Twilight Of DC Comics?

The latest rumors percolating around the internet is about DC Comics and how it will cease publication. The reason behind this is low sales and loss of confidence by DC Comics’ owners, AT&T. While the comic book company is challenged by declining sales, it is too early to start writing obituaries for the company.

It’s been reported that AT&T does not have any interest in comic book publications and considers DC Comics to be a financial drain to the point that they want to sell DC. More dire is that if the upcoming DC Comics 5G revamp does not succeed then DC will fold. That is ludicrous and an exaggeration. First of all, even though DC comic book sales are down, the characters are still popular. Just look at the amount of money made in merchandising and from other media. Namely, TV shows, films and video games. The video game Batman: Arkham Knight and Batman: Arkham are some of the most revered video games ever released.

Sure, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is struggling right now, but the cinematic universe is rife with potential. Want proof? Look at the positive reaction generated by the clip introducing the new Batman in next year’s The Batman. It is too easy to pile on the DCEU because Shazam! underperformed last year and Birds of Prey was a box office failure. Too many are comparing the DCEU to the MCU, which is unfair since the MCU was a properly planned cinematic universe that is reaping the rewards now. But keep in mind, the MCU may not be the top dog going forward and this could coincide with the DCEU taking over as the top cinematic universe. Just greenlight a Man of Steel sequel and all should be fine. 😀

Then there is the high anticipation for new DC TV shows like Stargirl and Green Lantern. Also, many current TV shows are getting lots of attention like the ones streaming on the DC Universe app (Harley Quinn, Doom Patrol and Titans) or on The CW–the recent crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths earned tons of positive publicity as several versions of live-action DC superheroes made appearances and teamed up.

Getting back to the comics, the low sales DC is grappling with is shared with all the other comic book companies. There are many reasons for declining sales such as rising costs, other competing media, and so on. What can be done to deal with the sales? That is the million-dollar question and it is clear the current comic book model and distribution no longer works. A solution as innovative as direct sales was back in the late 70s is needed to allow the medium to survive. Whether this means going completely digital, lowering prices, or changing the print format (going directly to graphic novels or trade paperbacks) remains to be seen.

Of course, AT&T could license off their comic books and have another company create their comics. But that could lead to headaches down the road. What if a new character is introduced in the hypothetical licensed comic, does that character belong to DC? The best example is Marvel back in the 90s. The company canceled several comics and hired Rob Liefeld and other Image creators to relaunch core titles like Captain America into their own reboots. At the same time, Marvel sold the film and TV rights to film companies to raise cash and climb out of bankruptcy. The result was that the Liefeld books were poorly received and eventually killed, while to this date, Marvel is struggling with trying to regain the rights to all their characters. Hence the mess over Spider-Man’s film and TV rights, ditto for the Hulk. DC Comics is in a state of flux right now. This was evident with the recent dismissal of DC co-publisher Dan DiDio; and how 5G will fare is unknown. The comic books as we know will most likely change, but its too fluid to guess how, so we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, if any of you don’t want to see a twilight of DC comics then remember to keep buying them.

 

 

17 comments on “Twilight Of DC Comics?

  1. Great piece! I’m glad you’ve put this out there to redress the balance, sure there’s a bit of a negative air surrounding the DC situation at the moment but we all know that DC Comics isn’t going anywhere. I’m a lifelong comics fan of both Marvel and DC and in all honesty I feel that DC’s titles over the past few years have been far superior to Marvel’s output. The Rebirth initiative in 2016 was a well executed soft reboot of the continuity and it’s all been good from thereon in my opinion.

    As for the Worlds of DC (what everyone still insists on referring to as the DCEU) films, they may not all be perfect but I still look forward to each one – I’m pretty stoked about Matt Reeve’s Batman from what’s been revealed so far…but, yes, gives us a Superman sequel with Henry Cavill and all will be well…

    • Thanks! I feel all the fear mongering over the comics is way overblown and designed for clickbaits.

      But we have to acknowledge the comics industry on the while is hurting. There are numerous reasons why and no easy or clear answer on how to increase sales. But it is hard to believe the comics medium is on its deathbed. Something more drastic has to occur.

      This will have to be explored deeper in another post. Thanks again for your insights.

      • Yeah, I think with Marvel at least they’ve built up such a massive audience with the MCU but many of those don’t then follow the characters into the comics. A shame, maybe that’s why Kevin Fiege has been placed in charge of that side of things as well. Look forward to that follow-up post!

  2. There’s a lot of speculation around DC Comics and its future at the moment. Tom King’s run on Batman and Bendis’ changes to Superman have been very divisive. I think Dan Didio’s departure is a good move though, and I’m hoping this means 5G will be reigned in somewhat. I think 5 G is something nobody wants at all really. As for films and tv, well I think the DCEU is catching up with Marvel now, so in that respect the future looks bright and positive. As for DC Comics, same as all comic companies, I think they should ditch the endless crossovers reboots, and relaunches and get back to basics with their legacy characters. That’s what fans really want.

    • There have been too many reboots and relaunches. 5G makes it the third time in a 10 year period that DC rebooted their titles. They should focus on telling great stories and fans will find out and follow. A good example was when Jim Lee penciled Batman and this drew lots of attention.

      • I totally agree, they’ve done this far too many times now. We need strong stories and regular creative teams that actually get a chance to shine, not chopping and changing everything all the time.

    • There have been too many reboots and relaunches. 5G makes it the third time in a 10 year period that DC rebooted their titles. They should focus on telling great stories and fans will find out and follow.

      A good example was when Jim Lee penciled Batman and this drew lots of attention. His run wasn’t part of a relaunch, no issue number 1, just part of the title’s regular run. People noticed and the book became more popular. That is what DC and other companies should be doing.

      • Indeed, Jim Lee has done some amazing work in the past. I still think DC need to concentrate on strengthening its main legacy characters, some haven’t been treated that well in recent years. Twice Monthly shipping is another problem I think, its expensive for fans, and puts too much pressure on creative teams. On the whole I think the comic industry is making positive moves, but the endless reboots need to stop for a while now and give the characters and DC universe a chance to grown and find its feet again.

      • Excellent points! The current model cannot and will not last. I have a feeling it won’t be long before we start seeing new ways of selling and distributing comics. Hopefully that means no more relaunches and more affordable prices to entice readers.

  3. I doubt it will happen, but even as someone who is only passingly familiar with comic books, I can say DC closing would truly be the end of an era. And I am fully aware of the comic book industry’s crash in the mid-1990s. There were a lot of factors that led up to it, but their pandering to 1990s teenagers turned out to be a terrible long-term strategy. It’s kind of like what happened with gaming in the early-to-mid 2010s, but thankfully, they’ve corrected their course since then.

    • Of course the new factor to throw into this is the coronavirus and its effect on the global economy. The industry was struggling already and with everything shutting down who knows how physical print will be impacted long term. Digital media may wind up being the lifeblood that keeps the comics industry alive.

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