Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On the DC Reboot

Honestly, I'm still not sure what to make of it. At all.

One theory that's out there on the internet is that it's ok for old fans to be disenfranchised, because that will lead to new fans replacing us. The template those people look to is the successful Doctor Who revival. And you know, I'd be OK with that, honestly. If DC doesn't want to produce a product I like, then I'll take my money elsewhere; no harm, no foul, it's just business.

But....exactly how are they going to get these news fans is my question. Where will they come from? Using Doctor Who as the reference, I got into it with the revival because it was heavily marketed in a media I have easy access to (TV), was easy to find (check the listings), cost nothing to check out (provided you were already paying your bills), and was produced by a group of new creators who had little if any involvement in the franchise, and the product was made easily accessible.

Contrast this with the Reboot; how are they marketing it? Multimedia advertising - internet, TV, radio, newspaper articles. OK, this is good - but it's casting a wide net, assuming that people are going to check it out because the recognizable characters (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern) are there. Which might do well...for those titles, but probably won't help say, the Blackhawks book or Birds of Prey or Stormwatch or Mr. Terrific, which is to say, the majority of the relaunched titles. In order for that to work, there would have to be advertising within the "high profile" titles for the other books. I don't see that happening. Nevermind that trying to target a diverse line of comics for a general audience is a tricky thing, and would have to be sustained over a long period of time to see long lasting results.

Then there's the accessiblity - there are effectively two audiences to the reboot wants to get - people who will go to the brick and mortar stores, and people who will buy digital. For the digital purchasers, they have to have the app, and they have to be aware of how to use the app and then, they have to pay on a per-issue basis the same as the brick and mortar store customers. The potential brick and mortar store customers are limited by the fact that A) there may not be a comic store anywhere near them (such as myself) and B) they need to actually FIND them, which isn't as easy as say, checking your local TV listings for a show. The store owners also have to be willing to risk ordering lots of extra copies months in advance how much of an increase in business they should expect, otherwise, they aren't going to get much in the way of new customers.

In addition to this, while the histories of the characters are being refreshed/relaunched/rebooted or whatever term you like, the people making them are, for the most part, the same group of people who have been part of the franchise for the past decade. Much like with "Brightest Day", it's hard for things to change substantially if it's the same people doing the same kind of work that has been rejected in the past. In fact, much like the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths that this relaunch is compared to, the relaunching is highly selective - Green Lantern and Batman are staying the same while Superman and Wonder Woman are getting new takes, which, incidentally, is exactly what happened Post-Crisis.

This is all a very long way of saying that you can't really compare the DC reboot to the Doctor Who revival because the marketing isn't as targeted, its not as easy to access, it costs more, and the "freshness" of the take is questionable.

As a sidebar, I find it interesting that the relaunch really doesn't address (and really can't address) one of the rumored reasons for it; to more effectively tie-in with the use of the characters in other media and to develop more adaption-ready material for multimedia use. Trying to make a successful multimedia franchise ready for adaptation is difficult to start with, and it's compounded by the fact that it limits the creators to try and achieve a style that can be easily adapted, which works for some properties, but not others.

Of course, I also try to imagine what would happen if DC had to bring their comics inline with their existing multimedia adaptations. For example, getting rid of all the Robins and most of the supporting cast to put the Batman comics inline with the Nolan films. And you'd have to replace the entire writing and art groups of DC to try and emulate the aesthetics and storytelling style of "Batman: the Brave and the Bold". Or (my personal favourite) making a "Big Seven" Justice League comic with John Stewart and Hawkgirl, with a Dini-inspired house art style and Dwayne McDuffie-style storytelling.

Actually...yeah, I would like to see that last one.

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