Category Archives: Editorials

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

DC softball team logoI’ve been reading DC Comics titles since the late 1970s, before I even reached double digits in terms of age. As such, I’ve read, from time to time, of the exploits of the comics publisher’s softball team over the decades. Back in the day, its accomplishments and defeats were chronicled occasionally in the pages of its various comics in supplementary/advertorial material. In recent years, the folks responsible for Blog@Newsarama have kept the industry apprised of the team’s games.

On Facebook the other day, I stumbled across a link to a blog, the DC Bullets blog, which offers more detailed accounts of the team’s efforts and no doubt the fun its members have on the field. Honestly, I don’t have much of an interest in rec-league softball in New York (or anywhere else, for that matter), but what caught my eye wasn’t the link to the game report, but the team logo (seen at the right).

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Will the Real Batwoman Please Stand Up?

In September, DC is trying to recapture some of the sales and marketing success it had with the launch of its New 52 initiative a year before with a slate of zero issues for all of its core, New 52 titles (which is a slightly different lineup than it was a year ago). A zero-issue month is far from a new phenomenon for DC. It had one in 1994, coinciding with its Zero Hour crossover event. Zero issues have become, perhaps unfortunately, a much more common gimmick in the world of mainstream comics, especially in the super-hero genre. Still, there are times when I see the use of the odd numbering shtick.

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Put Up Your Dukes

My appreciation for some super-hero publishers’ event books is no secret. There was a time when my reviews were known as “Critiques on Infinite Earths,” a nod to DC’s landmark 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first big crossover event book. Unfortunately, over the years, the crossover has, for the most part, devolved into a sales gimmick super-hero publishers — mainly Marvel and DC, though smaller publishers have taken their own stabs at the subgenre — trot out to inflate sales on waning titles and boost its bottom line. As a result, it’s become something of a dirty word among discerning comics readers and fans of good super-hero storytelling.

Still, occasionally, some interesting work can be found in such event titles. Marvel’s Civil War started off strong with its exploration of the conflict between personal liberties and security. Secret Invasion followed up on such themes by tapping into Western paranoia over terrorism and growing multicultural diversity. While many of Marvel’s more recent event titles have fizzled in the end, at least they started out being about something.

And so, that brings us to Avengers Versus X-Men.

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Wound Up

I’m not looking forward to the various Before Watchmen comics DC will publish later this year. I do plan to read many of those comics, though. It’s not out of interest in the characters or out of curiosity to see into what DC is building the brand. It’s because in general, I enjoy comics by the likes of Brian Azzarello, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, J. Michael Straczynski and other creators involved in the project.

As anyone familiar with Watchmen and its history of publishing politics in the many years since its initial release in the mid 1980s knows, opinion about using the characters and concepts writer Alan Moore crafted so long ago is polarized.

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Second Verse, Same as the First

We all knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when — until now. DC Comics has announced its second wave of ongoing titles in its New 52 line of super-hero comics (or other genre books set in the same continuity). And it’s sticking to that “New 52” label and set number of continuing series. May’s debut of six new titles corresponds to April’s cancellation of six books.

Most of the comics on the chopping block come as little surprise.

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New 52 Pick-Up, Part 4

Discussions about DC’s New 52 relaunch initially focused on its tremendous success in September and October, but in the weeks since, the focus has shifted in part due to the announcements of several creative shakeups in more than a few titles. Some have interpreted this to be indicative of a higher level of editorial interference, but DC’s management of the New 52 is understandable. It may give rise to some concerns from a creative standpoint, but from a business perspective, it makes sense. DC has undergone a successful rebranding, almost a rebirth. Corporately speaking, there’s no doubt a lot of pressure to maintain that momentum, and the source of that renewed energy and interest in the brand come from on high, stemming from decisions made on a corporate level.

And now, to turn our attention to the individual titles that are a part of this successful initiative. I’ve already covered most of the book in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, so let’s wrap things up with the fourth and final instalment of my New 52 overview.

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New to the Marvel Universe: Statutory Rape

Squirrel Girl, a rare 1990s creation of the legendary Steve Ditko (along with writer Will Murray), was clearly meant to be a cute character from the start. Some might view as a joke, others as an endearing tribute or even satirical comment on the campiness of the Silver Age. She’s been a relatively obscure character, popping up from time to time, but lately, the character’s profile has been significantly boosted by writer Brian Michael Bendis’ decision to incorporate her into the cast of New Avengers, not as a member of the team, but as a superhuman nanny to the infant daughter of Avengers Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.

Since this boost in visibility, readers have “learned” a lot more about her, in that Marvel writers have started tossing out little tidbits of her history, perhaps the most significant of which was this nugget…

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New 52 Pick-Up, Part 3

The recent news DC’s New 52-driven lead in the marketplace over chief rival Marvel Entertainment narrowed in November doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but it shouldn’t detract from DC’s accomplishment with its bold publishing initiative. It’s revitalized interest in its brand and characters, and it’s proven to be a boost to the comics marketplace overall. Furthermore, I strongly suspect DC will bolster its position in that marketplace in 2012 with a second wave of New 52 debuts (either under the New 52 branding, or a new banner), coming on the heels of the inevitable cancellations of some under-performing titles. DC clearly has its promotional machine in top working order, and it will no doubt continue to capitalize on that strength next year.

In any case, it’s time to continue my overview of the New 52 titles a few months into the initiative. With the first and second parts of the feature behind us, here are my thoughts on the third and penultimate group of the New 52 stable.

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New 52 Pick-Up, Part 2

Welcome back for the second in my four-part series examining DC’s New 52 line and how I feel about them a couple of months after my initial run of reviews of all of the first issues. Some of the titles remain in favor, some have fallen out. I remain disinterested in some, and there are a couple that didn’t click for me at first but have managed to pique my interest since my exposure to the first installments.

In the first part of this series, I made my way through the 52 titles in alphabetical order, so let’s continue on as such…

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New 52 Pick-Up, Part 1

The New 52 Review Project — which ran on Eye on Comics through September and into October — proved to be one of the more popular periods for the site in some time. The endeavor saw me reviewing all of the first issues of DC’s New 52 line, and even as I approached the end of the project, I was getting a number of requests for readers to share my thoughts on subsequent issues — even for the entire line again. That wasn’t feasible. The project was a short-term undertaking, made possible by sponsorship and a temporary night-desk schedule at work. Still, in the time, I’ve continued to read some New 52 titles, while others I cast aside as soon as I was finished with the first issue. With three months of these comics behind us and the fourth about to begin, I thought it might be interesting to share with readers which titles I stuck with, which ones I’ve ignored since their debuts and which ones I’ve dropped in the wake of any initial enthusiasm.

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DC’s New 52: A Look in the Rear View Mirror

Whew! That was a lot of writing about one publisher’s comics. My New 52 Review Project turned out to be a success, as far as Eye on Comics is concerned. Traffic on the site rose, and I found the tight schedule to review all 52 first issues in the line in a timely manner to be an interesting exercise in writing. I was able to write a lot more about each comic book than I expected, and I think I refined my process as a writer — not just as a comics reviewer, but in writing in general. I pumped out almost 50,000 words between Aug. 31 and Oct. 3, and it’s made me realize provided the right motivation and circumstances, I could pen a book (not about comics) I’ve had on the backburner for some time.

I’ve had a number of readers urge me to write a retrospective piece, to comment on the New 52 line as a whole once I’d read it all. I certainly have some thoughts.

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In the Event of an Event

About a week or so before the release of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, which marked the beginning of a new era at DC Comics, I had a realization about one way in which the publisher could market its new line of super-hero comics, at least to those who still buy comics but few or no DC titles. It struck me that by starting over most of its more recognizable properties from Square One (the successful Green Lantern and Batman franchises being the exceptions), DC was avoiding the kind of story/sales gimmick that has been the bane of super-hero comics for years: the crossover event.

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Deal or No Deal? (Answer: No Deal)

Marvel reached out to direct-market comics retailers this week to offer a special ordering incentive that’s perhaps unintentionally revealing about its publishing policies and plans for revenue generation. Retailers were told for every 5,000 copies of Ultimate Fallout #4 first and second printings (or any combination of the pair that adds up to 5,000), they can get a free full-page ad in upcoming Marvel titles.

The first thing that struck me about the promotion was the fact Marvel is trying to sell second printings of a comic book that’s still available in its initial print run. Why would there be a second printing if the first was still up for grabs?

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What’s In a Name?

I’m hopeful that DC’s super-hero line-wide relaunch in September will be a success, and I’ve applauded the publisher not only for its dedication to such a massive undertaking but the skill with which company officials have handled promotional efforts. Not only did they make a surprising splash with the initial announcements, but they’ve managed to make the initiative an ongoing, seemingly perpetual presence in industry news and chatter. It keeps rolling out new information and new images. Even the unveiling of a few new logos (and even an old one, for Resurrection Man) has kept the relaunch in the news cycle. It’s likely that DC will also dominate comics industry announcements at Comic Con International in San Diego later this month with more revelations about its ambitious new publishing initiative.

My one repeated criticism of its public-relations strategy is that it lacked a clear brand. DC hadn’t named its own new direction, leading others to stamp such titles as “The DC Reboot/Relaunch” or “DCNu” on it. Well, DC Comics has finally come up with a name for its new line. “The New 52” has its advantages as a brand, but it also has its flaws.

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The Proofreading Isn’t In the Pudding

I’ve written before about the smart public-relations campaign that DC Comics has run and continues to run so as to promote its fall relaunch of its entire super-hero line (save for a couple of younger-readers’ titles). DC has dominated the niche world of North American comic-book news since its initial announcement at the end of May, and all signs are that it’ll continue to do so for the rest of the summer. With 52 new titles, most of which boast new creative teams, the publisher can keep providing teases to its readership, ramping up anticipation. And honestly, I think it’s working. I wasn’t all that interested in the new O.M.A.C. book by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen, for example, until I saw some interior art previews in recent days.

The only real complaint I had about the initiative, and more specifically, with the PR campaign, but the lack of a slogan or brand name for such a bold publishing plan. Well, it was my only main complaint until now, as I’ve recently made my way through DC’s website listings and solicitation information for the new 52 first issues. Some instances of sloppy promotional writing might point to just how rushed and chaotic things have been at DC since it first began to gear up for a summer of sensationalism.

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