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5 Things I Think I Know: DC's "Dead on Arrival" Relaunches

Written by ElijahSnowFan on Monday, June 20 2011 and posted in Columns

The Outhouse's ElijahSnowFan stops by to talk about which of DC's pending 52 titles will be the first to go!


The Preamble of Moderate Length

This week, "5 Things" is looping back to the DC revamp to discuss a few thoughts that have come to mind as the shock has worn off and readers have been told what 52 books DC will publish initially in the fall.

Now, before we start rolling, let's be honest with ourselves: Every person should be mature enough to know that nothing in comic books is permanent -- for instance, I NEVER thought I would read a story set in the Modern Age with Bucky in it -- and that somehow, some way, the legal requirements of copyrights and character usage mean Shades and Comanche will always return to plague Power Man & Iron Fist, Rick Jones is going to be featured in a storyline every decade or so, and somebody's going to be named "the Signalman."

So, in other words, losing the Justice Society of America for whatever period of time DC is thinking is appropriate simply isn't that big of a deal -- in theory.

At the same time, however, I've long felt that the casualness of comic companies and creators toward reader attachment to certain characters and properties is troubling at best, career-defining at worst.

Even with the caveat that message board chatter isn't scientific nor measurable for performance, creators and characters ignore it at their peril. I wouldn't. All factors need to be considered, when you're asking customers for their money. I'm in an industry that isn't as loose as the comic book industry, where at some level, readers do acknowledge that creators are going to take characters in directions they may not like. Personally, I still take particular care to monitor customer feedback for the product I'm responsible for. Just because a company CAN put something out doesn't mean it SHOULD. Just because a segment of readers is unhappy doesn't mean that they're whiners -- trust me, that is as dangerous a line of thinking for a company as I've ever seen. Because sometimes, mistakes are made by companies. Sometimes, creators get it wrong.

What happens when they do?

That's where "5 Things I Think I Know" is going this week: Some creators may not realize it, and DC may not realize it, but it's going to be difficult to execute some of these relaunches. I do believe DC has performed due diligence and believes there is a market for some of these concepts, but I'll be blunt: I think some of these books are dead on arrival, when you have 52 first issues coming, and I do wonder what comes next: Will DC simply scale back their line to Superman/Batman/Green Lantern/Justice League material, or will there be a second wave of launches with possibly the Justice Society and Captain Marvel/Thunder, and so on?

That's why this relaunch is so important: Failure is inevitable, but I don't know if it's an option. Know what I mean?

5 Things I Think I Know, DC Revamp "Dead on Arrival" Edition

5. Who even likes Deathstroke, anymore?: Hey, I'll admit that Slade Wilson's power-set is interesting -- the whole "90 percent of your brain" thing is fine, in an industry where people fly and block bullets with bracelets -- but come on. The character's limited. He carries around guns and swords, and while he can kill as many redshirts as DC deems appropriate, who else does anybody want to see killed by this lame-assed concept? This character's fate was sealed when Ryan Choi got smoked. Why? Because nobody wants to see that. Readers want the threat of danger. But no, we do not want Deathstroke killing superheroes. That's why this book is DOA: Nobody likes this character anymore. Truthfully, I think DC could move 100,000 units of "The Death of Deathstroke" far quicker than they'll move anything they relaunch with character whose time likely has passed...

4. War is hell, and these sales numbers might be: I have read many Sgt. Rock and Easy Company stories. I've read stories featuring the Losers and the Haunted Tank and the Blackhawks and the Unknown Soldier and Gravedigger. I enjoyed them all. But that was 30-plus years ago, when comics were simpler and readers weren't as demanding. Now? We've seen Black Adam KILL COUNTRIES. So no, I don't think anybody's particularly aching to read how the Men of War are operating in a world where bullets bounce off some individuals. Maybe it could work in a separate setting...but mixing superheroes and villains and bullets just doesn't seem feasible for a long period of time.

3. For a relaunch, Katar Hol is better than Carter Hall: I would've gone with "Katar Hol, Thanagarian cop stranded on Earth," about a billion times faster than I would've gone with "Carter Hall, Savage Archeaolgist." Why? You get so many more storylines that are more compelling quickly. Again, the key word is "quickly." I just have a feeling that Hawkman is going to be so complex to relaunch, combined with the limitations of the character to begin with, that this book is DOA. I honestly don't think it has anything to do with creators on this one. Carter Hall -- man, that is a limited character and concept.

2. I love Captain Atom, but nope, this ain't working: A Captain Atom that appears to be more Doctor Manhattan than "energy-based powerhouse"...that isn't going to work for an extended period. Why? Because it doesn't work when you mix that character with the Batmans and Nightwings of the world. And, at some point, you will. Bottom line: Anybody who has read or seen "Watchmen" knows what Doctor Manhattan did to Rorshach. If you remind people of that too closely, again, you're pulling the curtain back too far, and people start wondering why in the world the Joker isn't a bloody stain in the snow when he irritates the wrong guy. I am curious to see how quickly DC realizes that some power sets need to be toned down, simply for the long-term viability of the character.

1. Would anybody have rioted if Supergirl was in a second wave of relaunches?: This character getting a book surprised me, even though I understand that the diversity issue is important. But really, with the exception of the very good Gates/Igle run, has anybody really cared about this character all that much? Is DC a lesser company without Supergirl? I doubt that. And I don't think readers are going to support this concept when they have so many other possibilities to choose from in the fall.

That's it for this week...we'll try to do better in the next!

Written or Contributed by: ElijahSnowFan

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About the Author - Christian Hoffer


Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.

 


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