Sage's Stray Thoughts 21: Batgirling? Seriously?
And here we are again.
My last "Stray Thoughts" entry was roughly two months ago, when I talked about how the ending of DC's "Convergence" story and the subsequent DC You marketing was turning me off of my favorite publisher. So what brings me back to a subject I've already spoken on ostensibly in a relatively short period of time?
Well, the recent Bleeding Cool article that's been insinuating that perhaps all their "Batgirling" hasn't go as well as they might've hoped it would. The assumption here is that having read that article, I've spent the last day or so throwing a wild, drunken orgy in excitement and anticipation that the "old DC" would return. And yet (as far as I know), there's no orgy on the schedule for the month. No excitement or anticipation, either. For a couple reasons:
1.) The Old DC is Never Coming Back: This isn't a Heroes Reborn type of deal. DC is four years into their new direction--that's not something you just decide to undo. The type of catastrophic sales you think would be necessary to cause them to reverse course would make Warner Bros. a zillion times more likely to simply kill off DC Comics altogether. At this point, the only way the "Old DC" would make a return is if a legitimate fan-based movement got together in gigantic droves and asked for it. You'd need decent reasoning for it, a mission statement for your group, and you'd need proof that the sales they'd get from it would be better than what they have by now by a lot. Which means you need numbers--numbers that you could only get by getting the conservative-types and the tumblr-types working together. This would be the comics equivalent of getting a largely even Congress to work together on a controversial bill. Basically, it's just not going to happen.
The best thing you could hope for is Dan Didio to step down for whatever reason, and the next DC President to just start reintroducing elements of the original DC until the new one resembled the old one enough that no one cared anymore. See how much of a long shot just that sounds like?
2.) This Could Be False: To be fair, I trust Bleeding Cool more than I should, and almost certainly more than just about any other comics fan. And I'm not saying they're wrong, I'm saying that since only Rich (and maybe Hannah) actually know the sources behind these stories, there could be some inaccurate claims. And even if they aren't wrong, there are plenty of things that could explain the $2 million dollar loss: the move itself and the poor reception to Convergence alone might cover that. As far as potential low sales of these comics--I'd hold off on that worry, for now. Trades used to tell a different story with certain critically acclaimed but "low selling" titles, and now we have digital sales as well to account for, and those numbers generally aren't as well-published. The DC You has only existed for roughly three months, so until we see the results of the first trades I wouldn't panic or get excited by any means.
3.) It's Just Not Right: Finally, even if everything's true (quite possible) and if they were somehow going back to the Old DC (not possible)...it feels wrong to celebrate. The DC You had some good ideas, a lot of beautiful artwork, and if nothing else--an attitude that I supported. Ultimately, I want a world in which there are more titles featuring female characters or black characters or asian characters, both in team books and as prominent solo characters. I want there to be LGBTQ characters populating that world and getting their time in the spotlight. But I also want DC to figure out what Kurt Busiek has in Astro City: that you can enjoy all the diversity you want without throwing away all the trappings of a superhero universe. There are parts of DC You that just don't "feel" like a superhero universe, which is bad when your universe is barely holding together by a thread to begin with.
If you look at the comments section of that Bleeding Cool article, there's just a bunch of people excited about how this "liberal" relaunch failed, and they just sound like some out-of-touch old (most likely) white guys that aren't trying to accept change in any form. I'm not that guy, and I've never wanted to be.
At the same time, if it IS all true, I do have some thoughts: Ultimately, it all comes down to DC having sort of screwed the pooch.
It's worth mentioning that Marvel NOW, Marvel Comics' attempt to relaunch their entire brand (probably the result of the meeting they had to have had immediately after Aquaman stomped their entire line-up in sales), only happened in late 2012. We're barely three years out, and here we are again with Marvel October:
The key difference between Marvel NOW/New 52 and DC You/Marvel October though, and the reasons why you can feel an excitement for Marvel's newest relaunch while there's this panic that the DC You isn't working, is that Marvel has consistency. With DC, there's this (perhaps not wholly wrong) perception that reboots happen all the time, the continuity is always shifting, and no story ever really "matters". They can't even get their messages straight. At the end of Convergence, we were told "every story happened", then heading into DC You the company line became "don't worry about continuity".
This borderline disdain towards making even the tiniest effort to honor what's come before is the reason why so many DC fans sound so grumpy. Not everyone is against diversity--like with most major issues, most people simply don't care...until you start messing with what's already there. DC's reboot erased tons of people's favorite characters, then proceeded to alter the ones that were left endlessly. Fans reacted poorly to that back when there weren't any racial/gender/sexual orientation issues involved, what could possibly lead one to the conclusion that they're going to take it well now?
Meanwhile, if you take a look at some of Marvel October's newest titles, you'll notice something: they've gone out of their way to make equal usage of all their characters: new, old, iconic, small-time, men, women, straight, gay--whatever. The end result is the amount of complaining drops off the steepest of cliffs. No one cares that Miles Morales is swinging around Marvel classic NY because Peter's still doing his thing. You don't get mad that there's a team which literally doesn't seem to have a single white male on it when Cap, Thor, Iron Man, and all the characters you love are still being featured prominently. And they did it all without tossing out a scrap of continuity, despite going through an event where the multiverse itself appears to have been erased.
What I'm saying is: the relaunch itself? A great idea, and sorely necessary, including all the publicity and radio ads and stuff like that. But the reboot that came along with it? Just made more issues than DC needed to deal with, especially at a time where Marvel's the most dangerous they've ever been in 40 years.
But, it's too late now to panic about it--we just have to wait to see how it all plays out.