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The Moment of Truth for DC Comics Relaunch

Elvis Presley once wrote

“When I was a child I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie.”

That’s something DC Comics forgot, as Blogcritics recently observed

When modern comics have gone off the rails, it’s because they forgot that core truth: we want to be these characters.  Look, up in the sky, it’s Superman!  You’re a kid, you’re small, you’re weak.  Imagine being able to fly!  Imagine being strong enough to pick up a train and hurl it like a javelin!  We grow up wanting to be these characters.
3 reasons to be excited at Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman

DC Comics rebooted its universe on August 31.

DC Comics Everything Depends on winning back the readers they have lostBreakout:

It is a misconception that they wiped out 75 years of comic book history, the rich heritage of Superman and Batman, etc. They wiped all that out in 1985. What they wiped out 2 weeks ago is all the garbage that’s happened since. And it has been garbage. Stunts, poor storytelling, disrespect for the characters, the fans and the medium have driven away loyal readers. It came to a head in 2008. The tiny comic book division had gone largely unnoticed by parent company Time Warner because its earnings were insignificant. The damage it could do creating bad will around billion dollar properties like Batman were not. It was in 2008 when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and its viral by 42 Entertainment brought the Caped Crusader’s mainstream popularity to heights not seen since Batmania of the 1960s, Time Warner became aware of just how badly DC Comics Batman editor Paul Dini and head writer Grant Morrison had been insulting, angering and offending fans of The Batman and related characters like Catwoman. More »

While bloggers have been eagerly reviewing “The New 52” comics that have been released so far, the take of those who never stopped buying and reading comic books are not really relevant as far as the reboot achieving its goal. Nor are the titles released so far: Batgirl, Superboy, Swamp Thing. Not relevant.

There are only three titles that enable us to gauge if the new DC Comics is serious about repairing the damage and rebuilding its brand in the eyes of those it has alienated:  Justice League, Batman and Catwoman.

Justice League #1 because it was by Creative Director Geoff Johns, and because it was the first issue to come out and would get the most curious look ins from non- and ex- comic readers. Signs were favorable there: though a team book, that first issue focused entirely on Batman and Green Lantern, as in the marquee characters from recent Warner Bros films.

Batman #1 and Catwoman #1 because the success or failure of the new DC Comics depends on getting their act together in time to take advantage of The Dark Knight Rises in July of 2012. It is telling that both are released on the same day: this Wednesday, September 21.

The language of the promotional materials is also telling:

Batman #1
batman-and-catwoman-the-two-comics-to-watch-on-dc-comics-relaunch-reboot-new52-batman-1-coverWritten by SCOTT SNYDER
Writing the one and only Bruce Wayne as the titular hero. Fan favourite artist Greg Capullo joins him here and this newly formed dynamic duo promise copious amounts of intrigue, action and dastardly villains, new and old, to the series. If you love Batman in his proving grounds of Gotham City, this is one of two key books to watch to see if DC Comics has recognized their errors that have driven off readers over the past 10 years and are serious about repairing them.

“The one and only Bruce Wayne as the titular hero” is important because Bruce Wayne was no longer Batman under the mismanagement of the former editorial regime. He was dead. Seriously.

While there are other Batman titles, this is the one to watch to evaluate the editorial intent in making good on or wasting this last chance.  The other Batman books like Detective Comics and All Star Batman and Robin may be considered a ghetto of those personel and story elements of the pre-boot which could not be instantly flushed for one reason or another. One imagines they will linger for a few years and then be quietly attended to.

CATWOMAN #1
batman-and-catwoman-the-two-comics-to-watch-on-dc-comics-relaunch-reboot-new52-catwoman-1-coverWritten by JUDD WINICK
Art and cover by GUILLEM MARCH
Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick and artist Guillem March

Her status as a thief is front and center. Good.
Her relationship with Batman is front and center. Good.
As noted elsewhere, writer Judd Winick used the word “sexy” 40 times in an interview about this title. Apart from keeping the fan-loathed costume of the pre-boot, DC seems to be doing all they can to signal good intentions.

Of course appearances can be deceiving, and after all DC pulled I won’t believe it’s not another sucker punch for at least a year.

“After all DC pulled with her” they’ve got their work cut out for them.

DC’s NEW 52 Sales Figures Some Historical Perspective from Newsarama

DC Comics Everything Depends on winning back the readers they have lostDC Comics future depends on winning back readers they have lost and fans they have alienated in years of mishandling the marquee characters like Batman and Catwoman in time to capitalize on mainstream interest generated by The Dark Knight Rises and related offerings.  The sales figures from the first weeks are largely curiosity buys and collectors buys, and reveal little about how serious the new Warner Bros.-driven DC Entertainment is about righting past wrongs of the old DC Comics.  But Newsarama provides an interesting analysis of the first wave of sales numbers from the limited perspective of those who never left the comics bubble.

To give some perspective to DC’s sales achievement of print comics so far during the months of August and September, Newsarama gathered some historical sales figures for comparison.

– DC has reported that two New 52 titles sold more than 200,000 copies on their first printing: Justice League #1 and Action Comics #1.

– The last time one comic sold more than 200,000 copies was the Amazing Spider-Man issue with U.S. President Obama on the cover in January 2009.

– The last time DC hit the 200,000 was the Brad Meltzer/Ed Benes issue of Justice League of America #1 in August 2006, with 212,178 copies that month.

– According to Bob Wayne, DC’s senior vice president of sales, the total number of the Meltzer JLA issues sold is DC’s prior 21st Century “high water mark” for Justice League. It was achieved with multiple printings. According to Diamond’s publicly released sales figures, the total sales over several month was 238,353.

– “The historical sales number for that 2006 issue of JLA accumulated over three months,” Wayne told Newsarama. “I expect we’ll exceed it within three weeks.”

– DC reported that eight additional titles have surpassed sales of 100,000 copies. It’s been rare for the last few years that any comic sells more than 100,000 copies during a sales month. To give context to the achievement, the last time a DC comic sold more than 100,000 copies was in June 2010 with Batman #700, which sold 104,755 copies.

– To give further perspective to the number, DC’s top-selling comic this year, Flashpoint #1, did not top 100,000 sold in a month, instead topping out in May at 86,981. DC’s second level comic during the event, Green Lantern, which is also its recent top-selling regular title, has been selling in the 70,000-75,000 range for the last year.

– Nine comics with sales above 100,000 copies from one publisher in a month is also rare. According to Newsarama’s research the last time there were nine comic titles selling more than 100,000 copies from one publisher was in May 2007, when Marvel had 11. According to Comichron, 2007 was the high-water mark in yearly sales since 1997, with over 85 million units sold.

via Newsarama.com

See related:
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle Retro-active: a vintage interview with the star Batman creative team DC Comics has brought back for Batman Retroactive
DC Comics relaunch… enough to repair the damage?
Retroactive: Can DC Comics Win Back Lost Readers?
DC Retroactive: Batman – The ’80s