Wake Up And Smell The Coffee: The End Is Coming...
By Drew Reiber
DC is setting itself up for a fall. Truth is, I’ve been saying it for months now. Not the small kind where there’s a month or two of struggles in terms of shipping or a single famous creator takes off for greener pastures. No, I’m talking about a full-scale dive in ingenuity, creative loss, and overall sales.
While the publisher continues to lose ground in direct sales, it compensates with months long company wide crossovers and fifth week events that would frighten any small child when it comes to reading comics. Testing our resolve as fans and consumers are unlimited amounts of gimmick projects the likes of “Silver Age”, “Sins of Youth”, “Justice Leagues”, “Batman Dies”, “Return to Krypton”, “Officer Down”, “Our Worlds at War” and now “The Joker’s Last Laugh”. Making the consequences of these events even more depressing are the four core books, six family books and five to ten one-shots that become “complimentary” to even the smallest of events. How long does DC believe it can squeeze every penny from their most loyal readers? I have to ask… did they really believe there would be a line of folks waiting to read a one-shot about what Harley Quinn was doing during an alien invasion? Are they really betting that the Jenny Sparks clone in Suicide Squad will turn heads and soar through the sales charts? Just wait until you folks see a Jokerized son of Darkseid chasing superheroes around. Oh, not that familiar with the concept yet? You will be… you will be.
Adding to the popularity descent of DC’s more mainstream titles, the company can’t seem to hold onto their creative staff. If one hasn’t jump ship for Marvel, they’ve bailed for CrossGen… or even Image. One can only assume for so long that it has nothing to do with their internal politics or business procedures. After all, Marvel doesn’t seem to have a problem with sharing creators and CrossGen is apparently tempting enough that high profile creators are willing to sign exclusives and move to the Hellhole I call home: Tampa, Florida. For goodness sakes, Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey has already lost two ongoing artists in a row to the latter publisher. DC’s answer to the problem? Tighten their grip. Throw exclusives like confetti and offer Vertigo or Cliffhanger/Homage projects like tissue paper. Yes, do anything and everything to keep the talent in house… even if it means becoming a lot more lenient when it comes to publishing material. It’s not that dangerous to become dependent on young and less experienced creators for the direction of a comic publisher, right?
But what about Wildstorm, they’re pretty well organized… right? You know, if you had asked me about it six months ago… I might have agreed with you. Let’s review DC… *cough*… I mean Wildstorm’s latest publishing plans. ‘Pseudo-JLA’ Authority ongoing series? Check. Authority ongoing spin-off series? Check. Authority ongoing spin-off series two? Check. Authority specials and one-shots? Check. Hardly two-years-old-engulfed-in-flames-fad running out of steam? Check. Oh, I’m sorry. Oh yes, I’m absolutely sure that the runaway success of adult-targeted Authority-style comics will trickle down through the entire imprint and generate new and youthful audiences for years to come. Absolutely. *Sarcasm off*
DC is a ticking time bomb, I assure you. If you’re not convinced yet, allow me to flash some keywords and phrases that I’m sure I’ve subliminally implied to you by now. Ready?
Marvel Comics. Middle 1990s. Months long crossovers. Maximum Clonage. Onslaught. New, youthful creators in power. Todd McFarlane. Erik Larsen. Jim Lee. Image Comics. Darker, more adult comics are hot. Ghost Rider. Midnight Sons. Marvel Edge. X-Men are hot. Too many X-Men books. Comics are unbearable. Readership dries up. Comic industry apocalypse.
Any frightening images of the past rattling around in those skulls of your yet? I thought so.
The coming months of DC “events” will be pretty tough to wallow through, but with projects like Green Arrow, The Dark Knight Strikes Again and Wonder Woman… it may not seem too bad. Of course that’s until Kevin Smith, Frank Miller and Phil Jiménez decide it’s time to move on to something else. Then you’ll start to ask yourself some difficult questions. Must I own all thirty to forty crossover tie-ins? Is the Authority really as new and captivating as it was a year ago, now with The Monarchy, The Establishment and everything in between? Do I really buy anything and everything with Batman or JLA in the title? Or is it Wolverine or X-Men?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not prepared to make the same mistakes I may have made almost a decade ago. I do believe I can survive a whole month or two without Jokerized villains or the latest return of Doomsday. I kept out of Our Worlds at War and I’m all the happier because of it. The real question is… what will your choice be? Send a message of disinterest to DC or fill that terrorizing one to two issues gap in your Action Comics collection? It’s your decision… choose wisely.
Born and raised in Tampa, FL, Drew Reiber is a part-time student with aspirations of someday writing those comics he so loves to rant about. He hopes that future generations will forgive him for this DC Comics tirade, but also understand that the Joker: Last Laugh solicits caused his eyes and ears to bleed.
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