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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Is DC’s Rebirth DC's Last Chance to Reach Comic Fans?

When it comes to DC, Comic fans, comic shop owners and toy collectors haven’t been happy with the brand for close to a decade and a half. And they have good reason to be cynical about DC Comics recent “Rebirth” relaunch. I have to wonder if this is the last chance for the DC brand.

We’ve all heard it before. And the tune that Dan Didio played in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015 has gotten tired each time it’s been played. Each time he has promised big changes to DC fans. And all readers got was more confusion and more disappointment with each promise of a return to greatness.

Many Comic fans haven’t been happy with the direction of DC Comics for at least 15 years. All the darkness, death and depression in the pages of DC Comics have turned the reading experience of a DC Comic into a miserable one. Instead of readers anticipating the next issue they get worried about which of their favorite characters is going to be bastardized or butchered in a brutal murder in the pages of a DC Comic.

Comic fans were promised change with DC You after the Convergence. A year ago readers were told that their old universe existed. But DC continued to push the New 52 down DC Fans throats even in the face of losing 10 percent market of DC’s market share.

Seeing DC’s editorial team continue to double down after Convergence has made many comic fans cynical. Many were apathetic on the announcement of DC You. Instead of the arguing that has plagued DC boards there was silence. Even with the promise of the return of storied Action Comics and Detective Comics to their original numbers after Rebirth there was still so much silence you could hear a pin drop.

And silence is bad in the publishing business. Silence means that the audience doesn’t care anymore. That it’s moved on.

Along with the comic fans, many toy collectors haven’t been happy with the direction of the DC’s merchandising since 2011. That was the time Mattel decided to discontinue their popular DC Universe Classics line and push a new action figure line featuring New 52 versions of DC Characters. When the new line debuted at retail it was dead on arrival. Even New 52 Batman clogged pegs for months.  And Batman has sold consistently at toy stores for over 25 years.

Mattel tried to appease toy collectors with a Club Infinite Earths Subscription service but in between Digital River’s high shipping costs and people still stinging from the loss of the Classic DC Universe in print, the subscription didn’t take off. By the second year many had made the plan to move past Mattel’s DC figures for other lines like Marvel Legends, WWE, and Monster High.

These days recent lines like DC Multiverse have clogged pegs at Toys R Us and Target. And DC Collectible figures featuring New 52 designs are still clogging shelves at comic shops. Many can’t get rid of them even at clearance prices.

And over the past year or so many fans are so tired of waiting DC to get its shit together that they’re dumping their collections of DC Superhero figures from both the classic and New 52 eras on eBay and are moving on. Bargains can be found on the auction site if you type in DC Universe Classics. Figures that once received $50 and $100 bids at auction seven years ago can be had for less than retail. And if one goes to a comic con, they can even find some of those carded figures at prices close to retail seven years ago.

And comic shop owners haven’t been happy with the DC Brand in the last two years. Yes, the New 52 led to a huge surge of sales in the beginning as curious casuals came in to try new titles in 2011. But over the past five years as sales have declined and DC has lost more and more market share to Marvel Comics and Indies, they’ve been stuck with hundreds of thousands of back issues and trades they can’t return or even get rid of in even the quarter bins.

And with this new “Rebirth” relaunch they may be stuck with them permanently. After a relaunch, or a reboot new readers aren’t going to be eager to head to the back issues to read older comics or pick up older trades. And older back issues are a major part of a comic shops business.

DC and Warner Brothers poor business decisions over the past have alienated fans, toy collectors and comic shops.  And one has to wonder if five years has been enough time for most comic fans to finish mourning DC’s iconic characters and make plans to move past them to find other characters to like at indies and competitors like Marvel. From the indifferent response DC You got last year and Rebirth is getting now, one has to wonder if this will truly be the last chance for the brand with fans. 

The DC brand is in crisis. Yeah, you’ve heard me say that before. But DC fans are so fragmented and frustrated that they find little to get excited about regarding the DC brand these days. They’re looking for something to ignite that spark and get them excited about their favorite heroes again. Something the entire collective of DC fans can get behind like Marvel fans have over the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But honestly I don’t think Rebirth will be it.

With Didio and his gang of five still in charge at DC, many DC fans still see it Rebirth as more of the same. More promises of change with things still staying the same. So there’s no incentive for comic fans to go out and buy those new #1 issues.

At this point it looks like Rebirth will be too little too late for DC. If anything it looks like it could be the symbolic nail in the coffin for the Didio era at DC. I believe the real rebirth of DC Comics will only come only when Dan Didio is fired by Warner Brothers executives and the Post Didio era begins. Then fans can finally find a reason get excited about DC Comics and its characters again.


  1. yea, I used to be a huge DC person back in the day, now I don't bother anymore

  2. DC sucks these days - I walked away first week of the new 52, after reading for 38 years.

  3. I gave the Nu52 6 months, and then stopped buying comics every week, after 30 years of an uninterrupted habit.

  4. I started reading comics in the early 70's with an issue of DC comics Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. I never stopped buying DC comics until 6 months after the New 52 started. Lose Didio & his lackeys & I may give DC a try once again.

  5. I haven't read anything new by DC since about 2006. I remember reading Greg Rucka's excellent Wonder Woman run, and around issue 220 or so, you could see the Didio influence start creeping in. The stories became more violent (including killing Maxwell Lord on panel). Rucka also had to deal with a bunch of Brother Eye nonsense as part of some company wide crossover, and jettison story arcs he had been building up. To Rucka's credit, he tried to make it all work, but as the saying goes you can't polish a turd. And, to add insult to injury I remember reading a few years later that Didio and company actually had the balls to blame Greg Rucka for Wonder Woman being cancelled, when Rucka wanted to do a Wonder Woman Earth-One book. To which I said, f*** you DC comics.

  6. I began reading DC Comics in 1965. In fact, I learned to read by reading DC Comics! I formally began collecting comics in 1971 and was a total DC Fan. I walked away DC in the dark days of the 90s and came back about 10 years later when DC began re-instating many of the Silver/Bronze Age features I remembered.

    In May 2011, Didio said DC was done with universe changing Crisises and would focus on the characters. In September of 2011, the did Flashpoint and yanked the rug out from under me. I think this was Warner-Brothers doing, trying to force DC to become the core of their super-hero cinematic universe. Jeff Rubinov of W-B Entertainment was so enamored with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy he said he wanted to "make all of DC's characters dark."

    I've been boycotting DC and WB and their "faux" heroes in comics, movies, and television since 2011. I feel lied to and betrayed by a company I supported for over forty years. I believe DC Comics to be on a downward spiral to bankruptcy and cancellation!

  7. Gave up on DC with Identity Crisis in terms of active collecting. Have enjoyed most of the first runs in New 52, but after that, they really went downhill again. Grant Morrison's no flight, no tights Action Comics was alright, and Court of Owls was alright. But otherwise, the New 52 turned into convoluted pandering, IMO.