The preliminary list for what DC comics is offering on March 18 came out on March 9 and it was one of the weakest lists I have ever seen from what is supposedly the second largest comic company in the world.
DC’s List was:
AIR TP VOL 01 LETTERS FROM LOST COUNTRIES
AZRAEL DEATHS DARK KNIGHT #1 (OF 3)
BATMAN CHRONICLES TP VOL 07
BATMAN HAUNTED GOTHAM TP
BLACK LIGHTNING YEAR ONE #6 (OF 6)
MYSTERIUS THE UNFATHOMABLE #3 (OF 6)
STORMWATCH PHD #20
SUPER FRIENDS #13
TEARS OF A LAMB VOL 05
TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT CYBORG TP
TINY TITANS #14
TRANSMETROPOLITAN #1 SPECIAL EDITION
WORLD OF WARCRAFT #17
X-FILES #5 (OF 6)
Of that grouping there are only three books that have any merit or true long term viability. Hellbalzer, a proven book, but Vertigo, Outsiders still too new to rate but the revamp has been good and Supergirl who had almost a three year cycle of crap before the book found a direction.
Marvel’s list by comparison was:
AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL #30
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #588
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EXTRA #3
DARK AVENGERS #3 DKR
DEADPOOL GAMES OF DEATH
ENDERS GAME BATTLE SCHOOL #4 (OF 5)
MARVEL ADVENTURES AVENGERS #34
MOON KNIGHT #28
NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC TP VOL 04
POWERS TP VOL 12 COOLEST DEAD SUPERHEROES
PUNISHER #3 DKR
SCOURGE OF GODS #3 (OF 3)
SPIDER-MAN NOIR #4 (OF 4)
SQUADRON SUPREME 2 #9
SQUADRON SUPREME TP PRE WAR YEARS
SQUADRON SUPREME TP VOL 01 POWER TO THE PEOPLE
THUNDERBOLTS #130 DKR
ULTIMATE X-MEN #100
UNCANNY X-MEN #507
WOLVERINE ORIGINS #34 DKR
X-MEN FIRST CLASS TP WONDER YEARS
X-MEN KINGBREAKER #4 (OF 4)
X-MEN LEGACY #222
YOUNG X-MEN #12
Now I’m a big DC fan but this list has a bunch of books that could be good with X-Factor leading the way, the new Punisher series is good, Moon Knight has been a solid and entertaining book, Uncanny has been decent, Thunderbolts has been solid and even though I can point out problems with them Wolverine and Dark Avengers are big selling books with hard core followers. In fact if you touch on X-Men, Spider-Man and the Dark Reign branding Marvel has about 19 books that are strong brand names (even if the individual books are not strong).
DC has three strong brands, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, checking out the list above they have 5 books that are part of that brand, with two being Batman trade paperbacks.
DC has some great books and I want to remain a big fan of DC. Blackest Night looks like it should be good, Flash Rebirth has great talent on it, Superman Secret Origins has great talent on it. GL Corps, Secret Six, Jonah Hex, JSA and some other books are all very good, but the branding has been lost.
Superman is out of his own books and DC has taken what was a strong series with Action and put in Nightwing and Flamebird, Batman/Detective were both strong franchise books and now we have the Battle for the Cowl. If done correctly it could work, but if done as a gimmick the chance to truly advance the character will be lost. DC brings in Gail Simone to try and make Wonder Woman into a good book and as the character is finally being given some great villains and some real meat to the series I hear Wonder Woman will be out of the book.
DC’s mid-level titles are a disaster. Nightwing, Robin and Birds of Prey are all gone. In their place we are getting Sirens of Gotham and Red Robin, are you kidding. Did Chuck Dixon have some royalty program and Didio needed to end his books to show his power.
The Titans & Teen Titans have been train wrecks, Booster Gold was a mini-series, Diggle and Jason Aaron are at Marvel, Dale Eaglesham has left, Final Crisis was a fabulous experiment and the four off shoot mini-series look bleak and have the most uninspiring names ever (Run, Dance, Leap and Shout – I only made up a couple of names).
I love DC and I want them to succeed but they need a more cohesive universe. That does not mean that if Batman has a stomach ache this month in Detective he needs to have one in JLA, but it does mean that if he is has been beaten to a frazzle by the Black Glove, he should not be okay over in the Outsiders.
DC needs a plan. I think Didio was good for DC because under Mike Carlin they were a little too pedestrian and reminded me of the way DC was under Infantino, always doing some solid steady work, but never hitting home runs, content to just be. Under Didio DC has had spectacular success and spectacular failures, but it is very clear that the company is floundering and the current plans do not look like they will be fixing any of it soon. In fact with out Geoff Johns major projects they seem to have little else.
Marvel has the X-verse in gear with multiple strong story lines going in their books, love or hate it, they have things clicking from the X people involvement in their own continuity, the X people involvement in Dark Reign and War of Kings, they are all over the place. Strong solo books are left alone so Iron Fist, Thor, Captain America and Daredevil live in their own worlds as does the FF. The Dark Reign keeps about 8-10 titles as part of a tighter continuity that forms the foundation of the Marvel Universe and for better or worse it is a more interesting place to be.
See a long time ago when Marvel started they allowed true change. Characters got older and things happened that affected their lives forever. Once they became number one the story goes that Stan Lee said no more change, just the illusion of change. Thus the death bell was rung for any hope of characters that would change and grow with their readers. DC at that time just continued to write stories of their characters, but slowly in response to Marvel built a tighter continuity and gave their characters some edge. Then the newsstand market died and the direct market come about and the companies were in a stagnant holding pattern that saw the advent of turning the market into a collector’s nightmare. The nineties had mega-cross-over events, multiple covers, die-cut covers and more gimmicks then you can shake a stick at.
Then Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada came along to Marvel and Bill shook up things and Joe started to plan. I believe Joe Quesada struck upon the idea of the century that allowed him to have change that was meaningful, but satisfy the needs of the company to leave the characters essentially alone. He allowed their world to change. A great idea. First a Civil War and the era of the Keene Act from Watchmen was here, then the Secret Invasion. A good old fashion alien take over to wipe away the Civil War and leave the Bad Guys in change (hey wasn’t this the same idea that Mark Millar had for Wanted). It almost seems inevitable that the Steve Rogers Captain America will come back and take down Norman Osborne perhaps given us a new positive golden era that we will need to survive the New Depression.
DC has to do something and I keep hoping they will get desperate to allow real change. But under Didio we have seen Connor get pushed to the sidelines, Kyle be part of the GL Corps and Wally become a second rate player. I love a lot of the Silver Age DC characters, but I’m more interested in the New Sandman, New Hourman, New Mr. Terrific, New Stargirl, New Dr. Midnight, then I am in seeing the old characters around for ever. Hell I liked the idea of Barry Allen coming back for a while just to do a story on how straight as an arrow Barry would deal with the criminals as they are today. No more jewelry store robberies, it is bombs and kidnapping, blood and guts. How does a man from the sixties deal with the depravity that is naked today and the technology that exist, but not for him to supplant Wally.
If I was running DC I think I would want Didio as my second in command because he has some great ideas, but I want someone else running the place. A friend Ken had a great idea of what the Battle for the Cowl should have been and that is a bunch of idiots running around trying to be Batman and Dick reluctantly stepping in to fill the void. I say it should be Tomasi writing it as he has proven himself to be able to do a great Dick Grayson. Instead DC has become gimmicks and tricks as opposed to planning and great stories. If Marvel ever gets Johns to leave DC will be in a world of trouble.
As much as I thing DC is in deep trouble I still hope then can turn it around.