Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | A different look at DC Comics’ solicitations for December 2010

Elijah Snow and Batman

Elijah Snow and Batman

Most months, this is that special week where I take a look at DC’s latest batch of solicitations. This month, though, the solicitations themselves take a back seat to the larger DC Entertainment news — and, specifically, to the end of the WildStorm imprint.

I know I am not the first to point out WildStorm’s slow death. For a while now it has been a disparate mix of superheroes, videogame tie-ins, and other licensed adaptations. As such, it’s been hard for WildStorm to establish (or re-establish) its own identity, even in terms of that diversity. Ironically, the imprint built much of its reputation on creator-driven titles, like The Authority and Gen13, which have now been incorporated into the greater DC Multiverse. They may have new life down the road, but if DC’s treatment of the Milestone and Red Circle characters is any indication, the quality of that life may well leave something to be desired.

Of course, many of WildStorm’s books will continue under the DC bullet, presumably to build up the DC brand in general. On one level I’m happy to see this kind of assimilation, because it instantly — albeit superficially — makes the DC line more diverse. I’ve argued for a while that it needs to be more than superheroes; but even The Authority and Astro City are sufficiently different from the DCU titles.

I have my doubts about that diversity creating new superhero readers, though. Longtime readers may remember that I got back into comic books through DC’s Star Trek. I started reading the Trek comic in the fall of 1984, just before Crisis On Infinite Earths came out, so the timing was good, to say the least. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t count on today’s readers making a similar transition from, say, Gears Of War to Freedom Fighters. If it’s not happening now, it probably won’t happen under a new masthead.

Besides, DC’s focus is increasingly on its most recognizable characters. It may be a coincidence, but for December, DC has solicited more Batman-related titles (21) than all of WildStorm’s ongoing series and miniseries (14). While some of those Bat-books are Annuals and miniseries which won’t be back in January, the December solicits definitely reinforce the perception that DC is taking very few risks. Again, this is why I like even the “involuntary diversification” which comes from putting something like Victorian Undead II under the DC bullet — because it forces the publisher to think about something other than superheroes.

The flip side of that, naturally, is the notion that DC will refuse to publish the next Victorian Undead because it won’t be able to evaluate such a book by WildStorm’s less demanding sales standards. After all, there are plenty of reasons why DC publishes so many Batman books. Maybe I’m wrong; and maybe this is the start of a singular, more genuinely-diverse line of DC comic books. I hope it is … but I’m still skeptical.

* * *

And not to pick unfairly on the Batman line, but I did want to talk a little more about those twenty-one books solicited for December. They include

– 5 ongoing in-continuity Batman titles (Detective Comics, Batman, Batman And Robin, Batman Inc., and The Dark Knight);

— 5 ongoing in-continuity “Bat-partner” titles (Red Robin, Gotham City Sirens, Streets Of Gotham, Azrael, and Batgirl);

— 2 ongoing anthologies (Batman Confidential and Superman/Batman);

— 2 tangentially-related team books (Birds Of Prey and Outsiders);

— 3 issues of Batman miniseries (Odyssey and the two issues of Orphans);

— 1 issue of a Bat-related miniseries (Knight & Squire);

— 2 Annuals (Detective Comics and Batman); and

— 1 Special (the Batman 80-Page Giant 2010).

As mentioned above, this is something of an unusual month even for the Bat-books. The numbers are inflated artificially by the Annuals, the 80-Page Giant, and the two issues of Orphans. However, they’ve also been goosed somewhat by the relatively-recent addition (in November) of B. Inc. and Dark Knight. Furthermore, despite being wrong about the imminent cancellation of the post-“Battle For The Cowl” titles, I continue to believe that we are in the midst of an artificially-inflated Bat-bubble. Out of all the ongoing titles listed above, only Batman and Detective Comics have any kind of long-term staying power. Batman And Robin and Batman Inc. both represent the “Grant Morrison Era of Batman,” although by November Morrison will have transferred his flag from B&R to Inc. Likewise, last year SOG and GCS allowed Paul Dini to continue story threads he’d begun in Detective Comics, which itself had become Batwoman’s new home.

Dini’s gone from GCS, though, and Batwoman has left ’Tec for her own series. Dini’s “Heart Of Hush” arc in SOG will be over in a few months as well; and its end could be a natural place to conclude that series. Streets was #86 on the July sales charts, having sold just under 25,000 copies to retailers; while Sirens was #81, with just over 25K of sales. Both of them look like powerhouses next to Batman Confidential, which at #129 sold some 14,000 copies of its July issue to retailers. With all that in mind, I am still more bullish on Confidential, because I can see more of an ongoing demand for a Batman anthology than I can for two titles each specializing in relatively obscure members of the Bat-cast. (And yes, I know Catwoman isn’t exactly “obscure.”) Obviously, if DC is happy with the numbers for Streets and Sirens, I wouldn’t expect either of them to be cancelled. At the same time, though, neither title strikes me as particularly ambitious. (I still read Streets, but I dropped Sirens a while back.) Streets is decent enough, just as Dini and Dustin Nguyen’s Detective was pretty decent; and Sirens at its best was like a twisted Birds Of Prey. However, Gotham Central was a more distinctive look at the Bat-mythology, and BOP and Catwoman were (and are) better-received than Sirens has been.

Put another way, whenever I see a glut of Bat-books, I always wonder whether the readership might be better-served with fewer titles. If Odyssey had been a Batman Confidential arc, it would have boosted that book’s sales, and it might have gotten some new readers to stick around afterwards. Such an argument doesn’t make financial sense for DC, though. The publisher has no incentive to serialize Neal Adams’ work in the existing Confidential when it can make a bigger splash with a standalone Odyssey — and still profit from readers who buy both books.

The December solicits also demonstrate why DC would rather launch a new Grant Morrison Bat-title than have the writer return to Batman. J. Michael Straczynski’s Superman storyline has already needed one fill-in issue, and Morrison himself has been late on both Batman and Batman and Robin. Clearly DC would prefer to publish high-profile, long-running titles like Batman and Superman consistently every month, rather than risk any more delays; so it gets a fill-in for Superman and lets Batman and Robin run late. More titles also gives DC more flexibility to tell … well, more Batman stories, apparently.

In the end, though, all those Batman books (and the five Superman titles, five Green Lantern titles, three Titans titles, and three Legion titles) can make a local comics shop’s shelves look awfully homogenized. Similarly, the December solicitations give the impression (fairly or not) that DC would rather have one big plate of superheroes than a more balanced diet of genres. I don’t know how long DC can sustain all these Bat-titles, especially since both Batman and Robin and Batman Inc. appear to have lifespans dictated by fairly specific concepts (namely, Dick and Damian and “the franchise”), but surely the Bat-line will have to be pruned back in the next year or two. By then I wonder if DC will have learned anything productive from WildStorm’s decline, or if it will have simply redirected its energies in more familiar ways.

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30 Comments

DC has been less than when handling acquired characters.

Freedom Fighters- Languished forever until the recent succession of mini-series. Most of the Quality heroes remain forgotten with the exception maybe of Plastic Man and Max Mercury.

Charlton Heroes- Started off well with Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Question each having their own books. Nightsade was active on Suicide Squad. But I think they lost the license to Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. Today, Blue Beetle is all the rage (albeit a new version of him) Question was replaced by Renee Montoya who went straight to forgotten status, there’s a new Judomaster in JSA, Captain Atom was a mess the past few years though.

Milestone- Aside from the JL appearance and the Brave and the Bold appearance, they’ve gone back into hiding.

Red Circle- Nice books which didn’t sell well. They’ve been shelved now.

So… good luck WildCATS and the rest of Wildstorm…

Batman rocks.

R.I.P. Wildstorm. Your paper will be recycled as new Batman titles.

How right you are Mr. Bondurant. Twenty-two Bat titles (if you also count Time Masters, which ties into the Return of Bruce Wayne) is outrageous. As a reader & collector of Batman since 1964, I have decided that enough is enough, especially for my wallet. I quit all Bat comics, although I probably will buy Bat trades & save money that way. They could have taken stories from most of the different Bat comics & had storylines for Batman, Detective, Brave & Bold, & World’s Finest titles for a few years.
Furthermore, the lessons of the 1980s & 1990s have been forgotten. Back then we learned that there is a set number of readers for a title. If you add a second title, you do not add a significant number of new readers, but, instead, cut into the number of present readers. Years ago, it was Amazing Spider-man & Spectacular Spider-man. Say Amazing had, say,100,000 readers. When Spectacular was added, readership for Spectacular was 25, 000. Spider-man readership did not increase to 125, 000, but Amazing had 75,000 & Spectacular had 25,000.
This new Batman “franchise” is a slap in the face to loyal Batman readers, especially in this economy. 22 titles squeeze out all other comics-which may be a plus for DC if I read a lot of Marvel, but I’m a DC reader & it stops me dead from reading other DC titles. What chance do Wildstorm titles have?

again ther blame lies less with DC and more with retailers and fans…. when DC puts out quality work 1 months that isn’t Batman … the retailers all but ignore it (even with top flight creators) but Slap a Bat-connected title on it… and Retailers end up ordering like crazy…

for Dc to make more of a change in what they put out…. retailers will have to start ordering a little different

and for them to do that.. Fans have to stop saying they want something different and buying something different…

What came first, the Batman or the egg?

It’s the age-old question of whether the companies make the readership or whether the readership makes the company. Are there 22 Bat-related books (Secret Six will always be Bat-related as long as fully half the team are Batman villains) because there’s a dedicated reader base that will support these projects? Or does DC essentially force the issue by putting out an overwhelming number of books? I would have to argue that it’s the former, as with the business being what it is these days, DC cannot afford to take chances on less than sure bets, and that includes more than simply lesser-known heroes or different genres.

I dont think its fair to blame retailers or fans if DC’s books fail to sell

My understanding is that most retailers dont have make crazy amounts of money so they cant really afford to take risks with products which have little chance of selling. And fans will buy what excites and interests them and it is the job of the creators and marketing to create that excitement.

The major problem I see with DC at the moment is that it thinks it can launch a new superhero character and have them compete not only against Superheroes created by the competition but also against their own big name heroes. That Freedom Fighters mini-series, regardless of how good the writing and art is, is pretty much doomed to fail because people looking for a superhero fix will probably go to Batman, Superman, Spider-man, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, Justice League or even Invincible before they give it a look.

If they put out a Sword and Sorcery book for an original IP it would probably do better simply because its not in direct competition of the majority of the tiny comic-reading market. While there is a section of DC’s customers who enjoy the idea of an expansive interconnected universe of Superhero titles that approach is a very limited, has aging audience and it creates IP that becomes more and more difficult to get into and adapt to other mediums as time goes by.

Instead of putting out a bunch of Batman titles and a new superhero book and being surprised when the new book is canceled in 12 issues, why not just market the Vertigo titles better within those 21 Batman books? I could see someone reading Batman and Robin and then being compelled to get iZombie, or someone reading Red Robin and being convinced to give ‘Cinderella: from Fabletown with Love’ a shot.

@Bathombre:

Considering the amount of sales and critical aclaim Morrison’s Batman work gets it make complete sense to let him continue working. Whether giving him a new ongoing title is the best way to go about this is debatable.

They could have retitled Batman & Robin and continued his story there, however one big draw of B&R apart from Morrison was Dick and Damian, so it also kinda makes sense to let that title continue on without Morrison.

They could have told the Batman Inc portion of Morrison’s story in one of the main titles (Batman or Detective) but Batman recruiting an army (of sorts) is a significant departure from the tone and focus of those books, so they may have avoided that so that readers of the main titles still have regular old Batman stories to read.

I completely agree that there shoudnt be that many Batman titles, but giving Grant Morrison a new #1 makes sense. If it was up to me I’d cancel the secondary Bat character titles (Red Robin, Sirens, Streets, Azrael and Batgirl), tell whatever is happening in ‘Batman: the Dark Knight’ in the main ‘Batman’ title and focus advertising on those core 4 books (‘Batman’, ‘Detective’, ‘Batman Inc’ and ‘Batman & Robin’)

DC is pretty much pimping Batman’s ass out.

Marvel has been pursuing this strategy for years with a number of their properties, and it works. It doesn’t make sense for DC not to exploit their biggest property like this given the way monthly comic fans and retailers historically spend their money.

Batman is going to sell big numbers even if DC put an unknown creative team on it. In that sense, it doesn’t make sense to put Grant Morrison, whose name alone is a big financial draw, on a book that can hold its own no matter who is at the helm. Because of that, I’d actually like to see DC use a title like Batman to take their risks. That book sells, so that’s where DC should be luring up and coming creators. You know almost everyone aspiring to write superheroes books has wanted their name on the cover of an issue of Batman.

Additionally, Batman should be where the character is incorporated into the larger DCU more, because if less popular characters have any chances of making it on their own, they need exposure in a book DC knows people will buy in large numbers consistently.

But you also can’t say DC hasn’t improved in some areas. Has Green Lantern in its history ever been able to sustain five titles? There’s a major push in all the Brightest Day titles to refocus the DCU away from the “Trinity,” a concept I always felt was a bit contrived. DC is trying to strengthen many of its other properties for sure.

Finally, as for publishing more diverse comics than superhero comics, I firmly believe that’s what Vertigo should be for. Vertigo has an an excellent track record. Comic fans generally know that imprint published quality titles, and has been doing so for about twenty years. Yet, Vertigo titles sell, at best, about as well as cancellation level DCU titles. I think Vertigo titles would fare a lot better if the audience for monthly comics could be expanded, but that’s a whole other conversation.

I wonder how many Deadpool or Wolverine issues Marvel is putting out to compensate?

Too many Batman comics, not enough good Wildstorm comics. I’m with Dave on the four core titles. I only buy Batman and Robin right now anyway. Having four core titles would give plenty of editorial room because you could have writers and artists change every few issues or have one team do a one-shot to give the main story a break but still flesh out one of its aspects.

I know the number of Batman books are staggering, but is it something to complain? WE ALREADY have too many batman books.

The difference this time is that… the creative team working on batman books become much stronger.

Now we have Grant Morrison and that’s about it. Paul Dini hasn’t been on his top form for awhile and its been more than years since Gotham Central and Batwomen ended.

Not we have

Morrison and Paquette on Batman Inc.
Scott Synder and Jock on Detective Comics
Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleesen on Batman and Robin
Paul Cornell on Knight and Squire

You have to admit that is a pretty impressive roster or at least a significant upgrade from the current line up of bat books. AS LONG AS THERE ARE MANY GOOD BAT BOOKS, I don’t care if there are 22 or 30.

And also a lot of people are assuming that if DC don’t focus on its batbooks they will use the cash on lesser known titles are Vertigo titles. That is a very big assumption. They mgiht just as well keep the cash and scale down the their operation.

I am by no means a big fan of DC’s management, but over last six months I am pleased with the decisions they made. Especially ramping up their writer roster. Adding Scott Synder, Paul Cornell, Jeff Lemire to the roster is a major get.

Whether the new bat books will be good is still questionable, but with Morrison, Synder, and Cornell on the titles I am more excited than concerned

I’ve been a lifelong Bat fan, but I stopped buying all Bat titles when RIP started as I just couldn’t stand what Morrison was doing to the Bat-mythos. Clearly, I’m in the minority on that opinion but his version is not what I wanted, nor did I ever want Bruce Wayne taken off the table for any length of time, and now I’m definitely not interested in seeing Bruce “franchise” Batman across the globe. What, there aren’t enough superheroes in the DCU already?

I didn’t know Batman Confidential was selling so low, but I haven’t bought that book in a long time myself. Maybe the King Tut arc was the last one I bought? Whenever I pick that book and page through it, it just doesn’t look like a terribly good, or intriguing, book. I was a huge fan of Legends of the Dark Knight in its early years, and it’s really odd that the book that replaced that title, using basically the same approach, is a mere shadow of what that earlier title once was (Speaking of shadows, there was also Shadow of the Bat which I also bought faithfully in its early days). BC should be the perfect book for me, but it isn’t. Very few arcs in that book have satisfying.

I will try out the new Dark Knight title when it comes out. It looks like the closest thing to a Bat book that I’ll enjoy these days. Otherwise, when I want my Batman fix, I’ll just go back to my old Bat books from the 80’s and early-mid 90s, various graphic novels, and the better collections from the last 15 years or so. Or I’ll just pop in the Nolan movies or best episodes of The Animated Series (and Justice League).

@KrisKrause

Green Lantern had 3 ongoing books (Green Lantern, Green Lantern Mosaic, Guy Gardner) as well as Green Lantern Quarterly and various special releases (Annuals, one-shots, 80 pages giants) for a period of about 1.5-2.5 years in the early 90s.

Major characters like Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, or team books like The Avengers or X-Men, have been killing the comics medium for years, not saving it. The reason is simply that if you flood a market with one popular idea the audience will become bored with it far more quickly than if they experienced the same story intermitently over a longer period of time. In this way, these titles sell well compared to the rest of the market, but are really just symptomatic of the dwindling number of comic book fans that are keeping the direct market afloat. There isn’t the variety to appeal to a wider audience, and when that audience isn’t immediately found upon publishing certain titles, the books are quickly cancelled before the audience can find them.

In fact, as a gateway to comics in general the major titles are useless. Very few people outside of comic book fans initially visit a comic book shop for the first time in order to pick up Spider-Man or Batman, and those who do rarely return. Incidents like the inflated sales for the Obama Spider-Man issue show this – it sold well and attracted outside media interest, but there was no follow-up and sales plummitted for subsequent issues. Another reason is that these are repetitive, never-ending stories with confusing morals that don’t necessarily relate to a more modern audience. For example, most of DCs output seems to me to be stuck in a 1950s time-loop, with regards to the themes and issues many of their flagship characters confront and embody. The morals become even more confusing because the audience has to suspend their disbelief about the central conceit of all these stories – that these “heroes” uphold the law, despite the fact that they routinely ignore it by the very nature of their vigilante actions. The stories are all essentially to the same formula, with good continually triumphing over evil, making the threats seen in the stories kind of pointless and dull. How many times can someone see Lex Luthor lose before thinking, “Hold on a minute, this guy is an idiot! He’s got a 0% success rate against this guy and yet he just keeps making trouble for himself!’

Then there is the fact that compared to other forms of media, comic books are often inaccessable. For example, in some areas there may be only one comic book store, and that is a tiny place in an area away from the major outlets for other types of commerce. When a person decides to access that shop, most of the titles they will encounter will be a hero from the big two. If that person is female, the majority of titles they will see will feature exaggerated stereotypes of sexualised woman designed specifically for the male gaze. If that person is male, they will see the titles feature a number of steroid-enhanced, amazingly simplistic, and colourfully dressed proto-men from the 1950s. If the person then decides to navigate the store in the hopes of finding a narrative they can connect with, the chances are that a large number of the titles they pick up will be: (a) in the midst of a massive crossover, (b) in the middle of a six-part story, or (c) written by a talentless-hack-writer. Even then, if the person finds something they like, they may be put off by the increasingly steep prices, or will decide that those increasingly steep prices make returning less desireable. Even then, if they have picked up a copy of ‘Watchmen’ or some other well thought up piece of comic literature, chances are they will be increasingly let down by future purchases, and will then stop buying comics. Things get even worse when you consider that a healthy comic buying habit also means that you have to regularly visit the shop of your choosing to keep up with the stories – Meanwhile, your television is usually just sitting at home, newspapers and books are everywhere in every other shop, DVDs and computer games are everywhere – which is tremendously inconvenient. It is even worse when a little indie book comes out because there will often be a large audience of people who will hear about in, and upon visiting their local comic shop will be told that there are no copies in the store because Batman, Spider-Man and The Avengers sell better.

So, as I said, these major titles that supposedly sell well are killing this entire medium, and the companies that produce them have made as little investment as possible to widen their publishing base are scaring away a potential audience in a variety of ways. This is why the move to digital means of distribution could see a rennaissance in comics, but, unfortunately, with the attacks on Net Neutrality measures increasing and a bias in political and commercial circles towards protecting existing IP rather than allowing any measure of competition or generating new IP, it is likely that this industry will continue to hemorage money and turn readers away.

Considering there are now TWO Batman running around it would make sense that the titles to expand somewhat. When I was reading the Previews it was confusing as to who they were talking about: DickBats or BruceBats. Speaking as a long time Batman fan if Bruce is back I’d rather read about him. Dick is a decent replacement but Batman IS Bruce Wayne IMO.

Not a real Batman fan, but look at what’s happened to the X-Men at Marvel. They are such a Shadow of their former selves that Marvel has decided that flooding the market with X-Book after X-Book will make them sell more. Before the first movie came out, I was a huge X-Men fan, but dropped the book during Morrison’s run (Didn’t like the character assassination of Cyclops for the most part). That just made it easier to drop the other books too.I don’t want to spend $20 bucks a month on just X-Titles.

-Avengers is starting to get into the same rut that X-Men is in. Granted Avengers works a bit better since each team has a different agenda as to why they exist, but still.

” The stories are all essentially to the same formula, with good continually triumphing over evil, making the threats seen in the stories kind of pointless and dull. How many times can someone see Lex Luthor lose before thinking, “Hold on a minute, this guy is an idiot! He’s got a 0% success rate against this guy and yet he just keeps making trouble for himself!’ ”
The main problem behind this kind of commentary is that it overlooks at why superhero comics started being published. Superheroes were originally power fantasies intended for young children. They’re not really fit vehicles for adult fiction despite propaganda that has been coming from aging fanboys over the decades. There are very few examples of strict superhero comics that can be considered adult literature.(Jack Kirby has gotten close) 99% of “adult” superhero comics either intentionally or unconsciously deconstruct the power fantasy underpinning of the entire genre.

Alan Moore understood this. I’m not sure that Mark Millar does. Kick-Ass does a better job of highlighting how stupid superheroes are in a “real-world” setting than promoting the validity of the genre.

The superhero genre’s problem I think is that it has tried to appeal to adults who never stopped reading them; The adults in question are those who have read comics for over twenty years and have never ventured outside the superhero characters they’ve read as children, who may have some kind of psychological dysfunction. Being a “loyal” fan of (insert superhero character from the big two) for 35 years is a sign of someone who has not grown up. This may sound like a broad and unfair generalization and doesn’t apply to everyone involved in comics. Let me be much more specific: The loyal fans I speak of are the ones who knowingly buy bad comics. They are the completionists. These loyal fans are the ones who feel like they owe Superman their allowance every week. not because they like the stories or , the art , or run a comic a shop, but because they want to support Superman as if he were a person who needed their money every week to make ends meet.
I know what I said sounds like I/’m condemming some people. I don’t think those people should beat themselves up too much over it. Adults bringing their childhood into adult hood is a symptom of late capitalism. (Manga has its own version of “loyal” fans, the kind that refuse to grow up but these fans don’t make up the majority of fans of people who buy material aimed at children and tell the industries to make Pokemon more grown up and mature.) People living in countries experiencing late capitalism come into contact with a society and consummer culture that act to delay adulthood for as long as possible. True adulthood is hardly possible at the age of 18 without substantial subsidization. This is not to say that there aren’t comic fans who aren’t self-sufficient (you have to be making pretty decent money to buy 20- 50 3.99 comics a month, )but I do think delayed adulthood is somehow related to the phenomenom of a certain segment of comic fans who have brought elements of their childhood into the adult world and that this has created an insular culture hostile to outsiders. This insular culture is also slowly killing not just the comic medium, but the very genre that they claim to cherish. The good news is that this is recent and is a result of the newstand market drying up in the 90s.

I don’t think there’s a cure for this because the inmates are running the ayslum.

I think the glut of Batbooks has more to do with commitments editorial makes to creators in order to bring them into the fold. To get Tony Daniel they promise him Batman, not just drawing but writing too. So he gets a book. To get Finch they ask him what he wants to do. Batman? You got it. Snyder, what’s your pitch? Batman? You got it. Since Morrison continues to sell there’s no way he’s getting bumped by these other guys so he gets a new book.

Now if you feel you have to buy all this because you collect all things Batman you should stop and question what you enjoy about comics. Only spend money on what you are truly enjoying. With all these books you should be able to find the Batman that works for you.

I’m not sure why DC would risk going the 90s route again and destroying the Bat-franchise with pure oversaturation, but whatever, I won’t be there reading them to see it. I was buying Batman and Robin and Streets of Gotham (Formerly Dini’s Detective Comics), but now it seems like there’s just too much out there affecting the other titles to even begin to justify reading these. There are too many books where you have to play catch up, either by getting trades/back issues or simply reading synopses online, and it makes for a very dysfunctional reading experience.

The only solution I see is that people need to stop buying something that is a poor product. DC will never get rid of Batman and its other core characters, but it will change the way they are made if they aren’t selling. I love Batman as a character, but right now I don’t purchase any of the Batman titles because I don’t like them. This is our only way as consumers to make a statement that has real impact.

What it really comes down to is quality versus quantity. Since the 90’s the companies have gone the quantity route, obviously it’s working reasonably well for them or they would change their strategy. I’m not saying there isn’t anything of quality out there because there is. It’s a matter of finding and supporting those titles of high quality and shunning the rest. If it isn’t good don’t continue to buy it. If it is good buy it and try to promote it to other people.

The problem with flooding the market with all of these Bat-titles is that it draws peoples spending dollars away for other series. There is a story that, I think, John Byrne told about Secret Wars. Jim Shooter thought Secret Wars was great because of the sales number it put up but when it was pointed out to him the decline in sales of others titles those same months he refused to see the correlation. Simply put fans only have so many titles they are willing to get in a single month and event comics and huge gluts of the “big guns” don’t necessarily cause people to buy more titles, they just abandon the middle and low-tier titles to make room on their pull lists.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see what the huge deal is in having multiple bat titles. This is a business decision. The demand is there. I don’t really care if they do 20 or 50 titles a month as long as they’re good. I read all the Bat tiles, miniseries, annuals, and specials, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy them all. This is the best time to be a Bat-fan, from my perspective.

They got Morrison, Dini, Snyder (whose American Vampire I love), Simone, Tomasi, Daniels, Finch and lots of other talented writers and artists. It’s not like they’re half-assing the talent or stories.

Right now, there’s people who think only Bruce Wayne should be Batman, well DC says buy The Dark Knight and Batman Inc. Others prefer Dick Grayson, then Batman and Robin, Detective, and Batman are for you. Choose the ones you like and stick with those. It’s that simple.

If these titles may be too much economically for some readers no one is putting a gun to their heads to buy ALL 21 comics or whatever. I applaud the author of this column for not buying Sirens because he didn’t enjoy it. Perfect. But that doesn’t mean that I, who do enjoy it, have to. And hey, if DC wants to keep publishing Sirens and Confidential and Streets of Gotham even though sales are low, well that’s their perrogative. These are business people and they’ll probably figure these titles are profitable in other formats such as trade paperbacks. Who knows?

Pick the ones you like, ignore the rest. That’s it. I for one am buying them all, but that is because I choose to and I want to. So please stop criticizing DC for making market decisions that do not fit your economic situation. Only you can control your pockets, their job is to sell.

And regarding the lack of variety, well is not like DC doesn’t try. They fought for Blue Beetle and Manhunter, and Gotham Central and others, and they’re still struggling with Jonah Hex. But if there’s not enough support for those titles, then what’s a publisher to do?

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see what the huge deal is in having multiple bat titles. This is a business decision. The demand is there.”

There are actually fans asking for 21 Batman comics? Where? My impression has always been that there is a small demand for any comic book character being published in comics, and the pandering to that audience has driven away casual interest. Whilst I can’t find them right now, I bet most of those books aren’t doing well enough in sales to suggest there is demand to extend the line. In addition, how long are most of these titles going to last without the high profile creators on them? Do we all really expect that Dick Grayson will continue as Batman in the long term? Or that Damian will remain as Robin? Or that ‘Batman Inc.’ is a concept that is capable of surviving beyond Grant Morrison? In reality, as Newton points out above, this seems to have more to do with getting creators to commit to DC. The Editorial decision has nothing to do with the demand for more Bat-books – just the demand for these creators.

“If these titles may be too much economically for some readers no one is putting a gun to their heads to buy ALL 21 comics or whatever.”

Totally true. Unless they have a crossover – like when you had to buy an extra-four comics in order to understand what was going on with the ‘OMAC Project’ mini leading into ‘Infinite Crisis’, one-half of which was just redundant filler. But, of course, it is a business, which means dirty tricks, like making you buy extra-books so you have any idea what is going on in the one book you read, is perfectly acceptable. Yes, you may not literally have a gun to your head, but, metaphorically, you do get a gun put to your head, and that is dishonest. But that attitude of yours is why in years to come movies will probably be delivered to a console, and you will have to rent them every time rather than buy them and own them, but you don’t have to have any entertainment – no-one is going to murder you if you don’t, right?

“Pick the ones you like, ignore the rest. That’s it. I for one am buying them all, but that is because I choose to and I want to. So please stop criticizing DC for making market decisions that do not fit your economic situation. Only you can control your pockets, their job is to sell.”

No, their job comes with a wide range of social responsibilities that they – and you – seem to conveniently forget whenever there is a benefit to you. These books are killing the direct market as they are killing smaller titles – as Michael Murphy above points out – until publishers put out less and less original and innovative content, which in turn results in the audience growing up and moving on rather than reading the same stories over and over again. And then they put the prices up. And then they link the stories together to make you buy multiple titles for a few months. This model that they have adopted is hugely flawed because it has resulted in a shrinking market that cannot sustain originality and innovation, and that has bred racism, sexism and favouritism within a industry that cannot afford any of those things. Can you imagine if every film you had watched since the 1980s had starred either Arnie, Bruce or Sly? That is the equivalent of what has happened in comics, and it has resulted in books like ‘Scott Pilgrim’ or ‘The Sandman’ becoming the exception rather than the rule.

“They fought for Blue Beetle and Manhunter, and Gotham Central and others, and they’re still struggling with Jonah Hex. But if there’s not enough support for those titles, then what’s a publisher to do?”

I think there is a misconception here, but it is only a theory that I have, I dont have the evidence to back it up, but it rings true to me, so hopefully someone else can explain whether I am right or wrong, but it goes like this: Those titles did badly compared to high-selling, popular titles like ‘Batman’, and failed because they did not stand out against twenty-one ‘Batman’ comics. Let me put it another way… You walk into a store and you see 21 Batman comics, and 1 copy of Blue Beetle. Now, if 22 people buy one issue each, and then buy the other titles in that line, then Batman’s titles will sell 21 issues each, 441 collectively, and Blue Beetle will still only have one person buying it. That is what happens when you crowd the market like this. Meanwhile, a title like ‘Gotham Central’ existed because Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka wanted to write it, and it was cancelled because of ‘Infinite Crisis’ and ’52’, which saw massive changes to the two main characters in the title. However, the reason to publish those titles is because they get good press – ‘Gotham Central’ is more likely to become a favourite outside the comic book reading public because of its familiarity to police prodecurals, and ‘Blue Beetle’ adds to the diversity of DCs heroes (who are too white and too American to really appeal outside the main market they are intended for). However, comparing the level of support shown to ‘Blue Beetle’ – namely, one title that tied into two issues of ‘Infinite Crisis’, and a handful of appearances in ‘Teen Titans’ before they cancelled his book, and then including him in cartoons and TV shows when there isn’t a book to support the character, which is just bizarre – with the level of support shown to ‘Batman’ – whose symbol has been on everything ever, and who is a major film and television icon – is laughable. DC doesn’t try to diversify – it releases vanity titles for creators (many of which are very good) alongside a glut of movie tie-ins, crossovers, and franchise titles, and then says that the vanity titles didn’t do very well, ignoring the fact that they effectively made their audience choose between something edgy and new from Vertigo, or missing out on an expensive tie-in to a story they have already invested in – and as I showed earlier, 441 issues compared to 1 is the outcome of this idiocy.

I want to see what happens when Grant wraps up his 2 year plan with the books. Right now everything is peachy and books are selling.

I expect the bubble to burst sooner than DC expects. There isn’t nearly as much buzz about the upcoming Batman Inc concept at my LCS as there was at the beginning of the Dick Grayson era. I don’t expect Dark Knight to pick up much steam, and Sirens and Streets will be gone soon enough. The general consensus at my shop is that Return of Bruce Wayne is a great jumping off point for an increasingly bloated and delayed Morrison story.

I think CRAIG perfectly said it all about killing your comic line by over producing one popular idea.

Its TRUE: any majorly popular chararcter ( BATMAN-DEADPOOL-Spiderman_Wolverine) or any popular idea/team book ( X-MEN or AVENGERS) yes any book with those charactes will sell.
BUT—- not 21 of them in one single month. ANyone who has ever run a comic shop or that has a brain and observes his LCS can tell you that overproduced titles will SIT on the shelves.

You put out 21 bat titles and no one notices the other titels coming out from DC.
OR they are turned off enough to not want to bother. with any of the Bat titles.

When anything is cool– it looses its freshness/ coolness/ or originality if its whored out.

I se 21 titles of batman or Deadpool or Wolverine on a dozen different covers in one month and guess what— I am going to avoid them all together.

30 somthing fans that pic up all 21 bat titles that month- or that read every single Deadpool or avengers title– you guys are whats killing the industry.

and dont get me started on 3.99 books. the idiots who buy those on a monthly basis are responsible for all the problems of the ever dying comics inductry as well.

I must admit- as guilty as marvel is of over producing anything popular in their brand– overall- Marvel as ALOT of franchises or popular characters that they can do this with.
DC is ONLY Superman & BATMAN. period

Unless GREENLANTERN is a mega hit like IRONMAN 1 was– DC in comics and mult media will ALWAYS be just SUPERMAN & BATMAN.

and thats pathetic

Firstly, not to nit-pick, but;

“5 ongoing in-continuity Batman titles (Detective Comics, Batman, Batman And Robin, Batman Inc., and The Dark Knight)”

…Half those books follow Dick Grayson and the other half follow Bruce Wayne…

…And I hate it more than anyone when a company milks a franchise dry with dozens and dozens of titles (See Marvel with Spiderman earlier this year; also Deadpool, Wolverine and now Thor/Cap) but at least this ‘bat-bubble’ is actually in commemoration of something – ie THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE TO THE DCU PROPER!?!?!

The thing with the Batman family is that there is such a wide variety of not only characters, but also tones and approaches in style – all of which cater for the very diverse tastes of Batman fans

Some fans swear Hush was the greatest Batman story ever told – For those people you’ve got Tony Daniel’s Batman run and David Finch’s Dark Knight miniseries

Some fans (like myself) love everything Morrison-related – I’ve got Batman Inc, Batman & Robin and the Knight & Squire mini (maybe even Batwoman) to look forward to

Some fans prefer ‘classic’ Batman stories and avoid hype-driven continuity porn – They’ve got Confidential, Detective Comics (Usually set apart from the rest and a lot darker) and the rest of Adam’s Odyssey series

Some fans prefer to follow Batman’s supporting cast – Red Robin, Batgirl, BOP, Gotham City Sirens etc

My point is that I think the difference between Batman fans and Deadpool fans is that out of 21 titles It’s pretty easy for us to identify 3 or 4 books that we know we’d actually enjoy from fan-to-fan, and there aren’t any books that we feel like we HAVE to read otherwise we’ll be missing out on the story.

I agree with BlueSpider completely. I know people who only buy Red Robin or just Batman and they’re perfectly happy with the stories they get without having to buy other Bat titles, with or without crossovers.

Batman is a character that commercially and creatively lends himself to many interpretations.

And hey, if DC can’t provide a good creative team after the current creators leave and the status quo runs its course, they’ll probably cancel titles on their own and reinvent the franchise again. It’s all a cycle.

I am not killing the industry buy buying all Batman titles either. That thought is stupid. So is critizing people who buy $3.99. Comics were once $0.10 until they we’rent. It is what it is. That’s the way economics works.

>In the end, though, all those Batman books (and the five Superman titles,
>five Green Lantern titles, three Titans titles, and three Legion titles) can
>make a local comics shop’s shelves look awfully homogenized

You for got the 48 Avengers titles and the 917 X-Men titles.

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