Tales Of Their Death May Be Greatly Exaggerated

So now we have it. DC have announced their plans for September, and yes, we can expect a universe wide reboot, with a staggering (and wallet busting) FIFTY-TWO first issues to be relased that month.

That of course is not withstanding their plans for same-day digital release of comics.

Now, as a reader, I find myself in a quandary here. I feel like a dog with two bones, with my loyalties torn. Let’s take these reactions step by step.

So, we can expect revamped characters “reflecting today’s real world themes and events”. Well, I’ve heard this before, and although I hope this will lead to a more racially diverse major cast (but new characters please, not just the traditional icons being given a tokenistic new skin colour), I fail to see why this requires a universe-wide reboot. Surely this is dependant on good stories being provided by good writers?

Another reboot – AGAIN? Without another ten year gap? Infinite Crisis gave us an unfulfilled promise of the return of some pre-Crisis style stories, which other than Grant Morrison’s efforts and the recent ‘Sorcerer Kings’ arc in Superman/Batman, we have seen nothing of. What about the promised Earth-5 Captain Marvel? What happened to that then? Fans had been clamouring for the return of the older stories without sacrificing the newer material, yet once again DC has abandoned them.

Let me spell this out. Continuity drives trade-paperback sales. We only have to look at Marvel’s success with this matter. In Marvel, everything counts, no matter how dire it was. It may be reinterpreted, but it counts. Why would a new reader want to read the Teen Titans’ Judas Contract now? Infinite Crisis re-established these stories relevence. What about the last few years? Do they count? Are we moving to another Earth, while the old one carries on in the background?

Older readers like myself have been betrayed, AGAIN. And who but the older readers have enough cash to buy all fifty-two first issues?

Additionally, I have mixed feeling about the same-day digital release. Yes, it opens the field to new fans, although trying to read a comic on a mobile phone seems to me like something would be missing.

Now I love digital comics, they are so much easier to store, and my home no longer needs bookcases on every spare square foot of wall. Yet as a former comic shop manager, I feel betrayed again. They have been cut out of the loop, and will this lower the cost of purchase?

If DC really wanted to preserve the comics store, then the digital comics release should maybe be rolled out in a network-marketing format. The local comic store is the agent, to whom a reader could sign up to, or even simpler, attribute sales according to post/zip code. You sign up for the comics through Comixology or whomever, input your location with your membership details, get introduced to your local store via your membership, and have the LCS gain a little something from each sale. This is in DC’s interest, it is far easier to browse a real store than flick through endless pages, and this could stimulate back issue and more importantly trade paperback sales.

OK, business pundits will say ‘what precisely are the LCS adding to the process of digital distribution’? Other than advertising all upcoming events by their very existence, stimulating trade paperback sales, encouraging the growth of the community and helping provide brand loyalty? Oh, nothing much.

They are only the backbone of the industry, and in business terms, spread the risk, rather than just relying on large chain stores. Your local comic shop more than likely opened due to a love of the medium. It certainly wasn’t with the plan to get rich.

Having said all this, as a fan of the medium, I do look forward to the new incarnations. I simply wish that we didn’t have to lose the old (well, not that old) versions that we know and love.

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Darren Burr
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A devoted follower of the comics industry and their characters since a child, Darren now plays in many media but always returns to characters in skin-tight costumes beating each other up on the page. Radio host, blogger, fanfic author and producer of You Tube content, Darren idles away his days until his digital conquest of the world is complete.

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