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Grumpy Old Fan | Spring brings a shorter Day: DC Comics Solicitations for April 2011

Superman/Batman Annual #5

Because they went live around the same time as last week’s column, I’ve had the better part of a week to consider the April DC solicitations. I’d like to tell you I dug deep into the language and the numbers, forsaking all regular human needs in order to unlock the secrets of DC’s superhero springtime, but we all know that didn’t happen. I blame the football.

Onward!

THE BIWEEKLIES

There could be a couple of reasons to cut two issues from the runs of Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost. Twenty-four issues may be easier to collect, logistically speaking, than twenty-six. DC may also want to wrap up these storylines in advance of Free Comic Book Day (May 7 is the Saturday after the month’s first Wednesday), when I presume the big Flashpoint push will begin. The solicit for Flash #12 seems to indicate that Flashpoint starts in May.

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Quote of the day | Is DC Comics a two-man operation?

Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns (via Bleeding Cool)

Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns (via Bleeding Cool)

“The 26 best-selling DC single issues were all written or co-written by either Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison.”

Techland’s Douglas Wolk makes a startling observation about Diamond’s 2010 sales charts. I mean, I knew Johns and Morrison were DC’s two bestselling authors by a long shot, and since I enjoy their work a great deal I’m pretty happy about that, but that level of dominance is really stunning to me. Moreover, Wolk goes on to note that “The best-selling DC single issue that was neither a Batman comic nor a tie-in to Blackest Night/Brightest Day was Superman #700, at position #109.” In other words, DC’s dominant writers have made the properties on which they work — predominantly Batman and Green Lantern — DC’s dominant franchises as well. Even superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski’s much-ballyhooed Superman debut failed to gain much traction relative to the Johns/Morrison juggernaut.

I think it’s safe to assume that Johns is being pulled in more and more directions by his Chief Creative Officer duties — the same position, keep in mind, that Joe Quesada recently relinquished his Editor-in-Chief gig to focus on over at Marvel. Meanwhile, Morrison is a writer whose work meets with frequent delays at the best of times, and who has a full slate of creator-owned work and various media projects (Hollywood screenplays and adaptations, the indie flick Sinatoro, My Chemical Romance videos, etc). Finally, there’s no way to tell how the Green Lantern movie will affect fan interest in the franchise. That’s a lot of eggs to have in relatively few baskets.

What Are You Reading?

Uncanny X-Force #1

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Robot 6 crew has been enjoying on the comics front. Today our special guest is our friend Ron Richards, one of the co-founders of the popular comics website iFanboy.com. To see what Ron and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Action Comics Annual #13

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15, I’d spend the first $2.99 on the last King City, which definitely appears on this week’s list. Yay! Then I’d split the remaining $13 between two DC Comics: Paul Cornell’s Action Comics Annual #13 ($4.99), in which a young Lex Luthor meets Darkseid (Editor Wil Moss promised me on Twitter the other week that this will fulfill my sick, sick desire for more comics like Jack Kirby’s Super Powers toy tie-ins from the 1980s, so I’m entirely sold) and Vertigo Resurrected: Winter’s Edge #1 ($7.99), a collection of long out-of-print seasonal tales starring Vertigo favorites and forgotten ghost characters from Christmas Past. Be warned: I’m a sucker for Holiday comics, so expect to see me picking those a lot in the next few weeks. It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, after all.

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Augustmageddon? Comics sales drop sharply

Brightest Day #7, the top seller for August

Maybe it was the heat (and the humidity). Maybe people decided to go out of town instead of going to the comics store. Maybe there just wasn’t anything good to buy. Whatever the reason, both comics and graphic novels sales “plummeted,” in the words of usually staid retailer site ICv2, last month. Comics sales were down 17% from August 2009, graphic novel sales were down 21%, and no individual monthly comic sold more than 100,000 copies. Even Scott Pilgrim couldn’t rescue this dog of a month.

The top-selling comic for August was Brightest Day #7, at 93,459 copies, followed by Brightest Day #8, at 91,546. The numbers drop off steadily but sharply after that, so by the time you get to the 25th comic, Batman: Odyssey #2, sales are 47,675, or about half that of the top seller. That looks frighteningly like exponential decay, but the graph flattens out after that, with every comic in the top 150 selling more than 10,000 copies. The bottom of the list is occupied by Lady Robotika #2, which sold a measly 2,646 copies.

As for graphic novels, the sixth volume of Scott Pilgrim topped the list, with 8,092 copies sold, and the fourth clocked in at number four, with 4,818 copies. On this chart, the number five book, Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill, sold half as many copies as the top seller, although again, the graph flattens out after that. The bottom seller was Eden, with 329 copies. And it was clobberin’ time for manga: The top manga on the chart was vol. 51 of InuYasha, checking in at number 67 with 1,214 copies sold.

ICv2′s numbers reflect the direct market only. That is the market for monthly comics, but graphic novels could do better in retail bookstores—we’ll know when the BookScan numbers come out.

Grumpy Old Fan | Prospective retrospectives

DCU: Legacies #4

I read with great interest Brian Cronin’s list of 75 Most Memorable Moments In DC Comics History, in part because I wondered how close I could come with my own list without totally ripping his off.  (Said with a smile and a great deal of respect, of course.)

First I thought about listing 75 key DC moments, drawn probably from both real and fictional history; but that list would be rather predictable as well — Action Comics #1 juxtaposed with Siegel and Shuster’s legal battles, etc. (Tom Spurgeon et al.’s list of “emblematic” ‘70s comics is close in spirit if not subject matter to the list I’d want to assemble.)  The other type of “75 moments” list I considered would be a highlight-filled timeline including events exclusively from DC’s fictional history — things like “first meeting of the Justice Society,” “debut of Superman,” and “Darkseid enslaves Earth.”  I didn’t quite like that because it too would be predictable, filled with first appearances and Big Events.

Ironically, though, DC has always seemed rather short on shared-universe-style events which define it as a superhero publisher. Marvel has the coming of Galactus, the Kree-Skrull War, the Secret Empire, and the deaths of Gwen Stacy and Phoenix. DC has comparable milestones, but they don’t come as readily to mind. Off the top of my head I might list “Flash of Two Worlds,” the Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories, and “The Judas Contract,” before getting into various Crises, disasters, and alien invasions. I think you have to dig a bit deeper into the DC titles to pull out things like a second Moon wreaking havoc (JLA #155, June 1978) or Trigon taking over the world (New Teen Titans vol. 2 #s 1-5, August 1984-February 1985). Therefore, while projects like the original History of the DC Universe and the current DC Universe: Legacies have their hearts in the right place, they must deal with DC’s scattershot approach to world-building.

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DC Comics unveils White Lantern Batman

Brightest Day #13, by David Finch

Brightest Day #13, by David Finch

DC Comics has released the November solicitations for its “Brightest Day” titles, including David Finch’s stunning painted cover for Brightest Day #13, which features White Lantern Batman. See the full cover, and the solicitation text, after the break. The publisher’s full November listings will be released at 2 p.m. Pacific today.

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SDCC ’10 | DC’s ‘Brightest Day’ poster hints at some dark secrets

DC's "Brightest Day" poster

DC's "Brightest Day" poster

With just two days until Comic-Con International, DC Comics early this morning unveiled a poster for its Brightest Day event. Created by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis, the poster — in keeping with tradition — is chock-full of clues and Easter eggs, from the pile of boomerangs and the broken trident to Martian Manhunter stoking a fire and Deadman engraving “RISE” on a tombstone. Plus, there’s that whole Hal Jordan-White Lantern thing. And that energy ring-constructed coffin. And … well, there’s a lot to take in.

You can see a much larger version of the poster here.

DC kicks off its Comic-Con programming at 11:30 a.m. PST Thursday with a panel titled, fittingly enough, “DC Nation Convention Kickoff!”

SDCC ’10 | Don’t miss out on Brightest Day tote bags

WB's "Brightest Day" tote bag design

WB's "Brightest Day" tote bag design

After four years of first-come, first-served free-for-alls for giant totes at the Warner Bros. booth, the entertainment company has teamed with Comic-Con International to give bags to attendees as they check in to the convention. More than 125,000 bags have been produced.

This year WB is releasing a whopping 11 separate designs promoting the following properties: The Big Bang Theory, Chuck, Fringe, Human Target, Nikita, The Vampire Diaries, Batman: The Brave and the Bold — The Videogame, The Looney Tunes Show, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Clash of the Titans (for its DVD release) and, get this, Brightest Day.

Yeah, I figured that last one would get your attention. There’s a catch, though: Attendees get just one bag, and they’re handed out randomly. So while you may be in line eyeing that David Finch image, there’s a chance you’ll walk away with Scooby-Doo! instead. If you’re lucky, or willing to fork over a little cash, maybe someone will trade with you.

The image at the right is, of course, the Brightest Day design (click to enlarge). After the break you can check out the art for The Brave and the Bold, as well as what appears on the other side of the bags.

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The Black Lanterns return in October

rotbl

“What is October’s RETURN OF THE BLACK LANTERNS?” asks DC’s The Source blog, and frankly, your guess is as good as ours. All we’ve got to go on is the accompanying David Finch image, featuring undead Black Lantern versions of Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, and Deadman — six of the twelve characters who were granted full-fledged resurrections by the White Light at the end of Blackest Night and who are currently the protagonists of Brightest Day. Halloween’s as good an excuse as any to let their black light shine again…

What Are You Reading?

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and artist Dean Trippe, creator of Butterfly and co-founder of the Project: Rooftop blog, among other credits. He posts regularly on his Tumblr site Bearsharktopus-Man, where he is currently selling this nifty Doctor Who/Batman crossover print. He also has some art in the Webcomics Auction for the Gulf.

To see what Dean and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Grumpy Old Fan | Hot comics for cooler days: DC Comics Solicitations for September 2010

The Return Of Bruce Wayne #6

The Return Of Bruce Wayne #6

Here in Memphis, the heat index has been over 100 degrees for the better part of a week, and it’s not likely to let up anytime soon. If it’s this hot during the last week of spring, I can’t imagine what summer will feel like.

September seems very far away indeed.

And yet, it’s that time again, when we look ahead two-and-a-half months and try to figure out what will still hold our interest when summer ends, football starts, and the days grow ever shorter. Maybe by then it’ll only be in the 80s.

BRIGHTEST DAY

I’m probably not the first person to suggest this, but why not have a group of white supremacists, skinheads, etc., gather expectantly (if misguidedly) around the unfortunately-named White Power Battery, so that they might subsequently receive an appropriate beatdown? That would let Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi distinguish between the mission of the white-light Lantern — white light being a mix of all the spectrum’s colors — and our society’s odious “white power” ideology.

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Meet Jackson Hyde, the new Aqualad who is afraid of water

In addition to the live-action Blue Beetle images, Geoff Johns also shared a little more information on the new Aqualad on DC’s the Source blog yesterday:

Brightest Day #10

Brightest Day #10

When we first meet Aqualad in BRIGHTEST DAY he’s Jackson Hyde. An average student, with an on-and-off girlfriend, that’s pretty bored in New Mexico.

Since he was young, he’s been taught by his parents to fear water…they don’t want him near it because his true parents would be able to locate him. Not to mention certain changes happen to Jackson when he gets in the water.

Jackson has kept this secret hidden for years, lying to his girlfriend about being afraid of drowning, being unable to swim and being in the dark about the mysterious tattoos he’s had since birth. He’s done his best to avoid it. But soon something’s going to force him out into the open and dive into the water.

Obviously, this all ties into the larger Aquaman and Mera story within BRIGHTEST DAY, but Jackson’s adventures will also be seen in the YOUNG JUSTICE animated series this fall along with more DC characters than you could imagine.

I really believe in the story behind Jackson and, like Blue Beetle, I hope you give him a chance to grab your heart and imagination as he arrives on the scene in comics and cartoons.

New Aqualad to debut in Brightest Day, Young Justice cartoon

Back in April DC announced a new Young Justice cartoon starring Superboy, Robin and several other young heroes, including a Black Aqualad. “…a lot of people asked who the new Aqualad was,” DC CCO Geoff Johns wrote on the Source blog today. “And a lot of people thought they’d have to wait for the show to start. But you won’t.”

Turns out the new Aqualad will debut in comic book form as well; witness the cover to Brightest Day #10:

Brightest Day #10

Brightest Day #10

“Aqualad’s story actually begins in a few short weeks in BRIGHTEST DAY #4,” Johns said. “I won’t tell you much yet, but I will tell you – he has no idea he’s about to become Aqualad. In fact, he lives in one of the driest places in America – Silver City, New Mexico.”

(And yes, I’m purposely not going with the obvious joke here … I’ll leave that for the comments section.)

If Predator’s a Star Sapphire, where’s all his skin?

Green Lantern #57

Green Lantern #57

On Friday, DC released the “Brightest Day” solicitations for August, revealing the return of an old Green Lantern character. “BRIGHTEST DAY continues as what readers have been asking for finally arrives: a male Star Sapphire in the form of the Predator,” reads the solicitation text for Green Lantern #57. “But how is this entity unlike the others? And what does it want with Carol Ferris? Meanwhile, the White Lantern is defended by an unlikely hero …”

Debuting in 1984, I believe, the Predator was a manifestation of Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire’s subconscious. I’m not sure if those stories are still part of DC’s continuity, but that character looked like the one in the image above, at any rate (read more about him here).

Current Green Lantern readers, however, probably know the name “The Predator” as the sentient embodiment of love, the Star Sapphire’s equivalent of Parallax, the bug-looking creature that’s the embodiment of fear, or Ion, the giant fish/whale thing that’s the manifestation of willpower. Both have been known to take a host from time to time, as we saw when Kyle Rayner became Ion and, more notoriously, when Jordan was possessed by Parallax. Based on the solicitation text, I’m guessing the “unlike any others” part refers to the fact that the Predator is also the host of the love entity … kind of a mash-up, I’m guessing, of the two concepts.

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