If there ever was a time the shark jumped in this doomed experiment of Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns, this moment is it.
So what happened to all that hard work trying to erase the bad 90s for the character? Where effort was put in make Selina Kyle more than just wholly defined by the tragedy of her doomed love between the Cat and the Bat? I guess the editors thought so much damage had already been done by the execrable Heart of Hush, they might as well finish the job.
Seriously, in the first issues of a company-wide revamp that was supposedly meant to attract new readers, you would have thought impressions would matter. Unless Guillem March plans to turn the comic into Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, you’re simply not going to get any readers that dug the kind of material on offer in Catwoman #01 to keep reading, because no one can keep up this kind of riveting plot flow without destroying the character completely. I might add that the Big 2 already have enough problems with comics having an image issue and the perception it’s a niche market catering to subterranean nerds. March attracted a lot of criticism for over-sexualizing with his art for Gotham City Sirens, but I always thought that the writing and visuals did achieve a fine line between sensuality and self-respect. Here, any illusions of restraint is pretty much non-existent.
DC is already have a lot of issues with ill-thought continuity as well as the elephant in the room, THE Barbara problem. The less said about that one, the better. Even just flipping through Birds of Prey #01 and seeing her ALTERED and interacting with Dinah is eyerolling-inducing. The last thing DC needs is self-created minefields like with Catwoman (and to a lesser extent, Starfire, but that’s another complaint in itself).
What the hell have you wrought, Jim Lee? Now I understand you’re blissfully reliving the 90s every second in your brainpan, but the world has moved on 11 years. As co-publisher you have final say on any design, so really, the buck stops with you. Almost every costume is a complete mess of busywork and the less said about the incredible hackjobs done on Connor, Dinah, Zatanna and Harley, the better. All that’s missing are pouches and since Unca Rob is back..shudder. If I wanted X-Men team suits I’ll go read effin’ Marvel’s Wolverine and the New Heroic Non-Fearing Schismatic Uncanny Avenging X-Men.
So unless you’ve been hibernating under some mossy rock, you should have heard about the DC “reboot” of their entire product line. I’ll not go into ranting screeds about the complete disappearance of their old Earth-2 characters like the JSA including Power Girl and Dr Fate, a JLI with a freaking Great Ten character shoehorned in, some frankly asinine character designs that seems to come straight out from the 90s Jim Lee stable, the complete devaluation of decently written (at least in recent times) characters such as Steph Brown, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain and Wally West nor the probable and insane decision to persist with the abomination that is Cry for Justice on the continuity map. There’s also THE major sticking issue, trying to pretend The Killing Joke never happened (it’s only been what, 23 years?) However, I haven’t really seen any significant articles discussing the actual economical viability of the DC relaunch, which is why this writeup by Brian Hibbs over at CBR examining the brick and mortar consequences is badly needed.
It’s only basic economics in hindsight, but every SKU obviously needs a basic level of sales to amortize the product sufficiently that it makes bean counter sense for every player in the supply chain to continue producing, distributing and/or selling it. Considering some of the ridiculous levels DC has sunk to get the 52-book launch (seriously, resorting to using Liefeld again for a critical launch period? How long is Hawk & Dove going to last?), it’s pretty much a mockery there’s any economies of scale on their end as well when they’re spread so thin. At the end of the day, it seems that the retail front of the industry is simply going the way of the dodo, and this is less a bold new direction and more a desperate last throw of the dice to find some new casual readers, basically the group that impulse buy iTune tracks here and there.
The risk of course is that they alienate the core customer base which might use this moment as a stepping point in these uncertain times to get rid of an expensive habit, but fail to generate a significant increase in new sales to make up for the drain, or at least long term readers that will continue reading (or paying!) beyond the short initial sales bump. Then there’s the delicate issue of pricing with regards to online buyers, who are once again given the shaft with regards to equal pricing to retail store SKUs. not to mention the elephant in the room: a potential problem in 0-day releases if Apple is your gatekeeper, who can complete fubar any release schedule if and when they feel like it, and they also have a rather egregious censorship policy that might throw spanners into the writing/drawing works when self-censorship has been the norm since the de facto abandonment of the CCA.
All in all, these are uncertain and (and to me) very dark times for the comics industry. And that’s not even considering the eye-rolling bandwagon effect.