Most of you may be aware that today marks the day for the historic launch of DC Comics' relaunch of the entire line of superheroes. Last night at comic shops all over the country, midnight releases were held for not only Flashpoint #5, but the first of the New 52, Justice League #1. I remember sitting in one of the DC Universe panels at C2E2 and listening to them hype up Flashpoint. I just kept thinking this is the same line they say every time there is an event. Brian Azzarello was in attendance and said a specific line that many have heard again and again, "Nothing will be the same again." If we only knew what he meant by that simple comment and the ramifications that it would have on the entire comic book industry.
The end of May brought fan speculation as to what exactly DC was planning for September. Series seemed to be double shipping in the months leading up to September, as well as most mini-series ending in August. What exactly did DC have up their sleeve? I remember reading articles online talking about the speculation that they would be renumbering the entire library of comics. I thought it was ridiculous and far-fetched. Only a matter of days lead to the announcement from DC that they would be in fact renumbering and in most cases relaunching characters. That announcement hit me like a brick wall. My immediate reaction was disbelief. I kept thinking this was some sick joke that DC was playing on us. As the announcement became more of a reality, anger over took me. I read everything that was online and headed up stairs to talk to my wife. After venting about this was a horrible decision and I could not see the reasoning for it, I headed to my online community to discuss. A bunch of the staff were online thinking the same thoughts. We quickly out together a chat window and all of us were voicing our dislike of the announcement. We left feeling satisfied about venting, but very uneasy about the future of things.
My main issue with the announcement was that there wasn't very much information to go off of. The news that was released made it seem that the creators on the titles came to a collective decision that there wasn't anything else to do with our favorite heroes. This was what needed to be done in order for new readers to come on board. The main issue was that it seemed that the focus was more on getting new readers and less on retaining the current readers. Don't get me wrong; the announcement of day and date digital releases was something that I thought was brilliant and a smart business move. That is one way to get new readers. The relaunch aspect was what was eating at me. As great as it would be for us to start from scratch and learn about Batman from the beginning, it would mean that all these years I have put into learning all about the character were a waste of time. Everything that was being put out kept making it seem that the only focus was on new readers and all of us who were putting our hard-earned money for titles every month were not good enough. I would soon find out that this was not entirely true.
The next couple of weeks brought the announcements of the new series and the creators attached to them. Some of those announcement also caught us by surprise, but were not as big as some may have thought. The big news, at least for The Batman Universe, was that certain characters would be returning to previous roles that they held. Barbara Gordon would be Batgirl. Dick Grayson would be Nightwing. New creators would be attached to some series, but for the most part, the same set of creators were shuffled around and were on new series.
After the solicitations for all of the fifty-two series were released, current fans were left in the dark for too long. DC kept hyping the idea of getting new readers and made a consistent effort to appeal towards the retailers. A marketing plan was promised and again it seemed that the current fans were left out. But this was for a reason.
DC had to appeal towards the retailers first because ultimately this was a business decision first and foremost. Retailers are the ones that order the series and in turn are the ones who have the biggest effect on the relaunch. Fans may buy the series, but if the retailers are not on board, than fans won't be able to purchase these new series. Not to mention, how hard is it to say, "We want you to put faith in fifty-two new series without a given base of how many you will be able to sell?" I don't blame them.
DC did deliver on the marketing plan a little bit. They sure have made the rounds on various comic sites using their head editors to clarify some of the changes that will be occurring. For the longest time it seemed that that was all it was going to be. But how does that gain new fans? New fans aren't visiting those sites. Well, they answered that question with a thirty second spot that will be aired at theaters nationwide. I haven't seen it play at the theater, so again, I am not sure how much of an effect this will have on the series. Jim Lee and Geoff Johns have been making their rounds on radio shows across the country, but again that hasn't hit my market and I live in a pretty big one (Chicago).
San Diego Comic Con seemed to be the highlight for DC's attention to the fans. Although little bits of information were revealed, DC did figure out that the overall feeling of the relaunch went from bad to good. Many questions were brought up on the statuses of characters not mentioned in the solicitations, to which very little were answered. A huge focus overlooked the pros of the relaunch with a fan outcry of the under use of female creators. While I don't want to make this article about that, all I have to say is that with all of the information blasted online about this topic, very little information was brought up in regards to comparasions between DC and the other publishing companies. Also despite DC saying that there were more female creators working on future projects, it didn't seem to matter since they weren't part of the huge New 52 intiative. I think that overall, DC has done a great job at bringing in female creators that do a good job with their characters. More creators in general, not just female, should have had a shot at some of the titles in September instead of having creators on multiple series. At the same time, I put my trust in DC that they linked the creators that best fit the stories in the right roles.
None-the-less, pre-orders are through the roof for the New 52. Justice League has over two hundred thousand pre-orders and according to the latest figures, six other series have pre-orders for over one hundred thousand. I myself am purchasing all fifty-two series. DC has done an excellent job at working with the retailers to make it more affordable for this to happen. As much as it is great to read so many series in one month, financial burdens will still keep many of the series away from new readers. I hope that every series gets the credit that it deserves.
You may be asking yourself, what does this mean for us and The Batman Universe? Well, really, not much. The effects of the relaunch are going to be minor to The Batman Universe compared to other corners of the DC Universe. Some things will change like the roles of certain characters and ages of others, but for the most part, The Batman Universe stands how it has been. Last week, we launched a special for the New 52 and in it gave our predictions as to what we think will happen. Moving into September, we will be utilizing our DC Universe Spotlight category to showcase a number of the New 52 series that are not under The Batman Universe. This will still be a Batman site, but Batman has always been part of something larger, and in this case it is the DC Universe which has a number of new stories to tell.
While all this has happened in such a short amount of time, the range of feelings went from mad to quite content with the relaunch. I was apprehensive at first but in turn I think that as good as the bat-books are, they aren't the only thing that DC releases. If characters need a face lift to get off the ground, then it needs to be done. I think this is a great time for comic fans as we are part of something that has never happened on this scale in our lifetimes or that of any other comic fans' lifetime. It is a great time to be a Batman fan with exciting news directions being taken. But most of all it is a great time to be a fan of DC Comics.
Posted by Dustin Fritschel