Last week, DC Comics demanded that retailers who received scheduled copies of Superman #14 and Supergirl #33 destroy them. Many didn’t get the chance, as they were removed from shipments to retailers, in some cases damaging other stock.
The reason given was that the covers no longer fitted the stories, which were both now part of the continuing Superman, Superboy, Supergirl and Kal-El storylines, setting up the new Legion Of Super-Heroes comic. Rather than the Year Of The Villain story on the cover and in the solicitation.
It is notable however, that this kind of post-FOC change usually necessitates the book be sold as normal, but made returnable, rather than demand that copies be destroyed and the book reprinted. And that Catwoman #14, out the same week also didn’t have any Year Of The Villain content, yet was labelled as such, and was withdrawn.
Suspicion was drawn by what appeared to be changes in the ethnic portrayal of certain characters of the Legion Of Super-Heroes, namely Bouncing Boy and Lightning Lad. With even suggestions that Lightning Lad’s new resemblance to Black Lightning may be at issue. And a number of changes from one example of promotional material to the other was noted, with the Superman and Supergirl featuring a Lightning Lad now portrayed as black rather than an indeterminate race previously portrayed, and Bouncing Ball now white rather than black.
The decision to destroy and pulp went to further extremes than usual – such as demanding affidavits of destruction before freight charges would be refunded, all the time that the books in question are suddenly selling for ten times cover price on eBay – and eBay sellers being targeted by DC Comics as well.
There was also the fact that a promotional piece for the upcoming Legion books was pulled from this week’s print titles – but not from the digital titles – a fact that was unknown by DC staffers who promoted it as appearing in both, promotional tweets that were then deleted. Which also show changes from solicited covers to promotional art.
It appears there has been some editorial inconsistency, in the design of certain characters, with decisions made by overall DC editorial, but then seemingly ignored by the Superman books editorial, and then suddenly turning up on Late Night With Seth Meyers. And a decision to destroy and pulp being taken by management to sort it all out – only for the resultant publicity bringing attention to the changes made, Streisand-effect style, so that DC Comics may now actually just reprint the books again, with new covers, Legion promotional material added, and no actual changes to the comic anymore in an attempt to save face. And going ahead with what was in the books in the first place.
I am watching old episodes of The Thick Of It when writing this. It doesn’t seem far off.
Some may see this as a fuss about nothing and believe it was always about the covers and nothing else. That may well continue to be the official DC Comics line. And, if the interiors haven’t changed, nothing to prove otherwise.
But, in my best Columbo trenchcoat, just one more thing.
If nothing is changed between the two printings, other than new covers and adding those Legion promotional images from the digital versions, DC Comics may find it harder to answer why they ordered that the cardstock variant cover editions that didn’t have the Year Of The Villain branding or imagery also be destroyed, and then reprinted them both with the same cover as before, as well.
Still, what’s a couple of pulped print runs between friends? Now all they have to worry about is Jonathan Hickman.