Friday, February 6, 2015

Wow! DC's Mini "Divergence" Relaunch

I have a familiar feeling this morning. You know that feeling when you think/hope something is going to happen; only to find out the opposite is true? Or if not the opposite, something quite different than what you’d wished for? That’s my feeling this morning.

After the brilliance of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, I had high hopes. You had one of the premiere creators of our time putting out original but respectful versions of classic DC heroes. Heroes I wanted to read more about. Heroes that had tons of untapped potential because they felt new AND they felt like the DC characters I grew up loving. With DC Comics relaunching about half their line, surely we’d get an optimistic take on Shazam. Or maybe a book about the 90’s era JLA all grown up. How about the New Gods and Kamandi? These are some brilliant concepts in Morrison’s Multiversity!

Or maybe the hype about Convergence convinced DC Comics that there is a place for one, maybe two titles set in the “old” continuity. Why not have a few pandering books like Booster Gold, JLI, or Teen Titans for folks who feel a bit left out by the New 52? Now’s the time, right?


For those of you who are not up-to-the-minute with your comic news, DC is launching 24 new titles in a mini-overhaul of their publishing line. 

DC is indeed embracing change (which I do salute them for) but it is to turn in a direction I’m not really interested in. They are mini-relaunching with Divergence, where the stated goal is “to Batgirl” the DCU. To diversify the characters and concepts and target a different type of audience than their standard super hero comics. Listen, I think there should be comics for everyone, and I’m excited about some of the books they’ve announced. My problem, and it is clearly just me, is that I found the first of the Batgirl reboot incomprehensible.

Again, complaining personally, I’m losing Batman and Robin by Peter Tomasi and Aquaman by Jeff Parker. Justice League 3000 featuring the returned Blue Beetle and Booster Gold is at least getting relaunched as Justice League 3001. And of course, I’ll be buying Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Section 8 mini-series. (I only read 4 DC comics these days, including Batman.)

There are a couple books with potential. Depending on the tone, my daughters might love Starfire. But if it is like Batgirl, it will still be inappropriate for kiddos. I’m not familiar enough with Rob Williams to know if his take on Martian Manhunter will feel right or not. Can Patrick Gleason write Robin, Son of Batman as well as Tomasi could? I don't want punk-rock Black Canary or other drastic re-imaginings. What will David Walker's Cyborg be like? Can I hope that Earth 2: Society is close to the old JSA? (Here is a complete list of the titles and creative teams.)

Perhaps my biggest issue with this relaunch is my lack of familiarity with most of the creators. There are tons of folks that will have to win me over. That’s instead of being instantly intrigued or excited if I saw some Morrison concepts in there. Or some 80’s and 90’s holdovers like we’re getting on the Convergence titles. Somehow most of the creators I'm really tuned in to have ended up at Valiant! 

Most importantly, will DC use this opportunity to raise the standard price of their books to $3.99?

In summary, my lack of familiarity with creators, suspicion about accessibility for my old sensibilities, and lack of exciting high concepts leaves me with very few books to add to my sublist. Between this and Secret War, I’m feeling pretty aged out of comics in general!

(Boo hoo. Woe is me, I know.)


Devin said...

This probably won't work any better than if they pandered to 40-year-old fanboys. As much as people like to talk about how diverse the comic audience is (and it is, truly) it's still very tiny. So if you try to pander to a tiny segment of a tiny audience, you are talking about content that is directed at 2,500 people. (Which would be about 5% of the sales of a good-selling book.)

I don't see how that's any more sustainable than the old method.

Devin said...

I will revise my comment based on this:

"In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry," DiDio said in the announcement.

That is the worst part of this and is a total dealbreaker for me. If you don't bother to have continuity, you're throwing away the one advantage that comics have over other media. Writers who don't care about continuity and a shared universe are in the wrong business.