Devon Sanders writes,
A couple of months ago, DC Comics basically went full on “Boyz II Men-90’s-slow- jam- R&B-style,” realized what it had lost, got down on bended knee and told its readers that it knew it had done wrong and begged longtime readers to come home again.
The “New 52-DC You” experiments were yielding smaller and smaller dividends. Longtime DC Comics readers were leaving in higher and higher numbers and in order to compete with Marvel, DC found itself having to work harder just to be seen in Diamond Distribution’s Top Ten. Marketing stunts such as asking comics shops to order thousands of copies of a Batman: The Dark Knight 3: The Master Race, a sequel to a sequel in order to get an original Jim Lee sketch cover. In DC’s defense, many bought in. Many shops, instead of expecting better, reverted to 1990’s buying habits and helped DC basically stay in the place many readers had left them.
Somewhere along the line, cooler heads within DC began to take a hard long look at their numbers. Books were launching with barely over eight thousand first issues ordered. Books that were announced as ongoing were being cancelled after just six issues and their collections, cancelled. Bonafide sellers just weren’t there. Try as hard as you’d like but a New 52 Lobo comic featuring a Lobo no Lobo fan from his 90’s heights isn’t how you build a bridge.
The thing that many longtime DC fans were missing was legacy. The idea that The DC Universe was a place that acknowledged its past, did new and interesting things in the present while looking boldly into its future.
The higher-ups in the organization knew this wasn’t sustainable and looked back to what was missing: their core readership. One, that outside of the main Batman and Justice League titles, had mostly moved on to collecting their titles in smaller numbers or moved away from their output entirely.
The casual and new folks who showed up in droves for the New 52 first issues five years before and bright and shiny lenticular covers two years after had largely moved on. Those who were still in it were eft to wonder why Bizarro had his own comic while Supergirl, who is the subject of a hit TV series, didn’t.
We were left with a DC Universe that had no Legion of Superheroes. A DC Universe that saw the contributions of the Martian Manhunter diminished. The re-emergence of the New Gods was relegated to a surprisingly out-of-sync “event” within the Green Lantern comics.
Before and for myself, The DC Universe became a place of reward. A place, like a language, that I took the time to learn and love. I enjoyed the nuances of knowing who were the men and women that The Justice Society’s Wildcat had trained.
I missed being excited by a John Constantine, Hellblazer appearance within The DC Universe.
I missed being excited. I missed caring. I missed reading DC’s comics.
After years of feeling unheard, DC sent up a signal. “Rebirth.”
We’d heard it before but this time, an acknowledgment was attached.
Legit, the first line of the DC’s opening salvo, DC Universe: Rebirth Special will read:
“I love this world… But there’s something missing…”
And Grant Morrison sits somewhere, knowing.
Could you be anymore meta, DC?
It took two months but we know what comics made the cut and what didn’t. There is no Midnighter and that makes me sad. Gotham Academy will return. That makes me very happy.
I’m excited that there are creatives charged with making better comics that service the characters and not absolute editorial whims.
I find myself weirdly excited by Red Hood and The Outlaws, a comic composed of a former Robin, Jason Todd, Bizarro and the former Wonder Woman, Artemis. If you have to have an Outlaws comic, why not a bizarre take on The Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman?
In Superwoman, Lois Lane will headline an ongoing comic again for the first time in decades.
I find myself excited by the return of Greg Rucka to Wonder Woman, the man who made me see the possibilities of a character I’d begun to take for granted.
In the pages of Detective Comics, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown have a home in Gotham again. The thing that made DC great was that they gave you an investment in these characters. I began to call them by their names. Yes. Tim, Cassie and Stephanie are made vital. They are home.
Ted Kord, The Blue Beetle, is alive in this universe.
A character largely made great by his laughter is alive.
This makes me hopeful for this DC Universe. I am hopeful yet wary. I’ve the feeling one gets when waiting to see a good friend again for the first time in years.
I used to have this feeling every Wednesday. I am happy to have it again.
Devon Sanders would choose teleportation as his superpower. He can be found on Twitter at surprisingly, @devonsanders.
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