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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why DC’s Convergence Does Not Solve The Crisis At DC Comics




Now that Convergence is over we’re told everything has changed. Unfortunately everything is still the same at DC Comics.


According to Dan Didio, after the Convergence, the Crisis of Infinite Earths is now invalidated. And every universe including the Pre-Crisis DC now exists. And now all the universes including the New 52 are valid.


Let me get this straight. Didio spent 15 years of destroying the characters in the main DC Universe to give us a bigger more confusing, hard-to-follow DC Universe than the one we had in 1984.


Why does this man still have a job?


According to Didio, things will be better now that all the DC Universes are valid. Writers and artists can now tell any story they please about any character they please in whatever universe they please. 


Er…Weren’t creators doing that before Didio was hired? In classic stories like Gotham By Gaslinght, Kingdom Come, Thrillkill, JLA: The Nail JLA: Act of God and JLA: Year One?


So according to Didio we needed to spend the last 15 years destroying the legends of iconic characters in the main DC Universe to get the DC Multiverse back to a point where it was in 1984? The same year DC Comics was in one of the worst sales slumps in its history? 


Again, why does this man still have a job?


Someone needs to tell Dan Didio DC Comics in 1984-1985 before the Crisis was a complete mess. Outside of newer titles like Fury of Firestorm, Blue Devil, All-Star Squadron and New Teen Titans not much of anything DC was selling on the newsstands. Staple titles like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Justice League and The Flash were struggling at the newsstand.


And all these titles were struggling with TV shows like Super Powers on the air on Saturday morning and toy lines like Kenner’s classic Super Powers selling on store shelves throughout the country.


The complaint from editorial back then was that DC Comics were difficult for most to get into with all the different earths. But the truth was in the mid 1980s, the stories in most DC Comics were absolute SHIT back then. Barry Allen on trial, Hal Jordan acting like he needed a Midol for PMS while Guy Gardner and John Stewart struggled to hold up the Green Lantern franchise, Oliver Queen the Shaolin Monk, Superman reporting the TV news on WGBS, Wonder Woman’s comic being absolute Hot Garbage (just read any issue from about 280-300 or so), Detroit Rock JLA and Batman training Jason Todd to be Robin weren’t actually compelling storytelling for most readers who grew up in that era.


Outside of New Teen Titans and their AWESOME build-up to the Judas Contract, Firestorm being F*king AWESOME during Gerry Conway’s run and Blue Devil giving us a unique perspective on being a Hollywood hero, nothing much was going on to light the world on fire at DC for readers like myself at the time. 


Fast forward 30 years. We have Superman with a T-Shirt and a motorbike. Savage Wonder Woman with spiked bracelets and a full-body costume, Jim Gordon playing Batman in armor, Green Lantern in a hoodie. More Hot Garbage that isn’t compelling storytelling for a diehard fan or a casual reader.


After Convergence The Crisis of Infinite Earths is undone. But the Crisis still continues in DC’s editorial department. Under the same mismanagement the DC Universe is still an impossible, hard to access mess for the average joe and even the diehard comic fan.


Here’s a critical thinking question for Dan Didio: So how is going back to a model for storytelling that FAILED over thirty years ago going to succeed right now? And how are things going to be different if you continue to do the same things that haven’t work ever since you got on the job in 2002?


Only in the comic book world does circular logic make sense. For the rest of us circular logic only leads to a vicious cycle where the same things happen again and again.


Now I myself have advocated for an open continuity. And I know the model could work in DC if executed it properly. People would be eager to read self-contained JSA stories set in the Golden Age or Batman stories set in the Neal Adams Era or the Bruce Timm style, or read a Catwoman story in the Darwyn Cooke style. These kinds of self-contained graphic novels would bring new readers in because they’d have their own entry points with their own beginning, middles, and ends. Creators could tell their own stories without feeling tied to a larger universe or feeling forced to deal with the baggage of continuity or editorial mandates.


From a business standpoint these kinds of graphic novels would be easier to sell at retailers because trade paperbacks are easier to find in places like Barnes & Noble, Target and Amazon and other retailers like Family Dollar at a discounted price. And they’d have a much longer shelf life than a 32-page comic.


However, Didio’s plan is destined to fail because he continues to execute the business model wrong and the story model wrong. The Open Continuity model doesn’t really work in 32-page comics. Having multiple stories in multiple universes only is going to lead to even more confusion at the comic store.


On top of it, Didio exacerbates the problem by continuing to push The New 52 Universe to the forefront. Instead of 52 titles set in Didio’s new universe we now have about 26 or so. The rest will be set in other universes. Again, causing confusion at the comic shop.


I doubt many of these new titles make it past the twelfth issue. It’s hard enough to sell a solo title, especially if it’s in an alternate universe. Without it being connected to the main universe there’s no real reason for the reader to care about what’s going on. 


Moreover, It’s even harder to sell a new solo title without cross-marketing with older titles. Part of selling comics in a universe model is cross-selling. What compels a reader to buy a title in a series is seeing that interaction between characters in a shared universe. When a reader sees a character appear in one book, they may be compelled to try their solo book. And if two titles crossover readers may go and try to buy the books in their solo series. If they really like what they read, they may become regular readers of that title and even go back for the back issues. 


Since 2002, DC Comics under the continuing leadership of Dan Didio seems to be going through a vicious cycle where they continue to do the exact same things and expecting a different result. The rest of the world calls this insanity, but insanity seems to be the norm at DC Comics.


Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint New 52 Convergence the same cycle continues to go around at DC. Big event announced, short surge in sales, followed by a precipitous drop-off and slump in comic book sales.


However the only constant in spite of all the changes is Dan Didio and the gang of four (Lee, Harras, and Nelson). And every decision they make seems to end in the same result.


And with each passing turn of the vicious cycle more and more people become more and more alienated and disconnected from the DC Comics brand. These days more and more people are just not buying DC Comics. Even worse, more and more people NOT CARING about the DC Comics brand. From movies to merchandising there is just so much ill will on message boards about everything DC related. And that’s souring many on DC Comics characters long-term.  


There needs to be a Convergence at Warner Brothers. One that ends the Crisis in DC Comics editorial department. Warner Brothers CEO needs to FIRE the convergence of incompetent managers that have mismanaged the DC Comics brand for the last 15 years. Once the Post Didio era ends, the rebuilding of the DC Comics brand can finally start in earnest.

2 comments:

  1. DC had their worse dollar share EVER(24.18%) in January 2015. And then in March 2015 they managed to beat even that with a new low(23.01%).
    But wait! Wasn't the New52 all about boosting DC's sales? Isn't the New52 the outstanding success DC and sites like Newsarama try to convince us it is for years now?
    Obviously the reboot was a big, fat FLOP and numbers do not lie(although DC and their business partners obviously do!). In the long run it cost the company their long-time fans while not gaining new ones and if not for the endless string of variant cover(something they hardly ever did before the New52) and the new, higher prices DC would be sinking deeper than the Titanic right now! Well, it is almost certain that too will happen unless the admit their mistakes and undo the New52.

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  2. Doesn't seem like these reboots are working. All they do is turn readers and potential readers away from comics.

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