Draconically Speaking: The Death of DC Comics

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I know last year I said I was going to be coming down on the coverage of comics here on Draconic Verses, unless it was something “earth–shaking”, but frankly I’ve had it.

As some of my fellow comic fans who read my blog probably (or follow me on Twitter) know, I have long fostered discontent since the start of the New 52 – the revamp/restart/reboot of the DC Universe where in September 2011 DC Comics unleashed 52 new number one issues with all-new continuity and origins and costumes for their characters – despite my positive reviews of the first week’s worth of titles. The seeming disregard for the history and culture of longtime fans in favor of making money – because let’s face it number one issues sell – is what pissed me off the most.
What people didn’t realize at first – myself included – is that DC’s upper echelon was looking at a bigger piece of the pie that parent company Warner Bros. was offering them. Look at the way that DC’s offices will be moving to Los Angeles where Warner Bros. is naturally headquartered. Also if you look at it realistically, there is no “DC Comics” as an independent entity anymore. It’s the Comics Division of DC Entertainment. In the entertainment game, it’s no longer a question of establishing a good solid foundation. It’s what sells at the moment – instant gratification – what have you done for me lately – let’s throw it at the wall and see what sticks. Look at how many titles have come and gone since the start of the new 52. Currently less than half of those first titles are still around. Look at the sheer amount of creative changes since the start. I can’t even begin to count how many there were. You’d think they had a revolving door policy. A lot of books suffered because creativity was stretched so thin. A lot of books were canceled because of this lack of quality. A number of creators took to Twitter and other social media outlets, venting their frustrations with what some called a “new editorial atmosphere”.
The books weren’t even getting (in my opinion) a fair chance to win an audience, with eight issues seeming to be the “make it or break it” number. An example of this is a more recent casualty – the sci-fi themed anthology book Threshold. Each issue featured two or three different short, serialized stories. With less real estate, you’d think it would be obvious that they would need more time to build up an audience, but no – it was gone after eight issues. It’s really a head scratcher. But then, it matches the whole instant gratification mentality that seems to have permeated the management of DC Entertainment.
Over the past two or three days, DC has released the first bits of information for their April solicits. Among them were the revelations that 1 – Teen Titans (the last of the “Young Justice family” titles from the original new 52) will be getting canceled. 2 – Kyle Higgins is departing Nightwing, which he has written for the past three years. 3 – Lex Luthor is joining the Justice League, which is what writer Geoff Johns says is part of the next phase of the new 52 DC universe with a redefinition of the Justice League examining their real role in the world and how it operates after the outcome of Forever Evil.
In an interview with Newsarama, Johns says that the JL is “challenging the people that are telling them this is who you are and this is your role in the world”.
This almost seems to echo what DC comics is telling the fan base. We’re going to be the way we think we should be not how you think we should be. I’m sorry but this is a lousy attitude when you consider that none of them would even have a job without the fan base. Since the start of the new 52 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read about Dan Didio at a convention more or less saying, “That’s the way this is now – deal with it.”
They’re always saying, “We’re doing this for the fans!”
That’s a lie.
If they were doing it for the fans, they would not have canceled the Young Justice TV series (which had high ratings and high critical acclaim) because of low action figure sales.
If they were doing it for the fans, they would’ve found ways to place Wally West, Donna Troy and Stephanie Brown in the continuity of the new 52 with all the fan outcry for them, instead of taking a much publicized “stop asking about them already” attitude at conventions for the first two years.
Note – I am well aware that Wally and Stephanie will be returning in some fashion over the next coming year. That still does not excuse the attitude prior to this return.
A few months ago I said in another column that DC was being run by the bookkeepers and accountants of Warner Bros. That’s still very much the case. They care more about if the character can go on a lunchbox, or in a coloring book, or turned into an action figure and that they sell, sell, sell. They don’t care about the characters themselves or the fans that support them. This is becoming more and more evident every month. I miss the days when I could look forward to the latest issue of my favorite DC Comics. And yes, I know that I can always go back and re-read the books in my collection, but the fun of anticipation and the comfort of nostalgia are two very different things. I have long hated the so-called need to make comic books “more realistic and gritty”.

Comic books were once meant to be an escape from the entry day world. Where we could forget about how dark and heavy the real world can be. And while personality quirks or some amount of angst a character has can be good to flesh out that character and make it more real, I still want that character to be larger than life.
The Superman of today is brash, almost cynical and always wondering what direction his moral compass should be pointing in. I miss that “Big Blue Boy Scout” who fought the never-ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way who was the embodiment of hope. It kind of falls in with the mentality of the (yet again) rebooted Superman movie franchise with wanting to set a more realistic tone. Batman should have a realistic tone. He’s a human being in a costume. Superman is an alien from the planet Krypton who can fly. How the hell can you be realistic with that? It makes no sense whatsoever.
It’s always sad when something so cherished changes so drastically, but you find ways of dealing with it. For me, part of that is writing this blog. Unfortunately, the “grim reality” is that DC Comics, as it was, is for all intents and purposes dead. It’s all about DC Entertainment now. I hope they get it right in the end.

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