DC’s reboot of its entire publishing line, “The new 52,” was an event of unparalleled scope and success that encompassed television advertisements, major coverage in mainstream media, and led to dramatic boosts in sales. And everyone rose on that tide, with overall comic book buying increasing for the first time in years. It’s been just eight months, though, and already DC’s sales are starting to settle to pre-new 52 levels.
Guess that means it’s time for an event.
DC’s perennial best sellers are always Batbooks. Batman. Detective. Batman: The Dark Knight. Even the countless spin-offs (Nightwing, various mini series with “Gotham” in the title, all the different shapes and colors of Robins, etc.) do better than your average DC title. So why make your first event a Bat-Event, which crosses over existing titles without generating anything new?
Simple: It’s got a built-in fanbase.
Except that it doesn’t.
I buy one Batbook: Batman. And that’s because of Scott Snyder. Any Batman written by Snyder (or Grant Morrison) will get my money. Any other Batman book probably won’t.
A few words about Batman: I dig it. Yes, it’s not all that dissimilar from what Grant Morrison did (and did better) by tearing Batman down so that he can be reborn. Yes, it’s dark and a little too drawn out. But the artwork is tremendous and the idea that there has been, for centuries, a master organization that controlled Gotham and was basically prepping to fight Batman is a solid one. Everyone, especially Bruce Wayne, loves a good conspiracy. But I find the extended Bat-universe to be largely uninteresting, watered down versions of Batman. (And frankly, of the hundreds of Batman titles, arcs and stories I’ve read, I can probably count the really great ones on ten fingers.) In other words: I want my Batman pure, unadulterated by all the other titles that rely on his name to sell books.
Say what you want about Marvel crossing its events over into so many different titles, but you can’t also say that their big stories aren’t self contained. AvX, Shadowland, Siege…All of them, you can read and (easily) understand by buying only one comic: The one titled as the event. The crossovers and spinoffs added to the enjoyment (I admit it’s strange to use the word “enjoyment” in reference to Shadowland), but were nonessential.
My hope is that I won’t have to read any of the other titles to keep up with Batman. It’s easily my favorite new 52 book, and it’s one of the few that I think held its quality during the transition—despite how it completely muddied the continuity of the character and all the side characters. I still think Snyder’s pre-52 work was better, but I look forward most to reading Batman of all the DC books on my pull list.
And spinning out of the Night of the Owls event will come DC’s “Issue #0” event, which essentially attempts to reboot the new 52: Every (surviving) new 52 title gets a #0, and every #0 will explain what happened before the events in #1.
Frankly, it all feels a little desperate.