Examining "Rebirth's" Treatment of Legacy & Promise of a Less "Grimdark" DC Universe
Following the debut Wednesday of the new LEGO Dimensions trailer, we now get a look at seven of the team packs and fun packs teased in the gameplay footage — including The Joker and Harley Quinn.
Developed by TT Games for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the Disney Infinity-style “toy-to-life” game will launch Sept. 27 with Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle minifigures and the Batmobile. Players will then be able to purchase of additional fun packs and team packs, containing LEGO sets that they’ll build into characters, vehicles and devices that they’ll be able to introduce into the game with the Toy Pad.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment trumpeted its “toy-to-life” console game LEGO Dimensions last month, it promised “a lot more” properties would join the likes of DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings and Back to the Future at launch. Thanks to a leak, we now know at least some of them — including Doctor Who, Portal 2, Jurassic World and The Simpsons.
Similar in approach to the popular Skylanders and Disney Infinity, LEGO Dimensions will enable players to purchase LEGO sets that they’ll build into characters, vehicles and devices that can be introduced into the game with the Toy Pad. They’ll be able to mix and match characters and objects from a range of properties, changing and expanding gameplay.
It’s easy to become so wrapped up in the monthly direct market horse race that we overlook success stories in other channels. Oh, not the bookstore performances of The Walking Dead, Saga or Attack on Titan; we get regular reminders of that from BookScan. In this case we’re talking about Ninjago, the LEGO toy line turned animated TV series turned graphic novel line.
Although the debut of the latest book atop The New York Times bestseller list should’ve provided a clue to how well it’s doing, Papercutz has trumpeted that with the release of LEGO Ninjago, Vol. 9: Night of the Nindroids, the series has surpassed 2 million copies in sales.
“LEGO Ninjago titles have been a phenomenon for us,” Papercutz President Terry Nantier said in a statement. “We’ve been back to press numerous times and it seems like we’re always struggling to keep up with consumer demand. I’ve been in the graphic novel publishing business for quite some time and I’d be hard pressed to name a lot of other kids ‘series that have hit that level of sales.”
Things are going so well that the publisher, perhaps unsurprisingly, is expanding the line in May with a series of graphic novels based on Ninjago “Legends of Chima” LEGO sets.
Creators | Following the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor and the cameo by Thanos in The Avengers, Marvel appears poised to expand the cosmic elements of its cinematic universe with The Guardians of the Galaxy. While some fans eagerly await a movie announcement next week at Comic-Con International, Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had to buy his own tickets to Thor and The Avengers) may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge: Heidi MacDonald points out that Starlin has posted an early drawing of the Mad Titan on his Facebook page, writing, “This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid. Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.” [The Beat]
Comics | Tim Marchman, author of that much-discussed Wall Street Journal article, is at it again, this time interviewing Watchmen editor Len Wein about his work on Before Watchmen, and including the interventions of DC Comics Publicity Manager Pamela Mullin as part of the story. Between the embargo on the comic and Mullin doing her job, it sounds like the most interesting parts of the interview never made it into the final product. [The Daily Beast]
Among the deluge of pre-NYCC press releases was one from Papercutz that really grabbed my attention: According to publisher Terry Nantier (who also helms parent company NBM), pre-orders of their Ninjago graphic novel have topped 170,000 copies. That’s a pretty impressive number.
The graphic novel is based on Lego’s ninja-themed Ninjago playsets, which have already spawned a couple of made-for-TV movies, and there’s a cartoon series in the works. Plus, people really like Lego, so it’s logical that it would do well.
Still, numbers like that put Ninjago in rarefied company. The first printing of Scott Pilgrim (which admittedly wasn’t a slam dunk) was about 10,000, if memory serves. Potential blockbusters justify greater risk: Yen Press announced an initial printing of 350,000 copies of the first Twilight graphic novel, and over 168,000 copies were sold in stores monitored by BookScan (which includes sales from bookstores only, and not all of those) last year.
There aren’t many books that do that well, though. Dork Diaries, which is a prose-graphic novel hybrid, actually topped Twilight on the BookScan charts, and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung Fu Cave, by Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, came in a very close third. But only those three topped 100,000 copies; Scott Pilgrim filled slots 4 through 9 on the chart, with sales ranging from 90,000 to almost 60,00, and the number 10 book was a volume of Naruto that moved about 53,000 copies.
That effect was even more pronounced in 2009, when BookScan’s top seller Watchmen, dwarfed the ninjas and the vampires with sales of well over 400,000 copies. The second best-selling book that year was Dork Diaries (again!) with sales of over 68,000, a considerable dropoff from the top spot. With graphic novels, it seems you can’t count on volume—unless you have Lego ninjas on your side.
Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”