Of Rebirths and Relaunches
Last Friday the comic book world was abuzz with rumors that DC Comics, the company that made waves years ago with the “New 52” reboot, was planning to relaunch once more. Yes, the company that stated they’d never do a major relaunch after their reboot is now planning to do just that. If rumors are to be believed, the focus of this relaunch, or “Rebirth” as Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee have started teasing it as, would have a larger bent towards characters that have films and TV shows based around them as opposed to characters that well, don’t.
Aside from the belief that fans of CW’s Flash and Arrow or Batman v Superman will suddenly come running into the comic store to get comics (yeah right), the big thing that bothers me about this relaunch isn’t that DC will be launching at #1 (that’s been killed for me by Marvel). No, the thing that bothers me is that this is a simple and cheap sales tactic by DC to try and get the top market shares of the comic industry. With the exception of Dark Knight 3, DC’s sales have been consistently lower than Marvel and even Image Comics. That’s pretty bad for a company that has characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. #1 issues typically sell really well, but it’s concerning to me because I wonder what DC will do a year from now, after their line gets the “issue one sales bump”? Will they just pull a Marvel and always have new #1’s every few years? Try and do another Convergence event to hook people in? Plus it brings up an even larger question when it comes to the big two: will any comic book get beyond 24 issues anymore?
Despite these problems, there is a small part of me that’s optimistic about this relaunch. For one, early reports are stating that it is not a continuity reboot like “The New 52” was. I feel like even DC is aware that they can’t pull that trick again anytime soon. Plus, this relaunch could be the chance for DC to clean house and have some new blood invigorate titles like Green Lantern and The Flash, which have languished for years now. There are plenty of characters that I love at DC that currently have pretty bad creators and directions on them. With this relaunch, it gives DC a great chance to course correct a lot of their series. Hell, maybe we’ll even get Dick Grayson back as Nightwing, and a readable Harley Quinn series.
But the relaunch does worry me. At the end of the day, it’s a temporary solution to DC’s problems. Plus the news that they want some of their more popular titles like Batman to become biweekly like Marvel’s titles doesn’t fill me with confidence either. In fact, this move is widely believed to the be the reason behind the rumors that Scott Snyder will be moving from Batman to Detective Comics when the relaunch takes place. Now, if DC wants to have a title like Batman ship twice a month, a title which became even more popular because of Scott Snyder’s work on it, and he leaves that title for a Batman book that won’t be on such a grueling schedule, doesn’t it go against what DC is trying to accomplish by increasing the release schedules of their top books?
It does. But DC also knows that Batman, even without Snyder on it, will still sell like gangbusters. But this idea of quantity over quality rarely works out. Just ask Marvel, who has a vast majority of their titles shipping twice a month. Of all of those titles, few of them benefit from this new release schedule, and at $4 a pop, it makes the already budget-conscience comic book fan even more hesitant to keep up with the books they love.
We’ve come to deal with relaunches from Marvel and now DC as a part of deciding to collect comic books. But does it have to be that way? I don’t think so. Growing up reading comics, I never had a problem jumping onto a series that was at a high issue count. Sure, I’d try out new #1’s more, but the fact that a Batman comic had a three-digit issue number was never a concern of mine. Eventually one day we won’t have relaunches be the norm. But until then, the only way the big two will stop relaunching is if we stop buying them. Will this be that time? Guess we’ll find out this summer.