Thinking Out Loud About Digital Comic Codes

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve written at any length about collecting-related issues, and while I’m a firm believer in reading the comics I buy, I’m still a comic COLLECTOR at heart. Sure I won’t read comics I hate on any principle, but there have definitely been a few shameful instances in my past where I’ve bought two copies of a polybagged book so one can stay “Mint”. (And before you judge me too harshly, ask yourself what state your Superman #75 is in.)
Marvel’s launched an admirable new venture wherein their $3.99 titles* all contain “free” digital download codes so you can use the Marvel app or ComiXology to read the issue on your computer or mobile device. This is smart marketing on Marvel’s part: it costs virtually nothing, acts as a pretty great goodwill gesture, and gives you some lagniappe for your extra dollar (that they would have gotten anyway).
The problem comes in with the presentation, though. Most likely to guard against theft, the digital download code comes covered with a small sticker and lasts for about a year, depending on when you purchase that comic. Anyone who’s read the blog for more than about a week is well aware of my unwillingness to spend $4 for a “Big Two” comic, but now we’re getting to the point where these $3.99 books are making their way to discount bins and this leaves me with a dilemma: what do I do with these codes?
Because I AM a collector I have an (admittedly lame) problem with ripping the stickers off because then the book can no longer be considered complete. Yet the part of me who wants to get the full value for my dollar — and likes digital comics! — says it’s stupid, after a year the code will be invalidated anyway, so there’s nothing to gain by ignoring the code. We’ve seen this before with Marvel Value Stamps and Image #0 coupons, where if someone cuts a piece out of the comic it legitimately affects the condition of the book, and even though this is a tag clearly designed to be easily removed, there’s still some…modification to the book.
Mike Sterling brings up some good points in his Progressive Ruin blog, mainly about the headache of validating whether a comic is still “intact”. And even though I’m not trying to be the retailer’s advocate here, I can definitely see how that’s unnecessary overhead for them. But as a buyer — whether a comic shop customer or a retailer buying back issues — you should definitely have the right to know if the tag has been pulled and the code used, at least if the book is less than a year old. That gives the owner the right to make up their own mind about whether or not they want to deface their comics.
So what the hell are we supposed to do?
I’ve done way too much thinking about this (read: ANY thinking about this) and loath as I am to admit it, that sticker is a part of the published book in the same way those Image coupons were. Even though they were designed and intended to be pulled, I find it hard to still consider a book “Mint” without it. Not that it’s worth dropping a comic by a grade, I just think they should be identified as “with” or “without” the tag, in the same way Marvel had newsstand and direct market versions of their books in the 90’s. (Again, sorry retailers. I know that’s an unfair burden on you, but it’s got to be done.  Maybe it’s just safest to assume that code is gone at all times.)
That said, I still want my digital comic!  I’ve lost track of the link at this point, but I found a post by an astute reader who realized that if you shine a bright light through the tag and squint, you can make out the code underneath.  This allows you to redeem the code without defacing your books.  And since said code expires in a year, you keep a pristine copy of your book and still get a digital copy.  You can even resell your book and keep the digital copy (as long as you’re honest with the seller, which you will be, right?).
But I want to give the last word to Mr. Sterling, who’s best insight is right in his headline: “This is all assuming there’ll eventually be a back issue market for anything coming out right now.”
 *It’s worth mentioning that Dark Horse’s new Star Wars #1, even at $2.99, had a free digital download code.

The Adventures of Sgt. Shark!

Matt and I are both big, BIG lovers of comic ads.  I mean, if you can’t appreciate the sheer lunacy of those classic Hostess ads where Big Time Hero defeats Never-Again-Seen Villain by exploiting their fried pie weakness the we are just not on the same page!.  Not to mention all those O.J. Dingo ads!

But I recently decided to give in and read The Great Darkness Saga, and I found this masterpiece in Legion of Superheroes #291:

That’s right, it’s a story about a regular rough-and-tumble dude JUST LIKE YOU (and his one-eyed parrot, of course,) who uses his bro-tastic shark tooth pendant to PUNCH A SHARK AND REDIRECT A SUBMARINE!

Friends, my $5.95 is already on it’s way to Florida.

A Look at Free Comic Book Day 2012

Free Comic Book Day 2012 has come and gone, and judging by the crowds of excited people I saw at every store I went to (5 over about 4 hours that morning) it was a pretty big success.  But how were the comics that were given away?  Well, I managed to come home with a pretty big stack of them, so let’s take a closer look.

  • Adventure Time/Peanuts – The classic Peanuts stories are great, the new stuff leaves me cold.  Okay, that half of the flipbook out of the way, let’s talk Adventure Time.  This is a great example of what Kaboom is doing with their AT series.  The main story follows all the style guides (and fits within the gutters of issue one), but there are also a couple short stories by indie creators where they can go off and tell whatever stories they like.  It’s a good, fun mix of a good, fun series, and an excellent representation of what you’d get in an issue of Adventure Time.

  • Archaia Presents Mouse Guard and Other Stories – Man, did Archaia raise the bar with their FCBD issue, giving out a 41-page (unless I miscounted) HARDCOVER sampler.  I can’t say every sample was good — Cursed Pirate Girl was somewhat illegible and I had to skip past it — but the Mouse Guard synopsis story (I really need to be reading that!) and Cow Boy by Nate  Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos were excellent.  Cow Boy is definitely going on my next order.  Another fun surprise: a Labyrinth story!  There’s no branding on the story itself but once I recognized Hoggle (okay, it’s not that hard), the other characters came flooding back to me. THIS is what FCBD should be about!
  • Atomic Robo/Neozoic/Bonnie Lass – Even though Archaia put out this Free Comic Book Day’s strongest issue, the Atomic Robo team of Brian Clevenger and Scott Wegener yet again put out an amazing offering this year.  Usually reserving FCBD for a Robo/Dr. Dinosaur fight, this year they teamed up!  Well, in a way.  As always it was hilarious, and as always you should be reading it year-round.  The other samples in here didn’t offer content nearly as strong.  Neozoic hopped from scene to scene (and even from person to person in the same  conversation) so much it felt like panels were missing.  Transitions definitely were. Bonnie Lass was fine, but nothing remarkable.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron #0.1 – This is a good FCBD choice from Marvel.  High-profile (or rather more importantly, highly talented) creators, recognizable characters appearing in a movie opening the same weekend, and the first part of what will obviously be a huge storyline.  It’s well-written and well-drawn, but after going through it 3 times, I just can’t decide on it.  Is it for the new reader or us established folks?  It definitely feels like part 1 of 13.  The return of Ultron is great, but it feels unusually built up. I just have no idea about this one.  Strategically it’s a good call, but it mostly left me cold.  Maybe that’s just a reflection on my relationship with mainstream superhero comics than anything else.
  • The Censored Howard Cruise – Outside of the obvious creators Crumb, Pekar, and Sheldon I’m not terribly knowledgeable about the original Underground Comix creators, so this joint effort by Boom! (really!) and the CBLDF was a nice addition to the day.  And it really is censored for the FCBD edition, though the upcoming releases will not be.  I was trying to come up with a good way to describe Cruise’s work until Charles Brownstein put it much better than I could have in the backmatter: “Cruse’s technically accomplished line style has a wholesome quality that provides a stark contrast to his candid discussions of sexuality, drug use, and censorship.”  A great offering for the student of both comics and comix.  It’s also worth noting that Boom! has a new Roger Langridge collection coming out called “The Show Must Go On” that we’ll both need to keep our eyes peeled for.
  • Dinosaurs vs Aliens – Since we’re discussing how comics work, DvA fails completely, offering only 8 pages of actual comic book and filling up the rest with sketches, concept art, and text pieces.  It’s an interesting book, but not really enough sequential art to qualify as a comic.  Skepticism ruins the rest of the goodwill I have for this title.  Movie director comes up with painfully obvious mash-up (since those are all the rage), hires the best comic writer in the business to write a screenplay, then does a comic to provide street cred (see also: Cowboys vs Aliens).  Oh well, at least the art will be beautiful.
  • Image 20 – Image takes their shot this year with a sampler of their upcoming titles.  Going with a book full of teasers is probably a good call (although I’m obviously biased towards a full comic) but nothing I read inspired me to pick any of them up.
  • The New 52 – Despite my DC boycott I still picked this up, figuring it at least wasn’t putting any money in the Time-Warner coffers.  Another teaser book, this kicks off the backstory behind Pandora, the mystery woman who appeared in each of DC’s 52 #1 issues.  No disrespect intended to the creators involved, but a passing familiarity with Greek mythology and a play-through of God of War is probably all the Pandora stories we need.
  • Spider-Man: Season One – This whole “accessible universe” thing is getting out of hand.  A decade ago Marvel kicked off the Ultimate line with the intent of luring in new readers.  Then DC launched their Earth One line of OGN’s for bookstores and rebooted their whole damn universe.  Unwilling to be beaten at their own game, Marvel then launches THEIR line of bookstore OGN’s, doing the exact same thing every other relaunch has done since John Byrne did Spider-Man: Chapter One.  If you love modernized Spider-Man reboots this will be right up your alley, but otherwise this is pretty inessential.
  • Stuff of Legend/Finding Gossamyr – I’m always charmed by the soul and charming artwork of the Stuff of Legend books, though I don’t see it on the stands often enough to keep up with it.  (Fortunately, there’s an ad in the back for a collection of the first two volumes, which I will definitely pick up).  Finding Gossamyr was a little confusing…It looks like a young boy solves a math problem that leads to a portal to another dimension, but tI had a little trouble reading the transition between the two worlds.  The artwork was a nice cartoony style, and the story was intriguing more than mysterious for it’s own sake.  If you enjoy Narnia-type alternate world stories, this is a title to keep an eye out for.
  • Transformers: Regeneration One #80.5 – My love of comics started with the original Marvel Transformers series.  I was given a three-pack innocently enough, but suddenly it’s 30 years and thousands of issues later.  There will always be a soft, biased spot in my heart for those Robots in Disguise. Sure, their adventures were mainly used to reinforce toy lines, but by the end of the original 80-issue run we got to some truly original stories as we reached the final battle with Unicron written by Simon Furman and (mostly) drawn by Andrew Wildman.

Yes the Cybertronians were victorious, but in the aftermath were some of the grayest, bleakest stories I had ever read as the Transformers struggled to find purpose again.  Furman got to tell stories that didn’t require introducing new toys and could focus on the characters.  Wildman, who if I recall was a pretty divisive art choice at the time, was my favorite TF artist ever, able to draw alt modes and robot forms equally well and distinctly.  What really set him apart were the distinctive (and dare I say, human) faces with spittle frequently flying and battle damage showing they may be robots, but they’ve clearly been to Hell.

Together they got away with telling some truly weird stories.  Galvatron travels to kill his past-self before realizing he would cease to exist.  Megatron and Ratchet fuse into a Two-Face robot.  And then five issues after defeating the ultimate evil they were gone.

Their run based my entire opinion of what Transformers COULD be.  Even though it’s been a while since I’ve gone back to see how they hold up, make no mistake: I know full well that most of the comic series was pretty bad, not to mention some truly awful cartoon episodes.  But those issues…well they showed a lot of growth and potential for more.

Wildman and Furman have teamed up many times since that series end, even on Transformers, with Armada.  Those darker issues seem to have inspired other approaches to the characters as well, but none of them have worked for me.  The names and characterization are roughly the same, but the Armada or Energon Optimus Primes just aren’t the
same to me like the G1 Prime is, just like Alan Scott is not Hal Jordan is not Kyle Rayner.

Now here we are, 21 years after that series ended, and Furman and Wildman are back, picking up where they left off. Or rather, 21 years after they left off.  They do so fairly seamlessly.  Furman’s story could have been more linear rather than bouncing around, but we’re definitely going to get back to the original (and if I may be so bold, my) characters.  And Wildman’s art returned to exactly where I remember, without all the overly-angular jagged faces obviously inspired by the movies.  This is a very good comic, and I’m really excited to see where they take us.

(Now after having written all this, I feel like I’ve done Geoff Johns a disservice by my griping about him turning DC into what he loved most as a kid.)

  • 2000 AD – The surprise find of FCBD 2012!  I’ve never seen a 2000 AD FCBD issue before; I didn’t even know they participated.  The first pleasant surprise was the large magazine size, so it stands out from all the other offerings.  Then it gives several complete chunks of comics.  Sure, some of the stories were a part one but it’s an accurate representation of what to expect from 2000 AD.  Then the contents showcased a little bit of everything: classic sci-fi, some horror, a vintage Alan Moore story, and a superhero satire.  I’ve never read an individual issue of 2000 AD before, but after this I think I might need to add it to my pull list.
  • Valiant 2012 – Even though this was just a teaser book, it worked. I’m sufficiently piqued for the Valiant relaunch this summer.  Unfortunately, it’s still a bad free comic.  Marvel and DC put out things like this monthly; it’s a promotional item.*

* Yes, they’re all promotional items, but the point of Free Comic Book Day is, you know, a free comic book.

  • Yo Gabba Gabba – I really don’t know what to say about this one, since I am neither a small child nor a guardian of small children.  It definitely won’t appeal to anyone whose age is approaching double-digits, and there’s no hipster cred other than some nice work by Mike Allred and Evan Dorkin.  But might it get small children into appreciating comics?  Yes.  Yes it might. And that’s one to grow on.

And that was my 2012 Free Comic Book Day.  I think it was a raging success, even if not every book was.  I hope you found some great comics out there and have maybe been inspired to track down a few new things.  And only 11 months until next year’s!

DAMN, Emma Frost!

I’m glad the days of Fredrick Wertham are behind us, where paranoids found dirty drawings in every nook and cranny.  And I really have no problem with the realism in comic art today, where artists take it to draw every zipper and seam in a costume (or uniform, if you’d prefer).

But I was reading Uncanny X-Men #534.1 and came across this panel…

…and I can’t help but think that’s no seam.  I have no idea how this made it into a Marvel comic.

You Should Be Reading: Hark! A Vagrant

I’m pretty bad about reading webcomics.  Sure, I know they’re the big new thing, but with so much other stuff to keep track of online they wind up on the bottom of my surfing pile.  Ironically, I tend to pick them up when the print collections come out because, obviously, I do everything the wrong way.

And so it is with Kate Beaton’s webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, which I just recently snagged after hearing too many good things about it to keep ignoring.  And sure, there are the occasional superhero gags, like this great one about my buddy Aquaman:

But it’s just as likely to be about Canadian historical figures and Victorian literature, as evidenced by this amazing strip based around Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” At first I thought I had to be misreading something, or misremembering some long-ago reading assignment but no, Beaton went there.  And thank goodness she did, because there aren’t nearly enough comics that appeal to the literary nerd in me and still manage to be outright hilarious.

While there’s likely a chance the literary/historical focus could alienate some readers who are more into comics featuring Final Fantasy sprites, I found it a breath of fresh air.  Much like R. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics, I found the pieces much easier to appreciate when I was familiar with the material they reference, but still easy to follow and get the joke even if I didn’t know the Canadian politician in question or (I know, I know) read Jane Eyre. 

Please, check out Hark! A Vagrant.  Besides, unless you’re weird like me, it’s free!

Our DCU Retcon

Geoff Johns, now DC’s Chief Creative Officer, has expended a considerable amount of time and effort restoring the DCU to what he remembers and loved as a kid.  And good for him!  He did the work, came up through the ranks, excelled at his craft, and wound up in a position to guide DC to what he likes best.  However, it does open the door for every other fan and DC-lover to do the same thing.  When we (inevitably!) become the CCO we’ll do the same thing.  As a sneak peak, here’s a preview of the things we’ll do to restore DC to what we remember as kids.

See, I didn’t start reading DC books until ’92 or ’93 with the death and return of Superman. There actually aren’t many good memories of DC when I was a kid to which I’d want to return, but there are somethings I’d do responsibly with my great power.

  • Flashpoint/ DCnU was all a dream. The Psycho-Pirate awakens from it to find he’s still in a padded cell within Arkham. ANNNnnnndd….
  • Barry’s dead. It’s nothing personal, Bowtie, but your death was the best thing about you story-wise. We’ll pick up with Wally again sometime after Waid’s phenomenal arc, “The Return of Barry Allen.” I like my heroes full formed rather than whining about the burden of legacy and self-doubt. Also, what’s wrong with guys with gadgets? Captain Cold’s powers are now natural? WTF?!? Instead of being inspired by the cool Icicle, he’s inspired by the douchy Johnsian Icicle, Jr.? Come one Manapul! I’d have a moritorium on the use of Captain Cold so that he could rest from having such a horrid redo.

  • Justice League International – This has come back somewhat with the New 52, but I like the idea of a Justice League in every country.  In fact, it was SUCH a good idea that Marvel had their own take on it with the Fifty-State Initiative.  It allows for more interesting backdrops, more characters to get spotlight, and gives other areas of the DCU such a time to shine.  To this end, Max Lord isn’t a villain anymore, either.  He was such a good bureaucratic good guy, a character we just don’t ever see.  And much like the (Marvel) Sandman’s return to villainy from heroism, it doesn’t feel right.  We’ve seen too many of his inner thoughts to buy that.
  • I’d also bring back annuals. What better way to tell a few short stories, tryout new writers/ artists/, make a few bucks, throw in some nifty supplement material, and entertain the reader? If there’s something better than an annual not tied to a cross-over, I haven’t found it. To my mind, an annual is a good way to both audition talent and examine aspects of a character or character dynamics that can’t find page space in the regular book.
  • No more Rainbow Lantern Corps – There will always be Green Lanterns, that’s a given, but the rainbow Corps (Corpses?) are only diluting the brand.  First task: get rid of all but green and yellow rings.  That’s been enough for 60 years.  We’ll then pare that down to one lantern corps: Green.  Most likely, just to make my mark, I’ll keep one yellow ring and have a lone Sinestro Corps member (not Thaal Sinestro) patrol the universe serving up fear.
  • Jason Todd is dead – Nuff said.  Fuck that guy

  • As a basic concept/ look, I’ve always been drawn to Hawkman. As a character…or convoluted series of characters… not so much. As Assistant CCO of DC, All of Hawkman’s origins go bye-bye. He’s not the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince, he’s not an alien. He’s not an avatar for some Hawk-god. He’s not even an amalgamation of those ideas. He’s just a shirtless guy with wings and a cool helmet that likes to beat the tar out of criminals with a mace…and he’s been around a long time. A non-origin worked for Wolverine for over twenty years. Why does Hawkman have to be from somewhere? He simply is. Done.
  • Marvel Crossovers – The Marvel/DC crossovers may not have always been great, but they’ve always been fun.  When I’m in the CCO seat the Marvel relationship will be repaired and task one will be getting the Batman/Daredevil crossover going.  I’m sure Bendis and Maleev are still up for it.  I think I’ll ditch the Amalgam concept, though.
  • Guy Gardner: Sexist Pig – Guy Gardner was always an ass, but for no discernible reason (other than spite).  Since taking the reins on Green Lantern, Johns has toned down that attitude considerably, and just made it a result of Gardner’s enthusiasm for the job.  We’re going back to the sexist braggart we all loved to hate.  But don’t worry: if you don’t like this particular take where there’s Jerk Guy Gardner, Earnest Guy Gardner is also lurking.  By Giffen and DeMatteis, if they’re willing.
  • When was the last time the Martian Manhunter actually hunted “men”? You need somebody found? Go see J’onn J’onnz. Yeah, we’re bringing that shit back.
  • No Superboy – I hopped on just after Crisis happened, when Clark Kent became Superman as an adult.  This was also before Reign of the Supermen, when DC just wanted to expand the brand.  While the Silver Age had some great stories, I think they’re silly for modern continuity.  And there have been dome decent Connor Kent stories, the whole thing seems like emo Superman.  So let’s just go back to that blissful period without a Superboy.

  • No Guardians – Those little blue guys are asses, and much like Matt’s feelings toward Professor X, I don’t think I’ve ever read a good story with them.
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but maybe someone will listen if I say it often enough. Captain Marvel and company need their own universe to play around in. It’s got to be a more timeless place. A modern setting doesn’t work, and being forced into a universe where dark psychotic killers exist turns Cap into drab generic punch’em-up kind of guy. A kid that turns into a grown up when he/ she utters a magic word is an idea that appeals to pre-teens because of its silliness and it’s wish fulfillment. A Captain Marvel book needs to be written with the same sensibility as Spongebob Squarepants or a Tex Avery cartoon. Silly and strange should be the order of the day when it comes to Captain Marvel.
  • Tim Drake: Robin – The current Robin situation is a huge mess.  Damian Wayne makes for a few good Morrison stories, but I’ve never liked the idea of Son of Batman, and it would take a huge reset button to put him back.  Honestly, I don’t know why DC didn’t do that in 2011.  Tim Drake was the right Robin for his time.  Rather than an acrobat, a physical character, he was something of a hacker, which played to Batman’s detective side and had to work EXTREMELY hard for his physical development.  And he was all planning, no impulse, which put him at odds with Jason Todd (seriously, fuck that guy).  Meanwhile, it feels like he was shoehorned into the Red Robin role because no one wanted to get rid of him but nobody knew what to do with him.  Put him back in the Robin suit and let’s get Damian back to being a digression.
  • Only Batman and Superman have multiple titles – It seems like only Superman and Batman can truly support more than one title.  Not Green Lantern, Aquaman, or Flash.  Let’s not dilute the brand, DC.  Focus your best talent on the top titles.  There don’t need to be 4 Lantern-related books on the stand each month.
  • One thing I’d keep that Johns and co. are doing right is the re-introduction of the anthology title or titles with rotating foci. While every hero or team is someone’s favorite, not all characters can support their own title. The New 52’s DC Universe Presents is an opportunity to… dare I say it… showcase characters and stories of this nature. But, why not do more? Bring back Mystery in Space and cast a wider net. Give the fans their Space Cabby, ULTRA, The Multi-Alien, Adam Strange, and others. What about a House of Mystery or a similar title for darker/ magical characters? Not only would I shuffle characters, I’d shuffle creators often. I’d use anthologies as an incentive to bring over and keep creative talent. It’s an opportunity for creators of on-going titles as well as new talent to play with more toys from the box. The only stricture would be to stay away from characters that currently have their own title.
  • Elseworlds – Placing familiar heroes in unfamiliar settings is a GREAT idea and produced some amazing stories.  Books Holy Terror, Red Son, and The Nail were both interesting takes on our heroes and took their concepts to the core so we could really examine what makes them strong.  In fact, it was such a good idea that it was the theme for an entire year of annuals.  Let’s see some more.

Before Watchmen, The End of My Relationship With DC Comics

Wednesday morning DC Comics announced the long-awaited (and long-reported by Rich Johnston) news that they would be “building” on Watchmen by releasing a series of “Before Watchmen” mini-series. Featuring each of the major characters in the original series plus a Minutemen series, the new series will build on the mythology of the Watchmen universe and finally turn those characters into a fully-formed brand to be marketed and exploited.

I spoke about this on our Twitter account a couple months ago when Bleeding Cool started running leaked concept art by creators we now know are attached to the project, but since 140 characters bursts doesn’t allow for much depth of thought, it seems like the opportune time to elaborate.

It’s long been the conventional wisdom that for Marvel and DC, comics don’t pay the bills, it is the licensing of characters that brings in the real money.  And especially recently, with line-wide relaunches, monster trucks, and twitter accounts hyping mass media appearances more than comics, it feels like more than just the conventional wisdom.  Comic books may be dying out, but through licensing the characters can live on in perpetuity.  Therefore, with every financial reason to do it and no creative impetus behind it**, Before Watchmen isn’t an artistic endeavor, it’s a blank check for DC to enhance the brand and keep the licensing money coming.

Let’s be honest, most of the major comic book characters you know and love are 40-60 years old now.  Other than
Watchmen, which is one of the best selling graphic novels ever, how many comic book characters can you name  were created in the last 25 years and are household names?  Spawn, probably.  Deadpool, maybe. The list is pretty thin.  The Watchmen characters are well-known, popular, and just sitting in the DC vaults unused.  Perhaps it’s inevitable that Watchmen gets dragged hurming and scheming into the 21st century, but without the unanimous blessing of their creators I can’t put my support behind it.

Kudos to DC for getting Dave Gibbons’ approval on the new works, but that’s only half the solution.  In order to get me on-board for this (and I want to be, truly I do) Alan Moore has to sign off on it as well.  Can you imagine Steve Dillon spinning off Preacher without Garth Ennis, Eduardo Risso continuing 100 Bullets without Brian Azzarello (one of the Before Watchmen creators!), or Darick Robertson doing more Transmetropolitan without Warren Ellis*?

Of course not.  Those books were made by creative TEAMS, and the artist and writer are both critical to their success.  Before Watchmen is an event by committee, not an artistic vision at work.  But the main reason those spinoffs wouldn’t work?  All of the books I mentioned are creator-owned titles.  Watchmen had the misfortune of coming out too soon***.  Had it been published in 1996 instead of 1986 it would have been released as a creator-owned series through the Vertigo imprint!  Had Vertigo existed back then Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons would have owned the series and its characters, never squabbled about DC keeping it in print in perpetuity (therefore preventing the rights from reverting back to Moore and Gibbons) and they probably would have done the prequels they considered TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO!

The Internet, predictably, exploded.  And there have been some good rebuttals to the outrage.  J. Michael Straczynski, who will be working on the Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan books, told Comic Book Resources:
“A lot of folks feel that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan, and while that’s absolutely understandable on an emotional level, it’s deeply flawed on a logical level. Based on durability and recognition, one could make the argument that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But neither Alan nor anyone else has ever suggested that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should ever be allowed to write Superman. Alan didn’t pass on being brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein, and he did a terrific job. He didn’t say “No, no, I can’t, that’s Len’s character.” Nor should he have.”

That’s an excellent point.  Here’s the thing: Siegel and Shuster never intended to be the only ones ever telling Superman stories, or that it would never continue past a certain point.  Hell, Superman was originally a newspaper strip, a serial if ever there was one.  Their only beef was that they didn’t get adequate payment for all DC exploited Superman. The same goes for Kirby.  Truth be told, the same goes for Alan Moore when he worked on Batman, Vigilante, and Green Lantern.  Moore doesn’t WANT the money, he wants DC to leave it alone (well, that and let him get the rights back).

JMS goes on later to say:
“Again: on an emotional level, I get it. But by the same token, Alan has spent most of the last decade writing some very, very good stories about characters created by other writers, including Alice (from Wonderland), Dorothy (from Oz), Wendy (from Peter Pan), as well as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde and Professor Moriarty. I think one loses a little of the moral high ground to say, “I can write characters created by Jules Verne, HG Wells, Robert  Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Frank Baum, but it’s wrong for anyone else to write my characters.””

Again, there is a bit of a difference here.  Presumably Moore has no problem with others using his work 70 years after his death, when it would enter the public domain.  He’s a smart man, and understands public domain (which kept Lost Girls from being published in the UK for a while, until the Peter Pan rights expired) and the concept of transformative works.  Now I do feel from time to time like Moore is a crotchety, hypersensitive guy who won’t rest until he can find fault in everything, like someone’s grandmother, but in these instances I feel he’s got a solid basis for his feelings.

With the New 52 relaunch, the over-reliance on events (and making them bigger and more inflammatory each time), and now this, DC is making it quite clear that they are more concerned with getting our money and the perpetuation of brands rather than integrity.  And not necessarily the artistic kind, just good ethics.  And I just can’t support that any more.  With Watchmen 2 happening, I am officially done with DC Comics and all it’s associated creators.  At the moment
that includes:

  • Seriously, I would LOVE to read this. But I can't.

    Brian Azzarello

  • Lee Bermejo
  • Amanda Conner
  • Darwyn Cooke
  • Adam Hughes
  • J.G. Jones
  • Andy Kubert
  • Joe Kubert
  • Jae Lee
  • J. Michael Straczynski
  • Len Wein

Not that I was buying any JMS titles anyway, but we’ve been always told that we vote with our wallet.  Well, my three dollars (let’s face it, they weren’t getting $4 from me anyway) isn’t going to support this system or those who enable it.

Most support I’ve seen so far has come in the form of how DC is a company whose goal is to make money, so they can do what they want with characters they own.  Or that the new titles sound great.  And those statements are ALL true.  These are DC’s characters, and maybe it IS stupid of them to have these characters and not capitalize on them.  I think an Azzarello/Bermejo Rorschach series would be AMAZING.  But I can’t support it, not without the approval of both Moore and Gibbons.

And may God have mercy on our souls if we ever see a Dr. Manhattan monster truck.

*Cully Hamner did some Red prequels without Ellis, but since we never heard complaints from him, we have to assume they were sanctioned.
** So far, what we’ve heard is Dan DiDio approaching creators to work on the project, which means it’s coming down from an editorial/managerial level.  And while I imagine the creative process behind these books is an honest one, it’s not the same as, say, Geoff Johns coming up with Green Lantern: Rebirth.
***Ditto Sandman, but DC has been very careful not to alienate DC by using his characters without his okay.  Their relationship with Neil Gaiman may very well be the result of lessons learned working with Alan Moore.

Over the course of our lives, Matt’s heard me talk a lot of craziness, make a load of overreaching declarations, and talked me down off many a ledge.  So these were his thoughts when we discussed the news.

So then…

Where does this idea come from that Alan Moore is the only one to touch Watchmen?

Who’s out there clamoring for more? It’s a fairly complete story with few or no holes. If nothing else, didn’t we learn our lesson as fans with The Dark Knight Strikes Again?

Before Watchmen
, so what? When rumblings of this started way back, I had no interest in seeing prequels or sequels. That view has not changed. I don’t get the idea that people are so attached to the unlikeable, shallow, impotent, and petty caricatures that Alan Moore used to tell his story. Anything I ever wondered about them is given to me in the pages of the original 12 issues. So if I want a good Rorschach prequel story, I’ll read The Question, and the same goes for Moore’s other “creations” and their Charlton counterparts. I can’t make myself care about it because it isn’t affecting how I feel about the original story. Just because DC’s doing it doesn’t mean I have to read it.

It’s funny that Watchmen is the third rail of comics. Why does this story get people so up in arms?

In terms of the outcry and insistence that it have Moore’s blessing, I find myself agreeing with… God help me… JMS. It’s DC’s property. Again, whatever is done now by whomever will not change the original story, its significance, or my own feelings about the story.

Maybe the stories will be good. Maybe they’ll be forgotten not unlike DC’s Kingdom. At the end of the day, the only problem I have is that I always find blatant pandering insulting.  It bothers me that DC feels that it can dangle new Watchmen stories and we’ll automatically open our wallets and fork over four or five dollars a pop.

All great points.  JMS continued his excellent point-making this morning, after drawing comparisons to his work Babylon 5.  Namely, the company owns the property and it would suck, but they have the right to do what they wish with the characters.  And I agree, they certainly do have the right, I just wish they wouldn’t exercise it. 

The rights for Watchmen were always supposed to revert to Moore and Gibbons once the book went out of print, which it never has.  The was never supposed to be an issue, a book had never stayed continuously in print before.  Watchmen is a victim of its own success.  So I’d say that’s why Moore is the chosen one in this case. 

While several creators have tried getting the rights to their creations back, namely Kirby, Siegel, and Shuster, but as recently as Marv Wolfman, but Steve Gerber was notoriously against other creators working on characters he created, notably Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown.

A Brief Look at the New DCU

Well, that was it.  Last week was the end of the DCU as we’ve known it for the last 25 years and the All-New, All-Different DC Universe kicks off next week.  After such extended diatribes about DCNu, it’s probably only fair that we take a look at the 52 new titles DC will be launching.  (I took this list from, who probably got it from Previews, but is the first site I found to have all the information in one place.)  Some of the info has already changed, such as the Green Lantern titles, but we’ll look at it as announced.  There will be SPOILERS ahead.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales
Cover by Rags Morales

A new era of DC Comics begins as the longest-running monthly comic of
all time releases its first issue #1 since 1938.

This September, New York Times bestselling writer Grant Morrison
(ALL-STAR SUPERMAN) joins with sensational artist Rags Morales to
bring you tales of The Man of Tomorrow unlike any you’ve ever read
before in ACTION COMICS #1. This momentous first issue will set in
motion the history of the DC Universe as Superman defends a world that
doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.

The first Action Comics #1 is now the most sought-after comic book of
all time. This September, one of comics’ most imaginative storytellers
will make history again in Grant Morrison and Rags Morales’ ACTION

I’m glad Action comes first alphabetically because of all the new titles, this is the biggest one for me.  As tempted as I am to write off the whole DCU now, I’ll never be able to pass up a Grant Morrison uperman title.  Add in art by Rags Morales, who made me a fan for life after his work on Hourman so long ago, and this is a sure-fire hit.

This is one of two reasons I haven’t written off DC books entirely. Grant Morrison on a Superman book is a win for me.

The solicitations make note of how long it’s been since the last Action #1, and we’ll see that on several other listings.  It’s ironic that this whole relaunch is the only thing that makes this fact notable.  Word has since come out that Action is going to take place 5 years in the past.  While “Grant Morrison’s Smallville” will almost certainly be worth reading, no way does this five-year separation last long.

You’re almost certainly right about the five-year separation. I’m worried that Morrison is on the title long enough to tell the origin from 5 years ago; then we’re going to get a bait and switch.

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Grey
Art by Moritat

If you liked Jonah Hex, this will just be expanding upon that mythology by incorporating more DC Western stars.  Since it’s only tangential to the primary DCU, this changes from Hex’s last title will most likely be minor.

I’m pleasantly surprised that they’re keeping this book essentially intact. DC’s willingness to change up creative teams, such as taking Secret Six from Gail Simone, is disconcerting. That the title is the only thing changing is actually a relief.

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Travel Foreman & Dan Green

Were there really enough people screaming for an Animal Man book? Or is this a by product of needing 52 titles?

I imagine it’s DC wanting to find work for Lemire, and this is a character they pitched him that they thought he could do something with.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

We rip on Geoff Johns a lot here, but he really is a good writer.  I’m anxious to see what he does here, I just hope it doesn’t lead to an over-complication of the whole Aquaman Family.

This is one of those times when I have to disagree with you. Johns isn’t a good writer; he’s a good idea man. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When Johns takes on too many responsibilities, the quality suffers. I want this book to be good; I’d love for Aquaman to see a Green Lantern style renaissance, but Johns is the guy that brought back Barry Allen and inexplicably went back in time to shove young Allen down a set of stairs. Johns’s best writing is at least three years behind him unless he were to drop everything for Aquaman.

Good points. 

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes

This one is going to be contentious for a lot of readers.  As much as I think Oracle was a strong character in her own right, no Batgirl since her has done a thing for me. Writing off Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown is alright with me.

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo

In the first BATMAN #1 since 1940, New York Times bestselling writer
Scott Snyder teams up with superstar artist Greg Capullo in his DC
Comics debut! In the series, Bruce Wayne once again becomes the only
character taking on the Batman name.

I confess to being curious about this one, and Greg Capullo hasn’t done work for the Big Two in decades.  But again, let’s stop bragging about how long it’s been since the last #1.  It’s weird.

It’s like they’re subliminally saying… “Here’s a collectible! It’ll be worth something someday.” How much is Superman #1 (vol. 2)? Oh… right, not much.

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason

Did we ever get Tomasi’s vol. 1 arc that was supposed to happen between Morrison and Cornell?

I believe so.  I think it was right before Winick’s Red Hood arc.

Written by David Finch
Art by David Finch & Jay Fabok

Shouldn’t we be giving out 1/52 of the entire line to titles we’ll actually see?

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver

This one reeks of tokenism to me.  Maybe it’ll work, but Judd Winick’s work in the DCU has never been to my taste, Red Hood work aside.

Written by J.H. Williams III & Haden Blackman
Art by Amy Reeder

I imagine this is the exact same book they’ve been soliciting for over a year, with no changes.  It’ll most likely be solid, and definitely look amazing.

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This is a refrain I keep thinking again and again while looking at this list. Next…

Written by Mike Costa
Art by Ken Lashley
Cover by Ken Lashley

Blackhawk is an elite group of mercenaries made up of brave men from
around the world equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and
vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us. A set
of contemporary tales that battle the world’s gravest threats,
BLACKHAWKS #1 will be written by Mike Costa and illustrated by Ken

This is just G.I. Joe, right?  I mean…Right?

Yeah… That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.

Unless you like Blackhawk.

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Ig Guara

I like this in principle, but why is this going to work when the book was cancelled for low sales almost two and a half years ago?

Written by JT Krul
Art by Freddie Williams II

I don’t think I can bring myself to read anything more by the guy who wrote Rise of Arsenal.  Sorry.

See my comments re: Animal Man.

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Guillem March

Even Judd Winick can’t characterize this as more than sex and violence.  Sorry, pass.

Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by Bernard Chang

A new anthology series written by Paul Jenkins?  He’s becoming more hit-or-miss for me, but I like the concept.

My interest in this title is going to waver depending on the character(s) highlighted each issue. Odds are I’ll be pulling this one from quarter boxes in about 20 years in the same way I’ve been pulling DC Comics Presents.

Or Marvel Comics Presents.

Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Joe Bennett & Art Thibert

I’ve had to look up half of these writers to see who they are. Why is DC handing a major relaunch to it’s rookie class? Many of these guys only have one shots and back up stories to their names. This is a weird strategy all around. Are Johns and Lee crazy or crazy like foxes? We’ll see… we’ll see.

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert

Despite never liking The Demon (reading his dialogue ALWAYS feels like work) Paul Cornell’s name here is a huge draw.  However, I don’t give this book more than a year.  It’s Etrigan.

Despite being Cornell, I’m going to wait for the trade on this one.

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Tony S. Daniel

Expect a mediocre bat-title.  Shouldn’t these books be launching with higher-profile creators?  Daniel’s art is great, but his writing is still finding it’s legs.

A major title with mass name recognition in the hands of a mediocre writer… Ummmmm…we’ll see?

Written by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Art by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
I’m surprised Geoff Johns hasn’t taken this one over.  I wonder how many speedsters there will be post-Flashpoint, especially with no JSA?

I’ll wait a few issues before I think about giving this one a try.

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Alberto Ponticelli

I’ve heard some great things about Jeff Lemire’s indy work, and Frankenstein was one of Grant Morrison’s best Seven Soldiers titles. I think this one may be one to watch.

I’m liking Lemire’s work on the Flashpoint Frankenstein book. I’ll give this one the once over.

Written by Ethan Van Sciver & Gail Simone
Art by Yildiray Cinar

I was fairly nonplussed about this one, but a Newsarama interview with Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver have made it sound worth checking out.

It will be a testimony to the creative if they can make me care about Firestorm.

Written by JT Krul
Art by Dan Jurgens

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke & Christiam Almy

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin & Scott Hanna

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Tyler Kirkham & Batt

Okay.  The Green Lantern titles.  This is where things will get especially muddy, since Geoff Johns has spent the last 5 years resetting GL continuity to where he wants it. And without Blackest Night, where did all these Corps come from?  I think I’m done with anything ring-based for the foreseeable future.


Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Cafu & BIT

What? by whom? Oh… uh….so what?

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Rob Liefeld

<sigh>  I’ll be getting this one, although I’m curious how the Rob will get both this and The Infinite out.  That’s not even taking into consideration the long-lost  Image United.

Written by Josh Fialkov
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino

Vampires threaten to bring ruin to the DC Universe in I, VAMPIRE #1 by
rising star Josh Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino. Tortured by his
centuries-old love for the Queen of the Damnned, Andrew Bennett must
save humanity from the violent uprising of his fellow vampires, even
if it means exterminating his own kind.

And DC arrives at the Twilight party, which sounds dirty but isn’t.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee & Scott Williams

I think this is going to be the premiere book of the DCNu, with such high-profile creators on it.  Even I’ll get sucked into it, I’m sure, as I’m a sucker for the JLA.  This will probably also be where we see the most character interaction and get the most clues about how this whole new DCU is going to work.

Nope. Just… nope. I’ll wait until the origin story is finished; then I’ll see what it’s all about.

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
Cover by Ryan Sook

John Constantine, Deadman, Shade the Changing Man and Madame Xanadu
are Justice League Dark, a band of supernatural heroes united to stop
the dark things the rest of the DCU does not see in JUSTICE LEAGUE
DARK #1, by Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janin.

I’m more likely to pick this one up than the main title.

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Aaron Lopresti
Cover by Aaron Lopresti

A team of internationally-drafted superheroes fight each other and
their bureaucratic supervisors as much as they do global crime in
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1 from writer Dan Jurgens and artist
Aaron Lopresti. The cover to issue #1 is by Aaron Lopresti.

In another example of short-sightedness, it feels like DC has spent the last 5 years eliminating the Giffen/DeMatteis era JL only to start listening to fan outrage and support of that era.

How far into the book do we see a roster change to characters that Jurgens really wants to work with? I can’t bring myself to care about this book remembering the lackluster JL stories Jurgens wrote in the 90’s… Dr. Destiny story not withstanding.

Good point.  Also worth noting: Jurgens gets associated with the JLI era a lot, but truly he didn’t get involved until long after the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire run was over.

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Pete Woods

Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Francis Portela

Written by Eric Wallace
Art by Roger Robinson

I’m a sucker for the new Mister Terrific.  This one I’ll be keeping an eye out for to see how it does…

Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Eddy Barrows

Written by Dan Didio & Keith Giffen
Art by Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Cover by Kenneth Rocafort

Batman’s former sidekick had put his past as The Red Hood behind him,
when the reclusive Jason Todd finds himself unwillingly elected as the
leader of an all-new team of outlaw vigilantes.

As The Red Hood once again, Jason Todd will lead this new team of
antiheroes, including Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal and
Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS will be written by Scott Lobdell and
illustrated by rising superstar artist Kenneth Rocafort.
Junk!After 20 years, DC finally gets their X-Force!

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Ed Benes & Rob Hunter

Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Fernando Dagnino

Welcome back, R-Man!  This is the highlight of the relaunch news, for me.  Seriously, the 90’s series was a highlight of it’s era along other titles like Starman, Chronos, and Chase.

Ditto. This and Action Comics are the only two titles I’m guaranteed to buy when they come out. I’m so excited that they’ve got DnA back for writing, but why not give Butch Guice some love?

Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Philip Tan
Cover by Philip Tan

Batman writer Tony Daniel will team up with artist Philip Tan (GREEN
Carter Hall’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job
with an archeologist who specializes in alien ruins – but will the
doctor’s latest discovery spread an alien plague through New York
City? No matter the personal cost, Carter Hall must don his cowl and
wings and become the new, savage Hawkman to survive. The cover to
issue #1 is by Philip Tan.

Can we all please just agree that, like Dr. Strange, no matter how much we may like Hawkman he just can’t support his own title?

Written by Ivan Brandon
Art by Tom Derenick
Cover by Tom Derenick

The grandson of the original Sgt. Rock assumes the command of Easy
Company, a team of crack ex-military men financed by a covert military
contractor, as they brave the battle-scarred landscape carved by the
DC Universe’s super-villains. SGT. ROCK AND THE MEN OF WAR #1 is
contemporary military story fighting under modern conditions, and will
be written by Ivan Brandon and illustrated by Tom Derenick.

Written by John Rozum & Scott McDaniel
Art by Scott McDaniel & Jonathan Glapion

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Miguel Sepulveda
Cover by Miguel Sepulveda

Stormwatch is a dangerous super human strike force whose existence is
kept secret from the world. Jack Hawksmoor and the rest of the crew
look to recruit two of the deadliest super humans on the planet:
Midnighter and Apollo. And if they say no? Perhaps the Martian
Manhunter can change their minds. Featuring a surprising new roster,
STORMWATCH #1 will be written by the critically-acclaimed Paul Cornell
(Superman: The Black Ring, “Dr. Who”) and illustrated by Miguel

I’m a pretty huge Stormwatch fan, at least the Ellis run they’re trying to recreate here.  But I think DC is making a mistake by putting J’onn here rather than in the JLA, where he’s been the one constant across every. single.  incarnation.

At the point that you have 3 JLA’s, a Stormwatch, a Suicide Squad, Teen Titans, and a Blackhawk team combatting “the world’s gravest threats,” why not combine them all into a book called Justice League Unlimited? What better way to honor Dwayne McDuffie and apologize for screwing him over with his shot at the JLoA book?

Written by Adam Glass
Art by Marco Rudy

Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! They’re a team of death-row super
villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous
– they’re sheer suicide! Who will be the first to crack under the
pressure? Find out in SUICIDE SQUAD #1, written by Adam Glass

Okay, this sounds pretty intriguing.

I’d agree if I hadn’t read the first two issues of Flashpoint: Legion of Doom. It’s been the most boring prison break ever.

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by R.B. Silva & Rob Lean

Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Art by Mahmud Asrar

Written by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino

I’ve just realized that there’s no book simply called “Superman”.  If DC’s bragging about how they’re relaunching new #1 issues of titles for the first time in 70 years, they should be ashamed that for the first time in 70 years some of them are gone.  This may be the only book with a creator who also participated in the post-Crisis relaunch.

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Yannick Paquette

Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund
Cover by Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund

Tim Drake is forced to step out from behind his keyboard when an
international organization seeks to capture or kill super-powered
teenagers. As Red Robin, he must team up with the mysterious and
belligerent powerhouse thief known as Wonder Girl and a hyperactive
speedster calling himself Kid Flash in TEEN TITANS #1, by Scott
Lobdell and artists Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund.

This reeks of mid-90’s Image comics, to me.  Hey look, Superboy has a tattoo!  Isn’t that edgy?  I bet Red Robin has talons or claws of some type.

Written by Ron Marz
Art by Sami Basri

No offense meant to Ron Marz, but even Alan Moore couldn’t make Voodoo interesting.  Couldn’t we have gotten Joe Casey back on Wildcats?

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang

A few miscellaneous thoughts:

We haven’t quite worked out what this means (for good or ill), but twelve titles feature Batman
characters or take place in Gotham City.  That’s almost 1/4 of the whole line.

GL-related books are still even with the Superman related titles, 6 each (if you count Superboy in Teen Titans). Ain’t that some #$%@.

Out of the 52 new titles, only 6 look like must-buys to me, with about 9 that look like they have potential or I may check in on.  That’s 28%, which isn’t bad, but I doubt I’ll pick them all up.

Two are must-buys. I’ll give four others a chance. Looks like my pendulum has swung back toward Marvel.

I’ve looked through this list of new books many, many times and I can’t help but wonder how long DC will be able to maintain these 52 titles? Some I see lasting 1 – 3 years while a few won’t make it to April.

Agreed.  And now that Robinson is relaunching JSA, Batman Inc will be relaunched soon, and more titles will come in and out, the “52” part of this seems like a gimmick.  In the interest of fairness, we’ll let Dan Didio have the last word.