Robot 6

Villains Month: DC’s own ‘decimal-pointed event-ish’ thingy

joker-lenticularIn late August 2011, just ahead of DC Entertainment’s’ high-risk relaunch of its superhero line, the company’s executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development emphasized the New 52 wasn’t merely a gimmick to seize more shelf space.

“To be clear – DC is not a market-share-chaser. If we were, we would not be creating a quality lasting direction across a controlled number of titles,” John Rood wrote on the DC Comics blog, setting up on obvious shot at Marvel. “We would instead be flooding the market with over 200 titles a month, changing your prices with abandon, killing off a character every quarter or so, and/or randomly announcing decimal-pointed event-ish thingies. We haven’t.”  That, of course, was a reference to Marvel’s Point One initiative and the then-recently announced Fear Itself #7.1, #7.2 and #7.3.

Now fast-forward to this morning, less than two years later, as DC rolls out the details of its newly confirmed “Villains Month,” the September event in which the company’s antagonists take center stage in the aftermath of “Trinity War”: As the Batman solicitations for September show, any issues DC had about decimal-pointed event-ish thingies appear to have resolved, because we’re presented with Batman #23.1: The Joker, Batman #23.2: The Riddler, Batman #23.3: The Penguin and Batman #23.4: Bane.

The 3D lenticular covers the publisher debuted this morning all boast “.1″ numbering, seemingly confirming the approach is line-wide; we’ll have to wait for the remainder of the solicitations to see just how many titles that works out to for the month (it’s highly unlikely every series gets a .3 or .4). But whatever the case, DC is on track to release significantly more New 52 titles in September than the 50 or so it typically does.

To the company’s credit, there’s more logic to the Villains Month numbering than to Marvel’s occasionally random use of decimals. But on the other hand, this stunt brings with it those ’90s-style motion covers and a one-month increase to a $3.99 price tag.

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8 Comments

My guess is that the decimal-ification is for retailer and customer purposes. If a retailer sees an order sheet offering, for example, DESAAD #1, they might not know that it’s actually intended to be EARTH-2 #16.1. (I’d personally have been fooled by that one given the cover and Desaad’s prominence in World’s Finest, not E-2.) I personally think that giving us, say, JOKER #1, would work much better, but there’s clearly a business logic at work behind this move.

I do, however, continue to be annoyed by decimal numbering (which Marvel seems to have gotten away from at this point). For us numbering purists, it’s one more bit of “where do I file this?!?” confusion that goes with all the #-1s, #0s, #1/2s, #1,000,000s, and #infinities we’ve seen since the late 90s.

Actually, I kind of like the decimal numbering precisely because it is pretty clear exactly where the issue goes in the longbox. Issue #23.1 goes after #23 and before #24 (or #23.2, etc., if you buy every “Batman” #23.x issue).

That isn’t so clear with issues #0, #-1, #1000000, #1/2, etc, that are published out of numerical order. Series that actually begin with #0 or #1/2, etc., are not hard to file.

What I definitely don’t like about the DC Villain initiative is the price point, and the multiple issues of titles like Batman. It looks like I’ll be skipping at least some of my regular titles in September, and at least two of the “extra” issues of Batman.

DC and Marvel both are about gimmicks first and quality books second. I’m not saying they don’t have brilliant books in both lines, I’m saying, their emphasis is not to put out quality books, but to put out many books that sell a lot. And while I don’t begrudge them being for profit, I do call them on something so obvious. Sandman is still in print after how many years? And I’m sure its because of the quality of the work, not the lenticular, priced up, decimal pointed events it was involved in. Which I’m sure, there were none. Similarly if you look at DC’s list of books, a lot of them are old stories that still ring true to readers.

I think trying for more creative books, and not more books or more fancy covered books would in the end give DC a lot better universe . . . instead of the stagnant, angst-ridden hero ponds they seem to have turned their universes into.

“To be clear – DC is not a market-share-chaser. If we were, we would not be creating a quality lasting direction across a controlled number of titles,”

hehehehehehehehehe, good one

So because Marvel does it and are successful, DC will follow.

Makes sense.

Jake Earlewine

June 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

.1 issues are appropriate for DC because since the reboot they have gotten about .1 percent of my comic book money.

akkadiannumen

June 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Shocking… Heh…

@Adam (and the rest of the world of confused collectors): I’ve never had any kind of problem. I never got what’s so confusing and I still don’t. I file my comics by issue number and publishing date. I’ve been doing it since the beginning because it was the obvious thing to do, the definition of a “no-brainer” as far as I’m concerned. Simple, efficient, practical. If there’s anything confusing about filing your comics it’s because you’re making it unnecessarily complicated, not because of anything Marvel/DC/whoever is doing.

It doesn’t look like DC Comics will have a villains issue for every New 52 series. If that was the case who would be the villains for the Green Team and the Movement series? (assuming these new series will survive into September). Therefore more popular series such as Batman will need to have multiple issues differentiated by decimal numbers to include full cast of Batman”s villains. Maybe we won”t see the Green Team or the Movement in September or the Villians Month theme will be a convenient means to cancel low selling series and to introduce weekly high selling series distinguished by decimal points like Batman 24.1 for 1st week of month, 24.2 for 2nd week of month, etc.

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