It’s been a tough six months or so for DC; Marvel has been crushing the comic book marketplace behind a combination of Secret Wars and all it’s tie-ins, the new Marvel Universe titles that have followed it, and the unexpected juggernaut that is Star Wars. And there’s no sign of it ending; in January Marvel had by my count 56 of the top 100 selling books while DC was in a distant second with 26. While Marvel has been killing it, DC has languished ever since their 2015 Convergence event came to an end. Their post-Convergence push DC You was unfairly pilloried by a lot of people and fell completely behind what Marvel was putting out. At a time the competition was scoring touchdowns on every drive, DC was settling for field goals and punts.
Convergence was a fitting title for what was going on, except it was a convergence of bad things. Bold moves in new storylines featuring their two biggest names, Batman and Superman, did not go over well with a lot of people who just want their Bruce Wayne Batman and fully powered Clark Kent Superman and not any funny business. (For the record I’ve very much enjoyed those storylines; they have been a welcome twist on things in my book.) And their experiments with new books for lesser known characters got lost in the sauce. And on top of those, DC took New 52 off the front of the books, confusing a lot of people into thinking they were giving up on their then-four year old continuity and rebooting everything. Which gave new life to everyone who likes to bash DC no matter what they and all the people still upset over the New 52 reboot.
Given all of that, you can’t sit pat and wait for the newness of the Marvel reboot to wear off. You have to do something. And that they have. DC: Rebirth is featuring a slate of new number ones for all continuing series, some new series, and a return to the previous numbering for Action Comics and Detective Comics, the historic series for Superman and Batman, respectively. They are promising that it’s not a reboot but a new inclusion of DC’s legacy with it’s ongoing stories. Right now we have no idea what that means, but I’m guessing/hoping that the things New 52 introduced that have gone over well will remain in place while the things that pissed people off will be written out and the old things people most want back will somehow be worked back in.
How do I feel about it all? I’ve railed against new number ones when Marvel has done it, and I’ll stay consistent there. I hope that this won’t turn into what Marvel has done with number one issues – going back to them after short runs of books that aren’t even changing anything storywise. If these new numbers ones are just a new starting point for this launch never to be repeated, then I’ll live with it. The return to the old numbering for Action and Detective is a pretty savvy move that should go over well with collectors. I had no idea just how important that kind of thing was until I started hanging out in comic book forums, but a lot of people were pissed off that Action and Detective ended in the 900s with New 52 and never got to issue 1,000. The new price point of $2.99 is a good move to attract and hold on to readers. Not sure about the twice monthly publishing for some books; my guess is that will fall back to once a month across the board over time but hey, it’s worth a shot. I’m not mad at getting two stories a month from certain characters if they’re good. The slate of new and returning books can be found here.
I’m somewhat wary of this; change is always hard to deal with, especially in comic books. But if they can hold on to the things I like and bring back some of the people who soured on things then it’s a win-win. And I’m on board to help make it successful so we don’t have to see them try something else in a few years.