY: The Morrison announcement is where some real dirt comes in on this I think. I love ASS as much as the next man - obviously Morrison writes a fantastic Supes - but if you're going to do this thing, you're going to have to do this right. And by "doing it right" I mean shit better be on fucking time. People like Morrison not bothering to get their stuff in on time is why DC can't get as much revenue as they should in the first place. And how fucked up is it that you're trying to tell a (hopefully) newer audience that sometimes the product just comes out when it comes out? That David Finch BATMAN book got how much hype and we've seen, what, two issues in seven months now? If you're going to do this, that shit can't fly.

SUPERHERO: Which brings me back to my point about reboots not working. They all end up going down the drain at some point and then you reboot again. And again. And again. And why does Morrison need to have a re-vamp of Superman to write Superman? Just let him write the Superman books! Why re-set everything? If he's such a great writer let him work with what he's got and make Lemonade out of it! I guess this just means that everyone at DC just wanted the JMS deal. "Waaa! I can't deal with Superman being in a married relationship! I have to change everything!"

MATT: This is kind of a side issue, but does anyone else get the feeling that dissolving Superman's marriage won't be as big a deal as OMD was? Maybe it's because I'm more of a Spider-Man fan, but I just have the feeling that the marriage between Lois and Clark doesn't matter as much. I think one of the reasons OMD felt so wrong is because a magical continuity change felt like such a DC thing to do.

PROF: Matt is right. This is actually going to be easier to take, by the fans, than the undoing of Spider-Man's marriage. And part of that reason is that DC has established time and time again that they are willing to rewrite continuity (see the various origin tales of SUPERMAN that Matt mentioned and more!). By making it line-wide, DC creates a clean slate for the writers who now can create the history that they want and need to move forward now. It's essentially the same thing the Dini and Timm folks did for the BATMAN, SUPERMAN, and JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series. But now it's for the comics and instead of Dini and Timm (who I trust) with Johns, Didio, and WB/DC Corporate (who I don't really trust).

KC: I don't feel like it will be a big deal to the comic book community but the outside world will think it's a big deal. Guaranteed it will be on CNN or some shit. To me Peter's marriage is a bigger deal because he's the loser/nerd/ normal guy who got the model/ actress wife, giving all of us dorks hope. Clark's marriage is not that much of a surprise, oh the most powerful being on earth (who happens to also be super attractive) CAN find a woman that will marry shit he can.

SUPERHERO: Just do what the old school writers used to do. Work with what you've got. Make it better. Develop a classic run and then move on. It seems like all the big-headed creators these days just want to make the characters their own. They are not. Deal with it.

BUG: Yeah egos are out of control these days. Everyone wants to make their mark and write a game-changer. Just write good stories. And for all of Johns respect for the character and continuity, it's a pretty huge contradiction to reboot the entire universe in your image.

KC: Well he IS the chief creative czar or whatever it's called...

OD: Let' s say the seeds for FLASHPOINT and REBOOTPOINT way back when Morrison was hurling Omega symbols at us during FINAL CRISIS. That's a long @$$ time to decimate everything. Over-engineered if that's the case? Perhaps. Depends on your style. I've personally enjoyed the ride, it had a few lows, but also some fantastic highs. But we need this break. Now, do we need 52 breaks. Seems a wee but excessive.

IMP: The funny thing is that I used to love what Johns did with the DCU. Just think back to the great work he did with the JUSTICE SOCIETY in terms of giving the team a reason to exist again in the 21st century, and the amazing job Johns did of finally fixing Hawkman's long, convoluted continuity into a single, logical timeline. He used to be Mr. Fix-It for DC history, but now it looks like there's not much left that actually needs fixing... hence his new title of Mr. Piss-All-Over-It-To-Make-It-Mine.

PROF: I am going to give Geoff a bit of a pass on this. I think he is now caught up in the corporate system and it's pretty damn difficult (if not impossible) to say "No" to the amount of money he has got to be getting in salary, royalties, ownership, licensing, and control in terms of other media like films and TV. It looks to me as if he is doing his damn well best to make the comics as good as possible when Corporate really couldn't give a damn about the quality.

BUG: Agreed. Johns loves comics. I just think that DC top brass is sick of playing second fiddle and need a shake up. How they are going about it? Verdicts still out.

MATT: I have no problem with writers wanting to make their mark; but it doesn't have to be done by tossing out everything that's come before. As Bug observed, it's ironic that this is coming at the hands of Johns, given that he showed with his FLASH run that you CAN make your mark while building on what came before. Even if this is only a partial reboot a la ZERO HOUR, that sort of thing once again reinforces that events are too easily dismissed and that the stories really don't matter.

OD: We're not really naive enough to believe that Johns, Didio and Lee are the sole agents of change right? They have suits to appease at the corporate level and those suits work for the share holders. The current track is dwindling sales, new momentum is a must.

KC: I know corporate has to have their hand in it somewhere, it IS a business but I seriously doubt they're getting the final word on which direction DC is moving...

HUMPHREY: Yeah, no way suits aren't in on this. DC probably doesn't have the leeway that Marvel does when it comes to answering to their overlords because they haven't made the hundreds of millions in movie grosses that Marvel has. Personally, I think both publishers have got it wrong and need to become loss-leaders for the greater picture - comics need to get in as many hands as they can and even a $2.99 price point isn't low enough. Let the movie grosses cover the losses while trying to get average sales numbers up across the board up 25% or so with cheaper books. Maybe digital will be what makes that happen, but this transition period is basically being paid for by us loyal readers who are starting to feel less loyal.

MATT: The question is, are they addressing why sales are dwindling? I think they are in part with the digital initiative, but I honestly don't think another continuity shift is going to bring in new or lapsed readers.

PROF: Reboots can and do work. If everyone is on board with it and those in editorial positions do their jobs right.

IMP: I think that's an excellent point you've made there. It seems as if the only way some of these big-name creators will work on these titles is if they're allowed to totally rewrite the characters and their worlds in order for the writers to fell that they're putting their own stamp on them, for better or worse. But in my opinion, the blame for this trend can be indirectly traced back to the advent of creator-owned comics. I mean, why waste creative energy on simply telling a good story if the characters you're writing don't exclusively belong to you, and some other writer could come along in a few months and totally undo what you accomplished? The mindset seems to be: if I have to write a comic that I have no lasting control over, I'm going to make damn sure that I fuck shit up so thoroughly as to make it clear to all you that this is Morrison's/Johns'/Bendis' Batman/Green Lantern/Superman, and not just some work-for-hire peon putting words in their mouths.

OD: Where does one rubbing their scent glands on a title end and mediocrity begin? And if this ends up being a gimmick and we end where we began, I will gladly lock arms with you my brothers and cry shenanigans. Call me Optimistic Douche this week at least.

IMP: My point is that there's a difference between making one's mark on a series by writing good, compelling stories and marking a series as would a dog-- by pissing all over it. In my opinion, when a writer decides that the only way he or she can write for a character that has been around as long as Superman or Batman is by shooting for writing the be-all, end-all, world-shattering, history revising "event" of the century, it generally doesn't have the same lasting power as simple, effective storytelling. It just creates a downward spiral of each subsequent writer trying to top the previous "event," and to paraphrase THE INCREDIBLES, when every comic is "special," no one will be.

PROF: There is a difference between writing characters you own and control the destiny of and writing characters owned by someone else, even if that "someone" is a legal fiction known as a "corporation." Corporate-owned means they need to maintain a certain degree of integrity for licensing purposes, and in the past this was the function of the editors and the editor-in-chief to step in and wrangle their writers to maintain that integrity. DC has, for all intents and purposes, created a system without "editors" in the classic sense. There is no sense of "editing" only of "control" or "no control." They either seem to let a writer have free reign and bend over for him or her, or they direct and dictate characters and storyline outcomes not because of a sense of character integrity, but a sense of knowing when the next big short-term money-making opportunity will arrive. As a reader, this is frustrating and drives the disconnect between modern DC and longtime fans like myself.

ROCK-ME AMODEO (ROCK-ME): Concur. The problem, as always, is that in the real estate of storytelling, writers are paid only to “stage” these characters to sell them. They can’t put a big hole in the wall of their back-story without getting permissions. Unfortunately, we are more post-modern than ever, and simple redecorations won’t entice anyone. We’ve seen it all before. The only way out seems to be raze and rebuild. The thing is, this can actually work IF they have a much larger plan in place, at least for the next few years, plans that the current continuity didn’t allow. If all they’re doing is a reset to allow characters to meander forward unencumbered… well generally, unencumbered meandering is called “being lost.” It’s not enough to raze the building. You have to know exactly what you’re going to build in its place.

PROF: Byrne's reboot of MAN OF STEEL is a good comparison. At the time, with comics in general having less sophisticated writing than what Marvel & DC have in 2011, MOS was new and refreshing. However, besides the fact that Byrne's writing and ideas were short-sighted and often change-for-change sake, the problems really are that it was essentially a singular vision for the character and within a relatively short time after he left, they started floundering around without real direction for the character. Rather than just telling stories about Superman, they used a never-ending series of events and stunts to substitute. If the DC line wide reboot is just another stunt that substitutes for good writing, any return on the event will be short-term only. But, if clearing the cobwebs comes with it a new fresh look to the future and an editorial commitment to character development over inter-connected continuity, then DC could potentially capture the market.

BUG: You’re right. They’re taking a gamble and there’s a long shot that it may pay off for them. But they’re shooting themselves in the foot by being greedy with the 52 titles all at once.

PROF: Glutting the market with 52 brand new titles in 1 month will kill any chance that this could succeed line wide. In the short-term, there will be sales bumps. Then they will stabilize at the usual low numbers. In the long run, I expect them to continue to drop to levels that do not justify the weekly/monthly pamphlets anymore to Corporate, but I actually expect the digital sales to steadily increase. Especially if they learn quickly that 99 cents is the magic number for volume sales (or possibly even a monthly line-wide digital subscription a la Netflix streaming).

VROOM SOCKO (VROOM): Just out of curiosity, am I the only one here that doesn't buy ANY content digitally? I don't just mean comics, but books, music, movies... I just don't see the benefit. Especially with the current plans to offer the DC books cover price. With my reserve box at the comic shop, I get a discount, so I pay less than cover price. I can see how this might benefit people who don't have a local comic shop anymore, but why should I buy digitally if it's going to cost me more money?

MATT: I'll purchase software digitally, and my fiancée and I are quite enjoying our Netflix streaming... but for reading material, I'd still rather have a hard copy. However, I recognize increasingly that there's a generation that enjoys reading on their devices, so I think DC is headed in the right direction there. I might buy a digital comics subscription once the companies get their libraries more complete, but buying individual comics digitally is not something I can see myself doing.

JD: I constantly buy digital content. Even my porn is digital! Seriously, a perfect example of my preference is this week's GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS release. The store I work at got in two DVD's and a BLU-RAY version. The Blu-Ray version is only 4 dollars more but has the Blu-Ray disc itself, ALSO the DVD disc AND a digital version. THIS is the way to work it. I don't even HAVE a Blu-Ray player, but now I have 2 versions I can use and when I buy a BR player, I'm set! Love it.

OD: I have absorbed the digital age for everything except comics. Even on the iPad the experience is still not close to the same quality as the actual books. And that is an asstarded price point to offer the digital the same as the hard copy.

SUPERHERO: I'm not sure you're going to be grabbing all those new customers with a $2.99 price point. They think they're doing us a favor by offering us digital comics for three bucks? Why? Because they are doing the same exact thing the gas companies did. Inch the price up bit by bit until the consumer can't take it anymore and then drop it back suddenly and a lower but still higher price becomes the norm. So everyone's excited about a $2.99 price point? Nu-uh. Instead it's made a LOT of people realize that $2.99 was too expensive in the first place. Unlike gas, I don't need comics to get me from one place to another.

JD: Absolutely these digital comics should be cheaper! Absolutely. I think the issue is they don't want to flat-out murder the floppies. What they should be doing is, if you buy an actual issue, you get the digital download for FREE. This is exactly what they do when you buy vinyl records at music shops. If you buy the new Death Cab for Cutie LP, you get a free digital download to enjoy on your iPod. Brilliant. I think the same can be applied here.

PROF: Sorry, but I actually DO think they want to outright murder the "floppy". I think this policy right now is strictly to establish an alibi so they can put a sad corporate face on it when they finally stop nearly all serialized floppies and go straight to digital subscriptions and an option to buy a trade collection later for the hardcore luddites who prefer tactile sensation reading.

HUMPHREY: "Murder" is probably too strong a word, but I think it might honestly be becoming a liability in their minds. Diamond is fucking terrible at what they do and their hold on floppy distribution hurts relationships with retailers. They have no traction with them at large booksellers and print runs on TPBs and OGNs have to be extremely cost effective given the amount of bulk they buy their paper in to do them. I'm curious to see where everything goes in this regard because, like I said earlier, they still rely on retailers for the bulk of their sales now and the only way to make a digital push is to pretty much admit you don't care if retailers fail.

MATT: Of course they don't WANT to murder the floppy; it's a revenue stream. But I do believe they have concluded (perhaps rightfully) that there is no meaningful way to expand the audience for the floppy, and indeed no matter what they do it will continue to decline. So they're putting their priorities elsewhere, and trying to milk whatever they can from the floppy market while they still can.

SUPERHERO: What would have been a ballsy move was for DC to say, "Hey, for $2.99 you can have the physical comic and read that issue on your computer at anytime off of "the cloud" or whatever nonsense they are calling it. But that cloud tech isn't ready yet. THAT may have been worth $2.99. Does anyone think that a parent is going to think it's any better to spend $2.99 on a digital download than it is to buy a pamphlet? I don't think so. It's still a flimsy amount of story for a high price point that doesn't live up to its value. And let's not forget that DC said that digital would be the same price as print on initial release. What happens after that? It will go down I'm sure. And once people realize that they will be more than happy to wait for the price to drop.

BUG: Wasn’t the big excuse we always heard from DC and Marvel about price hikes was the price of paper and printing? So by going digital, shouldn’t this take care of those “massive” charges and make the comics cheaper? If we were to believe the smoke they’ve been blowing up our asses for years for every 20 cent to one dollar increase, there SHOULD be a drastic price shift coming? Right? That’s would be the respectable thing to do. Right?

SUPERHERO: Let's face it, comics started their march towards oblivion when everyone got the urge to get "respectability". To be see as equals with movies and TV and whatever. You got the mad rush for modern coloring techniques (which were supposed to make comics cheaper) AND the desire for Hollywood or high end talent. That stuff costs. So instead of comics being fun and entertaining "junk culture" that you either disposed of when you were done reading it or rolled up into your pocket, we have a field where everyone thought that everything had to be WATCHMEN and THE DARK KNIGHT. Instead of knowing that there can be high class comics, but that not all of them had to be high art.

SQUASHUA: A friend of mine who reads comics just bought an iPad 2, and he's ditching all his material possessions and replacing them with digital media. Granted, he downloads comics illegally (when possible) and refuses to purchase them in the store now, not even trades.

OD: Well there's at least a fraction of the penny in unraveling the great mystery of where does our comic dollar go.

PROF: I don't want the digital. I don't buy the digital other than the occasional mp3. I still like owning DVDs, CDs, comics, etc. But I'm not the future of the market. The "kids" are the future of the market and they are quickly dumping DVDs, CDs, comics, books, mags, etc. in favor of all digital media in one pad, pod, or laptop. Just the realities of business and media, man.

VROOM: Do we know that, or are we just being told that?

HUMPHREY: I don't remember the exact numbers, but Amazon does indeed sell more digital copies than physical. I think the number skewed in favor of digital buy a couple hundred thousand last year.

SUPERHERO: I would switch to digital if the prices were lower and the screen was big enough.

PROF: Young people are ignoring the physical and going for the digital. In fact, they have gotten so spoiled to these little gizmos being able to store everything they could ever want that they actually actively dislike having to manhandle their media. The new generation is going paper-less. And we buggy-whip lovers need to accept that we are part of a dwindling niche market. Go walk through your local Borders today and remember what it was like just 5 years ago and try to convince me that book sales aren't markedly declined. Or dig out a phone book from the early 90s and compare the number of comic book or video shops in a metro area to the number today.

BUG: BWAH! Who reads a phone book anymore?!?!!?

PROF: Exactly. Population is increasing. But sales of physical product are decreasing. We're getting old. You can either sit on the front porch and yell at all the whippersnappers and scowl your way on into your grave or you can just accept the reality.

SUPERHERO: You know what? I am so TIRED of that angry old man argument. Prof, you pull that thing out every time we all get pissed about some boneheaded (or perceived boneheaded) move by one of the big two. It's such a tired argument and has no validation especially when it comes to comics. You know why? Because we are the generation that are supporting comic books. We are the ones that built it up and we're the ones that are going to walk away from it eventually. Kids are not reading comics. They are not going to buy new comics at the prices at which they are being offered and their parents will not buy them for them.

MATT: I don't think that's quite true. I still see kids interested in comics, particularly after they see the movies and want to learn more about the characters. I have the kid of a friend who calls me up all the time to pepper me with questions about comics history, and who could beat who. But most of the comics he's read have been in TPBs that his parents get for him at bookstores, not singles from comic shops. And this generation DOES like reading on their devices, as much as that may baffle us. That said, I agree about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater-- you can make comics welcoming to new readers without alienating the old.

PROF: That right there IS the angry old man argument. Just because we ARE the primary buying market does not mean we are the PREFERRED market from a corporate perspective. They are gambling that the angry old men out there will be driven by their obsessive collector's ocd to stick with the relaunch in larger numbers than those that actually follow through on their jumping off threat. Fanboys, especially the angry old man types, are notorious for bellowing and spewing but still crapping out all their cash to make sure they don't have a gap in their collections. But again, that is the audience that is rapidly dwindling away.

SUPERHERO: Let's face it Marvel and DC were built on the crack dealer business model. Keep them coming through serialization and soap opera plot lines. If that's gone or gets re-set every couple of year you're degrading any loyal fan base you may have. And if I give up on comics you can bet that I'm not going to pass them off to my kids. Or at least foster a spirit of collecting them. So you've screwed me and made me less likely to pass it on down to the next generation. Digital or Print. If you want to create a new universe then do what Marvel did...create a separate universe but keep it separate. Unfortunately Marvel didn't stick with that policy very well...

MATT: As you note, the dwindling sales numbers show that's changing. There's only so many reboots and radical character shake-ups that can happen before those fanboys lose their sense of connection with the characters and sell their collections on Ebay. If DC and Marvel are successful at capturing a new audience, then sure, they don't have to worry about that. But they've been trying for years, and the numbers aren't showing it's working. I have not yet seen someone in charge that has a clue about what it is that attracts kids to comics.

PROF: WB wants to grab that youth and young adult audience and the way to do that is making yourself hip, new, and relevant. Shareholders demand it and that's what they appear to be attempting. Sorry if it offends you, but the truth hurts sometimes. And there's a reason why clichés are clichés. Because as generalizations go...they're pretty accurate.

SUPERHERO: This doesn't offend me because I think in some ways we are making the same argument. That the comics don't matter anymore. They are ancillary product. Readership is dwindling. Maybe digital comics will stop that but I don't think so. Could be wrong though. But like I said in the talkbacks. If they wanted to be hip and edgy they should have given the DCU to Paul Pope. Now THAT I would pay to see.

SUPERHERO: More than Jim Lee.

PROF: I guess I need to hold up the "Sarcasm Sign" again. Because if you think that I really think these changes actually are "hip & relevant" then you aren't hearing me. They are an attempt at being hip and relevant driven by a need to justify their continued existence. But when the 47 year old Lee is designing the costumes, fanboy obsessive Johns is driving continuity, and aged carnival barker Didio is driving the editorial vision you actually have a perfect recipe for spectacular failure (or surprising success). They are gambling that the number of jump-offs will be offset by new readers who will stick around whether in print or digital.

OD: Why did we grow up loving comics? My reason is simple, the flights of fancy and imagination achieved in a comic simply could not be emulated in any other medium a generation ago. I don't blame kids for shunning comics, when the same imagination can now be spoon fed to them in another medium.

MATT: It's the old saying about how comics have an unlimited budget for special effects. I don't think comics necessarily need to be substantially different from the movies in terms of content; kids like what kids like, and the best thing about them is that their appetites for what they like are virtually unlimited. A movie takes a lot of time and money to put into production, a comic much less so. So feed their appetites. Give them every month in the comics what they can only get once a year in the theater. That will keep them hooked. Kids want a fast pace, high drama, conflict, and amazing visuals.

OD: Kids still do want to read, Harry Potter has proven it. What needs to happen though, is the creators need to offer up an experience that simply can't be brought on to the small screen. Whether it's fantastic effects that would send James Cameron into an apoplectic fit trying to put on film or by truly imbibing the goodness of serialization that can not be told in under 90 minutes with previews. Differentiation of the comic medium will resurrect it, not digitization.

VROOM: Or I can take the third option, champion the better system. The system that, in the long run, helps the publishing industry better than digital. The system that lets you share what you love with others. Once your comic is downloaded, it's stuck on your hard drive. If this had been the only way to read when I was growing up, I'd never have started. That's because I started reading comics when a friend of mine loaned me his TINTIN books. I started reading novels because my grade school had a giveaway program. I started following specific authors because they were available in my local library. Even today, this is the sort of sharing is what builds readers.

IMP: For me, the issue is simply one of comfort. I'd much rather have a physical comic book in my hands (or any other book, for that matter) than read a digital copy. Kindles and iPads may be great in terms of being able to store and read a huge amount of material in a tiny, manageable package, but reading off of a screen can never equal the tactile pleasure of holding the printed material in one's own hand. Hell, I grew up reading coverless, yellowing second-had comics, and even today there's an indescribable fuzzy feeling I get from the combined look, smell, and feel of old comics. Digital downloads may be modern, hip and convenient, but in my opinion they end up draining childlike spirit out of the comic book medium.

SUPERHERO: Let's not forget that you are going to have to store those digital comics somewhere. Sure a hard drive is easier than a comic long box but data degrades over time. Even on a hard drive. That issue of AMAZING FANTASY # 15 will stay in a polybag for a long time but that same digital copy will have to be switched from drive to drive from burnable DVD to burnable DVD over time so it won't corrupt.

SQUASHUA: I've said it before and I'll say it again: Holding the Line at $2.99 is bullshit. You want to get people reading your books again, reduce the price down to at least $2 a book, or justify why I should pay $3-4 for a 21-24 page pamphlet when I can purchase a paperback novel for almost as much. This is again my call to arms to comic book journalists to discover the secrets: break down why each book costs $3-4 - who gets what percentage of that money? Does it go to production, materials, writer, artist, publisher, transportation, retailer? We know based on the "profits" of gas companies that gasoline has been artificially inflated, and it's supposedly being looked into; who is looking into the inflated costs of our books? Why are we paying so much for a story that is dragged out across five-six issues, when in the silver age we'd have paid half as much and received two complete stories in a single book?

KC: Totally agree about pricing. MOST of the FLASHPOINT tie-ins had about 20 pages of actual comic and the rest was the prequel comic for SUPER 8. I know people need to get paid but for fuck's sake 20 pages?!?! I think to garner for interest they need to try to make sure EVERY book is worth the cover price and that there's enough content to make me feel I’m getting my money's worth...otherwise more and more folks are going to start moving to trades.

>BUG: Here's the thing. Despite my hems and haws I have to admire DC's balls to do this whole thing. Starting everything over (if that's what's happening), digital releases same day as physical. This was going to happen anyway. Being number 2 allows them to take this risk of blowing it big time or having this be the beginning if the New DC age. We won't know for certain for a while, but it's ballsy.

PROF: I admire the balls for DC to do this too. Back when the original CRISIS was published, the original plan was to relaunch the entire DC line at THAT time and CRISIS was supposed to be a less dramatic mini-series called HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE and lay out for everyone the new status quo. They chickened out on that and the project was converted to CRISIS and the HISTORY book was relegated to the 2-part prestige book illustrated by Perez that laid out the broad points of the newly combined singular DC Earth. That was a dramatic new beginning for DC and re-energized DC with the fanbase so that they could overtake Marvel for awhile in terms of fans and sales. I remember the thrill of the "new" and the "unknown". But, because DC was not willing to reset everything all at once, we had an editorial clustertruck that got messier and messier. They barely got a month in with the new "history" before they rewrote that with MAN OF STEEL. In the new world, we got a brand new Wonder Woman, yet they said the stories of the JLA and JSA had happened, but with Black Canary instead. Then it was Fury. Then it was Miss America. Then it was Hippolyta as Wonder Woman. Then we had someone trying to explain how Hawkman fit into the JLA stories when he just now arrived after HAWKWORLD. And we all know what happened with that. In other words, editorial was out of control and nobody was communicating and nobody created a "Bible" for the new DC and what took 50 years to require a "re-boot" or "house-cleaning" started needing a "house-cleaning" every 3-5 years to try and "fix" what some stupid writer decided to do and no editor stepped up to say "no". This is ballsy because it is the only way to really do a "re-boot". You either do it line wide all at the same time and with a plan and a "Bible" (which I am optimistically assuming exists) or you wind up with the same problems as before. Just shinier and with higher neck collars and shoulder pads.

VROOM: The reboot has killed what interest I had left in the DC Universe. I pretty much stopped reading when someone (I can't be bothered to recall the name of the writer, but he must have zero imagination,) had Roy Harper go back on heroin, while also literally turning him into the Man With the Golden Arm. JMS on Wonder Woman was the next nail in the coffin, and this new DCU is the reading of the will. Only there's no beneficiary. Here's the problem with rebooting comics: it doesn't work. Both the creators and the fans are too aware of the wealth of preexisting stories to do anything new. Instead they just end up strip mining the past. The closest it's ever come to working is on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, and even there the typical fanboy reaction to the first year or so wasn't merely, "Bendis is writing the character the best he's been since Roger Stern was writing," but instead the focus was "When is Venom going to show up?"

IMP: It's funny, because so far the news about DC's reboot makes it sound very much like Marvel's Ultimate line, what with the whole "younger and edgier" thing. But at least when Marvel did it, they had the good sense to keep going with the original, continuity-laden universe. It seems like DC is throwing the baby out with the bathwater by chucking decades of story and character development out the window.

JINXO: My concern is if this reboot is even coming from the right place. Feels to me more like folks steering the ship started with the idea of having the comics go digital. Interesting, progressive idea to help keep comics going. But, to me, corporate concerns like those are bad reasons for massive creative changes.

JD: Your concern is valid, Jinxo. It DOESN'T feel all that necessary to reboot everything. I don't feel particularly confused by DC continuity at this point, especially after all the stuff that Geoff Johns has already done.

Well, that’s enough for today. If you made it through the whole thing without stopping for a sandwic
Readers Talkback
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  • June 20, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST

    All DCs business decisions seem stuck in the 90s

    by Laserhead

    Well, except for the day and date digital releasing, I suppose. But for fuck's sake, just what is this 'reboot' supposed to correct that hasn't already been dealt with? If every two years the company is offering a 'new status quo', why get invested in anything? But back to the 90s comparison: they're basically doing a line-wide Heroes Reborn wherein they'll see what sticks and what doesn't. To accomplish this, they've had 47 year old Jim Lee redesign character costumes, and they're big writing acquisition is... Scott Lobdell? I'll say it again, Marvel is almost single-handedly reaping this generation's good writers, visionaries with strong voices, whereas DC doesn't seem to know what to do with talent or how to acquire it. Marvel has Parker, Pak, Gage, Hickman, Fraction, Aaron, Spencer and Remender. DC has... Scott Lobdell. And who the fuck thinks high military-style collars is cool-looking? Aagh.

  • June 20, 2011, 9:37 a.m. CST

    Rest in peace Ryan Dunn

    by JamesGANDERPeek

  • June 20, 2011, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Action comics

    by Ditko

    To be honest, I don´t really care about the relaunch. I haven´t followed Supes or Bats or any other in years, but ACTION COMICS was the series that started the fucking SUPERHERO thing. They should keep the numbering if only out of respect and legacy. It´s a shame.

  • June 20, 2011, 9:40 a.m. CST


    by Nick


  • June 20, 2011, 9:43 a.m. CST

    All I Know Is

    by Peter David

    They're restarting Supergirl which means I still hold the record for the longest single numeric run of a "Supergirl" book. Boo-yah. PAD

  • June 20, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Think Prof is right

    by Laserhead

    that combining Lee, Johns, and Didio toward making something 'new and edgy' is a recipe for spectacular failure. I don't think there's even a possibility for success on an overall-company sense. Sure, Morrison's Superman will be good, but as for the DC universe, I think Marvel is going to be doing victory laps all winter and into next spring.

  • June 20, 2011, 9:53 a.m. CST

    that one up there is the real Peter David!

    by Ditko

    Or at least what he wrote is exactly what David is thinking LMAO. Good job!

  • June 20, 2011, 9:58 a.m. CST

    General Public

    by Nuck81

    Is there anything Comic Companies can do to get the general public interested in their Books again? Marvel is at least generating awareness with it's aggressive movie strategy, but is this really generating more book sales, or driving new customers to Comics? I collected Comics as a kid, when they used to be a $1 but I grew out of it. Now I simply like to buy the Graphic Novels or Trade Paperbacks. Comics have been priced out of my interest, and they became light on content and heavy on advertisement. I can't say this new strategy will actually motivate me to go out and buy comic books, at best, I will go read a synopsis of the new storyline on Wikipedia, or watch the latest DC Universe animated movie....

  • June 20, 2011, 10:09 a.m. CST

    RIP Ryan Dunn

    by Nick

  • June 20, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST


    by Squashua

    I read your book and while I found it entertaining, the powers that be just shoehorned Linda and her skateboard off to the abyss to make way for big-eyed-belly-emo-angst Supergirl. I hate that the Matrix/Linda Supergirl never got a proper mention again, considering she was so entrenched with the universe up till that point.

  • June 20, 2011, 10:16 a.m. CST

    PAD's Linda Danvers:

    by hank henshaw

    The Matrix/Linda Danvers Supergirl, while admittedly had a convoluted background-origin, at least it was a well-rounded character, and was always interesting, be it in her own comic or in guest appearances in Superman titles. Instead the Kara Zor-El brought by DiDio and introduced by Jeph Loeb continues to be a non-character this many years after she first appeared in Superman/Batman. Fuck you Johns, DiDio and Lee. That's all.

  • June 20, 2011, 10:16 a.m. CST

    The DC Universe Reboot - all I got to say is...

    by codecrackx15

  • June 20, 2011, 10:22 a.m. CST

    I'm a 40 year old former comic reader...

    by Chewtoy

    I'm no young kid who has grown up with everything being digital. I used to get my comics off of spinner racks in the grocery store as a child. And I can tell you this: The only way I would want to buy a new, single issue comic these days would be as a 99 cent download to my tablet. I long ago stopped buying newspapers because I didn't need the old ones cluttering up my house and I was getting all of my news online anyway. The only place I've bought a magazine in the last 5-10 years was in an airport for the same reasons. The rise of the hand-held tablet killed off the last of the problems I had with reading such stuff digitally... I don't want to have to be sitting at a computer for leisurely reading. Now I can lie down on the couch, or in bed, or put my feet up in my favorite chair and read. I still like to read real novels instead of digital ones, but comics that take 10-15 minutes at most? There is literally no benefit I can see to having the damn things around to be cleaned up and stored. The price-point is damn insulting though. The same price as the physical item on the shelves, despite it not requiring printing costs, paper costs, warehousing costs, shipping costs, or supporting a brick-and-mortar middleman business to display and ring up my purchases either? Screw off. Comics will go digital, because the medium is too enjoyable to die off... And print *is* dying off. It's just that they'll go back to being what they were before they became so precious... Disposable entertainment that tons of people enjoy without even thinking so much about it. The closest I get these days to the spoiler-free, straight out storytelling fun of my youth is through web comics like Girl Genius and Spinnerette and so on. I have no idea what events are planned for various web comics 3 months down the line... I'm only thinking about the current story lines. Whether Marvel or DC comics exist after the print form gives up the ghost is really up to them, though.

  • June 20, 2011, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Minor justice for PAD Supergirl

    by Squashua

    Forgot, I think Linda Danvers she showed up as an angel or something in that REIGN IN HELL series that Giffen did.

  • June 20, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    I think most people are missing the big picture

    by ByTor

    It's not about price. And for everyone who keeps bitching about the cost versus the price, shut the fuck up and take a basic economics course. Pricing may take cost into account, but at the end of the day it's about supply and demand. The big problem is that neither company has figured out how to attract new readership in any significant numbers. THAT is why sales are dwindling: readers are aging out or otherwise leaving, and they're not being replaced 1 for 1. And THAT'S because neither company even TRIES to attract new readers anymore. Instead they do their convoluted crossovers and reboots and cater exclusively to the hardcore fans. This makes it very difficult for a new, young reader to "jump in." (I'm not saying it doesn't happen, so don't give me all your examples of your nephews and whatnot.) What both companies need to do is try re-focusing on casual readers. Stop with the eleventy-billion crossovers. Yes, they may act as a brief sales gimmick, but if you can actually GROW readership, you'll grow sales more substantially and more permanently. Example: I grew up a comics reader. I started at the grocery store, then discovered comic shops (which were uncommon then). Eventually a comic shop opened near me, and I started buying everything there. I even worked there for a time. In those days, we had custom-built racks that were three levels, with each level having six tiers. We always stocked the six latest issues of each book on the racks, all for cover price. Our thinking was that if you wanted someone to get into a new book, you needed to give them a few issues to "come up to speed" on the story. Can you even do that now? I dunno. I wanted to read some storyline (Blackest Night maybe), and tried to figure out which issues of which books I had to read. Holy Christ! I need Wikipedia to tell me which books are involved, and I can't tell whether some are just brief mentions or whether all are needed. I shouldn't need fucking Wikipedia to read a storyline. And look, I'm sure some of this comes off as "old grumpy man" syndrome. I'm no luddite. I'm fine with going digital (I prefer physical but if I had a nice tablet, I could live with it). I'm fine with moving with the times, more complex stories, more complex characters. I'm not demanding that we go back to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams. I'm just saying that both companies should spend more time figuring out how to make comics more accessible to non-hardcore readers and less figuring out how to boost next month's sales with some convoluted crossover or variant cover.

  • June 20, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    My business model...

    by Righteous Brother

    Release fewer titles, but with absolute top-drawer talent involved. Make them much cheaper to buy, and have them sold everywhere. All my friends kids, are mad on super-heros, they love the toys, cereals, video games cartoons everything. But they just don't seem as interested in the comics, and there's no way they can afford them. I'm really uninspired by the list of comics DC are going to release. All you need is a decent Superman, Batman, Justice League, Green Lantern, Swamp thing, Flash, Wonder Woman and a few others released every month. In the 80's when I was growing up I could afford virtually every Marvel comic released each month, with paper round money - Now I'm an adult and working, I can barely afford any of these comics. Also - DC and Marvel had the balance just right, stories that could appeal to kids, teens and adults alike - what a decade for comics, Frank Miller on Daredevil, Alan Moore on Swamp Thing, Secret Wars, the whole Spider-Man black outfit saga, John Bryne on Fantasit Four was awesome, as was his Man of Steel. Pad's Hulk run, the death of Jean Grey, Claremont's X-Men. Then of course there was the whole Graphic Novel explosion, Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Maus etc etc. Now all I see is just a constant re-hashing every few years. What happened to the All-Star Line? Or a follow-up to Superman Earth One? This is just insane, there'll be a brief spike in sales generated by people who want #1 of each title, then that'll tail off and we'll be right back where we started.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    I stopped collecting and reading...

    by ccchhhrrriiisssm

    ...when comic books started costing more than Time magazine. When the "comic boom" occurred in the early 1990s, I was a child. It got to the point where I just couldn't afford most of the titles that I enjoyed. So, I simply grew out of them. I wish that DC, Marvel and the third party comic publishers would put out an old fashioned newsprint version of the same comics (or just abandon the more expensive publishing techniques/paper/ink). Don't get me wrong: I like the artwork. However, I simply think that the most time-exhaustive artwork should be confined to the front cover (*and, possibly, the first page). If comic books want to survive, they need to get their prices down to about $2 an issue.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Neal Adams on DC's handling of his characters

    by BlaGyver

    You know....I'm a little miffed with this.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:10 a.m. CST

    What the fuck

    by BlaGyver

    Can we just not use quotation marks in the talkbacks anymore? What he said was (in short) I'm a little miffed with the way that DC's been handling Deadman. I feel like he's a pretty straightforward character. He's a man...that's DEAD. And what do they do as soon as I turn my head? They BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE! Met Neal a few weeks ago and got him to sign a copy of Deadman 1. This is what he said.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to Harrys Ryan Dunn obit...


    No doubt he'll regale us all with stories of how he inserted a plastic Green Lantern ring up his anus as a small boy.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Comics are:

    by Snookeroo

    • Over-worked; the tremendous amounts of labor involved costs a lot more and leads to missed deadlines. Look how many people it takes to make a comic today - it's ridiculous. Simplify the production process. It's a comic book, not a multi-million dollar movie. • Impervious to new readers. If you're a new reader, just TRY to find a jumping-on point. • Unavailable. If you're not interested in driving to the bad side of town to the local musty comic shop with a social reject behind the counter, you're out of luck. • Too expensive. Something's severely out of whack when a comic costs as much as a glossy 200 page magazine. Yes, a glossy like "People" has a much larger circulation, but the point is the entertainment value is just not worth the expense. • Too bloody and violent. Sure, fan-boys want everything "R" rated, but save it for the horror titles. Green Lantern vomiting blood on the cover is going to limit the audience.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:35 a.m. CST

    Pleasantly surprised to see Hawkman up there...

    by Mickster_Island

    the first bunch of issues of any of his series are usually pretty good. Hawkworld was excellent right up until the last storyline. Hawkman of the 90s sucked. The Justice Society based Hawkman around the turn-of-the century was great for awhile. And going back, the Shadow War started great with the miniseries and the series itself was weak. And the Murphy Anderson illustrated series back in the 60s started wonderfully and devolved pretty quickly. The only perfect runs: Hawkworld miniseries and Garnder Fox/Joe Kubert run in Brave & the Bold back in the early 60s.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:53 a.m. CST

    @jasonicus - Prof. Challenger is a terrible lover

    by Squashua

    We've tried, man. It just doesn't work.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:53 a.m. CST

    DC should have a proprietary e-reader

    by Jubba

    An affordable, kindle-style digital comic reader with a color display that only downloads DC comics in time for the new #1s would be a great way to get people to make the switch.

  • June 20, 2011, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Neal Adams' handling of DC characters--

    by Laserhead

    Well, Deadman's dead again, and his brief ressurection was nowhere near as insanely offensive to the idea of character than Adams' 'Batman: Odyssey' project. Is that long bad joke still going to continue, through this relaunch? Or is it going to be one of those things like All-Star Wonder Woman (or the All Star line in general), Batman Earth-One, etc., which DC just hopes people forget about?

  • June 20, 2011, 11:55 a.m. CST

    No comparison between Moore and Morrison

    by Laserhead

    Morrison has been much better longer, and more prolifically, than Alan Moore. Alan Moore no.2, Morrison no. 1.

  • Welcome to Marvel Comics in the 90s. DC.

  • June 20, 2011, 12:15 p.m. CST

    @squashua I blame your anal hygiene.

    by Prof

  • June 20, 2011, 12:15 p.m. CST

    the lack thereof

    by Prof

  • The Superman lawsuit going on right now. Change up things enough and there's less of a claim for joint ownership by WB and Siegal/Shuster.

  • June 20, 2011, 12:23 p.m. CST

    I've talked the copyright issue ad nauseum on my blog

    by Prof but I didn't really think it was a major point for discussion for this roundtable, tho it is touched on.

  • June 20, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    I think this will grab new readers

    by antimcgyver

    If only a few from curious people who generally read Marvel. Depending on the marketing over the next few months, it could possibly get younger readers and newcomers. In fact a reduced .99 price for justice league or first comic free would be brilliant. The only thing holding them back is that comics are still relatively uncool among those younger readers, while HP and Twilight dominate for some ridiculous reason. But I think everyone agrees that quality is going to be a factor, and hopefully DC has put enough work into this to ensure that the first few books at least are interesting enough to get people hooked. to stand on their own and not as part of a gimmick. I also believe the @$$holes severely underestimate dc's writing staff. not only morrison, johns and simone, but tomasi, SNYDER, cornell, lemire, AZZARELLO, perez (who they loved on Wonder woman's reboot but seem ambivalent about on superman) milligan, and bedard all have put out consistently good work over the past year in my opinion. with lead time and a strong story, this launch could be better than any of us imagine

  • June 20, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    RIP Ryan Dunn.

    by Gabba-UK

    I'm watching Jackass in his honour tonight.

  • June 20, 2011, 12:42 p.m. CST

    @prof I blame you and your requirement for GL cosplay

    by Squashua

    Made me wear a fucking Guy Gardner wig.

  • June 20, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Interesting and depressing all at once.

    by Sithtastic

    I hadn't heard much about DC's latest re-boot other than that fans almost universally despised it. I can certainly see why. I am however happy that the re-start of 52 titles at #1 spawned a larger conversation on the very real and all-too ignored problems the industry is suffering. I have little in the way of adding to the criticism leveled here, save that I remember when Jim Lee was once like a god to me and I have watched him become little less than a self-parody, which is regrettable. I don't see how DC can recover from this. Like more than a few of you, I speak as a former reader and collector myself (having stopped regular collection around 2002, when characters like Stacey X and Maggot drove a stake through my X-Men interest). I am down to reading TPBs, which I consider the best trade-offs as I am not satisfied with digital presentation just yet and can forego waiting a month for largely disposable entertainment. All that said, I am determined not to wind up "on the porch, cursing the young whippersnappers" and want to look to the future of solid comic book stories and related media. That means accepting new technology and a further butressing the industry by shall we say the uninitiated reader. At the same time, I am no fool in noticing that the related media overshadows the source material. Film and television is simply more accessible and in some respects, escape the cultural snobbery and sneering comic book readers usually endure. While it is fantastic seeing there's an interest in comics, it is also depressing that the industry cannot tear itself from the rut in which it has found itself, at least when it comes to the Big 2 (or perhaps 3, if you count Image).

  • June 20, 2011, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Guy Gardner does it for me. Moe haircut. Turtleneck. mmm

    by Prof

  • June 20, 2011, 1:27 p.m. CST

    cuperman vs bizarro superman claymation

    by crazy4dragons13

  • June 20, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST

    Everyone at the local shop I visit

    by antimcgyver

    Seems anxious, but all have at least a few titles they're excited for. I don't see this as quite the implosion of the industry some see it as. at worst, DC will keep their market share as is.

  • June 20, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST


    by batmancw

    While I understand DC has their "reasons", IMO, undoing the Killing Joke to return Barbara Gordon to being Batgirl will have FAR more folks PO'D than dissolving Clark & Lois' marriage. I'm a long time reader--40+ years, and this kinda' stuff has led me to drop books in the past--OMD being an example, and I may end up doing so here after checking out the first issue or two of the DC titles I currently read. I know that the manager of my comic shop has said that she has had FAR more people dropping ALL their DC titles than having new folks sign up, so this move may turn out to be a MAJOR mistake on their part. If so, expect everyting to be "rebooted" back to the status quo within a year ro two.

  • In a splendid expression of support by DC for the point of distribution partners.

  • June 20, 2011, 1:58 p.m. CST

    Interviewees don't do digital music?

    by KoolerThanJesus

    How old are these guys 70? Even my 55 year old mom who can't work the Harmony remote for the tv gets all her music off iTunes. She even has a Kindle and reads digital books nearly exclusively. Could you have found a bunch of people more out of touch than the group you interviewed?

  • June 20, 2011, 2:03 p.m. CST

    Who says we don't do digital music?

    by Prof

    I said I get the occasional MP3. But I don't need to own 5,000 songs. I just happen to like DVDs and CDs still. Doesn't mean I don't do digital music. This was a conversation going with a bunch of different people. So, maybe you didn't catch the subtleties.

  • June 20, 2011, 2:15 p.m. CST


    by Righteous Brother

    I salute you. You're alright.

  • June 20, 2011, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Some random thoughts

    by art123guy

    I understand the love for digital, but I wonder how those same people will feel when their computer crashes and they've lost an entire collection. The music industry hasn't figured out how to stop illegal downloading, I doubt the comic book industry has either. Will digital downloads render our paper collections worthless?

  • June 20, 2011, 2:52 p.m. CST


    by Poptard_JD

    • Impervious to new readers. If you're a new reader, just TRY to find a jumping-on point.

  • June 20, 2011, 3:01 p.m. CST

    by Poptard_JD

    • Impervious to new readers. If you're a new reader, just TRY to find a jumping-on point.

  • June 20, 2011, 3:06 p.m. CST

    in response to Snookeroo

    by Poptard_JD

    Since when do people reading comics need a JUMPING ON point? When I started reading comics, I picked one up and FIGURED IT OUT USING MY BRAIN. Then I went and read another one and also figured it out using my brain. That was half the fun. Also: "bad side of town"? "Social rejects"? Holy ignorant douche, Batman. For those of you too afraid to go outside where other humans are, you can use the internet to order your comics, without having to take off your white hood and deal with people who are different than you.

  • June 20, 2011, 3:20 p.m. CST

    Who says we don't do digital music?

    by Poptard_JD

    JD: I constantly buy digital content. Even my porn is digital! Seriously, a perfect example of my preference is this week's GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS release. The store I work at got in two DVD's and a BLU-RAY version. The Blu-Ray version is only 4 dollars more but has the Blu-Ray disc itself, ALSO the DVD disc AND a digital version. THIS is the way to work it. I don't even HAVE a Blu-Ray player, but now I have 2 versions I can use and when I buy a BR player, I'm set! Love it.

  • June 20, 2011, 3:23 p.m. CST


    by Snookeroo

    Glad you could jump in and enjoy the medium; certainly the comics business needs more like you. My comments are in reference to the paradigm the comic book community has created for itself. In order to expand it's market share, the industry is going to have to adjust to a new reality - something I think it's trying to do with the DC re-launch. Personally, I don't have the time for shopping - for comics or anything else, for that matter. It's a question of convenience and availability. My plan is to buy an ipad and purchase comics digitally after the 30 day waiting period for new titles to revert to the $1.99 price point. However, I hope DC is changing more than just the delivery system; otherwise they are still selling to the same niche customers, except with pixels instead of paper.

  • marriage done away by OMD. People who don't read comics know that Lois Lane is Superman's lady. Clark and Lois getting married got rid of the hokeyness of Lois not being able to figure out that Clark Kent is Superman. Superman dating Wonder Woman via Superfriends with benefits or changing his Iconic costume isn't going to bring in new readers. This "New Coke" DCU reboot is going to crash and burn.

  • June 20, 2011, 4:16 p.m. CST

    We'll see...

    by Marvinatmiddleage

    The fact that all tis comes on the heels of Flashpoint tells me that we'll see everything change back in a few months.

  • June 20, 2011, 4:44 p.m. CST

    Pre-teen readers...

    by Loosejerk

    Would any of these titles be good for a pre-teen reader? I'd love to get my son a subscription at the beginning of a series. Batman may be too gritty for him...but need something to hold his interest with story.

  • June 20, 2011, 6:47 p.m. CST


    by D Jones

    I recall when they where only 12 cents and if you wanted to get them every month you subscribed. I rather hate the new slick paper, I prefer mando paper. The model as it is today is doomed to failure ,but I wonder how many people like digital as opposed to holding the actual comic?

  • June 20, 2011, 7:31 p.m. CST

    The new # 1's eliminate the "gap in the collection" problem

    by MrEkoLetMeLive

    I have no problem having a collection of "Batman" from #426 (the first issue of the title I ever bought) to #713. That'll be the end of volume 1 of the title, and as far as I'm concerned it completes my collection. This relaunch or reboot or whatever you want to call it provides me the perfect jumping off point. Sure, I'll check out Snyder's run on "Batman" and Morrison's "Action Comics." But that's about it. Maybe Johns' "Green Lantern," but if that's too tied into the other GL books, I've no interest in continuing. I enjoy Hal, but have no interest in reading about the Corps, or the other Corps, or the Red Lanterns on their own. But once Morrison leaves "Action" and Snyder's off "Batman," then I might leave too. Because I have the luxury after the reboot of picking and choosing what I want to read without creating the dreaded "gap in the collection." And if the books DO go back to the same numbering eventually? That just reminds me of what a stunt this is and have no desire to return if that's the case. If you're going to have the balls to reboot the line, have the balls to make it permanent.

  • June 20, 2011, 8:25 p.m. CST

    Constantine's back in the Dcu

    by paulrichard

    His chaismoking superpower will make him the most powerful character in the dcu.

  • June 20, 2011, 8:27 p.m. CST

    DC drags comics kicking and screaming...

    by sonnyhooper

    ....into the 21st century, and all fan boys can bitch about is jim lee and scott lobdel? <p> really? <p> christ on a cross, thats fucking sad. <p> and the price point? <P> look if you wanna pay 2.99 for the date of release thats up to you. DC is not holding a gun to your head. it will get down to 99 cents eventually.. ...... <P> and the digital vs hard copy thing. no brainer, i'm going digital. but thats my personal choice, and i can see the argument from the other side. but if you want physical media, why not wait for trades?

  • I will never buy another comic with Geoff Johns' name on it. Snooziest, most derivative writer ever. I continue to buy everything written by Ellis, Millar, Moore (Alan) and that guy who wrote the Lex Luthor Action Comics.

  • June 21, 2011, 12:18 a.m. CST


    by D Jones

    Wow, Geoff is a fine comic book writer I mean he is no Joss ,but he is well schooled in comics lore and uses it very well. I do notice you can tell the age of most folks that comment on this subject. Nothing wrong with being young hell I miss it ,but most people tend to forget what has gone before.

  • June 21, 2011, 2:20 a.m. CST


    by BlueLando

    Everything by Millar? Wow... that's harsh!

  • June 21, 2011, 5:38 a.m. CST

    lol geoff is derivative...

    by antimcgyver

    but millar is some god of innovation? nice logic there. and you're talking about paul cornell, the guy who wrote the black ring storyline.

  • June 21, 2011, 8:04 a.m. CST

    "marriage done away by OMD"?

    by rev_skarekroe

    I know they haven't had a hit since the mid-80s, but that's no reason to destroy Superman's marriage.

  • June 22, 2011, 3:28 a.m. CST


    by hst666

  • June 22, 2011, 5:36 a.m. CST

    Herc, you include Ellis, but not Morrison?

    by hst666

    Ellis's best is right up there, but he writes a lot of mediocre stuff too. Morrison is the comics God.

  • June 22, 2011, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Killing Joke is NOT being undone...

    by Doctor Manhattan

    DC has said Killing Joke is still cannon. They were mum on how Barbara is back to being Batgirl.

  • June 22, 2011, 12:56 p.m. CST

    So... no more Power Girl?

    by solvseus

    Is Power Girl canceled? Only comic (well, DC anyway, I like some of the indies) I was actually following. It's not great, but I like the character and wanted to see where it was going. Nowhere now I guess. Ah well, good luck DC. You're going to need it.

  • June 23, 2011, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Looks like a great time to give up on DC altogether.

    by FuzzyLumpkins

  • June 25, 2011, 11:10 p.m. CST

    New Supergirl is Power Girl

    by Squashua

    She's stand-offish and alien; she will be like post-crisis Power Girl, not current pre-Infinite Crisis Power Girl.