I often like to repeat the old newspaper saying, “When dog bites man, that’s not news; but when man bites dog, THAT’S news!”
In other words, when things go on as they usually do, nobody cares. However, turn stuff on its head, and people pay attention!
That’s what’s been going on with Marvel and DC the last two months or so. DC has been on top in most categories since the dawn of “Rebirth,” and some folks are taking notice!
BIGGER THAN THE ‘NEW 52’
It used to be that DC’s “New 52” was something unusual. Long lines waiting to get into stores before they could open their doors, sales like crazy … things like that!
Well, several of the comics shops owners I know are saying that “Rebirth” is turning heads because it’s even outdistancing that big event … and then some!
When I go into local stores, I see lots of copies of various “Rebirth” titles, and I keep hearing they’re flying off the shelves. At least one issue of Batman has been reprinted as of this writing, and the ‘Rebirth’ banner on top has changed colors from blue to green to red. Of course, collectors have to “get them all,” so the hunt is on!
I’ll be real – I thought “New 52” was likely DC’s best moment, and that they might be happy to get close to that again. Instead, they’ve rocketed past it. As a DC fan, I’m happy. I love their characters – always have and probably always will.
While “DCYou” was going on, I worried that the event was going to be a REAL “DCU” – DC “Under.” I mean, I enjoy Bizarro and Bat-Mite and other lower-tier guys and gals. And they were given their chance to shine, which I will always appreciate. But, YIKES – the sales numbers were awful, and I feared that it would be the end of the company!
MARVEL AND ‘CIVIL WAR II’
At the same time, Marvel was revisiting many of the events they’d made happen over the years, including “House of M,” “Secret Wars,” and others. The Marvelite Maximi friends of mine were hailing it as Marvel’s “Rebirth,” so DC need not bother with theirs.
Again, I’m much more of a DC fan, so take my thoughts here with a grain of salt. My favorite Marvel characters are Black Knight, Stingray, Firebrand and the like. (Some of my friends like to tease me and ask, “Who are they?”)
While “Rebirth” is a return to the basics of the DC folks, it’s been done in such a way that returns life to them, in my opinion. On the other hand, returning to those previous Marvel events didn’t add much to them. I thought the original events were much better, much more meaningful. But what do I know?
And then there’s Civil War II. A friend and I went in together on those books, and we noticed that there were the same number of story pages as in a regular comic. There’s been a lot of filler – a double-page spread with the book’s title on it in big letters and the creators named below in much smaller type. Also, we found a lot of ads and other things that spread out the issue to a $4.99 price while it contained the same number of story pages as a $3.99 one.
I struggle to buy the continuing issues because of that. I may not be the only one who feels he’s not getting his money’s worth.
My brother always like to say that Marvel likes to create the “illusion of change” while not making real change itself. (He’s a DC fan, too, you see!) After Bucky Barnes came back as the Winter Soldier, who’s not nearly as popular as he once was, it’s tough to know what to do with him.
MARVEL BEING ‘HUMILIATED’
As I mentioned before, DC’s been in the driver’s seat the last two months. Marvel has been moved to second place in many categories even though they produce more titles than DC each month.
Some of the comics press has been reporting on all this, and it seems like they’re either really happy or really upset this is happening. One site said in a headline that “DC Humiliates Marvel” with the latest numbers.
I’m sure DC has popped the corks off some champagne bottles with the recent news, but I’m doubtful that they wanted to “humiliate” Marvel. Look, EVERY comics company wants to be the “big gun,” the one on top of the charts. It’s only natural to want to be successful. Given all the crossing over of talent among all the companies, I don’t think they intended to knock Marvel down personally. I think they wanted to sell comics and be big, but the primary goal to “humiliate” another company just doesn’t strike me as true. But again, I could be wrong.
One comics shop owner told me he asked a younger reader why he liked Marvel. “Because they’re COOL!” the boy replied. When asked about DC, the kid grimaced and said, “They’re NOT cool – they’re OLD!”
Marvel’s done a great job of winning over the hearts and minds of many a fan, as this experience proves.
MONSTERS, MONSTERS AND MORE MONSTERS
So, where do we go from here?
Well, both DC and Marvel have monsters in their upcoming events.
DC’s first crossover will take place in the pages of Batman, Nightwing and Detective Comics. It’s called, “Night of the Monster Men.” This will begin in September and will pit “the heroes of Gotham against a mystery-shrouded foe from the Dark Knight’s past!”
Interestingly enough, Marvel has “Monsters Unleashed,” which is “all hands on deck,” they say in their news releases. “Raining down from the outer reaches of the galaxy, rising up from the depths of the ocean, and emerging from the recesses of the Earth – monsters are staking their claim to the planet,” they say. “The only thing standing in their destructive path: the united Super Heroes of the Marvel Universe.” This will start in January of 2017.
I know that monsters can be big – they certainly were back in the 1950s, for instance. But these days, I’m not sure this is where the “Big Two” should go next. We’ll see.
I don’t mean to be a wet blanket here, but I still remain concerned. Number One’s always sell extremely well. Collectors and the whole rest of the world seem to buy them. It’s what happens later that makes something an ongoing success.
The “New 52” started out gangbusters, but the sales fell dramatically by the issues numbered 52, if the books got there. Attrition has begun on “Rebirth” for me. I’ve already started paring down the number of monthly DC’s I buy, including no more Green Arrow or Wonder Woman, for instance. There’ll be more to come as I dive into the books in the coming months. DC won’t continue to get the same amount of money from me. (By the way, I think Detective Comics and Hal Jordan are the best going in DC right now!)
Marvel’s “All New, All Different” line also sold big with their first issues, and that number has declined since then. Their Star Wars books are not doing as well as they used to, also, which has to impact their bottom line.
I understand that events can boost sales, but I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record – What should keep the industry alive are the monthly issues! Good stories! Vibrant characters! Not new Number Ones on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Not events that start with a bang and end with a whimper.
I’m happy sales are pretty good. But what will keep the industry going is making books fans can’t wait to buy month after month instead of just occasionally. Are they up to that challenge? I don’t know, but I hope so. I’m not sure big events like “Rebirth” is what we need in the long run, though. I want the industry to not only succeed, but thrive! With merchandising, movies and TV all doing well, we need the comics themselves to prosper!
What do you think? Please comment in the space below!