FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics
DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint has been the subject of a lot of speculation over the past year or so, due to a variety of portents: the departure of founder and longtime executive editor Karen Berger; the end of the imprint’s longest-running title Hellblazer, with the character reclaimed by the DC Universe in Justice League Dark and Constantine; the debut at Image Comics of several comics that, not long ago, likely would’ve been pitched to Vertigo; and the launch of the offbeat Dial H, by none other than acclaimed author China Mieville, in the New 52.
There was the perception that the imprint’s branding had become confused, with books that used to fall under to the dissolved WildStorm imprint (and seem like better fits for the DC brand) appearing under the Vertigo banner (superhero comics Astro City and Tom Strong, movie adaptation Django Unchained). And then there were the low sales and cancellations.
Well, Vertigo’s still around. It launched The Wake, a limited series by American Vampire and Batman writer Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, and the imprint has plans for a new Sandman miniseries and a Sandman spinoff. And in the last few months, it has launched enough new series to be considered a wave.
So what does that mean for the future of the imprint? I’ll be damned if I know. However, I do know it’s not the most important question in my mind. Of greatest import to me, as always, is whether the comics are any good. So let’s take a look at the the beginnings of Vertigo’s latest crop, excluding The Wake, which I think it’s safe to assume will find an audience.
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
The Irish company that prompted Vertigo to change the title of the new series by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez from Collider to FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics is now hoping to exploit the situation to its own advantage.
Trumpeting its victory in “a battle against DC Comics/Vertigo,” the Dublin-based beActive issued a press release Tuesday promoting its own Collider while gently chiding the American publisher for its lack of diligence. “The Irish company published the COLLIDER comic book series worlde [sic] in 2012, therefore claiming ownership of the brand,” the release states. “In January 2013, COLLIDER even made the TOP 5 on Comics Plus, the largest online comic book store in the U.S.”
While it’s not unheard of for a publisher to change the name of a comic before publication because of a trademark conflict, in this instance, the announcement came more than a week after the release of Collider #1.
As Oliver recounted last week to Comic Book Resources, “The first issue’s printed and being loaded on the trucks and we get a call from legal to tell us that someone else, on the other side of the globe says that they have creative dibs on the name ‘Collider’ and we have to change our title.” The second issue, out Aug. 28, will bear the title FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics.