When I posted the news article about January comics sales with Marvel doubling DC’s dollar and unit shares some people commented that this was deserved because DC was terrible and putting out lots of bad comics. I ended up disputing this, pointing out that just because you don’t like a comic does not mean it’s bad. This is kind of a hot button for me.
People who follow ComicSpectrum know that I’ve cooled off on DC super-heroes of late, I don’t get many at all (currently just Green Lantern Edge of Oblivion & Legend of Wonder Woman). But people should also know that I don’t consider them to be “bad” comics, just stories that don’t appeal to me. I also try to keep trying them to see if my opinion will turn around on them. I buy up piles of them when I see them in sales bins at comic shop or conventions and give them a read (I did this a few months ago with a lot of Convergence comics). I’ll also grab some new issues off the rack every month or 2 just to see if my opinion has changed at all.
This past week there were a few comics with Neal Adams variant covers that caught my eye (sold at my comic shop at normal cover price). Adams drew some of my favorite GL/GA stories of all time, so I thought I’d pick these up and give them a try since it’s been a while since I have read either title. Knowing full well that the cover was not an indication of the interiors, but just an image used to sell a comic, I went into the comics with as open a mind as I was able to.
I was not impressed (just an opinion, not a statement of quality). But I learned some things.
Green Lantern #49 – Somewhere along the line Hal Jordan seems to have ended up with a gauntlet full of Green Lantern rings, a penchant for wearing a long duster coat and developed a really crappy attitude. I can guarantee that there are people who love this take on the character, some probably consider it to be the best Green Lantern they have ever read. I am not counted among those people. This is not even recognizable as “my” Hal Jordan. Reading this makes me feel about the same as I felt when they had Hal go nuts, become Parallax, and kill off the GL Corps. The motivations behind this were subsequently “fixed” by Geoff Johns but at the time, I was definitely not liking the GL comic. I feel the same way reading this and it’s a great example about DC telling stories about their iconic heroes that I have no desire to read. I’ll try it again after the next reboot.
Green Arrow #49 – Last time I read Green Arrow, it seemed like DC was desperately trying to make the comic as similar to the TV show as they could. That went out the window somewhere since I’ve last tried the series. Apparently Oliver has been infected with something called ‘Lukos’ that seems to be a DCU version of lycanthropy (but not tied to phases of the moon). He spends a good portion of this issue “wolfing out”. Another case where in the interests of storytelling they are diverting both from the classic take on GA as well as the newer TV version. Hopefully it’s working for some readers, but not my cup of tea. I won’t be back any time soon.
The Neal Adams variant covers were very successful at getting me to buy a copy of these comics. Technically my purchases won’t affect DC’s February sales tally since those numbers were set based on what the comic shop ordered. Whether I bought these comics or they ended up in a remainder bin, the sales at DC’s level remain the same. But what is more telling is that I won’t be back next month to buy another issue. They succeeded in selling me a couple of single issues based on the cover images and failed to hook me as a continuing reader.
Some people will argue that this is just fine. DC is telling the stories they want to tell and I’m just not in the target audience. I completely agree with this. I don’t think DC has any obligation to create comics tailored for me as a reader. In fact, making comics that appeal to a much younger demographic is a wise move on their part. That said, based on the objective comic shops sales data as reported by Diamond, these books are not tearing up the sales charts. GL #48 came in at sales position 49 for January, I think some of that is based on inertia of people who have just always bought Green Lantern. GA #48 didn’t even place in the top 100, and Arrow has a very popular TV series.
Ultimately, whether they put out comics I personally enjoy or not, DC needs to do something to capture the hearts and minds of a wider readership with at least a decent cross-section of their titles (outside of the Batman franchise).
Bob Bretall: firstname.lastname@example.org
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