04 June 2013

Another Open Letter to DC Comics

Every week, the comic book blogosphere justly calls out shenanigans at DC Comics. It's been an endless parade of a misogynistic portrayal of that character, firing this writer, killing that character, canceling this book, etc. since The New 52 launched in September of 2011. In December, I wrote An Open Letter to DC Comics asking them what they were thinking by allowing Brian Cunningham to fire Gail Simone from Batgirl - a completely terrible decision that DC thankfully reversed and rectified swiftly. I've groused elsewhere, but I haven't been so frustrated with DC that I've been compelled to write another open letter...until now.

Dear DC Comics,

Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee recently announced that this September, for The New 52's second anniversary, they're launching a project called "Forever Evil". Forever Evil itself will be a seven-issue mini-series featuring literally every character in the DC Universe, according to DiDio. Because, you know, nothing says "thoughtful storytelling" like cramming every primary, secondary and tertiary character the company owns into 280 pages (7 issues x 40 pages each). This seems creatively bankrupt to me, but it's easily skipped so no harm, no foul. That mini-series will be just one more thing I don't read.

However, it doesn't end there. No, just like last year's "Zero Month", the marketing department has run roughshod over creative vision. Last year, you arbitrarily inserted origin stories for all 52 books into one month, interrupting arcs already in progress. That caused me to wait two damn months for the resolution of the story Gail Simone was telling in Batgirl, just because someone (DiDio? Lee? Johns?) threw up his hands and yelled, "WAIT! I HAVE IT!" This time, the idea is to spotlight villains in all the books. That actually isn't a terrible idea. 3D covers on all the books isn't a good idea, but even that isn't terrible.

Having several of the books go weekly throughout the month? That's a terrible idea.
  • Batman
  • Detective Comics
  • Batman: The Dark Knight
  • Batman and...
  • Action Comics
  • Superman
  • Justice League
All of those will have four issues in September, priced at $3.99 apiece. (The Flash will also have three issues and Aquaman has two.) That's the standard cover price for some of the books, but it's a $1 increase for Batman: The Dark Knight and Batman and... It would cost me $15.96 to buy just September's issues of Detective Comics.

At least, it would have cost me that if I was going to continue buying and reading Detective Comics.

The purpose of this open letter to you, DC Comics, is to inform you that I will no longer be buying or reading Detective Comics as a direct consequence of "Forever Evil", effective immediately. Issue #21 comes out tomorrow and it's the first issue of the book I won't be buying. It's a shame, because I've enjoyed it so far but I won't play these games with you, DC.

I've enjoyed the book so far, with both Tony S. Daniel and now John Layman writing it. If there had been just one issue of that book in this "Forever Evil" stunt, I'd simply buy that one issue and ignore everything else - which is exactly what I did during both "Night of the Owls" and "Death of the Family". I resented those tie-ins, but whatever. This is different, though, because this affects the actual publication of Detective Comics - not because the story required four issues within a month, but because your marketing department insisted upon it.

This leaves me buying Batgirl and The Movement. Those are just two books, but they're still two books more per month that you'll be selling me than you did for a decade. How long that continues is up to you. My advice is to keep your marketing department out of Gail Simone's way and let her write. That's why I buy those books: for her storytelling. Not to keep up with a crossover. Not for 3D covers. For storytelling. I'm old-fashioned like that.

Maybe you won't miss selling me Detective Comics each month any more than you miss selling me Batwoman each month (remember when I quit reading that book?). Maybe you don't even care whether I continue to buy Batgirl or The Movement. But see, I care. I care because I want to enjoy these things and I wish your "leadership" would let me.

Very Sincerely,