DC Implosion II: DC Comics in 2020 and Beyond

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As a brief update for the uninitiated: AT&T acquired Time Warner in mid-2018 and promptly showed itself to be somewhere between cool and actively hostile to DC Comics as anything more than a bottomless IP well for use by DC Entertainment.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2019/07/31/where-does-dc-fit-in-atts-vision-for-warnermedia/#7d38e6e379b7

AT&T proceeded to badly fuck up launching HBO Max and, as of this writing, is in the midst of goof-proof restructuring/re-siloing its ridiculously sprawling holdings - including Warner Brothers Studio, all the Turner networks (CNN, TCM, TNT, Cartoon Network) and HBO - into parcels of territory it thinks it can more ably control. The general industry take seems to be that AT&T is at a loss as to why they are in a dying pamphlet publishing industry and, as no one ever got around to figuring out how to properly monetize digital, they a)want out or b)are happy to deprioritize DC Comics indefinitely.
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/at-t-loses-streaming-pay-tv-subscribers-warnermedia-earnings-drop-1274002
https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/03/04/is-att-getting-ready-to-kill-dc-comics.aspx

In August of 2020, following the layoffs of thousands of people in their direct-to-consumer stores, AT&T fired hundreds of staff people at Warner Brothers and DC including much of the latter's senior staff and editorial.
https://www.comicsbeat.com/dc-layoffs-reportedly-a-bloodbath/
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dcs-jim-lee-companys-future-we-are-still-business-publishing-comics-1307413

DC Comics is currently canceling somewhere between a third and half of its currently active books before the end of the year.
https://www.gamesradar.com/dc-cancels-teen-titans-young-justice-suicide-squad-hawkman-and-more/

COVID, of course, isn't helping and neither is the life-support system status of the direct market or DC's recent break with Diamond as exclusive distributors.
http://www.tcj.com/diamond-comics-to-end-weekly-comics-delivery-starting-april-1st-until-further-notice/
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/comic-stores-diamond-distributors-clash-as-industry-reopens-1301472
https://screenrant.com/dc-comics-break-with-diamond-a-major-success/

In the midst of all this tumult, DC launched a previously-to-the-layoffs-announced first-time virtual "Fandome" convention this past weekend. What exciting DC Comics info could you learn about at Fandome? Well there was an announcement for a new HBO Batman series, a new Captain Mar - er - SHAZAM movie, more info on The Rock's Black Adam movie, a trailer for yet another Batman movie reboot, the cast for the new Suicide Squad movie, a preview for a Flash movie, news about another new Batman video game (based on a specific comic book run, does that count?), a trailer for the "Snyder Cut" of the three year old Justice League movie, some promise that Sandman on Netflix is still in production... and then waaaaaaaaaaaaay down at the bottom, two very vague bits of information about actual comics at this comic convention: screenwriter John Ridley announcing he's writing a four-issue series about Batman in 2021 that MIGHT have a Black protagonist ("it's probably a little better than a 47% chance," wake the kids and tell them racism is over!) and a planned reboot of the predominantly Black written/drawn/cast Milestone imprint in 2021... on Black History Month... with two one-shot books... in digital format. Maybe put the kids back to bed?
https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/22/21397238/fandome-dc-zack-snyder-justice-league-batman-robert-pattinson-black-adam-gotham-knights

All in all, a company and a publishing legacy that seems ripe for shuttering or sale. It's a fucking shame considering that the company has been publishing something more than a handful of very good books as recently as the past twelve months: a wacky meta-Jimmy Olsen book by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber, Grant Morrison's space-procedural take on Green Lantern, an excellent reboot of Hellblazer by Simon Spurrier, NK Jemisin's stellar Green Lantern Corp spin-off Far Sector, Mark Russell's admirably kooky and cohesively-structured take on the Wonder Twins, Gene Luen Yang's better-in-concept-than-execution but still completely laudable Superman Smashes the Klan, Greg Rucka and Mike Perkin's loopy Ms Tree-influenced Lois Lane miniseries... heck, if you're of the right mindset, the Bendisverse and Tom King's multiple books have been worth keeping up with too! But it's hard to imagine any extended new work of merit blossoming in 2021 from either established or new creators when your grand vision exists only on a month-to-month basis.

Here's a thread to discuss the corporate and creative future of DC Comics and why/if we should care.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 24 August 2020 14:21 (one month ago) link

Thread title reference btw: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Implosion

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 24 August 2020 14:26 (one month ago) link

I literally just yesterday finished reading this:

https://twomorrows.com/images/large/books/Implosion_LRG.jpg

Recommended. Good reminder that DC has been punching itself in the face/been punched in the face by its corporate overlords for decades.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Monday, 24 August 2020 14:33 (one month ago) link

Also worth noting that the original programming on the DC Universe streaming service (which kicked off less than two years ago) are being moved over to HBO Max, in a move that all but guarantees that the service itself will be shuttered in the near future.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Monday, 24 August 2020 14:41 (one month ago) link

I think they've already talked about moving the comics to a service like Marvel Unlimited.

EZ Snappin, Monday, 24 August 2020 14:53 (one month ago) link

Great recap, ulysses! Thanks for pointing all those great books that DC actually did publish this past year, too. Love Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane was really solid, sort of a throwback to Gotham Central. Plan to read the rest of those, too; been collecting Far Sector for a good sit.

One I would add to the "great if it's your kind of thing" is the Tom Taylor DCeased books. Yeah, I know, it's like, Marvel Zombies did this already, but I love Taylor's fun pulp since his epic Injustice run (also see his current Suicide Squad series which hopefully isn't cancelled already).

Picking up a bit on the Bendis talk earlier, I must give praise to Batman: Universe, fun tale with great art by Nick Derington. Part of a character swap he did with Tom King (doing Superman: Up in the Sky, not quite so good but interesting) for what was originally a Walmart-exclusive book.

Re: Marvel Unlimited - It's already been built, more or less, for DC Universe streaming, wasn't it? I didn't have any experience with it though, and it seemed under-advertised.

Nhex, Monday, 24 August 2020 15:21 (one month ago) link

Yeah. It's just that with the shows all moving to HBO Max they'll rebrand it as a standalone thing

EZ Snappin, Monday, 24 August 2020 15:25 (one month ago) link

I agree that the DCeased stuff is compulsive, pulpy stuff, good toilet reading for sure and it absolutely beats the FOR TEENZ ONLY silliness of the Heavy Metal books.

Batman: Universe WAS good and you're totally correct that Deringer's art is the strongest component there. He hits a sweet spot between Jim Aparo and Darwyn Cooke that really works for me.

I subscribed to Marvel Unlimited for a few years until I got frustrated with the many many technical issues and library restrictions and slow load times. I would honestly pay three times what MU is charging if they would only make the functionality anywhere near the same as torrenting! Can anyone speak to how well the DCU streaming comic platform works? A quick glance suggests the library is anything but comprehensive.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 24 August 2020 15:42 (one month ago) link

for reference: https://www.dcuniverse.com/browse/comics

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 24 August 2020 15:43 (one month ago) link

I know it doesn't speak well to my moral character but this is all popcorn.gif to me based on personal history

and i can almost smell your PG Tips (Jon not Jon), Monday, 24 August 2020 16:40 (one month ago) link

Great summation btw

and i can almost smell your PG Tips (Jon not Jon), Monday, 24 August 2020 16:40 (one month ago) link

FWIW, I imagine someone at Disney is probably arguing that they should drastically overpay for the whole shbang with deferred inheritance of the properties for television/movies? Maybe four times what they paid for Star Wars would get AT&T's attention?

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 24 August 2020 16:46 (one month ago) link

sure do wish i could find ZS's Bat-Sicnal.jpeg

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 24 August 2020 23:18 (one month ago) link

I gambled on the stupid fucking Three Jokers premium variants and it's annoying that it seems to be an actual hit. At least we won't lose money but this will encourage them.

DC solicits point to them juicing their numbers with incentive variants heavily over the next few months - since Rebirth they'd barely done any but there are 1:25 and 1:100 everywhere. Positively Marvel-esque.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 00:47 (four weeks ago) link

Actually as much as I hate DC right now, they're still much less embarrassing than Marvel on the variant front

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 00:48 (four weeks ago) link

if it's a hit, why is that annoying? (and yeah, every single damn DC title has variants now)

Nhex, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 00:51 (four weeks ago) link

The variant shit is legit annoying. Catering to the pogs crowd imo.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 01:56 (four weeks ago) link

xp - I don't like them being rewarded for pushing retailers hard into ordering 450 covers of 9 "premium variants" that sell for cover. It's bad for shops and the industry in the long run.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 02:01 (four weeks ago) link

also tbh I may be jumping the gun in calling it a hit, we'll see what happens with the last set of five covers in three months.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 02:01 (four weeks ago) link

Based on presold bundles etc. we will at least not lose money so I can't be mad mad I just don't like it

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 02:02 (four weeks ago) link

ah, ok. i didn't understand that the pre-order minimums were so high for those

Nhex, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 03:00 (four weeks ago) link

Yep, 50 per premium variant x 9 covers, plus the A & B - which were a PITA to order because of the commitment to 150 premiums.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 05:50 (four weeks ago) link

A brief on the past ten years of abuse of power in comics that is about 45% DC focused
http://www.tcj.com/the-2020-report-day-seven-finale/

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 14:08 (four weeks ago) link

Wish that could've been stuck to being an informative piece without so much tortured prose and opinion... but yeah, it's good to know

Nhex, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 18:09 (four weeks ago) link

TCJ house style

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 18:10 (four weeks ago) link

TCJ house style being pretty much the entire reason I eventually stopped buying TCJ but I digress.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 18:33 (four weeks ago) link

I wish Abhay had toned down his tumblr's house style about 70% for the series, but I don't think anyone else has ever written for the Journal in its 44-year-history like him (and iirc his only previous credit was the 2015 Spectacufuck, although his drop-ins on Tucker's blog posts were always entertaining) - certainly not in reportage / feature writing, and I'd class this more alongside Groth's '80s op-eds than the factual, asking-questions-on-the-phone news reporting that used to be a hallmark of the periodical version.

Also, all variant covers are an evil in the marketplace, although to a lesser degree on Love & Rockets or Henry & Glenn Forever or Bone.

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 18:45 (four weeks ago) link

my suggestion there was that TCJ house style is "tortured prose and opinion."

i will always cherish my glenn ganges chromefoil variant

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 18:55 (four weeks ago) link

TBF, my POV on TCJ is based on when I was still subscribing like...what, almost twenty years ago now? Fffffuuuuuuck, I'm old... But yes, interviews/main features were almost always solid.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 19:06 (four weeks ago) link

I still think that clarity of prose was a hallmark of TCJ golden age writers (aside from Ken Smith, whose column was solidly ignored by anyone except Groth - iirc the oral history has at least one editor say they didn't even bother to read it when laying out an issue?). Opinions are what you buy a magazine of criticism, columns, editorials and interviews for, but despite clearly ~knowing some words~, the greatest strength of writers like Fiore and Thompson and Macdonald and Spurgeon was an ability to be clear, personable and funny while conveying their opinions.



too scared to search "glenn ganges chromefoil variant"

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 19:13 (four weeks ago) link

like...what, almost twenty years ago

*searches to see when Ann3 El!zabeth M00re's brief tenure as editor was*

looks like mid-2001 to early 2002

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 19:21 (four weeks ago) link

Yeah, that would've been almost exactly the time I let my sub lapse iirc.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:05 (four weeks ago) link

ganges chromefoil was just sicbait, don't fear the variant

current TCJ online writing is kinda all over the place in terms of writing quality; this bizarre hitpiece on Urasawa is the latest headscratcher
http://www.tcj.com/reviews/mujirushi-the-sign-of-dreams/

That said, they're one of the few places I still read regularly for comic info and the weekly link wrap up is very necessary.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:11 (four weeks ago) link

Got a couple of paragraphs in... *sigh* ok, yeah. This is why I am not a fan of TCJ in general. No thanks.

Nhex, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:24 (four weeks ago) link

They're still posting good stuff!
Try this: http://www.tcj.com/bd-is-my-beat-a-long-hard-squint-at-manchette-and-tardi/

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:26 (four weeks ago) link

As a DC enthuiasiast, Nhex might enjoy Tom Kaczynski's or Tegan O'Neill's recent essay series on their universes more than a single link to something deliberately pointed to as being bad and incomprehensible

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:42 (four weeks ago) link

well i wasn't trying to win him over with the Urasawa link!
I found that Crisis piece pretty overwrought tbh.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:44 (four weeks ago) link

I know, just an observation!

Maybe a bit overwrought but it's enjoying the playful wallow in nerdy nostalgia, and the building thesis about The Event is both fun and meta. Each mention is like another appearance by The Monitor and Lyla!

Tegan's recent-years comics writing has often been too ~personal essay~ for me to fully enjoy the commentary, but re-evaluating the Morrison/Case Doom Patrol in a post-transition perspective is obviously a rich and relevant vein

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:58 (four weeks ago) link

This Tegan one on Stan Lee was good: http://www.tcj.com/what-he-taught-me/

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:04 (four weeks ago) link

I liked their Doom Patrol piece too.
http://www.tcj.com/the-wreckage-part-one/

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:09 (four weeks ago) link

*searches to see when Ann3 El!zabeth M00re's brief tenure as editor was*

looks like mid-2001 to early 2002

That was the worst incarnation of the print TCJ, wasn't it? The number of columns and reviews dwindled significantly and M00re seemed determined to turn it into her own personal zine (there were two Ghost World fumettis starring her which served no purpose).

the greatest strength of writers like Fiore and Thompson and Macdonald and Spurgeon was an ability to be clear, personable and funny while conveying their opinions.

I wish Fiore still wrote for TCJ instead of just hanging out on the Greil Marcus site.

And what happened to classic.tcj.com? It disappeared without a trace. They have always been half assed with preserving their online legacy.

gjoon1, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 23:13 (four weeks ago) link

Oy, that Urasawa piece is overlong, overwrought and a pretty terrible reading t'boot

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 27 August 2020 14:44 (four weeks ago) link

The fumetti would have been great if they were funny or representative of any greater push to bring weird and playful material back to the magazine. As it was they just made her look disconnected from the aims of the publication and its other contributors.

Kinda delighted to hear that Fiore has an old-man message baord to hang out on!

Yeah, there's never been the institutional will or funding to have a coherent online strategy - dates and times have disappeared off the comments on the current (a decade or so?) version, and Tucker is aggressive about not wanting to repair them. Even when people try and point out it damages the historical record, makes it impossible to track conversations in eg. the long thread where Dave Sim makes Kim pitch him on the reprint rights for Cerebus. Still, that's a step up from the days when they had to periodically delete every single post on the message board bcz they had such a small hosting plan that it took up room needed to add new books to the shop.

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Thursday, 27 August 2020 21:37 (four weeks ago) link

Didn't know these guys started up their podcast again.
https://www.factualopinion.com/the_factual_opinion/graphic_novel/
McCulloch is my favorite guy who isn't Gary Groth.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 27 August 2020 23:20 (four weeks ago) link

lol at the DC comics thread turning into a Comics Journal thread

Robert, yeah, both that and Travis Bickle On The Riviera are weekly now, presumably due to lockdown

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 28 August 2020 09:31 (three weeks ago) link

Interesting that there's been a bunch of reports on Geoff Johns as an abusive boss - well, Ray Fisher's and Abhay's anyway. I wonder if they've been timed to drop now for a specific reason.

In other news, who would've seen it coming that a comics dude with a penchant for writing about limb disfigurement and for remaking every IP in DC Comics history in his own image (even Alan Moore's!) could've been an abusive, narcissistic person to work for

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 28 August 2020 14:12 (three weeks ago) link

An engaging essay from the proprietors of an Edmonton comic shop about how DC's withdrawing from Diamond has been a stressful net positive for them: https://www.comicsbeat.com/the-coronavirus-journal-dc-comics-distribution-change-aftermath/

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Friday, 28 August 2020 22:21 (three weeks ago) link

As it stands, every single graphic novel product I can get through other vendors comes into the store faster that Diamond can turn around, in better condition, and at a better price point.

I can only conclude that his was a small store on a lower discount tier or this is a Canadian issue. (This is the case with a ton of people's attitudes - the retail side of the comic industry is about a half dozen different kinds of specialty retail. Some shops survive entirely on back issues, some are in college/artsy areas and can basically be curated book stores catering to a GN crowd, some are 50/50 comics/games)(currently I'm at 33% games/single issue comics/GNs and I don't do back issues as they're usually done).

Penguin Random House offers free shipping for a $150 minimum order but their discount is 7% lower than my Diamond tier was or my DC initial order tier is (I can't restock GNs from my comic distributor, one of the A+ things about this new arrangement) - shipping does not make up that 7% difference. Their ordering system is also hot fuckin' garbage, from week to week it hasn't worked on one browser or another because of back end issues with security certificates or something. One week I had to find an old version of Internet Explorer to install on an old laptop to place my order.)

Hachette (Marvel, etc.) is even worse - 16% lower until one threshold then 6%.

I find his argument regarding Diamond's shutdown a bit squirrelly - retailers were begging for publishers and Diamond to stop shipping, because they weren't open. Books that you can't sell but have to pay for - I don't think that math works very well. (If you could even get them - my drop point was closed for a month.)

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Saturday, 29 August 2020 00:54 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, "for them" is key there, and the amount of changes they had to do to get to being happier now is significant.

Already having in-city delivery set up was a fascinating wrinkle.

erratic wolf angular guitarist (sic), Saturday, 29 August 2020 01:07 (three weeks ago) link

Very strange article to read. Probably the only one I've read praising DC for their actions. I mean, it's clear they're pushing to get DC to have their own Canadian distributor, and stop shipping issues from Canada to the US back to Canada, quite openly.

As milo just quoted, and as someone who has struggled to reliably order GNs from my locals, this rung with me:

As it stands, every single graphic novel product I can get through other vendors comes into the store faster that Diamond can turn around, in better condition, and at a better price point. This was even the case pre-COVID. They became, through their own complacency, the worst place to order graphic novels from, and they are in no condition to make that pivot today.

Nhex, Saturday, 29 August 2020 03:09 (three weeks ago) link

Penguin does have a quick turnaround - order on Wed/Thu, arrive on Tues most of the time. They're the least painful part of the DC debacle in many ways.

Diamond always had that option with direct shipping but most shops didn't want to pay the cost (because it could eat up margin) - otherwise you were looking at a roughly two week turnaround if you timed your order right. (Diamond has now gone to all restocks (such as special orders, etc.) being direct shipped.) It got real real bad after reopening but their main restock shipping warehouse in Mississippi was apparently a COVID nightmare in terms of finding people to work. For the last couple of weeks, Wed. restocks have arrived by the following Tues/Wed for us.

I made my peace with the time frame years ago - for gotta have it situations, it's impossible to compete with Amazon Prime so you're basically just banking on the kind-heartedness of customers and trying to keep as much important stuff in stock as you can at all time.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Saturday, 29 August 2020 05:58 (three weeks ago) link

Caught up on Strange Adventures, the maxi-series by Tom King. Very intriguing so far. The artwork and storytelling is really excellent, visually - Gerads on the present mystery, Shaner on the likely-false past legends of Strange, it's all superbly drawn and colored. I always like to see the underused modern incarnation of Mr. Terrific.

We're five of 12 issues in, so there's every chance this could turn into another Heroes in Crisis, but I'm crossing my fingers this is more of an Omega Men. Main problem so far is that it seems far too obvious who the killer in #1 is, though we're not much closer to discovering what exactly the main character did on Rann that was horrific (or not horrific, but covered up anyway). Praying there's less political speechifying in later issues.

Here's some predictions: Clearly the wife is the murderer, right? Unless they're leading with it so obviously it's gotta be something else?
Strange himself seems genuinely innocent, but as this series is about THE HORRORS OF WAR I'm guessing he did it and was mindwiped or something. Maybe willingly. Hopefully it wasn't straight-up genocide as seems to be implied under the overarching white colonialism theme, but nobody really cares about this character, so maybe they'd let King do it?
Another theory: there's gonna be some weird shit like his daughter IS actually his wife in the present through horrific super-science shenanigans or something and she's masterminding this whole cover-up. All this talk about Rann being hyper-advanced beyond Earth tech, which seems unclear in the flashbacks, is bound to be leading to some plot point. Hope it's something truly bonkers.
If he just ended up sacrificing his daughter "for the greater good" I'm gonna be super disappointed.

I guess I'll see in 7 months...

Nhex, Friday, 4 September 2020 03:23 (two weeks ago) link

Those have very pretty covers.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Friday, 4 September 2020 03:55 (two weeks ago) link


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