If you look at the single issues sold last year, you’d think that DC Comics was kicking ass, holding 12 of the top 20 spots to Marvel’s seven. However, if you take Batman out of the picture, DC’s numbers drop to four out of 20, whereas Marvel’s products seem more versatile, with issues of Superior Spider-Man, X-Men books, two events (Age of Ultron and Infinity), and Guardians of the Galaxy all cracking the top 20. And you can’t say it’s all because of movie hype, because there’s not an Avengers or Iron Man or Thor title in the bunch.
On the graphic novel front the breakdown is even more extreme: Marvel who? Image Comics stronly dominated the sales ranks, with 70% of the top 10, and 50% of the top 20, being either Saga or Walking Dead. Rounding out the top 20 were a bunch of Batman TPBs, two volumes of Boom! Comics’ Adventure Time, and one Marvel book: The first volume of Hawkeye reprints.
This is all very ironic, as Marvel was the first publisher to champion upgraded, glossy, bound reprints—way back when Joe Quesada became editor-in-chief. Back then, Marvel said the future of the sustainable print market would be in paperbacks—but Image and DC are the ones who proved the prediction correct.
And now, news about DC’s TV properties, new Elfquest, and the return to Marvel of one of its historically most important creators.
DARK HORSE’S LICENSED COMICS EXPAND. The publisher may have lost Star Wars at the start of 2014, but they’re going to launch comics based on Tomb Raider and Prometheus (the Ridley Scott film) before the year ends.
ELFQUEST RETURNS. In other Dark Horse news, the publisher struck a deal with Richard and Wendy Pini to take on the Elfquest books—one of the first and most successful indie books ever. They will republish the original series and add a new series to end the Elfquest story.
GOTHAM. DC’s TV series about the early life of Bruce Wayne will include Riddler, Catwoman and Penguin. The show will essentially be Smallville for Batman: No cape, no costume. I have to say: A 12-year-old Bruce Wayne meeting a young Selina Kyle doesn’t sound nearly as hot as a twentysomething Batman meeting a dominatrix with a cat fetish, but at least Wayne won’t be the main focus. The story will ostensibly be a cop show about James Gordon. So, like Marvel: Agents of Shield, it’ll be a comic books show largely in name only and in reality will be a police procedural. Way to be original, DC!
MICHAEL DOUGLAS IS HANK PYM. Not sure that’s a great idea, but it looks like the Marvel Cinematic Universe will relegate Pym to a lesser character—a grandfather of the MCU, rather than a key player. The good news is that means Paul Rudd will be playing Scott Lang in the 2015 Ant Man movie, which is a much more interesting choice for the film. I’m sure you all know this, but in the comics Lang steals Pym’s Ant Man costume and then uses it for future thieving ventures. Then he gets a job with Tony Stark and sleeps with Jessica Jones. Yes, Luke Cage got Scott Lang’s sloppy seconds.
AQUAMAN AND THE OTHERS. DC will now be publishing two Aquaman books. The second one will be written by industry veteran Dan Jurgens and will feature the Aquateam that apparently has been in the Aquaman comic. Which I don’t read. I just think it’s funny that DC will publish two Aquaman books. I mean, sure, he’s been around forever and helped found the Justice League, but Marvel would never overexpose a character like that. That’s why they kicked Wolverine out of the Avengers, so he’s only featured in 8 books a month.
INFINITE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Marvel announced a new digital book by Joshua Hale Fialkov that will take place in continuity and will feature Peter Parker having amnesia, knowing nothing about his own past, but still having spider powers. The series will run 13 issues, and may shed some light on what will happen when Amazing Spider-Man gets relaunched, also in April.
THE BUNKER COMES TO PRINT. In other (and probably better) Josh Fialkov news, his digital comic “The Bunker” has found a home at Oni Press. It’s a fascinating book about a group of kids who find a bunker filled with information sent back in time by their future selves. It’s very cool, but I have trouble keeping up with digital books—they’re shorter, so it’s harder to get really into the story. And with a tale like this, details and continuity are critical. It’ll be great to see it all one volume.
CHRIS CLAREMONT RETURNS TO MARVEL’S MUTANTS. The architect for the most successful comic book franchise of all time, The X-Men, is returning to write All New Marvel Now! Nightcrawler. Claremont’s was the mastermind behind the soap-operatic nature of comic books in the 1980s and 1990s—and The New Teen Titans were created as a direct response to his books. He crafted the Dark Phoenix and Apocalypse sagas. He gave Wolverine his identity and wrote Days of Future Past…The list goes on for years. 16, in fact. But his writing? It’s kinda dated. We’ll see if he can fit with today’s modern pacing.
AND BATMAN ’66 RETURNS TO YOUR HOMES. The classic 1955 Adam West/Burt Ward series has finally gotten untangled from its legal web and will be released on DVD. That’s the perfect techniclor note to end this post!