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Every week, hard as it may be to believe, I try honestly to offer something I think might interest the larger group of DC Domics superhero readers. However, this week I am invoking a personal privilege. For one thing, with Halloween on a Wednesday (when I usually end up writing these essays), the holiday will more than likely take priority.
The main reason, though, is that today is my birthday, and as you might have guessed from the headline, this year is my 43rd birthday. Therefore, this week I have pulled together an especially memorable DC story and/or issue from each of those years, 1969 through 2012. (Note: They may not always line up with the actual year, but just for simplicity’s sake, all dates are cover dates.) These aren’t necessarily the best or most noteworthy stories of their particular years, but they’ve stuck with me. Besides, while I’ve read a lot of comics from a lot of sources, for whatever reason DC has been the constant. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll have something more comprehensive.
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As we all know by now, DC is adding “co-features” to (so far) three of its titles: “Blue Beetle” in Booster Gold, “Ravager” in Teen Titans, and the previously-announced “Metal Men” in the new Doom Patrol. Each title will be $3.99, which presumably indicates that each title will contain at least 30 pages of story altogether. Assuming that the headliners will still get 22 pages per issue, this leaves a respectable 8 pages for the “co-feature,” although if it’s just 8 pages we might as well call it a “backup.”
Regardless of what you call it, I like this idea quite a bit. Backup stories expose readers to a greater variety of characters, creative teams, and storytelling styles. Furthermore, as long as DC feels compelled to increase its regular titles’ price point, $3.99 for 30 pages is about the same as (and a thin hair more economical than) $2.99 for 22 pages. This is not exactly a new strategy for DC: for books cover-dated September 1980, it added eight pages of story and art to all its books (going from 17 pages to 25), raised the price 25% (from $0.40 to $0.50), and in most cases used the extra pages for backups. Many of these starred familiar characters like Adam Strange, Aquaman, and the (Earth-2) Huntress, but many were used to spotlight the less familiar (Firestorm, OMAC) or to debut new characters (Nemesis). Since Newsarama indicated that “[m]ore books will have co-features added to them in the coming month,” let’s consider who might be returning in backup form.
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