Point/Counterpoint: Readers speak on DCU changes

[Earlier today we ran an essay by longtime Beat contributor Mark Coale on The DC Flashpoint Reboot. In it he stated he was going to stop reading DC entirely. In the interests of fairness, we reached out to find readers who are excited about the changes. We’ve gotten several great responses and we’ll run them over the next day or so. And yes we’ll get back to non-DC news very very soon!}

drew hart Point/Counterpoint: Readers speak on DCU changes

As someone who has been a very staunch and passionate DC Comics fan, I’m very much in favor of the DC “reboot.” I started reading DC books around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths but really started to prefer DC over Marvel in the late 80’s/early 90’s when it seemed as if Marvel stopped speaking to me on a fan level. As I matured as a person and a comic fan, I began to identify with the “core” JLA members (especially Superman) more than I had as a youngster. I immersed myself in DC lore and would consider myself a reasonable expert on DC Continuity. As such, I’ve come to realize that “expert status” can be a detriment to attracting others to share in my passion/habit and am very much open to this measure as an initiative to attracting more people to the party.

Ultimately (no pun intended), I just want great stories and art to tell those stories. I’m not concerned anymore with continuity that “violates” stories I’ve already read as long as the core tenants of the characters stay true (Superman – last son of a dead planet, has a weakness to kryptonite, always does the right thing), than I am if Superman references the last or the last dozen times he’s stopped Lex Luthor from completing his plans. It’s fun to have those for some frame of reference, but they shouldn’t be the elephant in the room preventing the best authors and artists from presenting the best stories that appeal to a wide audience. These aren’t some indie band playing to a small group of people in a dingy bar. It’s Superman, and his story should be accessible and available to all people across all races, colors, creeds, etc. That’s the only way the character will stay active and viable to future generations, which I hope will be the case.

I’m excited about the possibilities of seeing these characters tweaked and/or reinterpreted for the current generation. I’m sure there will be some hits and some misses, but I appreciate that the powers that be at DC are attempting to keep the media form viable and I will keep supporting characters and stories I like. I also realize that there’s the possibility that the stories told with these characters will no longer speak to me and if that’s the case, so be it. I will always have my mountains of back issues to read through and hopefully others will find something they like in these concepts I’ve enjoyed reading about since I was a teenager and into adulthood and middle age.

Having become friends with the owner of the comic shop I frequent, I do worry about his long term prospects for staying in business with the “day and date” electronic availability of the books, but I’ve worried about being able to get my weekly publishing fix for years and this is just the latest “threat” to that stability for how I like to experience my habit. I’m hoping that print can co-exist with digital going forward, but progress is progress and if keeping the publishing “locked” to the direct sales market is killing the industry, then I’m all for finding a way to keep it alive and hopefully expand it.

I’m wishing the creative minds at DC the best of luck with this and I will definitely be sticking around to see what they can do. I hope they don’t let what I think will be the vocal minority of “fans” on the internet (most of whom are lapsed readers anyway it seems) deter them from what I believe are exciting long range plans for the DC universe to continue well after I’m dead and gone and my kids and grandkids are reading them (whatever platform that will be on at that point!).

@DublDownDrew (on Twitter)

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cyborg Point/Counterpoint: Readers speak on DCU changesI think DC is going “all in” and will either be successful and double up or get burned. I’m not keen on the red-trunk-less Superman, but, unlike some fans, I’m not going to decry it before I try it. I’m not a huge fan of losing the history behind titles like Action Comics, Detective Comics, and Batman. Still, when all is said and done I think what will make or break this is what creative teams they have in place on books, the hype and interviews they can push before September, and if they can manage to ship things on a regular schedule. I’m fairly certain that Justice League #1 will be the biggest title of that month and be well beyond Fear Itself or Flashpoint because it is two huge creators on a flagship book and a #1 to boot. Still, I worry about Lee’s ability to put out a book monthly. I’m not as worried about the idea of stuff coming before “not mattering” as others since the idea that there’ll be a book with different colored Lanterns in it in September shows that things like the Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night still happened. I’m much less excited by the de-aging of Superman and the almost undoubted loss of the Kent/Lane marriage than by a change in costume. Any other romance will seem lame for Superman because we know he is “meant” for Lois and having her try to find out who is all over again would be very frustrating. A Morrison Superman book would be a big hook though. I think the push into putting everything day-and-date digital is huge, but doesn’t mean much to me. The only way they could maybe get me for a little would be if the issues were cheaper than in stores, but I doubt that’ll happen, at least not for months after publication. I’m extremely curious to see what all these 52 books are. Books like Xombi seem destined for death. Also books like Power Girl, Zatanna, Secret Six, and such are definitely questionable going forward. It is interesting to try to figure out what will be coming out in September. I’m hoping for some good jumping on points with new creative teams, though there is the equal chance at jumping off a book.


Nick Fugate

St. Paul, MN

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flash Point/Counterpoint: Readers speak on DCU changes

As a comic book fan, having a title renumbered, even back to #1, is nothing new. Every time there’s an event book, or a celebrity writer that takes an interest in a character, you can usually expect to have to change your long-boxes around to accommodate new titles or numbers. Sure that makes sense from a marketing angle, but as fans, how many times have we seen these “new beginnings” quickly go back to “the same as before”, often readopting the old numbering? The exciting thing about what DC’s doing with their relaunching of titles is really the extent to which they’re doing it. Continuity, long the bane of any but the most rabid comic readers, never survived in the old system. Wasn’t Final Crisis supposed to have killed off half the world? Isn’t Huntress the daughter of Catwoman and Batman? Is the Green Lantern weak to yellow or wood, or neither? The nature of the medium is that new writers are going to pick up old characters and start making changes, and, as fans, we’ve always just been along for the ride. DC is acknowledging that yes, there are tons of convoluted back stories that are often so tied together that just rewinding one story isn’t going to be enough, and they’re doing something about it. And it’s being done intelligently- by having all reboots under the supervision of one editorial team they’re insuring that there’s going to be less redundancies or inconsistencies. At least for a while fans aren’t going to have to try and figure out such annoyances as where in continuity a story takes place, or which version of the back story is being referenced, or even smaller issues such as why Alan Scott is wearing his old costume in one JSA title and a new one in another (and where did his eye patch go?). By taking the renumbering and putting them in the hands of the people who write comics professionally and consistently, DC stands to not only breathe new life into their titles but also keep those titles breathing fresh breath for longer than the old system of event or celebrity driven false starts, and for that I’m excited.

– Cesare Venegoni


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201106011515 Point/Counterpoint: Readers speak on DCU changes Huntress the daughter of Catwoman and Batman? Is the Green Lantern weak to yellow or wood, or neither? The nature of the medium is that new writers are going to pick up old characters and start making changes, and, as fans, we’ve always just been along for the ride. DC is acknowledging that yes, there are tons of convoluted back stories that are often so tied together that just rewinding one story isn’t going to be enough, and they’re doing something about it. And it’s being done intelligently- by having all reboots under the supervision of one editorial team they’re insuring that there’s going to be less redundancies or inconsistencies. At least for a while fans aren’t going to have to try and figure out such annoyances as where in continuity a story takes place, or which version of the back story is being referenced, or even smaller issues such as why Alan Scott is wearing his old costume in one JSA title and a new one in another (and where did his eye patch go?). By taking the renumbering and putting them in the hands of the people who write comics professionally and consistently, DC stands to not only breathe new life into their titles but also keep those titles breathing fresh breath for longer than the old system of event or celebrity driven false starts, and for that I’m excited.

As a long time comics reader who has shifted from being a Marvel zombie to a DC Comics enthusiast the older I get, I’m definitely interested in what the company plans on doing with the reboot of the universe later this year. Frankly, I feel that a lot of the comics have gotten so far away from what the characters are about even as Geoff Johns has gone to great efforts to bring back all of the original characters like Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Hawkman, Aquaman, etc. It was especially a concern as DC Entertainment has been trying to the big screen and it’s quite evident that it would be impossible for new fans of the characters to jump on board with all of the events and crossovers that’s become the norm in the comics. I highly doubt I’ll be buying all 52 new series, and like everything else, I’ll pick and choose based on the character and the creative team, but I’ve generally been happy with what’s been going on and if they can produce a Teen Titans or a Legion of Super-Heroes or a Justice Society of America comic that’s on par with the Green Lantern books I’ll be very happy. If they can get even more new people reading comics, even better. (And I have to add that DC Comics’ “drawing the line at $2.99″ has put them high up in my book in terms of giving them the benefit of the doubt.)


Edward Douglas
New York City

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Comments

  1. Rikk Odinson says:

    While it bums me out that I am probably going to lose the only DC books that I currently buy, Power Girl and LSH, I am pretty excitred about this.
    I’ve been reading comics ince I was 8 in 74 and have hardly read DC in years. I’m not planning on buying the entire line (might actually start reading some of them online though) I will more than likely be buying a helluva lot more DC books than I have since before the original COIE.
    So kudos to DC! Not only is this old fan excited about your comics, I will probably be buying more of them than I have in years AND you will probably make me finally make the jump into digital.

    Compared to Marvel giving me a Moon Knight that thinks he’s other superheroes and a female Ghost Rider, this is a MAJOR win for DC in my book.

  2. Charles Knight says:

    The more that comes out (Rich Johnson reports that female character will now be wearing trousers), the more it seems to me that they are making it clear this is not about the Direct Market – those changes all seem to be to ensure that the Digital market has as much chance as possible to grow and that DC can do a land-grab within that marketplace.

    I guess they bet that the hardcore direct market people will continue to buy in slowly diminishing numbers (even if it’s just to complain about the changes) while they build up the digital space – a build-up needs those changes to make the characters appeal to a wider demographic that the current white males who makes up the majority of current buyers within the Direct Market.

  3. Gary Brown says:

    I’m probably going to give up most, if not all, DC comics. Been frustrated with the constant rearranging of the top characters and pushing minor characters in books like JLA. I almost dropped Superman and Action, which I had been buying consistently since 1957, when they took the frickin’ main character out of the book. How stupid is that?
    Anyway, DC can “tweak” their characters all they want now, but not with my cash. It’s too bad they forgot from whence they came.

  4. Steve says:

    I’m curious as to what, if any, market research DC/Warner Bros has done that makes them confident that their refurbished line of comics will attract new readers – either through the print or digital versions.

    Currently there is a poll up on CBR gauging overall reaction to the DCU post-Flashpoint changes and while the majority seems to be taking a “I’m not sure, could be interesting, I’ll have to wait and see” attitude, more than twice as many say they are using the post-Flashpoint shift as a jumping-off point (26%) as those who say they are all-in (12%). (It’s another argument to speculate whether all or any of that 26% actually do jump off as they threaten to.)

    Granted, this is not a scientific poll, and attitudes could change as more information comes out, but this would seem to be a potential problem for DC, if they are losing 2 readers for every 1 reader who stays committed to the product. That means they would have to gain 1 additional NEW reader just to stay even, and gain TWO NEW readers in order to actually expand the readership, which is ostensibly what the whole initiative is designed to do, not just run in place. What evidence does DC have that this base of committed new readership is out there? Do they have a well-thought-out marketing plan that will get attention to the comics through a multi-media advertising strategy?

    I know that if I had a small but loyal customer base with an historic and emotional attachment to my brand, and market research told me that I would potentially lose one-fourth of those loyal customers if I refashioned the brand to make it “modern”/new/fresh, I would need some evidence that I could make up in increased new customers and sales volume what I would be losing in that faithful customer base.

  5. If you ask me, (and I know you didn’t) there’s been far too much “remembering where you came from” in comics and not enough thought on where you’re going.

  6. blacaucasian says:

    One person says something like it’s too bad they forgot from whence they came.

    Another person says there’s too much history and the universe is far to intimidating to try to start reading.

    I think they’ve finally realized there are a lot more out there of the former then the later.

    It’s a likely that their research found that there’s a lot more people reading digital comics that don’t ever visit comic shops then one’s that do. It seems their as stupid as the music and movie industries if they ignore that (potentially) huge part of the population that isn’t cannibalizing direct market sales.

    The underscore from what I hear from a lot of retailers is “I’m too lazy to create an environment where people will want to come buy from my store instead of online.” And if that is indeed the case, then they might not deserve to be a store any longer.

  7. Charles Knight says:

    “I know that if I had a small but loyal customer base with an historic and emotional attachment to my brand, and market research told me that I would potentially lose one-fourth of those loyal customers”

    It’s just not going to happen – they call them direct market zombies for a reason and I’m guessing this is what DC are banking on – sales will remain on a slow decline in the DM but the repositioning of their product line allows it a better chance to compete for a wider demographic in the digital sphere.

  8. Rebooting is nothing new for DC, it happens about every 30 years….The Silver Age was a reboot. Crisis was a reboot and now this.

    Why do a reboot? Because comics are serial stories; which have to get bigger and more convoluted as time goes on to keep readers interested. This creates hard core fans, but pushes out the casual reader.

    The question I have for DC is… “Have you learn anything from the NEED to reboot?”

    DC should move all their comic series to self contained story arcs…think volumes. Every year a new volume with a beginning, middle and end.

    This way the monthly serial beast does not have to be feed by filler, but interesting stories creators want to tell.

    At the end of the day what makes me read a comic is not the fights, but the story!

  9. Steve says:

    “they call them direct market zombies for a reason and I’m guessing this is what DC are banking on – sales will remain on a slow decline in the DM but the repositioning of their product line allows it a better chance to compete for a wider demographic in the digital sphere.”

    And it’s those “zombies” who are keeping sales of comics afloat. No doubt expanding into digital comics will help expand the market. But was there a way for them to do that without alienating and potentially losing a significant chunk of their core customer base?

    If you are currently a non-reader of DC Comics, what difference does it make to you if Superman and Lois Lane are married or not, or if it’s Barry or Wally who is The Flash? Why the need to rejigger the whole enterprise they way they are doing?

    Sure, a new #1 is a nice way to signal to someone that they can get in on the ground floor (although again, this doesn’t necessitate rebooting the entire DCU). But next issue is going to be labeled #2. And then you’re going to have an issue #3… at some point an issue #50… an issue #278…

    By this theory, with each numerical increase, you will LOSE potential readership because the numbers get higher and the continuity gets more complex and involved.

    Personally, I’ve always thought it was the richness, complexity, and historical depth of the DCU that makes it more interesting. You either see it as a difficult barrier to entry or an enticing history to explore.

  10. Charles Knight says:

    “And it’s those “zombies” who are keeping sales of comics afloat.”

    But I’m guessing they don’t expect that to continue as 50-something white males die off in the DM and nobody pops up to replace them.

    “If you are currently a non-reader of DC Comics, what difference does it make to you if Superman and Lois Lane are married or not, or if it’s Barry or Wally who is The Flash? Why the need to rejigger the whole enterprise they way they are doing?”

    There isn’t but I guess they just saw it as an opportunity for a clean break and try to adjust some of the characters and situations so they are as clean as possible and they can signal this to digital market readers.

    “But was there a way for them to do that without alienating and potentially losing a significant chunk of their core customer base?”

    History has taught us that internet talk about leaving the hobby is just that, a lot of hot air. I’m also guessing that DC has picked up on that as well. Come 2012, I’m guessing DM sales are pretty much what they have always been for DC titles.

  11. Synsidar says:

    If you ask me, (and I know you didn’t) there’s been far too much “remembering where you came from” in comics and not enough thought on where you’re going.

    How would a person go about updating Superman, Batman, et al. in ways that aren’t merely cosmetic? Saying “change their personalities” implies they’ll be doing things other than fighting crime. They can’t be put in the real world without rationalizing their powers and giving them day-to-day lives in ways that haven’t been done before. Making all those archetypal heroes more complex is fine — it would make them more like prose characters — but would make the stories harder to write.

    Given a choice between revising a character concept and creating a new one, most creators would probably opt for creating a new one.

    SRS

  12. Charles Knight is dead on with DC making a big play for digital space and its a move that resembles what Nintendo did with the Wii game console. I’m a hardcore gamer first and comics reader second and as any hardcore gamer will tell you, Nintendo has long since abandoned the “hardcore” gamer to make waggle/motion video games that appeal to seniors and the mass market.

    And just like Nintendo, I’m sure DC will outwardly proclaim that they haven’t abandoned their core readers by throwing the old-school fans a bone here and there, but the reality will sink in a year or two from now that they have.

  13. TonyJazz says:

    As long as they don’t use this opportunity to raise prices to $4, I’m game…. This sounds rather promising, especially since the group books (especially Justice League) have been so crappy for a while…. Looking forward to new versions of Hawkman and Aquaman, too.

    (but here’s a vote against anything by Johns…. GL has been a terrible book for the last year….)

  14. blacaucasian says:

    “Given a choice between revising a character concept and creating a new one, most creators would probably opt for creating a new one.”

    Except, as has been proven over and over and over, the general buying public doesn’t buy books featuring new characters.

  15. Steve says:

    “And it’s those “zombies” who are keeping sales of comics afloat.”
    “But I’m guessing they don’t expect that to continue as 50-something white males die off in the DM and nobody pops up to replace them. ”

    Who are these “50-something white males” you speak of? When I go visit a comic book store downtown near where I work, I see mostly guys in their 20s and 30s of all different races and ethnicities. When I go to the DC and Marvel panels at comic book conventions, I see proportionally more younger people than older people. I think it’s a myth that the comic book industry is entirely dependent on a graying fanbase.

    “If you are currently a non-reader of DC Comics, what difference does it make to you if Superman and Lois Lane are married or not, or if it’s Barry or Wally who is The Flash? Why the need to rejigger the whole enterprise they way they are doing?”

    “There isn’t but I guess they just saw it as an opportunity for a clean break and try to adjust some of the characters and situations so they are as clean as possible and they can signal this to digital market readers.”

    While also potentially sending another signal to their core loyal readers that now might be a good time to jump ship.

    “But was there a way for them to do that without alienating and potentially losing a significant chunk of their core customer base?”

    “History has taught us that internet talk about leaving the hobby is just that, a lot of hot air.”

    Wait a minute – Now you’re making the opposite argument you started with. First you said that DC sees the writing on the wall, that readership is declining and they had to make these big shake-ups to increase readership. Then you say it’s not declining at all, that people who threaten to leave the hobby don’t really do so. Although the declining sales trends of the past several months would seem to indicate that, in fact, readers are bailing.

    Further, if even only half as many people who promise to jump ship end up doing so, you’re still going to have to find TWO new readers to replace every one current reader that bails. That’s pretty daunting.

    So it just brings me back to my initial question: What, if any, market research has DC done that makes it confident that it can scare away up to one-quarter of its current loyal customer base and still increase sales among some potentially new group of customers to not just make up the difference but actually grow in sales?

  16. Fuzz McG says:

    The only DC comics I read at the moment are Detective Comics and Batman Inc. If Morrison takes over Superman, I’ll pick that up too (hopefully it’ll have Chris Burnham on art, his recent work on Batman is great).

    I think it’s a shame to renumber Action and Detective. I think they are the two that should remain immune to all reboots like this; as a nod to the legacy and history of DC comics and as a sign of respect for all those that have come before. Maybe I’m overly-nostalgic about those two but Detective has been increasing in sales in the last few months; it doesn’t need renumbering. I also find it hard to believe that DC won’t go back to normal in ten months time for #900.

    Anyway, I’m willing to give DC a shot on this. I’m not massively invested anyway as I only read two DC titles. As long as they keep Snyder and Jock/Francavilla on Detective, it won’t bother me too much.

    And DC needs to give Vertigo the bigger push it needs: they deserve better.

  17. saipaman says:

    The key benefit in my opinion to numbering is that the DC digital store will appear to be ‘complete’.

    For example, if three years from now a reader wanted to give Superman a try, that reader would be able to start by buying issue 1 and could buy up to current issue as fast as finances permit.

    A total reboot would further support this sales model because it would prevent new readers from being exposed to continuity that wouldn’t be available in the digital store. Partial reboot would not have this advantage.

  18. Just don’t mess with my Tiny Titans.

  19. The thing that bugs me most about this are the redesigns. Cyborg looks ridiculous. If it ain’t broke . . . And, man, that chin thing on the Flash’s costume is horrendous. And the matching collars . . . blegh. Calling Project: Rooftop!

    As for the reboot/plot aspect, I would be more partial to it if the attitude was less of a line in the sand (everything’s NEW and DIFFERENT!!!) and more like “everything you read before “HAPPENED,” just maybe in a slightly different fashion. Because while I understand that, sure, you don’t want to be burdened by continuity, nor should you turn your back on a rich history.

    I’m interested, and not especially excited, I guess.

    (And I have it on good authority that the Tiny Titans will now all be wearing matching sweater vests)

  20. To me same day digital release while a big move, doesn’t seem that daring in this day and age and to me is several years too late. As a small few have pointed out, all of this content has already been available via pirate sites. I’ve seen people whip out their iPads and show off hundreds of comics they have downloaded but didn’t pay for, as it wasn’t available legally. I’ve been told a number of people about DC’s move today and have heard back from them that they aren’t used to paying for most of their digital comics. The more people who get used to downloading free pirated comics, the bigger hurdle the publishers have down the road to get an audience to pay for it.

    Where would the music industry be today if Apple hadn’t pushed for iTunes music store? Where would they be if they had managed to roll out a big online music store before Napster was available? Finally where would they be if iTunes music store came several years later and had allowed the illegal music downloading to pick up even more steam than it did?

  21. They try this, or something similar, fairly regularly. How long has it been since the revamped Wonder Woman made the news? About a year?
    Relaunch and reboot all you want. But don’t expect everyone to get excited every time. If everything is a sensation, then the sensational becomes commonplace.
    As I’ve posted elsewhere, every time I hear of an updating of Superman, my mind goes to this tall blue guy with lightning bolts on his costume. Brr….

  22. Well, as someone coming from more-or-less “outside” the DC universe, I’m pretty attracted by the idea of a reboot. As someone barely in my 20s, I didn’t grow up reading any of the stories that seem to drive the stories today.

    Having a rich backstory is fantastic, but nobody wants to feel like they need a Cliff’s Notes primer just to understand who _________ is and why other characters are reacting to them in a certain way.

  23. Jon_in_Austin says:

    “I’m curious as to what, if any, market research DC/Warner Bros has done that makes them confident that their refurbished line of comics will attract new readers – either through the print or digital versions.”

    I had the same thought – trying to imagine the focus group of 12-year-olds eating Twizzlers and pizza talking about what they want to see from comics, with Johns/Lee/Bain consultants furiously scribbling notes behind the one-way glass.

  24. I’m excited about this change. It is needed! DC hasn’t really competed with Marvel over the last decade, and something had to be done. Plus, they had to beat Marvel to the digital “punch”, or they would become forever #2.

    I love nostalgia as much as the next aging comic book collector, but I also can see the need and excitement for re-vamping a character….Marvel is actually ahead of the curve on this one….so disgruntled DC fans should look at Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, Spiderman (after JMS left), etc. etc. The difference is they didn’t do it all at once, but over the last 5 years or so Marvel has “revamped” a lot of it’s characters and is doing very well…sales way UP on all of them. So DC’s plans…although you could argue drastic since it’s all happening at once….is something that we may all want to embrace while enjoying the huge collections of comics that may or may not be relevant in September (“lol” implied).

    For those who are “boycotting” DC Comics now, I would question your loyalty to Comic’s best characters, and ask if you really think the universe revolves around you? The characters will still be true to who they are, the stories and artwork will still be good, and just think….DC may have just guaranteed they will still be going strong when we are so old that our eyesight doesn’t permit us to read them anymore….

  25. What does it matter what number is on the cover or whose underwear is over their tights? Great comics are great comics.

    And you can always switch over to indie comics… where we never reboot and our crises are always multiple!

  26. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    I’m 38 now, but was 13 or 14 when I got onboard DC after the original CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. I’d followed John Byrne over from Marvel (I grew up on a strict diet of Marvel) and was excited to suddenly discover this new world of heroes by some of my favorite creators (and a few I’d never heard of).

    To this day that era of discovery from the mid to late-80s remains one of my fondest comic book memories. It’d pretty much be impossible to get me as hyped up as I was at that young age, but my hope is that this even can generate the same enthusiasm for a next generation of readers. And for my own part, being only a casual reader now, I’ll probably be sampling a lot more DC books than I have in years.

    Fingers crossed that it’s successful. I have a feeling it will be.

  27. Fuzz McG says:

    “The key benefit in my opinion to numbering is that the DC digital store will appear to be ‘complete’.

    For example, if three years from now a reader wanted to give Superman a try, that reader would be able to start by buying issue 1 and could buy up to current issue as fast as finances permit.

    A total reboot would further support this sales model because it would prevent new readers from being exposed to continuity that wouldn’t be available in the digital store. Partial reboot would not have this advantage.”

    Very good point! I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll still be buying physical copies for the forseeable future but that does make a lot of sense.

  28. When I read about people who plan to stop reading DC altogether, I am reminded of people declaring their intent to end a Long Term Relationship. The thing is, no one ever does that simply because their partner did “A”. They do it because the relationship has been unhappy for a long time, and “A” is just the catalyst.

    Sometimes when I see an LTR end, I congratulate one party or the other, usually both. They’ve finally done what they needed to do (and quite often what both needed) to be happy.

    That seems to be the case for lots of the DC-quitters. Whatever they want from a publisher/reader relationship, they clearly haven’t been getting it from DC (and maybe not from Marvel either). Maybe it’s firm and unshifting continuity. Maybe it’s meaningful change in characters. Maybe it’s the feeling they experienced in their childhood. Whatever. They aren’t getting it. They need to move on. Good for them, taking that step.

    Likewise, I see the same thing happening from DC editorial: they weren’t having their needs met. Those needs are certainly more commercial in nature, but they’re just as real. To make it more fun to read, I’m going to refer to it in terms of sex. They want more of it. They want to have it with more partners. They want to try new things. And they weren’t getting that (or permission for that) from many of the DC readers they’ve been in bed with. They need to let go. Good for them, taking that step.

    Now, there’s no guarantee that either party from a split LTR is going to be happy afterward. You can’t just walk away from a 40-year relationship with the DCU and replace it with Star Wars fandom or Hummmel figuring collection or even the Marvel Universe. You have to start over. But better to come from a broken relationship than to live in one. And I speak here from someone who’s come out of some very painfully ended relationships.

    By the same token, DC can’t expect the same kind of devotion from the fresh-faced young things they’ll be courting with this same-date-digital stuff and the total body makeover they’re giving themselves. But it’s better for them than another Saturday night in front of the TV with someone who doesn’t love them anymore.

    We celebrate weddings in our culture, and when the match is a good one we damn well should . But when the pairing is no longer healthy, when it’s bad for both parties and for everyone around them, we should celebrate divorces too. So as the DCU gives the finger to certifiably committed collectors, and as life-long-readers bid a fierce “fuck you” to a DCU they know longer recognize…. I raise my glass of $7 domestic chardonnay and sincerely wish them each the best of luck. For all of us.

  29. Synsidar says:

    Continuity, unfortunately, is a word that means different things to different people. Whatever changes DC might make to continuity, many of them might not be meaningful.

    Re-dating an origin is so trivial, for example, that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Iron Man’s origin has been re-dated twice, as I recall — first the Gulf War, and then military operations in Afghanistan — with no effect on the hero. If DC takes a similar approach to the heroes’ origins, the changes won’t make any difference.

    Encounters with a villain are part of continuity, but eliminating or altering them isn’t significant unless it alters behavior. The writers and editors know, or should know, that technically eliminating n encounters doesn’t mean that old stories can be repeated with minor changes.

    The most significant changes, IMO, would entail changing the hero’s past in ways that affect his motivations and sense of identity. Giving him family members he hasn’t had before; changing the reason he became a hero — those changes are significant, and could be changes to the concept as much as they are changes in continuity.

    I predict that most of the continuity changes won’t affect writers’ handling of the characters. Costume changes and the like might be significant to some readers, but not to me.

    SRS

  30. Nick Jones says:

    “I almost dropped Superman and Action, which I had been buying consistently since 1957, when they took the frickin’ main character out of the book. How stupid is that?”

    The fact that you only ‘almost’ dropped the books despite being highly agitated at the content? I don’t know that it’s stupid, per se; however, I will go so far as suggesting that it’s rather silly of you. :p

    “I’m guessing they don’t expect that to continue as 50-something white males die off in the DM and nobody pops up to replace them.”

    …but are they really shooting for a dramatically different audience with this retooling? If they were completely rebooting as a fresh start to make all of the content safe and accessible for kids I’d applaud them for it, but this seems more like they’re trying to switch from their current core audience of late forty-somethings who go to the comic shop every week to an audience of tech-savvy twenty- or thirty-somethings. If that weren’t the case, I’d think that we’d be seeing a clean continuity slate, more of an influence from the recent kid- and teen-aimed cartoons, and less of an emphasis on the whole “digital day and date” thing.

    “Sometimes when I see an LTR end, I congratulate one party or the other, usually both.”

    Forlorn Fellow: Hey Jason A. Quest, I just broke up with my girlfriend. I have never been rendered so utterly miserable and despondent in my entire life. It feels as if there is a gnawing void where my heart once was, my loveless existence is now bereft of all joy, and life itself seems to merely slog inevitably onward toward an unhappy demise. Oh, and even more importantly, that lame guy who talks to fish is in the JLA again so I’m no longer reading DC Comics.
    Jason A. Quest: Congratulations! This calls for a celebration!
    Forlorn Fellow: Why the heck am I friends with you, again?

  31. Synsidar says:

    It’s become popular in the last several years to criticize continuity and to opine that it shouldn’t interfere with good storytelling. My attitude toward continuity is that, by definition, continuity cannot interfere with a good installment in a series. Continuity is what makes the series believable.

    If a writer wants to do something with a character that past stories prevent, he always has the option of setting the story outside of continuity. The fact that it might make the story harder to sell doesn’t justify complaints about continuity.

    I’d wager that in more than 90 percent of the cases in which someone complains about continuity being constraining, there are workarounds. If there are multiple versions of a character, with some aspects conflicting with each other, that’s a case of poor editorial management, not a problem with continuity per se. Outright mistakes in stories don’t cause continuity problems.

    BTW, Marvel Editorial has its own collection of problems. Overreliance on alternate futures for story material, contradictory approaches to time travel, major continuity mistakes in storylines, bad science — adamantium can’t logically be magnetic, for the same reason that it’s indestructible, so Magneto can’t reasonably affect it unless his power is redefined. How many stories have had Magneto affecting adamantium?

    The mainstream Marvel Universe has never had a “Crisis,” but having one wouldn’t address any of its problems.

    SRS

  32. rick hood says:

    I get this internet thing, about stories only lasting until the next big thing comes along, and if you’re like me any story with more than 20 comments and forget it I’m not wading through all that. So I know that most likely no one is going to view this comment much less read it.

    So here goes anyway…

    I get feeling like these events that Marvel and DC have been putting on have recently, reached the point of over the top with too much hyperbole, and not enough good entertainment value for the buck. A six or seven issue story with 80 auxiliary titles attached to it, in hopes that you will break your piggy bank to support it.

    Well, this DC decision to re-start every title at once is just too much. I mean re-number Batman and its big news, re-number Detective too in the same month and WOW big deal. Re-number everything and boom, a big nothing, everything is leveled against each other and it’s all the same.
    Example:
    Ok, I can afford to buy 20 DC titles per month. The reality of it is no matter what number is on the cover I can only buy what I can afford, so I’ll re-prioritize based on creators and what looks good to me now and nothing really changes. OK so maybe I’ll ante up for one or two more titles, but honestly that’s it no big deal.

    The best I can hope for is better stories and more professional art work, but if the past is any gage it’ll most likely be more of the same, because the more things change the more they remain the same.

    As for digital comics, I’m for that once it’s set up correctly, but that a discussion for another comment, no sense wasting any more space for something that nobody’s reading anyhow right.

    PS Keep up the awesome work Heidi! Best current comic book news site on the net, male or female.

  33. G.M.G. says:

    There are many reasons why I feel this piece of news is bad. The two aspects of it that bug me the most right at this moment are as follows:

    – Some people have expressed an interest and an optimism as to what DC is trying to do here. That’s fine. I am just wondering though, was that optimism and interest there as well after One Year Later? After Infinite Crisis? After Final Crisis? After Blackest Night? After Brightest Day? And upcoming with Flashpoint? How many chances do you give Dan DiDio and his crew to get us excited about this product? How many times do I have to hear those fateful words, “Nothing will ever be the same again!” Really? All of those events claimed to be giving readers a fresh start. I think the reason this is a bad move has something to do with being jaded by all this hoopla. This reeks of flim-flam. These same people in editorial have done this same scam, this same ploy already, about a half dozen times in the past half dozen years. They did not succeed at it before. Or else, why feel the need to do it all over again? I totally understand the need to draw in new readers, and I agree that catering to an ever dwindling core group of nostalgic enthusiasts like myself isn’t going to help the company in the near future. I have been reading these stories for 36 years now, and I agree that maybe that’s been a little long to keep doing this sort of thing and caring about it. But it’s the tactic of driving this core group further away, on a roll of the dice that they know how to get new readers sucked in. Guys, you had plenty of chances to get this right and you’ve blown them all. I just can’t be excited about something I thought I have seen happen already. They haven’t succeeded before, I can’t possibly be expected to believe, “Oh no, we figured it out now. You’ll love it!” The continuity and the history aren’t the problems. The problem is lack of good storytelling.

    – The other thing is the choice of Jim Lee. Really? Jim Lee? Are we in 1992 or 1993? Because back then, I might give a damn. Jim Lee hasn’t been relevant in years. He’s been riding the coattails of his success back in Marvel and the early days of Image for a long time now. You may as well have said Neal Adams or John Byrne would be directly involved in reforging the DC Universe. If this is meant to be generating excitement, well then I’m sorry. What’s his track record lately of finishing a book on time? Where’s his motivation as he earns a corporate salary, I would assume, rather than a regular freelancer? How many issues will it be before he gets bored and hands the book off? I give it four issues, one more than his new X-Men series from the 90’s, before someone else takes over, in which case we’ll have to start renumbering again or else people will get confused. That early promo illustration of the Justice League makes me wonder if Jim thinks the kids are still playing Street Fighter II in the arcades. He’s about as in touch with young readers today as my mom.

    I am sure there’s so many other aspects to this we could debate. I personally believe Vertigo is finished as well from all this, but that’s a whole other discussion. I will continue to read comics and I look forward to the Jacques Tardi collections, Love and Rockets, new books by Richard Sala and Rick Geary that are all on their way this year. I am not giving up on comics as a medium, but I am giving up on a company that isn’t interested in my business anymore. And that might not be such a bad thing for both of us.

  34. Charles Knight says:

    “Wait a minute – Now you’re making the opposite argument you started with. First you said that DC sees the writing on the wall, that readership is declining and they had to make these big shake-ups to increase readership. ”

    No I’m saying this change will make no difference to the *long-term* decline but it will not cause an *immediate* drop-off of 1/4 of the readers as some have suggested here and in other places. That’s the whole point, they can make this move because it will (or at least that gamble) have no impact on either the short-term or long-term prospects of the DM but provides them with another revenue stream that think they can grow while that one declines.

  35. Torsten Adair says:

    Okay… all you old-timers… I wasn’t a die-hard fan when I started in 1984, so I don’t know:

    What was the fan reaction when DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths, did away with Earth-S and Earth-π, de-powered Superman, eliminated Superboy, etc. ?

  36. We don’t know, Torsten, there was no internet then.

  37. I think Charles Knight nailed it in his first post.

    This isn’t really about the direct market, it’s about the digital market. It’s a gutsy move by DC, whose success will be determined not by the sales of the monthly floppies, but by digital sales. Because there will probably be a spike in sales of DC books for the end of the year, followed by the inevitable decline, etc. The main thing, however, will be whether or not the digital move takes hold.

  38. Synsidar says:

    What was the fan reaction when DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths, did away with Earth-S and Earth-π, de-powered Superman, eliminated Superboy, etc. ?

    You could look up the ’85 and ’86 “Crisis” issues of Amazing Heroes. The magazine covered the crisis thoroughly.

    SRS

  39. @ David Quinn: Oh I so agree! My girls would threaten to never read again if the reboot messed their their Tiny Titans!
    They might even threaten to only read Archie instead. The horrors!

  40. Charles Knight says:

    The other thing that will be driving this is economic dis-intermediation – if they can get digital to take off, they can start to cut out more of the middle men and simply sell direct to the consumer thus increasing margins.

    I honestly don’t think this is about today, it’s about the fact that by 2015, there are expected to be @15 billion internet connected devices. DC want to position themselves so that they have infrastructure and expertise in place to exploit that.

  41. Forgive me, my first post here.

    Torsten, I was a child at the time the original Crisis came aboard. I had been buying books since 4 or 5. I read a lot of JLA Detroit for better or worse, and I have been purchasing a number of DC books my entire life.

    The feeling I had during the Crisis was this: the heroes were given a chance en masse to fight for their survival. The Who’s Who was a historical record of even the most obscure characters. The scope wasn’t just focused around Barry Allen’s life and title, but the entire multiverse.

    The combination of CoIE and Who’s Who- and the creators involved- gave a tremendous aura of gravity to the whole enterprise. The future of the DCU was in complete uncertainty, and all hands were on deck. People did not seem to die over a marketing decision, but because the story led there. Something that could erase the entire multiverse was bound to cause casualties.

    I didn’t know the editorial background. I didn’t know what the solicitation would be for 1986-87. When the post-Crisis changes were implemented, I had the feeling that this was done for a firm reason, with the unsaid agreement to readers that if they followed into the brave new DCU this once, they wouldn’t do something this drastic again. At least until 50 more years of twisting plots reached a breaking point.

    I could be off-base with regard to other readers, and I wasn’t happy with the blanking out of the Silver Age Superman and the Bronze Age reboot, but Byrne was a respected character who was given job to “do it right.”

    Crisis at the time seemed like a once in a lifetime event, done for a purpose. The yearly “world shattering event” bombardment to mean signals that the creatorship has itself broken the very thing they seek to correct by going for the easy fix of massive crossovers. Perhaps if titles weren’t beholden to participate in the constant Crises, we could find some consistent plotting and character development.

    My apologies on the length of the post.

  42. DC is a business. This is a business decision first and foremost. They are prepping their line to be more consistent (the high collars are a visual branding to say ‘DC superhero’), more relevant to a newer audience, and more easy to adapt to the big screen. It’s smart and risky. It really has nothing to do with continuity, legacy, previous marketing models or whatever else: it’s a business decision made by a business.

    LCS are businesses too, so they’re going to have to make business decisions sooner or later to find a new model, adapt, and I’m sure they can do it. For example they can start selling and promoting more indie comics that are not day and date or not even digital at all.

    It’s just business.

  43. I have been trying for days now, but I entirely fail to take seriously any po-faced analysis of the vast importance of the changes DC will make to its spandex universe.

  44. RockPaperNukes says:

    @Torsten

    I was a sophomore in college in southern California when Crisis came out and I can’t remember any “outrage” from fans at school or at the comic shops in the orange county area. Everyone seemed to think it was pretty cool. People liked the idea that DC was straightening out their crappy continuity. I honestly can’t remember any fans in my circle “mourning” the loss of the other “earths”.

    Legends was really popular I remember. The Byrne “Man of Steel” series got a more luke warm reception as I recall. Nothing really negative, just mediocre. I think Marvels “New Universe” line was drawing all the heavy fire back then as far as negative criticism. Everyone I knew, and I mean everyone hated that.

    But all the DC stuff seemed to be pretty well received. At least that’s what I remember of it.

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