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The DC Revolution (and my pitches)

Posted by on June 2nd, 2011 with 12 Comments

The internet is abuzz with the announcement that DC Comics will be rebooting in September, relaunching 50+ titles with new #1 issues, including what they describe as a “major continuity reboot”, intended to modernize the iconic characters more in keeping with the times.

Personally, when I heard this, I hoped that it would address the problem of ‘whitewashing’ in comics. It would be nice to see DC’s superhero line actually reflect the US population a bit more accurately.

Looks like they’re kinda-sorta-halfway doing that, given the preview that appeared on the DC blog today. It looks like they’re tinkering with also-rans and “promoting” existing B-list heroes in an effort to increase diversity. Cyborg will be a full member of the Justice League, Firestorm will be an amalgam of two guys — one of whom is African-American, and Mister Terrific (who?) will get his own book.

I would’ve liked to see ballsier moves — especially given the biggest and ballsiest (and largely ignored, in favor of the nerdrage-inciting renumbering) part of the whole thing, which is that their entire line is going to digital day-and-date distribution. For those of you unaware of what that entails: it means that digital copies of the issues will be available for sale online (via services like Comixology and the comixology-powered official DC Comics iPad app) on the exact same day that they’re on sale in stores in print.

This is massive, because currently, digital comics are released months later — and often digital comics are just reprints of years-old issues. It’s a situation that Mark Waid described at NYCC in October as “the industry being held hostage by less than 2000 retailers.” Comics retailers (and there are estimated to be less than 2000 dedicated comics stores in the US) HATE day-and-date digital, and have all but threatened any publisher who does it with boycott, etc.

Well, the problem is that the industry is in such bad shape (see my entry about attending the ICV2 Conference at NYCC for more details) that pissing off those 2000 stores doesn’t seem as drastic any more — not when the opportunity to attract more customers than you’re potentially losing has become a very real possibility. That’s the potentially industry-changing (saving?) thing that’s happening here, but of course, all anyone can talk about is the fact that everything is being renumbered.

*Sigh*

Ah well, digital revolutions aside, I am a comics fan, and not above a bit of fanwankery. Judd over at The Githyanki Diaspora has posted his imaginary pitches for new DC #1s. I thought this was a fun idea (and his Detective Comics concept is particularly brilliant), so I figured I’d give it a shot — and not entirely for fun, either: If any of the folks I know who have connections at DC like anything they see here, please feel free to point The Right People ™ in the direction of this post….

My #1 Pitches:

Doctor Fate A complete reboot of the character, going for a more “Big Trouble in Little China”/”Woochi The Demonslayer” vibe. The new Doctor Fate is an immortal Taoist sorcerer, operating out of San Francisco, and tuned in to the hidden world of monsters, magicians and warriors that still exists to this day.

The Mighty Isis: Egyptian student studying in Metropolis is transformed by the Amulet of Isis into the newest incarnation of the superhero — less connection to the Shazam Family, more concentration on topicality: i.e. doing for women’s issues, the Middle East, the War on Terror, etc. what 70s Green Arrow/Green Lantern did for racism, street crime, poverty and drugs.

The Omega Men: The opportunity to explore the non-Lantern-Corps side of the DC science-fiction universe. Take Adam Strange, Vril Dox from L.E.G.I.O.N., the remnants of the Omega Men, and any other classic (or new) space heroes and throw them together into a rag-tag bunch who travel the space lanes, facing down cosmic threats. There’s more to universe than a rainbow-array of ring bearers.

Challengers of the Unknown: Take Rip Hunter and a collection of new non-superheroic characters and have them face off against the strange science, weird plots and other spooky-do’s. A character-driven, ensemble workplace drama, except the workplace is a super-science team which faces everything from temporal rifts to cross-dimensional invasions.

I could go on for days. I’d be thrilled to write any of them. What about you?

12 Comments

  1. Do you think it would assuage some of the retailer fears if included in the price of the physical book was a digital download?

    There’s always going to be a market for those who love to bag and board, but many people would want the physical for collecting and the digital for reading – But I doubt -anyone- will be buying both.

  2. Eddy says:

    “the industry being held hostage by less than 2000 retailers.”

    That sounds familiar.

  3. @Drew:

    You should check out Bob Wayne’s comments about pricing, etc.

    I’m a little more optimistic about this now. The continuity tree definitely needed pruning (and as someone who’s written A LOT of Mr. Terrific, in both Checkmate and JSA V KOBRA, I’m pleased to see him elevated in status in this relaunch; “Mr. Terrific (who?)” Gareth? Really? FEH, sir. FEH, I says…), but I had some real concerns about the effect on the retail landscape. The pricing, deep discounting on “spotlight” titles and above all, the ability to return unsold #1s makes me a lot more confident about this plan.

    Here’s a link to Bob’s comments, reposted over on Bleeding Cool.

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/06/02/dc-relaunch-not-a-reboot-holding-the-line-variants-72-discounts/

    Best,

    -E

  4. @Eric:

    Interesting.. I wonder how the combo-pack will work out. Not so sure people will be willing to pay the extra premium.

    That said, at least the combo is available. I think that’s the most important thing here. Will be very interesting to watch.

  5. Gareth says:

    “FEH, sir. FEH, I says.”

    Whoops. Guess I screwed up that whole “get somebody with DC connections to vouch for me to pitch” thing with that comment. :)

  6. Gareth says:

    I understand why they felt the need to do the whole “parity pricing for first 4 weeks of release” thing — but it’s a massive mistake, and all just to keep a dying breed of retailers happy. If the digital books are going to be 1.99, they should be so from the beginning — that’s the way you draw readers. Not with bait-and-switch price drops.

    But yet again, the industry held hostage.

  7. Id like to see the Milestone characters finally arrive in the DC Universe proper. Its kills me that they can make a mediocre Thunder Agents comic but not an Icon or Static book.

    A lot of people are going nuts over the whole idea but I’ll wait and see and protest with my dollar if need be.

  8. Gareth says:

    It would make a nice tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, too.

  9. Another thing I would be curious to read is the reaction of other companies like IDW, Boom, Dark Horse, Marvel to what DC is doing.

    I’m also curious how this will affect Diamond/Alliance.

    Will Diamond be relegated to a lesser role in the industry? What will this mean for smaller indie publishers when the waters shift? I can only hope that the small guy can benefit from what DC is doing with their digital initiative and hopeful allow lesser known products a better footing in the market.

  10. Judd says:

    I couldn’t stop, Gareth, had to write up some more.

    I would punch a puppy to be able to write On Infinite Earths and Blue Beetle.

  11. My wish list of comics I would love to do

    New Gods
    Forever People
    Warlord
    Atomic Knights
    Komandi
    Black Lightning

  12. [...] Karlman and Gareth-Michael Skarka have both written their pitches for DC reboots. I figure it’s time for me to get in on this [...]

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