Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No DC Bias Here - Marvel

When I look at the company specific entries here, it seems as though I only read DC books, but alas, this is not the case. Marvel has tons of great books and creators you should all check out. Many of them have new number ones or storylines starting so it's easy to hop on:

- Avengers Academy: The best team book you are not reading. Written by Christos Gage, this follows a team of youngsters hand picked by Norman Osborn when he was in charge of the Marvel Universe during Dark Reign as the future of evil. Now, with Norman out, it's up to instructors Hank Pym, Tigra, Quicksilver, Justice and Speedball to make sure that doesn't happen. Their leg of the Fear Itself cross over just finished up so a new storyline will be starting soon.

- Amazing Spider-Man: Dan Slott has been the primary writer of the bi-monthly Spidey book and has been great. Peter works for a big tech firm under the guise he's helping Spider-Man develop new tech as his cover and just in time for everyone in New York City to get spider powers thanks to the Jackal. It's called Spider-Island and it just kicked off two weeks ago.

- Daredevil: I've been reading DD since 1996, one of my favorite characters, and no one has more crap thrown at him month in and month out that Matt Murdock. Every writer since has just piled the grief higher and higher. Now, new writer Mark Waid is taking the approach to have Matt just ignore all of the prior horrible things done to him and that he has done and just live his life. But no every one shares his feelings. Issue #2 comes out this week, give it a whirl.

- Ed Brubaker: the next two will be a bit of a cheat as you are looking at my two favorite writers going today. I will read anything they write, even if it's a premise I usually wouldn't check out. The first being Ed Brubaker who currently has Captain America and Criminal out monthly. Cap just recently relaunched with a new number one last week to tie in with the movie with issue #2 out this week. While Criminal is half way through a story, all the past stories are collected and very easy to come by.

- Jason Aaron: my number one favorite writer today. Never in my life would I thought I would be looking forward to the Hulk, Wolverine, the X-Men or the Punisher every month. While Punisher had a resurgence with Garth Ennis some years ago, I've never cared much for these other characters. The Punisher and Wolverine books have new storylines starting in September but X-Men Schism is only two issues deep (issue #3 is out this week) leading to a new Wolverine led X-Book in October, the same month Aaron's Hulk book begins. And don't sleep on Scalped from Vertigo which is ending in the next year but can easily be tracked down in trades.

So before DC has their big relaunch in two weeks, head down to your local comic shop and check out something new from Marvel!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Three Month Window, Algorithm & the Fate of DCU

As we stand on the precipice of the scary DC Comics relaunch, I figured I would delve into things a bit more. It has been two months since I wrote the initial blog post about this, covering my thoughts on the 52 initial relaunch books. Since then, we have learned many things:

  • There will also be six additional mini-series to be launched later, starting in October featuring the Shade (from Starman), the Huntress, the Penguin, the Legion of Super-Heroes and more
  • More ongoings will be announced to begin in November, such as the return of Astro City
  • We have already seen additional artists come in on books such as Action Comics and Batman: the Dark Knight, assumingly to make sure they meet their advertised release dates
  • DC has said that when these stories get collected, their will be very few hardcovers and they will tier them out so there are not 52 new trade paperbacks on sale the same month.
  • DC has also said that all these books will be given the opportunity to succeed but every book has a sales number they must reach or beat to get that opportunity
And that's where this blog came to my mind. This past week at the comic chop and my retailer was stating when ordering the new DC number ones, it was fun seeing all these books but now that he is ordering the issue twos, some of the fun has gone away. DC is pushing many of their issue threes (which we should see the solicits for this Tuesday) with their new villain initiative, but he stated the issue two solicits feel like the same old, same old, just with lower numbers.

I'm still as excited for the new books, even adding a few new titles (Animal Man and Nightwing) to my pull list, but those comments got me thinking, if many people look at this as the same old stories, will the give them a try and will they keep reading them.

The September numbers will be big, that's almost a given. This could be the first month that DC wins the market share over Marvel in quite some time. They have even been closing that gap in the last three months, thanks in part to the buzz of the relaunch, but also the continued strength of the Green Lantern and Batman titles.

But what about October? And November? Especially December, a record low sales month for comic books with the holidays and all.

DC has many books currently published with what some may consider low sales. We are long past the days where X-Men #1 sells over a million copies, but where is the ceiling and where is the floor for many of my favorite characters.

In my mind, DC Corporate has a dry erase board in some office somewhere with all 52 books written on with the following algorithm for each book:

X (writer) + Y (artist) + Z (title or property) = minimum amount of sales

What I mean by this is Justice League is positioned to be the number one selling book. DC's top writer (Geoff Johns) plus one of the most popular artists in comics (Jim Lee) on the super team that has Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern et al should sell like gang busters. But what is the lowest this book could sell before they have to cancel it?

Now, let's take Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, which is spinning out of the 13 Flashpoint miniseries, written by Jeff Lamire (Sweet Tooth, Superboy) with art by Alberto Ponticelli (Unknown Soldier, Godzilla for IDW). I choose this book as one of the Flashpoint miniseries, it was the one that had the biggest drop off from issue one to issue two. What is the lowest this book can sell and still be "safe"?

As mentioned before, it will be several months, possibly early 2012, before we see the real effects of the relaunch. What book do you think will be the first to fall?