This September DC Comics will relaunch/reboot 52 of their titles. Big news, right? Not as far as I was concerned, but it sure was for a lot of folks who wouldn’t be caught dead reading a comic book.
It made the front page of USA Today. AND The New York Times, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, Newsday and even some rag in New Zealand, Somebody in DC’s media relations department knows how to game the media. Either that, or it was a really slow news day.
Two things the geeks at the NY Times ought to know: First, comic book “events” last about as long as Superman stayed dead (which is to say not long at all). Second, for the few of us whom actually still read comic books and thoroughly embarrassed to admit it, this is not that big a deal. We’ve seen it all done before multiple times.
It’s not news to anyone who’s been reading comics with any consistency over the past ten years when a superhero “dies”, changes their underwear and undergoes a “drastic” personality change. Batman will never wake up naked except for his utility belt with Robin sleeping with a contented smile in his arms. Spider-Man is never going to say he sure wishes Aunt May would up and die already and stop bugging him to eat those fucking wheatcakes. Superman isn’t going to grab Wonder Woman, bend her over a table and give her the high hard one no matter how skimpy and tight her swimsuit/costume is.
Comics reflect fantasy far better than reality. The reality is Superman died but he came back. Just like Captain America did and Batman did and the Human Torch will. Once you’ve conquered death, what’s a little thing like zeroing out your comics and starting all over?
Anything that remotely resembles reality isn’t going to happen to a mainstream comic book character and really, who wants it to? Nobody really wants to see a fat, balding, flatulent, and arthritic Caped Crusader suffering from dementia. That’s a royal downer because it looks, sounds, tastes and smells like real life and who the hell plunks down three or four bucks a month for four-color “real life” stories?
What I would like to see is DC not just pay lip service to Black, Latino, Asian, gay and lesbian superheroes by taking a second or third rater like The Atom or Firestorm, give them an ethnically diverse Extreme Makeover, throw it out there for a year and then kill ’em off without mercy when the primarily White fanboy base doesn’t dig it.
For this particular comic book connoisseur of color it’s always been my belief DC kicked Marvel’s ass when it came to supporting books featuring women, but they trailed badly when it comes to getting behind minority superheroes of any gender. Compare Luke Cage, Storm and the Black Panther with Cyborg, Vixen and Black Lightning and it’s not even a close call. DC keeps trying to shoehorn diversity into its comics by making The Atom an Asian (and then killing him off), the Blue Beetle a Hispanic and Firestorm a Black guy with middling results.
DC has a perfectly good group of African-American superheroes with Icon, Hardware and Static from the now shuddered Milestone comics line, but for some reason they refuse to integrate them into the larger DC line.
I foresee problems here. Comic shops have to order their books by figuring how many they can sell. What happens when they order 300 copies of Aquaman #1 and find out nobody’s buying it, but the 150 issues of Captain Atom or Mister Terrific all disappeared off the shelves and its all sold out?
Another thing is if DC really intends to glut the market with 52 titles priced at $2.99, that’s nearly $156 bucks the faithful will have to pull from their wallets. Will they? Even comic geeks aren’t invulnerable to the economy.
This is nothing but a way to get the fans and fanboys buzzing. It doesn’t mean there’s going to be more pages added, higher quality paper used, or a price cut. Since most of the titles will feature the same writers and artists already working for DC it definitely doesn’t mean the comics will be any better.
The biggest con in comics is how DC and Marvel Comics perpetuate the illusion of change when all they’re doing is rearranging the furniture. Nothing of any true substance changes in comic books. It’s still perpetrating this corny myth of rich White guys and middle class White guys putting on a costume and going on to beat up criminals. That’s a constant that never changes.
DC’s relaunching of most of their titles actually means little. Nothing that is being done can’t be undone when a new honcho takes over. Comics, like movies, say they are rebooting and re-imagining old characters and stories, but it’s driven by calculation, not inspiration.
Sorry DC, but I’m going to take a pass on your big event. Congrats on all the cheap publicity you milked out of it. But I’m no fool. I’m confident by next year you’ll announce an even bigger “event” but you’ll still be making the same old boring comic books.