Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Ten from 2012, ten for 2013

Insert Man of Steel movie joke here

If it’s the first Grumpy Old Fan of 2013, it must be time for “Ten From the Old Year, Ten For the New.” For those who came in late, every January I evaluate 10 predictions/observations from the previous year, and present 10 for the next. Accordingly, first we have commentary on 2012′s items.

1. The Dark Knight Rises. I had three rather superficial questions about the final Christopher Nolan Batman movie. First, “[c]an it make a skillion dollars?” Not quite — while it did make over a billion dollars worldwide, it didn’t make as much as its predecessor domestically, and it came in second to The Avengers. Next was “[w]ill it have Robin?” Well … [SPOILER ALERT] it depends on your definition of “Robin,” I suppose. And finally, referring to certain issues about Bane’s elocution, “[w]ill it have subtitles?” Nope — as it turns out, they weren’t needed. Instead, Bane’s accent was perfectly suited to breaking not just Batman, but Alex Trebek as well.

2. The New 52, one year later. My big prediction here was that each of the New 52′s initial lineup would get a full run of 12 issues. That was wrong, as Static Shock, OMAC, Blackhawks, Hawk & Dove, Men of War and Mister Terrific were canceled after eight issues. As for my ancillary claim that DC would say the canceled books got a chance to “tell their stories,” that’s harder to gauge. Many of the characters whose solo books were cancelled appeared (or will appear) elsewhere, including in the DC Universe Presents zero issue. OMAC then guest-starred in the eventually-canceled Justice League International (which still got 12 issues and an annual) and Mister Terrific has been promised for Earth 2.

3. The Next 52 (or however many). “Maybe a little more originality will work into the next batch of books,” I speculated, referring somewhat inappropriately to what turned out to be Earth 2. Hey, it was kind of original to have two parallel-world series, considering there hadn’t been one since 1986. However, more to my point were Sword of Sorcery, Dial H and G.I. Combat. Although the latter didn’t stick around long enough to make much of an impression, it still tried to extend the war-comics spot on the New 52′s roster. Other additions to the New 52 included spinoffs like Talon and Team 7, and I suppose you could argue that they are appreciably different from the average superhero book.

4. Pandora’s playlist. “Part of the reason I think the initial New 52 books will all get their 12 issues,” I said last year, “is this notion that they’re all building to some line-wide event involving the Hooded Woman from the No. 1 issues.” That last part may still be true, but we didn’t learn much more about Pandora last year. More answers will probably come in this year’s Trinity War.

5. More Watchmen. Sadly, yes. The collections will be published this year, henceforth to take their places sitting on bookshelves alongside the original for all eternity.

6. More multimedia expansion. Cartoon Network’s DC Nation started strong, with “Super Best Friends Forever!” among some well-received shorts — but then it went on a mysterious hiatus which only facilitated conspiracy theories. Arrow has become a decent hit for The CW, and news emerged of a Young Wonder Woman series to be called Amazon. More immediately, though, next up is summer’s Man of Steel, which leads nicely into …

7. Man of Steel and Green Lantern 2. Man of Steel‘s trailer debuted last fall, and based on my unscientific, uninformed observations, it seems to have been better-received than GL’s teaser. No sign of a GL sequel, although rumors place Ryan Reynolds’ Hal in the promised Justice League movie.

8. Market share. This was kind of a phantom issue, because while the first few months of the New 52 gave DC a big boost in the fall of 2011, Marvel reasserted its market dominance late in the year. That solidified in 2012 with events like Avengers vs. X-Men and the Marvel NOW! relaunches. Despite Marvel’s inherent advantage (because it publishes more books), last year I wondered whether DC’s short-lived time at the top would result in its “chasing” market share. I don’t think that ever really happened, because even with Before Watchmen and the digital-first books, I don’t get the sense that DC wanted to flood the market. That’s not to say it wasn’t comfortable putting out more titles, just that it stuck to a pretty conservative publishing schedule.

9. Digital effects. One of the bigger controversies from the emergence of digital comics was the realization, late in the year, that DC’s books were going live online several hours before the typical comics shop opened — instead of a few hours afterwards, as had previously been the case.  This worried Brian Hibbs, who saw the potential for disaster if the “wrong 10 percent” of customers decided to abandon their local shops. Although (thanks to a year’s worth of data) Hibbs views digital comics as an addition to print sales, that doesn’t mean his operating margins are any greater. Instead, to him DC’s digital rescheduling was a sign that the corporate overlords didn’t particularly care that much about the shops which actually sold their print comics.

Compare that, though, with the year-end figures from Diamond, which the distributor claimed showed a very good year for the direct market.  The two views can coexist — say, if the market was sufficiently favorable to big comics retailers that it outweighed troubles for the smaller ones — but I don’t know enough at this point to say any more about it. I suspect we’ll need to go further into 2013 before determining whether the digital marketplace is becoming harmful to the print one.

Oh, and last year I also talked about the collateral effects — mostly tighter shipping schedules and more flexible formats — digital could have on print comics. We’re seeing some of the latter in the digital-first books, particularly Legends of the Dark Knight; and I’m not sure the stricter schedule has forced creative-team changes any more than it would have without digital.

10. A return to storytelling. “Here’s hoping,” I declared last year, “that in 2012, the superhero line uses its still-new freedom wisely … and that it cultivates an atmosphere of experimentation.” Well, I’m not sure that it has been as experimental as I’d hoped. The New 52 seems mostly to be variations on superheroes, with a handful of other genres sprinkled here and there. Dial H is probably the most unconventional New-52 book, but it’s still superheroes. Worlds’ Finest uses its shared-artist format pretty well, and it’s entertaining overall, but it’s a fairly straightforward superhero title. There’s artistic experimentation in Batwoman and The Flash, and consistently-good creative teams on books like Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Supergirl, but they too have been consistently good since the relaunch. That means a somewhat negative response to my hope from last January, but again, I enjoyed a lot of DC in 2012.

Now for 2013:

1. Man of Steel. Yes, again, some more — and more about this as a philosophical matter below. For now, my questions are a) how well will it do with critics and moviegoers; and b) yes, of course, will it help set up Justice League?

2. Dark Universe. A Justice League movie might have to share a cinematic universe with Guillermo del Toro’s JL Dark-style team-up — which could be an adaptation of Swamp Thing’s “American Gothic” storyline, which built up to Swampy, John Constantine, and a bunch of DC’s magic-based superheroes battling a shadow creature which wanted to destroy Heaven. It won’t come out during 2013, but one way or another, I think we’ll hear a lot more about it.

3. The Simone effect. Like I told Carla, I don’t see Gail Simone getting fired from DC ever again. If she leaves, it’ll be on her own terms; and the success of Leaving Megalopolis gives her a strong negotiating position. At this point DC needs her more than she needs it. However, I am curious to see how this affects other DC creative folk.

4. Life without Morrison. Speaking of people DC needs, Grant Morrison will be leaving Action Comics, Batman Incorporated, and superheroes in general, in 2013. DC won’t be without A-list writers and artists in 2013, but folks like Simone, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, and Andy Diggle can only do so much. More importantly, though, Morrison’s departure feels big to me because it means one less unique view of DC’s voluminous history. Not too long ago, Morrison, Johns, Mark Waid, and Greg Rucka were “the Architects,” writing 52 collectively and Batman, GL, JSA, and Action Comics, Flash and Brave and the Bold, and Detective Comics and Checkmate separately. Each of them, in various degrees, combined an appreciation for continuity with the practicalities of modern storytelling; and naturally their books were better for it. Once Morrison leaves, only Johns will be left from that group — and no offense to him, but it’s a little unsettling to realize I’m getting older than most of the people writing DC’s superhero line. Again, I’m not saying DC is in the wrong hands, I guess I’m just noticing something of a generational shift.

5. Multiversity or Wonder Woman: Earth One? Grant Morrison’s Multiversity has been promised for a few years now, with the end of 2013 the most recent publication date. Also on Morrison’s plate is Wonder Woman: Earth One, in which he has promised to bring sexy back to the Amazon Princess. DC has a long and storied history of forever-in-progress comics, so I’m not holding my breath for either — but 2013 may see one, and might see both. If the latter, maybe I can buy them with my lottery winnings.

6. Who gets Wonder Woman? Regardless of her Earth One incarnation, the New-52 Wonder Woman may face a crossroads in 2013. In her own book, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins have taken advantage of the relaunch to make Diana and her adventures dramatically different from both her previous portrayals and the New 52 generally. However, in Justice League and the Superman books, her embryonic romance with the Metropolis Marvel threatens to pull her in a new direction. Surely all involved realize that Wonder Woman’s appearances must be harmonized, but I hope that where there’s conflict, Azzarello and company have veto power. Wonder Woman’s relationship with Superman developed into something special under the old regime, and there’s still a chance the New-52 version can do the same.

7. Trinity War. The New 52′s first line-wide crossover finally arrives this year, bringing with it more information on the mysterious Pandora (and perhaps some clues about the pre-Flashpoint DCU). To me this is interesting primarily as a structural exercise: can it credibly present these 52 books as a coherent shared universe? If Trinity War can make the New 52 feel lived-in, after almost two years, I think it’ll be a success.

8. Justice League, post-preliminaries. The one DC book which absolutely requires that lived-in feel is Justice League. Hindsight might show me to have been too eager, but I am ready to say a corner has been turned with “Throne of Atlantis,” such that Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis can finally relax and start telling widescreen adventure stories worthy of the League. This year Johns and David Finch will also launch Justice League of America, which I have to think will affect the main book profoundly, if only because of its title. It would be a very “Marvel” thing to do, but DC could be planning to make JLofA the main League series after all …

9. Digital effects, continued. It may be something of a cheat, but I’m putting this one back on the list for 2013, for the reasons outlined above.

And finally…

10. The Year of the Snyder. From Detective Comics and American Vampire to Batman and Swamp Thing, I’ve read and enjoyed just about everything Scott Snyder has written for DC and Vertigo. (Ironically, that kept Batman and Vampire off my faves-of-2012 list, because a) I couldn’t choose between them and b) I wanted to be fair to some other favorites.) Although Vampire is going on hiatus for most of 2013, this year still looks pretty good for him. Batman will feature “Death of the Family’s” big finish and a Riddler story with similarly-definitive aspirations. His Swamp Thing run comes to an end with “Rotworld’s” conclusion. He and Sean Murphy will bring readers deep-sea horror in The Wake, coming from Vertigo; and with Jim Lee, he’ll be launching a new ongoing Superman series.

As part of his year-end interview, I asked Scott Snyder to compare his plans for Superman with the Man of Steel movie trailer, largely because those two-and-a-half minutes of impressionistic scenes seemed to establish a certain hopeful tone — not just that the movie would be entertaining, but that it seemed to promise a Superman that people would “get.” Clearly, Zack Snyder’s movie has the chance to reach a lot more people than Scott Snyder’s comic. Of course, that’s no slight to the latter; it’s just the way the world works these days. Moreover, even a successful MOS can’t guarantee more sales of Superman’s comics, regardless of creative teams.

I’m making this out to be a competition (and a one-sided one at that), but it isn’t. Basically, I think the odds of Scott Snyder getting Superman right are a lot better than they are for Zack Snyder. However, Zack Snyder has the bigger platform and, based on that new trailer, he might actually be headed in the right direction. For Superman’s 75th anniversary (and, incidentally, the 35th anniversary of Richard Donner’s pretty-influential Superman movie), it’d be great to have a faithful big-budget blockbuster and a top-selling comic book. (It’d also be great if the estates of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster could share meaningfully in their profits, but I’m hardly the one to make predictions about that.) However, the safe bet is for a good comic out of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, and a movie from Zack Snyder that does no harm.

News From Our Partners

Comments

28 Comments

no marvel predictions? is it because you didn’t find any marvel news prediction worthy or it’s just that you aren’t much of a marvel reader?

In 2013:

Diane Nelson will finally learn something about comics and choose a new publisher for DC.

Geoff Johns will be demoted from the CCO position and stay just as a writer on Aquaman (and only Aquaman).

Bob Harras will go back to his old position at DC’s collected editions department.

ido, the “Grumpy Old Fan” column has always been DC-centric, with references to Marvel provided for perspective or comparison only. That has always been Mr. Bondurant’s mandate with this column. The Marvel view (and sometimes counterpoint) is given in “The Fifth Color” with Carla Hoffman. Both are always worth a read.

ido: This column is primarily about DC. Tom rarely talks about Marvel.

Geoff Johns is the worst writer in comics. Why on earth DC has handed this “writer” the keys to the kingdom is beyond me; beyond rational thought. I used to have a $250 per month comic book habit, but one by one, they handed all my favorite books over to this hack, and they became utterly unreadable.

@Sargon: I really hope you’re right. Vertigo is all but dead under her watch and she’s alienated the bulk the of the industry talent, not by the people in charge but because it the company now seems to take dissention as treason (Robeson for example). Karen Berger did her time with us, but I would have thought it would have taken the ghost of Bill Gaines to wrest Vertigo away. She did incredible things with that line, so see it handed off to anyone, even someone who has been there all along like Shelly. You look at the rest.

DC may have won the war to get Superman back but it has certainly lost the battle for its soul.

Brian from Canada

January 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

My prediction for DC 2013 is a bit different…

1. Universe building.

“The Black Diamond Probability” connects books across time. “Threshold” and mention of “The Thirteen” in both Superman and Red Hood indicates a potential uniting there. And “Trinity War” will establish even more connections between teams. By the end of 2013, I predict that DC will have a more integrated universe with events occasionally referencing each other more and more.

2. Superman

Forget just Man Of Steel. 2013 is the year of Superman, period. Lobell’s “H’el On Earth” is doing more for the Superman mythos that Morrison’s Action Comics is, connecting Clark to everything and keeping him solidly Clark Kent at the same time. With Snyder taking the helm of Man Of Steel, I predict we’ll see Superman events to bring him more to the forefront in time to catch on with the movie, and a better sense of Superman as leading character, especially in Justice League where Aquaman is challenging Batman for that role.

3. Young shakeup

The weakness in DC’s 52 right now is, in my opinion, the Young Justice division. I expect Trigon to make an appearance and, after the crossover, we’ll either see a better established pair of leads — Ravagers and Titans — that are solidly written, or the further collapse of the line.

4. Young Justice controversy

I’m not talking about the comics, I’m talking about the cartoon: Young Justice has ardent fans who were furious Cartoon Network suspended episodes to celebrate their anniversary. Now, however, the show is back on track… and set to possibly end. DC may anger a lot of fans in cancelling the series, but there’s been no announcement of a third series or a replacement (a la Marvel’s Avengers). DC will have a tough time balancing this, because Young Justice has succeeded in kindling interest in DC like Justice League did in the 90s.

5. More experimentation

New 52 isn’t over yet. Two books have been announced for another wave (Man Of Steel, Threshold) and I suspect DC is mulling over other concepts that haven’t been touched yet or may possibly be returned to. 2013, I foresee, will have more than that wave — first quarter sees the bow of Justice League of America, spring will see the second wave, and I expect by Christmas we’ll have another wave, this time featuring further fringes of the DCU… like perhaps Warlord, Checkmate, or Komandi making an appearance.

While I’m not going to join in in those angry tones of nerd rage I have to agree with some things being said in the comments on a lot of these posts about DC. First off, Geoff Johns I honestly feel is being spread too thin and that is why his writing has gotten so bad. I literally have gone from reading almost every title in the New 52, to reading half, to where I’m at now, reading only 3 (Batman, Wonder Woman, and Dial H). Sadly, when Johns was a great writer is when he was just focused on The Flash or one Green Lantern title (the new one is barely readable and feels like its only direction is to push more and more “This has never been done in GL” storylines) and the occasional event crossover. As soon as his workload grew and he was added to the list of higher ups, I’ve seen his quality continue to drop. It was said in another forum that if DC really wants success in New 52 they should have better planned who they put on these titles instead of clearly putting some titles and creators out there just to fill spots, and that the model they should have used for all these titles was Snyder and Capullo which I completely agree. And Snyder is taking the right route…something I think Geoff Johns could have learned from. He is admitting his abilities as a writer and stepping back on some titles to give his best on the ones he is writing. More creators should be doing this. I honestly predict that in 2013 I’ll be dropping the rest of my DC titles at this point because I can’t believe in the plan corporate has for the universe. I gave them nearly 2 years. Not saying Marvel is perfect…have issues (no pun intended) there too, but for me there is just no stability in DC’s line, which was the entire point of the relaunch.

Danny: As James D. Robinson said on a podcast: “Anything with Geoff Johns’ name on equates to printing money.”
That said I do hope someone else gets to be CCO of DC soon and Harras runs out of friends to hire.

The new JLA to become the main League? No thanks.

Id be more nervous about Morrison leaving if his stuff this year had been better….
Gail Simone wont get fired again, but that doesnt necesarily make her A-list, in terms of sales and talent. Bplus list?

@Danny & @Jack G -

Absolutely. Johns thinks that dialog in which characters discuss their own most focal traits is “good.” I haven’t gone back to read his Wally run to see if it was actually good (I remember liking it), but all that he’s been doing since even before the New 52 has been very poorly executed. Really bad stuff.

Snyder’s done well enough, but I’d like to see a shift away from every event that transpires being connected to Bruce Wayne in some deeply personal or familial way. Yawn.

At this point, I read Action (b/c I read everything Morrison does) and a few Bat books. I will probably be down to only Batman and B&R once Morrison’s gone. And those might fall by the wayside, too.

Obviously #s don’t lie, etc., etc., so I’m in the minority, but I am buying more Marvel than DC for the first time since the early 90s as of the last several months.

DC: you bum me out.

***I may be picking up Flash collecteds. I liked the first 5-or-so issues of that book, and Manapul’s work is just awesome.

@Ninjazilla

I’ll give you Action, but Inc. has been pretty solid.

@Brian from Canada: ‘Lobell’s “H’el On Earth” is doing more for the Superman mythos that Morrison’s Action Comics is’

ah… ah… ah…AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

I’m a DC Comics fan since the 80s……. and I fear for the future of the DCU with these people in charge.

Lots of questionable decisions in the last 8 years – I think they are lost.

the concept that Gail Simone is unfireble is one of the stupidest ideas i have heard so far specially cause you dont even know for sure why she was removed much less why she was brought back, even less that she would be given other projects as reward for having been fired

Wonder Woman by Azzarello is the ONLY DC series I’m buying write now. With that sole exception, the New52 has been an unmitigated disaster.

If Bob Harras decides that the Wonder Woman series needs to “play ball” with the rest of the so-called DC universe, I’m dropping that one too.

DC is in deep trouble. They’ve put the worst possible people in charge of everything. They’ve destroyed VERTIGO COMICS, and just because of that, when DC finally goes under, I will point and laugh at them

I am afraid I have to agree with vjj, although I think Batwoman has been pretty consistently great, mainly because the creative team was able to carry over from the pre-Flashpoint debacle.

I have turned away in disgust from most of what DC is now doing. The last straw for me was throwing away everything that made the Phantom Stranger interesting.

Rorschach’s Journal. January 12, 2013:

Multitude of popped collars, Tim Drake never Robin, Wonder Woman reduced to Superman’s arm candy. DC Comics is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The New 52 is an extended gutter and the gutter is full of incompetence. When the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their uninspired writing and editorial mismanagement will foam up about their waists, and all the hacks and their corporate overlords will look up and shout “Please keep buying our comics!”…and I’ll whisper “no.”

^^^THIS!

pharon f fanboy

January 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm

more white characters being turned diverse. Because the mainstream media hasn’t paid any attention in a while. There could be a few religious converts as well for mainstream media attention

Great insights

@Rorschach: That was awesome!

When the New 52 launched, I was struck by how consciously the line up seemed to reflect two things: (1) a survey of the biggest successes in comics right now; and (2) the personal preferences of the co-publishers and the COO.

Therefore, if a pre-New 52 DC title was doing well financially and creatively it was left relatively untouched (Batman titles, Green Lantern titles, Batwoman, etc.). Otherwise, DC seemed to look around to see what was working around the industry and in their own back catalogue:

- Marvel’s multiple Avengers titles. Our JL/JS titles. Check.
- Dark Horse’s Hellboy/BPRD. Our Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE and Demon Knights titles. Check.
- IDW’s G.I. Joe/COBRA titles. Our Blackhawk title. Check.
- Watchmen is still a top selling collection. Let’s put out some mini-series. Check.

It also seems hard not to trace titles back to a particular member of the triad:

- Didio clearly loves the quirky 70s. It seems like his personal preferences drove things like OMAC, Phantom Stranger, Hawk & Dove, the over-representation of Charlton characters, etc.
- Lee clearly loves the Marvel/Image 90s, which seems well-represented by people (Leifeld, Harras, etc.), titles (Stormwatch, Voodoo, Grifter, etc.) and things done in this style (Teen Titans, Superboy, Red Hood, Green Lantern New Guardians, etc.)
- Johns has been successful in reinterpreting and revitalizing classic DC characters. He obviously wanted to continue his work with Green Lantern and try his hand at Aquaman and Captain Marvel. Justice League seems like his chance to do the same with all the big DC characters, but, as with LSH and Teen Titans, he doesn’t seem to be able to capture the same lightning in a bottle with team books.

Of course, there also seemed to be a conscious design in the New 52 to represent the different eras of DC and to expand the racial/gender diversity of title characters. But, it’s hard not to see anticipated sales and personal preference as the bigger drivers.

Brian from Canada

January 13, 2013 at 6:22 am

@Bruce_Kent:

I’ve read New 52 from the beginning. Some people prefer high concept stories, but Action did nothing to link to the other books — in fact, the present story makes no attempt to even mention the Justice League despite the fact that they’d go rushing to Superman’s aid the moment any of this became a crisis. (Lois vs an assassin? Really?)

More importantly, much as you may not like it, it hasn’t been until Lobdell’s run on Superman that we’ve had a Superman that matches Justice League and connects to the other two Super books, while at the same time keeping a steady presence of what Superman’s supposed to be. DC needs to set a steady view of what Superman should be, and Lobdell’s the one to do it.

morrisons work is only good about 60 percenet of the time. let him go make more room for jeff lemire.

Lobdell is a mediocre writer, and Bob Harras is a crap EiC (even after all these year)

As a friend of mine said today due to all the recent writing changes….DC = Directionless Comics

Leave a Comment

 


Browse the Robot 6 Archives