When It's A Good Time To Bow Out Of New Titles

I absolutely agree. We need to get back to smaller stories with the occasional event. You know what I miss? Themed summer annuals. Sometimes they were events that were, aside from the bookends of the story, contained in the annuals like Armageddon 2001, Eclipso: The Darkness Within, Bloodlines, etc. Sometimes you had fun themes without bookends like Elseworlds, Pulp Heroes, and Ghosts. When I was a kid, these were so much fun and something to look forward to. They were tie-ins, but they didn’t interrupt the main flow of the books. You could refer to them in the regular series, sure, but the didn’t interfere. I’ll admit, this wouldn’t work in today’s comic climate. Annuals still exist but they’re not a prevalent as they used to be. And we’re so concerned with writing of the trade that the story in an annual would be broken down into three or four issues to sell as a collection later.

Honestly, the only answer I can think of to fix most of these problems is to get a publisher/editor in chief/grand pooba, who can balance telling stories with the money-making events. I’m thinking of people like Mark Waid or someone who can do what Paul Levitz did in his tenure. DiDio is a nice guy and I’m sure people like Jim Lee, but a lot of their ideas were rooted in the nineties and not the good kind, either. I know my era of DC is long gone. I’ll never get that back because you can never go home again, but maybe it’s time for a change.

I felt we were going in the right direction with DC Rebirth. That was a company-wide initiative I could get on board with. It got me to try several new titles and it gave us that amazing Dan Jurgens run on Action Comics. For a while, it was good. But they didn’t stick with it. It’s like they wanted the cache of the jumping on point for readers but went right back to their old tricks. I’ll give you a perfect example, and also the point where I threw my hands up and gave up on newer DC titles:

That Dan Jurgens run on Action Comics was amazing. I loved what he was doing with Clark and the family and I loved what he was doing with Lex. Everything was building up to this grand story…and then they announced Brian Michael Bendis would be taking over the super-books. Jurgens’ final issues seemed like they were racing to the finish line and didn’t represent the ending he had in mind. Then Bendis came out with the Man of Steel mini, which I didn’t love. I gave his books a chance but it seemed like he was less interested in working in the parameters of what came before and more interested in doing whatever he wanted. I will always disagree with his choice to age up Jon. Suddenly the super-books were aimless. I dropped Action Comics. It was disappointing, to say the least.

Writers don’t always have to take on the subplots and storylines the previous writer set up. Hell, if a book is awful, it’s for the best that they start with something new. But in the case of giving Bendis all the super-books and seeing what he came up with…I would’ve been happier with Jurgens continuing his story, to be honest. And I get it, Bendis is a big name and he sells books, but we know he’s not gonna stay on the book for a long time. I knew they were gonna give him more than one title and he was gonna spread himself thin. So you end up with subpar work, but that’s okay because his name is on the cover. This is one of many problems with have with current comics.

We’re living in a different time in comics. I get that. But it all seems so directionless. Sometimes having a company-wide plan or direction isn’t a bad thing. These days they’re throwing whatever to the wall to see what sticks and then milking the hell out of that.

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To be honest, for DC I’m not sure if it’s worth it to buy periodicals anymore. The business side of the industry is sort of killing it. Retailers are given advance notice of events to place orders accordingly. Theres no reason for us as consumers to be given the same information.

Hypothetically: Justice League 75 comes out with one variant (50/50), no lead up beyond the new creative team, and extra sized. DC puts out fake solicitations for 76 and 77. You pick up your weekly pull, like always. Maybe swap for the cover you like better. You don’t think anything of it. Now as you read the story you see the first member fall, then the next, and so on. Before you know it your on the last page. “To be continued in Dark Crisis #1” the following week; solicitation for Dark Crisis comes out and you are anxious to pick up your FCBD Justice league comic, that is actually Dark Crisis #0. DC will make money off of 2nd and 3rd printings from people who didn’t want to pre-order or people who really want the variants. Your shop has either moved its inventory or can turn more of a profit off secondary market. You have been rewarded with a book that will go up in value and instead of thinking “I can stop reading this.” You think “When can I read that?”

Instead: you hear the Justice League is going to die in issue 75 and its the last issue. There’s three months of hype and speculation as to how it ties into the event that was announced and said to tie into the issue. Half your news feed has spoilers written in the headlines, because DC thinks heavy spoilers and advertising are synonymous. You flip to the pages where the league members die without reading it. You pick one of the 10 covers, not the one you want. No, speculators bought up the 1/50 variant. Don’t worry though, you get to pay extra on secondary market because there are such thing as 1/50 variants. You then take it home and it sits in a short box never to be read. You end up reading it when you find a spare copy in the discount bin, because the book had so much hype; retailers overstocked and now need to break even. DC still makes money though, so theyll do the same with the next event.

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Just to stick up for the current era of DC a bit, I genuinely feel like it is headed in a good direction and has been since Future State. Future State gave us alternate bleak futures where many of the titles could end up if things went a certain way. All of those plot threads have had at least some kind of pay-off in the DC monthlies. There actually was pretty good build up to Dark Crisis in Infinite Frontier and Justice League Incarnate. Also, there seems to be a pretty good sense of universe-wide continuity. At least there haven’t been as many major continuity issues between different titles. So, to me, the Universe/Continuity cohesion and the overall direction of the main titles have been better now than they have been since… I don’t know… the end of the 52 comic series in 2007…?

I also want to speak up for Bendis a bit. I may get accused of being a Bendis fanboy, which I’m not. I have certain issues with his storytelling, but I think his run on the Superman books is way too vilified for what it actually was. Bendis had clear plot threads (the UP, Leviathan, the Invisible Mafia, Star Labs, the Naomi stuff) which all clearly played out through the books he wrote (Superman, Action Comics, Naomi, Young Justice, LOS, Justice League). So, you may not like everything he did in the books (I hoped the Leviathan material was going to be much better), but he did have clears plot threads and aims within his work which always had some kind of pay-off.

Where I’m coming from is, I was actually pretty turned off by Rebirth. The New 52 had its flaws, but I was really invested in a lot of what it did. Especially with the changes it brought to Superman (I’m thinking Morrison’s Action Comics and the runs of Yang and Pak specifically). If you know me well enough, you also know that Post-Crisis/Triangle era Superman is my least favorite era of the character. When Rebirth seemingly displaced the things I enjoyed about New 52 Superman and brought back all the Post-Crisis stuff (with triangle era writer Dan Jurgens on AC, of all people), I was a bit disappointed. But, I kept reading the books anyway. Sometimes I questioned why I was doing it, but I kept on going.

The answer, to me, was that I really love this crap. Even when its not quite how I want it to be, I really do love this crap. And I think it’s because I love the entire canvas, how it all spreads out and changes through the eras. I love the dumbed down simplistic plots of the 40s, the ridiculous sci-fi plots of the 60s, the taking it all way too seriously fanfiction plots of the 70s, the bleak grim and gritty of the 80s, the 90s extreme days, and the valid attempts at change and diversity of today. And, yeah, somewhere in there I even kinda love yuppie, soap opera 90s Superman. Because it’s all part of the greater story which is American Superhero comics. And that is my answer for why I don’t bow out even if some things bum me out or don’t go my way.

I know it’s not the same for everyone. As comic fans, I think we all get attached to certain eras, characters, plot threads, etc. When those things aren’t reflected in the books, I get it’s a reflex to drop titles and shake your fist at the editorial gods. However, I would argue that no matter what era it is nor what is happening with the big titles, you will always find good things going on in the comics. It’s way too big for you not to.

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Your perfect example is actually a comic run I really cherish. I’m in the minority that really enjoyed what Bendis did with Superman. I count it among my favorite Superman runs, but I will not belabor that or the reasons behind it here. I actually think DC has been very consistent with the quality of Superman stories they’ve put out since New 52 started (which is when I became a regular reader). I don’t recall a period where I was lukewarm on a Superman book, but can’t say the same for the other books I read. Of course there’s probably some personal bias influencing me here, but it’s the truth nonetheless :slightly_smiling_face:.

At the end of the day, I find myself caught in the middle between two very different types of fans: those that yearn for yesteryear’s DC, and those that champion change and progress. I like both the old comics I read, and the new stuff DC’s been putting out. It’s not all without its warts, but I think the good outweighs the bad by far in both cases. I may sit here & complain about this or that, but I still open up Comixology every Tuesday with anticipation to see what’s cookin’ that week, and then maybe catch up on some 90s Supes on DCUI :slightly_smiling_face:.

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If you enjoyed what Bendis did, that’s cool! It worked for you and you enjoyed it. Nothing wrong with that. I’m sure there were people who didn’t like the Post-Crisis Superman era or the Rebirth era. I guess it all boils down to personal taste.

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I want to take this post and frame it.

With the exception of the Superman stuff you didn’t like (90s and Rebirth), you’re almost describing me word for word.

I haven’t bowed out of an issue of Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, or Justice League since New 52 started (with the caveat that I only started on Detective with Rebirth).

Interesting you mentioned Rebirth being a turn off. As someone who started DC with New 52, it felt like “Yeah ok, we gave you a starting point and you’ve been following along for five years, but you see we made other fans very very upset, so we’re going to erase what you read, and now you have some catching up to do. Sorry not sorry.” I wasn’t turned off by it though. Because as you very eloquently put it “I love this crap”, that actually pushed me to read more of the past crises and older stories so I can understand what all the hoopla is about.

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Prior to New 52, I argued VERY LOUDLY about things I saw as flaws with how Superman was characterized Post-Crisis. Having the New 52 wipe the slate clean and having it spearheaded by my personal favorite comic writer (Grant Morrison) kind of felt like a small victory. When Convergence came out and was the writing on the wall for Rebirth… yeah, I was disappointed. But, I’ve chilled out a lot since then.

I think there are a lot of fans that really hone in on the Post-Crisis material. To them, that is the continuity that should never change and should always be built upon in accordance to the things that were going on then. I’ve always argued, though, that DC had to erase about 30+ years of continuity just to get the Post-Crisis world, so it’s not like we’re even talking about the original DC Universe. It’s just the one that a fair amount of the dedicated fan base remembers, but it’s not set in stone just like the Silver/Bronze age stuff wasn’t and the New 52 obviously wasn’t.

Anyway, glad you stuck around and thank you for the kind words!

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You make a very good point - theoretically doesn’t Death Metal mean that everything is available for writers to use, now, though? And even before that, Tom King was reaching way back to the Golden Age in his Batman run.

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Yeah, especially after Doomsday Clock, everything has been up for grabs. Theoretically, everything has been up for grabs since Hypertime was introduced in 98/99. And certain writers are definitely more prone to using older continuity than others (heck, Morrison resurrected the Silver Age Batman stories in his run). In actuality, though, main continuity is still mostly Post-Crisis continuity than it is anything else.

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I’m reading the Bedis stuff presently. It’s actually good. Not amazing. It’s a run that won’t be remembered, but I can’t see the hate. I’ve read much worse.

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