Robot 6

The Middle Ground #73 | Kindly Sign Me Up?

To absolutely no-one’s surprise, I keep circling around Archie Comics’ announcement of their revival of their Red Circle characters in something approaching a mix of confusion and awe. There’s something there that seems compelling, but I’m not quite sure if I can work out what it is, just yet. Instead, I’m just thinking in bullet points.

Digital Subscriptions! Finally!
It really shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that Archie is the first US publisher to offer digital subscriptions – Thought not the first to offer digital-only material, of course – given the company’s history in the digital space. It’s interesting that it’s coming in this particular format, though, which makes it seem less like a subscription to a particular series than a blanket subscription to a particular franchise, complete with archive material and a monthly fee. I wonder when we’ll see the first true digital subscription that follows the print x-amount-of-money-for-x-number-of-issues model?

Digital Subscriptions, Sure, But… Six Page Installments?
One of the more odd parts about the digital subscription model announced in The New York Times piece was that each episode will be six-pages long. Presuming this wasn’t some kind of misunderstanding, it seems amazingly short by today’s superhero audience standards, and makes me wonder how often we’re going to get updates. Six pages is a fine length for something that gets updated weekly, but monthly, that’s going to seem like a problem. Especially when costs are being talked about in the $2.99 range (Presumably, that’s $2.99 per month).

About That Archive Material…
Will it include the two different DC attempts to do something with the characters? Both Impact and the Red Circle had their good points (especially the Impact line, way back when), and it’d be nice to see them being made permanently available somewhere.

And About The Stories Themselves…
I’m kind of fascinated by the backstory presented in the NYT piece. Not necessarily the “it’s all new superheroes who have to live up to their predecessors’ reputations!” part, because, well, that just makes sense as a narrative device to introduce new readers to a new world and give them someone to empathize with. But the “old heroes have been killed by the bad guys” part of the whole deal…? That seems oddly tonedeaf for something that’s supposed to be similar to The Incredibles, to me… The proof is in the execution, of course.

Overall, I’m curious enough – and enough of a supporter of the idea, in theory – to sign up for the launch. Whether what ends up being offered will keep me subscribing past the first taste, well, that remains to be seen. But as a first step in a new direction…? Color me optimistic.

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Comments

5 Comments

Another site reported that the !mpact line would indeed be made available on the service at some future point.

I don’t think six pages for the new material is a bad idea, at least not as a starting point, since the idea here is that you’d be buying a subscription to the whole archive and not just the new material. I would imagine that if their initial foray proves successful enough that Archie would likely branch out a bit with more new material, possibly solo stories for whichever characters go over well for example.

“That seems oddly tonedeaf for something that’s supposed to be similar to The Incredibles, to me…” Weren’t there a bunch of dead superheroes in The Incredibles? In that cave on Jason Lee’s character’s island? I think, depending on how it’s handled, this sort of thing is absolutely acceptable.

I will give these characters a chance. The web is the only thing that may let these guys thrive.

Six pages a month does seem small. But six pages a WEEK, well… that would be another story. The weekly flow would probably sync more with the world-at-large’s perception of sequential entertainment, too. And of course, the “page” as a concept is rendered mostly irrelevant by digital, so who knows what a “page” here really is?

Let’s not forget that the Incredibles is kinda dark. More than one person dies a horrific death. Gazer, Syndrome, and some of the other character who wore capes.

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