DC Rebirth Announcement: Win or Lose

February 19, 2016 Author: Jon Johnson (Sir)

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With DC sales dropping like a sinkhole in Florida, it’s been expected that some form of creative announcement from the co-publishers, Jim Lee and Dan Didio would be forthcoming. Little more than a month ago, the company revealed their intent to give the whole DCU a revamp with the umbrella title of Rebirth. Groans were heard across fandom (and not a few retailers) of the impending ‘restructuring’ of the lackluster “New 52” and the recent Convergence series of crossovers, which fell flat.

DC titles are selling about half of Marvel’s, percentage-wise. Is that due to a shrinking reader base moving to other areas of interest? Is it due to prices of titles getting ever higher for lesser product? Is it that DC drove a large portion of said shrinking market completely away from their titles with the “New 52”? Any and all of that could be true.

Current plans, as announced today across the media outlets that may be more forgiving than this writer, are for all books to end their numbering in May, when the few titles still alive from the initial “New 52” push that haven’t already been renumbered reach that big two-digit height. Following a one-shot written by DC’s go-to boy, Geoff Johns, all books will return first with a “Rebirth” issue, then with a newly numbered issue one. Some titles will be monthly, some twice monthly. To really muck with the record keepers, Action Comics and Detective Comics will resume their old numbering from pre-“New 52”, so they can reach their landmark #1000 issues. Got all that down? It starts with a special in late May, then new “Rebirth” special issues, then new #1’s. It’s a tried-and-true marketing scheme. You know, because it worked so well with Countdown to 52 and Convergence.

Whether or not this whole “Rebirth” thing is even interesting is not part of the equation. Nothing regarding the stories has been given, though I’m sure we’ll get some snippets before major announcements are held at WonderCon in March. Regardless, from a retailer and consumer perspective, there is at least one great thing coming from this reorganization. ALL MONTHLY AND TWICE MONTHLY TITLES ARE TO BE RE-PRICED TO $2.99! That’s a major drop in price for some books and an unusual occurrence in this market. Will the books retain their page count? Unknown. Now, for the twice-monthly titles, the consumer will obviously be paying more than previously, as will the retailer, so the length of time this particular piece of the machine stays in place is extremely tenuous.

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Dan Didio’s comments on the “Rebirth” can be eyed askant, as per usual. “Rebirth is designed to bring back the best of DC’s past, embrace the stories we currently love and move the entire epic universe into the future,” he said. “We are returning to the essence of the DCU. With Rebirth we are putting the highest priority on the direct market and we will continue to create and cultivate new opportunities for retailers to thrive and prosper, grow readers, fans and customers.”

Considering that the “New 52” was meant to allow the writers to move into the future without all that nasty continuity hanging over their heads, this whole rhetoric rings hollow, just as much as it was with his throaty desire to return the characters of his youth to the forefront, like Barry Allen (Flash) and Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), long after characters had replaced them and gained a following.

Will “Rebirth” work? It’s hard to say. They’ve got little to lose, truth be told. Their sales will continue to slide over the next few months, regardless of film releases or possible surprise hits. Nothing is forever in comics, as is well known. It’s likely that in five years or less, there will be another birthing to rebirth over these 52 titles that have been revamped and retconned. Really.

For detailed information on the titles announced, head on over to ICv2.com and their article that launched this op-ed. As an opinion/editorial, the thoughts are solely that of the writer and may not be those of the rest of FtH Soapbox. Although, they should be.

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