Robot 6

Paint it black: DC Comics solicitations for July 2009

Grumpy Old Fan

Grumpy Old Fan

July should be an interesting month for DC Comics. Its latest big event arrives at last, and it launches a distinctive weekly throwback to the comics pages of yore. One seems like a license to print money, and the other may end up being simply an exercise in novelty printing. Still, I’m looking forward to both, and I’m cautiously optimistic about each.

Onward!

IN RICHEST DAY, IN POOREST NIGHT, MY WALLET’S GETTING PRETTY LIGHT

After two years of buildup, DC kicks off the back half of 2009 with Blackest Night, the final part of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern event trilogy.  What with all the hype, it’s been expanded into something approaching a line-wide crossover. You know the drill: you don’t have to buy ‘em all, but if you do, an angel gets its wings.

Anyway, things look pretty calm for the first couple of weeks, with only Green Lantern Corps #38 on July 1 and Green Lantern #43 on July 8. On the 15th, though, Blackest Night #1 hits, along with the first weekly issue of Tales Of The Corps. Titans #15 also leads into a separate Titans-related BN miniseries, which I presume will be solicited starting in August. GL #44 and TOTC #2 ship on July 22. (I feel compelled to mention that because Comic-Con starts that week, those of you attending will be able to get most of your reading out of the way in time to discuss it there.) Only one more issue, the final Tales Of The Corps, comes out on July 29. All told, it’s about 216 pages of undead ring-slinging for $27.92 retail. Surely DC won’t try to keep up that pace for the next seven months.

BATMAN

Just a few things about July’s Batman books. First, looks like I was wrong about Red Robin being Jason Todd. I don’t think Spoiler would visit Jason, but she would visit Tim, and she’s in Red Robin #2. Second, judging by his Trinity work, I think Mark Bagley and Art Thibert will be a good fit for Batman. I wasn’t always crazy about their Bruce Wayne, but he won’t be in the book. Third, the mention of Batman “train[ing] the new Robin” (also in Batman) seems to confirm that it’s Damian under the mask; since neither of the other contenders would need to be trained. Finally, oh dear Lord are we not done with Hush?!? Paul Dini has tried mightily, but Tommy Elliott is like unto something which can’t really be polished.

Speaking of which, was anyone waiting for a hardcover edition of Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan’s Cacophony? At least there will be a second Gotham Central hardcover.

It’s not a bad idea to combine the “Death In The Family” and “Lonely Place Of Dying” storylines into one hardcover. However, in the summer of 1989, writer Marv Wolfman led into “LPOD” with “Batman: Year Three” (drawn by Pat Broderick and John Beatty), a four-issue look at Dick Grayson and “Boss” Zucco which also retconned the Drake family into Robin I’s origin. “Year Three” was a decent story which has probably since been superseded by Robin: Year One and other flashbacks; and I suppose that’s why it hasn’t been reprinted anywhere.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

Last month’s solicits have Dan Jurgens writing Part 1 of Booster Gold‘s “Day Of Death,” but this month Keith Giffen writes Part 2. The Titans and Teen Titans books continue to cast around for regular writers. Meanwhile, here’s the new Justice Society creative team of Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, and Jesus Merino.

I’m feeling more optimistic about Justice League Of America. Even though the Len Wein/Eddy Barrows story has been pushed back to July, the preview for this week’s issue (written by Dwayne McDuffie) looks promising, and I think I will enjoy Wein and Barrows’ work.

Elsewhere, Mike Ploog returns to The Spirit. His first issue features a Nick Cardy cover, which seems like it should be a big deal, considering that I haven’t seen too much from Mr. Cardy in recent years.

REGULAR FARE

Very excited about Greg Rucka and James Robinson writing the “Captain Atom” backup in Action Comics. The 1980s Captain Atom relaunch was loaded with espionage and intrigue; and while Cap’s moved beyond that status quo, Rucka and Robinson should still do well.

The plan to reintroduce the Archie/MLJ/Red Circle characters in Brave & Bold might have gone by the wayside, but I’m glad to see the Milestone characters in the spotlight for the second straight month. Too bad Icon can’t team up with Martian Manhunter.

It’s hard for me to believe that James Robinson’s Justice League miniseries will be as bloody and vengeful as the solicit describes. Besides, isn’t acting from anger and frustration what got Hal in trouble with Parallax originally?

I wasn’t planning to get the Last Days Of Animal Man miniseries, but as a sucker for alternate-future Justice Leagues, I am curious about the League of Titans.

A while back I suggested that Secret Six could help launch a new Secret Society Of Super-Villains title. Now I get the feeling that Gail Simone is using Wonder Woman to destroy the current Society systematically.

COLLECTIONS

The solicitation for Trinity Volume 2 seems a little misleading, specifically in the “replaced with evil Multiversal doppelgangers” part and also in the “greatest heroes of 52 universes” part. Granted, the series still has six issues left….

I’m a little surprised that Showcase Presents Eclipso appears to be a one-and-done collection of the original House Of Secrets stories. Eclipso has turned up pretty frequently since then, even headlining 1992’s line-wide summer crossover. (He also showed up in an issue of Brave & Bold towards the end of the HoS run, but that’s not in here either.) It is just $9.99, so it may be an entertaining impulse buy.

Of course, you could also spend the better part of $10.00 on the first Unknown Soldier paperback, and plunge into a riveting, take-no-prisoners tale about a pacifist who discovers he can make Jason Bourne look like Rainbow Brite. I’ve been reading Unknown Soldier since the beginning, and I don’t think it let up until the very end of the sixth issue.

TOYS

They can give the latest Joker action figure creepy little bionic eyes, but they can’t include a pencil among all those accessories?

It seems like the figures in the JLA four-pack are repaints, but I’m having trouble identifying the originals. Are they “Ed Benes” models from the latest Justice League Of America line?

WEDNESDAY BREAKS MY HEART

I will not be surprised at all if Wednesday Comics is a flop. In fact, it could be the kind of flop that folks around the blogosphere discuss in rueful tones. It looks like great fun, and it should be at least as fun as Solo, editor Mark Chiarello’s last creator-centered project — but it is too different for the Direct Market, and I think DC knows it.

Wednesday Comics is the sort of thing DC should be selling in mainstream venues alongside its Johnny DC titles. At the very least, DC should be giving away samples of WedCom #1 for Free Comic Book Day. Can you imagine? It might actually encourage new readers to pick up a regular DC title or two. Instead, DC’s FCBD offering is Blackest Night #0, designed to excite those already in the know. As if that weren’t enough, the aforementioned Tales Of The Corps is also weekly (for 3 issues in July), also $3.99 (albeit for 30 pages of story), and (surely in the eyes of many regular DC consumers) “matters” more. It’s like DC is daring its fanbase to buy its staples-free experiment.

Indeed, it seems that Wednesday Comics must clear several hurdles with the every-Wednesday crowd. Yes, you can look at it as “$3.99 for only 16 pages.” However, each of those pages is four times normal size, and as far as I can tell, there will be no ads. Yes, it is an anthology, which means you are probably paying for something you wouldn’t otherwise buy. (For me, the Dan DiDio-written “Metal Men” strip comes immediately to mind.) I thought I’d feel that way about the Dr. 13 story in Tales of the Unexpected, and ended up liking it more than the Spectre lead.

And yes, you can try to “wait for the trade” — but remember, Solo hasn’t been collected in any form, so you might be waiting for a while. Never mind that it sounds rather silly to wait for the collection of something which will come out every week for only twelve weeks. Furthermore, I doubt this will be collected in an ordinary trade paperback. Remember those oversized Paul Dini/Alex Ross specials? They were collected in the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes hardcover, which measured 9.5″ x 12.8″ and contained 396 pages for $50.00. A complete Wednesday Comics collection will be about half as thick, but I bet won’t retail for less than $50.00 ($75.00 if it’s still 14″ x 20″) and probably won’t be out until next summer … that is, if it’s collected at all.

If there are people willing to wait that long for what is currently only supposition, there’s probably very little I can say to dissuade them. More than anything, Wednesday Comics is selling an experience; and specifically, a decidedly old-fashioned tactile experience. This is not the sort of thing which lends itself to torrenting, e-books, or arguably even a collected edition. As such, from what I can tell, it is outside the comfort zones of many every-Wednesday consumers.  If the bulk of DC’s fanbase is like that — a big if, to be sure — Wednesday Comics may have an uphill struggle, sales-wise.

Of course, there are other kinds of consumers, and Wednesday Comics no doubt will appeal to those regular comics-shop patrons who remain uninterested in the latest continuity-intensive event. Still, DC had better hope that it has attracted enough of them to make up the difference. Five years ago, Solo‘s first issue (48 pages of Tim Sale for $4.95) sold about 30,000 copies, and the series never did any better.

It would be nice to think that a package as attractive as Wednesday Comics would be enjoyed in its original format by a wide range of readers, whether they’re DC regulars or not, but I don’t think it will happen. If Wednesday Comics #1 sells more than 40,000 copies — which would put it somewhere around the latest Daredevil or a few “Battle For The Cowl” tie-ins — I will be very surprised.

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Comments

9 Comments

Ok, don’t read them. Don’t read any of them. Walk away. No one is forcing you to pick up any of those titles, so don’t. I have to say as an avid reader of comics, I make choices every month not to buy something and I am fine with it. The more you project something to be awful , it will be, especially to you. Just do me a favor, review things after they have been released, not before. That way you can at least be a little bit objective.

Surely DC won’t try to keep up that pace for the next seven months.

If I understand correctly, Blackest Night consists of:
– Blackest Night
– Green Lantern
– Green Lantern Corps
– Three 3-issue tie-in minis from August-October (Superman, Batman, Titans)
– Three 3-issue tie-in minis from November-January (JSA, Wonder Woman, Flash)
– 3 issues of Tales of the Corps in July

So from August through January, that’s already 6 books a month without counting however many tie-in issues they do in regular series outside the GL titles.

They’ve certainly set an ambitious pace, there.

I’m looking through Tom’s column for any hint that he suggested any of these books would be “awful” or even that he’s trying to review them in advance. Still not seeing it, but I’ll read it again.

I am surprised by your skepticism about Wednesday Comics – I don’t think a great assemblage of talent has been on one “book” since 52’s writers. I plan on getting two copies each week – one to read and save and one to cup up for posters! Have you seen the beauty that is Ryan Sook’s Kamandi?? Who wouldn’t want that on their walls!

I’m not saying WedsComx won’t be good — far from it. I think it’ll be pretty darn good. I’m just skeptical about its sales.

I still haven’t decided yet whether or not to get Wednesday Comics. I want to actually be holding it in my hands before I decide.

Yeah, Solo was amazing and it tanked.

I’m also fearful that people will be ignorant about it: “Oh, four bucks for only 16 pages!?” and that low sales will discourage DC from trying anything creative every again.

I don’t know that wacky physical formats are something I would call very “creative”. They tend to smell more of cheap gimmick and sales tend to be hurt as BWS Storyteller and Allred’s multiple odd sized projects tend to attest. But readers do tend to like Treasury size comics due to the favorable reputation and nostalgia the old treasury books engendered.

Whether I buy an oddly formatted book is largely affected by the quality of the material inside. I religously picked up BWS Storyteller but have pretty much avoided others. I’ll WedComx a try, but it will have to earn it’s price tag or I’ll just drop it without regret. Didio written Metal Men doesn’t sound appetizing however.

I agree, Wednesday Comics might be a hard sell to the faithful DC fans. To that I say: nuts to them. I’m seeing this as an opportunity for comic fans who aren’t invested in DC but love the medium to give a DC comic a try. I’m no great DC fan, but I intend to get every issue.

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