Marc Alan Fishman: DC’s Newest – A New Hope or Phantom Menace?

Section 8Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been snarky. And I use that italicized denotation to declare to you that my right eyebrow is fully engaged and riding high, whilst its partner is floating low. There is a smirk across my mouth that clearly tells you that I’m excited. These are the announcements Internet op-ed folk dream of reading – and then immediately speculate, rant, and blather about.

The New 52 is dead. Long may you rot, New 52.

Following up from the soon-to-pass “Convergence” epic-to-end-all-epics-except-that-last-epic crossover event, DC will be overhauling its monthly title list to include 25 currently running series, and a newly announced (well, like, a week ago announced) set of 24 new titles that may just be rebrands, or retitled series they still are putting out. So, be prepped for yet-another-batch of #1s to flood your racks and drain your wallet. And I say your wallet because in spite of all the good karma DC is attempting to gain by admitting some present-day faults with this stunt, I have yet to be impressed. If anything, this current PR initiative leaves me even more tepid regarding mainstream comic bookery.

Dan DiDio’s press release declared the shifting sands of the line as “allow[ing] us to publish something for everyone, be more expansive and modern in our approach and tell stories that better reflect the society around us.” All in all, that’s a great sentiment. It clearly rides the line between apology and promise for the future. Something for everyone hits right in the bread basket. As the average comic shop goer continues to diversify – both in who goes to the shop as well as what those in the shop are looking for – declaring that a motif of the line was to expand beyond the norm of capes and cowls is a great thing to strive for.

Of course if you then look at the line being offered, tt’s a big fat lie.

The rest of the quote deals with incorporating a modern approach in telling stories that reflect the society around us. This leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. They said the same thing with the New 52 and all we got were angsty superheroes and an abundance of Nehru collars. Oh, and the death of a ton of worthwhile continuity and legacy. But I digress.

Be that is it may, there’s glints of hope peering out in between the predictable. The Bryan Hitch written and drawn Justice League of America gives me the hope from last time I gave a crap about DC’s biggest team – the Morrison years. We Are Robin takes what appears to be a street-level justice bent, likely set in Gotham. It harkens back perhaps to GCPD, a series that I wish there were more of in any incarnation of the DCU. And for those who like to celebrate the odd, well, Bat-Mite or Bizarro might take typical cape-and-cowl crud and give us something unexpected.

Peering further down the list though, we get series that seem to be dusting off concepts the modern reader isn’t going to know. Prez, Omega Men, and Section Eight: I’m looking at you. Seeing these titles amongst the noobs has me scratching my head. Pair those What the-? titles with lame ducks like Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, and Cyborg and I’m no longer scratching… I’m shaking it in sadness.

Not because I don’t want these series to succeed, mind you. But the truth of the matter is none of these books are on the tips of the tongues of those seeking new books or concepts. And while DC may hope some jazzy art, or a modern concept will instantly enamor the geeks at large with the new books… someone somewhere should denote that one simply can’t “Batgirl” their way to victory. It will take heavy lifting by the respective creative teams to lure the initiated into the fold – and then it will take near perfection of execution to keep those books alive. If they want a hint, they should go back to New York and ask Marvel about Hawkeye.

The truth of the matter is that it will take an amazing leap of faith for any of the new series to be more than just another attempt at making buzz. While putting great talent on a book (like Ennis and McCrea on Section Eight – a series tied to their old hit, Hitman) is never a bad thing… putting out this many number one issues in succession makes it infinitely harder to see the kind of success DiDio is hoping for. It’s not enough to hack and slash your way through the catalog and dump a ton of new books on the public under the guise of the shifting tides.

The announcement on the whole reeks to me of boardroom politics and analytic-based commodity profiteering. Simply put, the powers-that-be figured out that #1s spike sales. So, fuck all… flood the market again, wrap it up in some nice PR about diversity, and save the line for another two years.

Mark my words: if half of the newly announced series are still being published at issue #13, feel free to shave my face.