Noah J Nelson on Tuesday, May. 31st
Superhero movies are dominating this summer’s release schedule, which means that comic books must be more popular than ever, right?
If that were so, then we wouldn’t be seeing the number two comic book publisher, DC Comics (home of Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern) taking the drastic step of relaunching its entire line of comics at #1 this September. Unlike other “radical shake-ups” of comic book universes, this step by DC has all the earmarks of a real, lasting change. It’s not just the titles that are changing, but the way they are being sold.
DC announced today — in press releases, a USA Today article, and a letter to comic book retailers — that not only would 52 series be relaunched from number one, but that all the comics would now be sold in digital form on the same day and date as those in comic book shops. This is a huge change in how DC and the comic book industry as a whole does business, one which is clearly an attempt to reach out to the still untapped digital market.
DC has yet to say if the relaunches will mean an entirely new continuity for its stable of characters, which could mean that some very well loved storylines will be coming to an end, or if it is merely the numbering that is changing to help lure in new readers. Nor has their been any word on whether the digital prices will match the $2.99 for physical copies that DC has been touting for a year now.
With all these questions still up in the air, informed speculation on the changes has barely begun on the comic’s blogger scene. What is clear is that DC is taking a huge risk, potentially alienating long-term fans with the hope that they can reach an entirely new generation of readers with a new direction.
As a long time comic book fan myself, I am torn by the news. I’d love nothing more than to see a host of new fans reading comics and supporting the storytelling form I love most, but the thought of favorite titles like Batman Incorporated disappearing overnight makes me sick to the stomach. (Not that we have confirmation that Batman Inc. is on the chopping block, but a reboot of DC continuity wouldn’t be likely to feature the rather baroque status quo of a Gotham City that has two different Batmen and multiple teenage sidekicks.)
The change hits on August 31st when the final issue of the Flashpoint mini-series, and the first issue of the new Justice League series, are released.