Rip Van Priest

They re-booted the DC Universe? ALL of it?! I am hearing gonzo numbers… Will they last? Are the books any good? Every time you set aside continuity you create a class of reader who will not invest, viscerally, in the reboot. Jumping-on points create jumping-off points, and fans feel cheated for having invested decades in the old continuity only to now have it set aside. Aren’t they devaluing their own assets by saying nothing matters? They are also creating a class of reader who will simply skip what they Are doing now and wait for the next reboot.

This is a problem similar to that of collected editions and trades– people sit out the monthlies and wait for the trades. But, by not supporting the monthlies, they deprive the publisher of numbers sufficient to warrant a trade.



  1. Ralf Haring says:

    They rebooted their entire universe and merely *caught up* to Marvel running no particular promotions. They’ll spin will of course be that it was a success, but I think I would have expected much more from such a drastic change. To me that’s part of the problem. It’s not a drastic change. I looked through the lineup of creative teams on the new books and it’s mostly the same people who were doing work for DC before. I’d be silly to expect different results from the same people, so I didn’t bother with most of them.

    “…deprive the publisher of numbers sufficient to warrant a trade.”

    Then the publisher is using a flawed metric to determine what is worth collecting. Collections vs. single issues is so ten years ago by now. It’s all about digital nowadays. 🙂

    • priest says:

      “the lineup of creative teams on the new books and it’s mostly the same people who were doing work for DC before”

      heh heh… I know one call they didn’t make. :–)

  2. Dave Van Domelen says:

    Worse, they KNEW it would be a jumping-off point. For months in advance of this, they kept denying it was a reboot, claiming there’d just be some mostly cosmetic changes, apparently in the hopes that no one would jump ship prior to release. A cynical exploitation of the fact stores have to lock in orders three months in advance, so it Nu52 went over poorly they’d at least have sold through #3 of everything before it started to tank on them…and relying on a fannish tendency to coast as long as things are okay and not yet resolved.

    In other words, they hoped that in addition to grabbing new readers, the old readers’ thought processes would go something like this: “Well, it’s a renumber, but I’ve seen THAT enough times before. Hm, and it looks like they’re shuffling creative teams, but they say it’s not a total reboot, so presumably the editorial hand on the stories will stay consistent. I guess I’ll switch my Secret Six order over to Suicide Squad, and order whatever book Booster Gold’s moving to, and keep Action Comics on my pull. (months pass) Bastards, they lied, it’s a total reboot. But I’ve already committed to the next three months, I guess I’ll give ’em a chance. (months pass) Suicide Squad isn’t working for me, but Gail’s on this other book, let’s see if it’s any good…” And so forth.

    • priest says:

      Gosh, I miss you. 🙂

      I really have been away too long– I had no idea this was going on. I believe whomever comes up w/the right formula (iPad vs. print, reboot vs. continuity) wins. It’s that simple. Charging the same price on iPad as print is a little dumb, but I understand they need to protect retail sales. Beyond that, if I learned of this, say, six months in, I’d be tempted to just say bon voyage to comics collecting, it’s a wrap. Or sit this out and hope it tanks or wait for the next reboot. 🙂 I dunno– it’s gutsy. I can’t hate, it’s a real roll of the dice. Somebody’s got to think of *something* to preserve this art form. I am told early sales are off the chain, which is good, but it’s way too soon to call this a success. My cynicism suggests, down the road, the numbers will settle in to what they were. I mean, I’m an alleged “pro” and had no idea this was happening. Were there TV commercials? Full-page ads in the NY Times? Spots on Letterman? Seriously– the theory isn’t a terrible one, but in order to make it a success, they need to reach people who’ve more or less drifted away from comics–like me. If all they’ve done is promote thru the usual channels, the numbers will probably settle down. I can’t imagine why there wasn’t a piece on 60 Minutes. How could something this big happen and I know nothing about it?!? The entire planet was talking about The Death of Superman. Nobody’s talking about this except people who already know about it.

      • Rick J says:

        There were TV commercials and a lot of digital “ink” showed up on Yahoo News and other non-comics places. MTV and G4 (a video game cable network) had some coverage.

        And I tried 2 of the digital comics just to see how it was. I think if they drop the digital price (maybe down to a buck fifty or something) then I might seriously consider getting the digital ones. I already tend towards getting the kindle version of books except for authors I really like.

        • priest says:

          Rick– missed you, too. 🙂 I think digital comics should be 99 cents. Steve Jobs was a genius. 99 cents is a magic number. Seriously. We’d give most anything a try for a buck.

          • Dave Van Domelen says:

            There are companies charging 99 cents for digital comics, but here’s the rub: none of them distribute through Diamond. Slave Labor has given up on shipping monthlies through Diamond. Aaron Alexovich’s “Eldritch” started as a product from a new company with no ties to Diamond at all.

            Meanwhile, companies like DC or Red 5 are releasing “day and date” digital comics for $2.99, dropping to $1.99 a few weeks later. It’s interesting to note that Red 5’s regular cover price is $3.50, suggesting that the $2.99 digital price is Diamond’s restriction. Hence, I suspec it’s something like, “You signed a non-compete clause in order to get us to occasionally ship your comics to the right place, if you charge less than $2.99 for a digital comic we’ll dump your line, and sue you for breach.”

            The comics industry can NOT properly exploit digital delivery so long as Diamond sits astride the dying burro, strangling it while dangling the carrot ever farther out of reach. Either Diamond will relent, or we’ll see a switchover where the companies that go digital take over and places like DC and Marvel collapse and have their IP bought out by someone willing to ignore print entirely.

            Don’t get me wrong. I like print comics. I still prefer reading a physical comic, even though I can read one on my computer and have a two page spread exactly as large as the real thing. But Diamond is a chokepoint for print, determined to ride it into a death spiral rather than let it partner with digital. It’s like the music industry in microcosm.

          • priest says:

            “You signed a non-compete clause in order to get us to occasionally ship your comics to the right place…” LOL!! Yes. And, last I paid this stuff any attention, Diamond has raised its minimum order policy, which contributed to Platinum’s decision to suspend publishing. What is “Red 5”? Diamond’s policies seem like dying gasps: they must know their days are numbered. I prefer print comics as well, but I am beginning to presume trades will survive but the monthlies will likely move over to digital. If digital comics are cheaper a month or two out, I’m surprised more people aren’t just time-delaying their monthly reading, getting used to being a month or two behind. OTOH, I’m sure publishers are counting on readers’ impatience to learn what happens next.

          • Dave Van Domelen says:

            Heh, we’ve hit the nesting limit for this board architecture.

            Red 5 Comics prints Atomic Robo, one of the best and most consistently good comics of the past several years. They also put out a few other comics, but only Robo has really caught my interest.

          • priest says:

            Re: nesting: heh… Atomic Robo: is it anything like GIgantor? I’ve wanted to write Gigantor since I was a kid.

          • Dave Van Domelen says:

            Atomic Robo’s premise is “What if Nikola Tesla lived longer and created a robotic son?” Robo Tesla was created in the 1920s, and by modern day he runs Tesladyne, a super-science company with shades of the Baxter Building crew had they not been irradiated. Various stories range from his youth in the pulp era, through his various wartime exploits all the way to the near future. He’s human scale, although one issue did have him dealing with daikaiju.

   has a bunch of the Free Comic Book Day stories and a few other shorts you can check out.

          • priest says:

            Thx– will check it out. –cjp

          • Dave Van Domelen says:

            By the way, the antagonist in the current story at Nuklear is Dr. Dinosaur, who first appeared in a Free Comic Book Day story a few years ago and became an instant fan favorite. IIRC, he’s only appeared once in a regular issue, but has become something of a staple of FCBD issues. And he has a twitter account (Dr_Dinosaur).

            Dr. Dinosaur is a lot like Deadpool in the sense that he’s so loopy that it’s easy to forget how dangerous (and even occasionally competent) he is.

  3. Rick J says:

    In some ways, it’s even worse than a reboot, because a reboot means that everyone starts from scratch on the same level.

    Some books got a total reboot. Firestorm and the third Blue Beetle, for instance, never existed until last month’s issue ones.

    Some books got a partial reboot. Superman was never married to Lois. Supergirl just crash landed instead of having been around for a while. But he’s back to being the first hero on Earth-1.

    But then the Green Lantern and Batman books (both written by 800 lb gorillas at DC) are more or less ignoring any sort of reboot, other than cramming all of Bat and Lantern continuity (including 4 Robins) into a 5 year span as the “new continuity” pretends to be 5 years old instead of the 10 that pre-Flashpoint comics pretnded to fit into.

    It’s a total muddle before you even start looking to see if this new continuity even has a Wally West or Donna Troy.

  4. Nick says:

    And it looks, sadly, like Ray Terrill got wiped out as part of the “No more Golden Age” collateral damage. There’s a new guy named Lucien Gates, which to me sounds like the name of the male lead in an Underworld movie, but I suppose I should reserve judgment but, like all comic book fans, I’m irrationally attached to the characters I used to love, and another (likely doomed) Ray knockoff so soon after Stan Silver (who flopped so badly they had to bring back Ray T within six issues) annoys me at an instinctual level.

    But hey, what do I know, it could be great on its own merits. And maybe Ray will show up on Earth 7802b^5th, or whatever, and I can read about him there.

    PS: Priest, I know you haven’t followed comics much in the last few years, so I just thought I’d mention that Ray DID get a big moment in the spotlight a few years ago, as he got a big tide-turning role in Final Crisis. Ray got to save the world from Darkseid. I guess if that’s the last major story he was in, it’s a pretty good way to go out.

  5. Thelmon Baggett says:

    DC’s “New 52” has me going back to the comic shops. I’m a long time comic book reader and the industry had pushed me away. I would, on occasion, go to a comic shop to look at what’s new and to rummage through the discount bins in hopes of finding something I might be interested in reading. In my opinion, the way comics are published is only a novelty thing for collectors and fans. The trade paperback has become a more acceptable format in which the publishers have yet allowed to reach its full potential. Video games, animated television shows and movies, and live action movies are the avenues to the mass markets.

    DC’s re-launch, reboot, or whatever you call it did what it was suppose to do which was bring new readers and lapse readers back to the comic shops and the shops and publishers all benefited from it. The driving force of the alienation of consumers in recent years has been the larger companies’ blind pursuit of profits. Profits are what they are working for but unfortunately by using all those crossover gimmicks and producing comics like promotional flyers for other media has doomed the industry.

    The “New 52” may not be the best comics and long time fans may feel betrayed at the lack of continuity for some of their favorite characters, but it did give a small boost the industry. My understanding is that the industry sells numbers are falling dramatically. Somebody needed to do something.

    I pick up about 18 of the titles produced. One I dropped immediately. Several are keeping my interest but could be done better. Several others I enjoy. I even added two new limited series they are producing. Marvel needs to follow DC’s lead and try to do it better. Marvel is out of control, in my opinion. They control the industry and they are allowing it to die.

    I have a lot more to say about the re-launch but I think you understand my view of it.

    • priest says:

      “In my opinion, the way comics are published is only a novelty thing for collectors and fans.” Which is my concern about this stunt: Are they reaching out beyond their base? Are the books accessible? Are they any good? If not, then what’s the point of all this?

      • Nick says:

        Some of them are pretty good, and possibly reaching new demographics (Resurrection Man, Frankenstein: Agent of Shade, and Demon Knights especially seem to be aiming for a new audience, and are all pretty good to boot), while Superman and Wonder Woman, at least, have been simplified while still more or less keeping the core of the character in tact; Action Comics is particularly good.

        They’ve also kept Bat and GL continuity pretty much in tact, possibly as a concession to their existing fanbase. And Kyle finally has his own book again, so at least there’s that.

        But, as with any “stunt”, much of it is trash. Red Hood & the Outlaws is terrible, and so is Catwoman. I’m told Red Lanterns is pretty awful as well, though I haven’t read it.

        • Thelmon Baggett says:

          Hi Nick

          The problem I have with the Frankenstein book is that since this version was introduced during the Seven Soldiers storyline the character and the situations he is put into move farther and farther from the original. It was fun then. For me, it is boring now.

          • Nick says:

            Fair, I suppose; but I didn’t want more of the same, I wanted something new. And that book is constantly pumping out new ideas (Father Time as a pre-pubescent Asian schoolgirl, The Creature Commandos working for SHADE, etc), so I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it.

      • Thelmon Baggett says:

        “Are they reaching out beyond their base?”
        From what I understand, they have advertised in other media and I’ve seen some special previews in Rolling Stone Magazine and USA Today.

        “Are the books accessible?”
        I would say yes, but to a point. Most of the titles are rated “teen.” Apparently, they feel that teens and young adults are their primary readership. You see more sex and violence in these titles. Batman/Bruce and Catwoman/Selina are involved in near sex scenes as are various other characters. The violence is pushed up a notch. They have maintained some continuity from recent history and pulled what they feel would work from the past. Action Comics and Justice League, for the first six issues, are six months in the past and shows the formation of the League and Superman powers are at the level of when he first appeared in 1938. Cyborg replaces Jonn Jonzz as a member of the League and Superman’s powers increase with time. Superman is at a higher level of power in his self named title and he and Lois are not a couple. The Batman titles maintain the same creative staff from before the re-launch, but are not having to follow everything that has gone down before. They are also launching digital comics at the same time the paper comics are published.

        “Are they any good?”
        Yes and no. It’s business as usual but some titles are a good read. There is an effort to maintain monthly schedules for all titles and I think the creative staff is committed to at least six issues with fill-ins to help keep the books on time. They are adding limited series and there are crossovers, guest appearances and internal references to other titles. O.M.A.C. is being done as a Kirby inspired title imitating the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby style. The re-launch is only into its second month so maybe after a couple more months judgment on how good the books will be fair.

  6. Dave Van Domelen says:

    Hm. If Superman was the very first superhero in the Nu52, that makes the “who did in-universe Jim Croce advise you not cape-tug?” question even harder to answer. At least previously it could have been one of the JSA’ers. Did Jim Croce get retconned out of the nu history?

    • priest says:

      🙂 The things we worry about. I’m wondering, more, about whether or not these books are any good. Sometimes we get all caught up in the stunt and forget to do actual good work.

  7. circ says:

    “Sometimes we get all caught up in the stunt and forget to do actual good work.”

    I’d love to adopt that as a mantra, but we’re unlikely to agree on the definition of ‘good work’. Death of Supes is a good point. It did so much to attract readers of all kinds with little continuity-ditching, but not many seem to care.

    These companies have done a good job of turning their readers into mercenaries while annoying the hardcore, and they tend to not stop reading for long…


    I was under the delusion that was Mark Tex’s work, not the tag-team of Velluto/Almond.

  8. Thad says:

    A lot of the new books are good. Animal Man is my favorite; Action and Batwoman are pretty great too.

    As you said in the last comments section, yeah, there aren’t REALLY any big changes when you keep the same people in charge. So a lot of the books (particularly the Green Lantern and Bat-family books) are the same as before — not that that’s a bad thing necessarily.

    I don’t see a max exodus from existing fans; existing fans seem to enjoy it. And they ARE bringing in a huge number of new/lapsed fans; the numbers are way up there and my LCS owner says he’s never had a month like this past September before. (Course, the DC relaunch also coincided with the bankruptcy of his biggest competitor, but the relaunch appears to be doing big numbers all over.)

    How many of those fans they’ll actually keep IS the big question. I’m unfortunately pessimistic and think this is going to turn out much like the 1990’s boom and bust — but I’m hoping I’m wrong. There’s a lot of dreck out there, but there are some legitimately good books, too, and I hope more people start buying comics regularly as a result.

    Plus, they might see a copy of Walking Dead in the shop and start picking that up based on the TV show.