Multiversity–or Elseworlds.

I’d stepped into the DC universe with Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, mistakenly believing the series was DC’s current line-wide event. It is not.

It should be.

DC’s current cross-series saga is Futures End.  I don’t plan to pick up the weekly series nor will I be selecting any of the tie-in books for September. My knowledge of DC comes from movies, television shows, and video games—leaving me ill-equipped to launch head first into a time-travelling yarn. If I know little about the New 52’s past and I am not emotionally invested in its present, why should I care about the quality of its future? I will stick with the Multiversity bookends and select any additional books in the Multiversity series that I find interesting.

Readers like me, who pop in to enjoy the latest Grant Morrison vehicle and pop back out when it has concluded must be frustrating to companies such as DC. Fans loyal to creators become increasingly disloyal to companies and characters. As their favorite artist or writer skips from company to company, readers realize that each company has its own version of whatever trope they may hold dear. I can read about Spider-Man or Static or Ryan Choi. Batgirl or Ms. Marvel. Storm or Starfire or Vixen. The character does not matter. It makes no difference.

What does matter? Two things: the first is the creative team and the second is the concept. That’s it. For companies to corral readers such as myself is a matter of tossing a multitude of projects before the public eye and waiting to see which projects resonate with the largest number of readers. It requires something that DC has drawn back from in the past—a commitment to diversity.

I do not mean racial and religious diversity, nor gender and sexuality. What is required is a variety of tones and of genres, which is in direct conflict with DC’s previous mode of operation—to pattern as many books as possible after its most successful series. But if a reader has one quality book with the character, creative team, and tone she craves, she will have no interest in purchasing fifty-one facsimiles.

This brings us back to my idea of a line-wide Multiversity event. Each existing New 52 series would have a “done in one” story taking place on a different Earth. New titles would debut as one-shots—for example, The Authority: Earth 45. It would give DC one month to safely explore myriad concepts and creative teams from outside the existing talent pool and see what the populace finds appealing. The following month, DC’s editorial staff would analyze sales figures and reader response to identify which books were deemed a success and incorporate the successful creator-concept pairs into existing series.

It is very difficult to launch a new series and correct course when it is evident that readers are not interested. A Multiversity event would greatly reduce the risk involved in experimentation; it would essentially be a stealthy line-wide reboot. Liked what you read? Well, we’ll find a way to give it to you every month! Hated what you read? Well, we’ll never check back in with that Earth again!

Unlike Marvel’s readers, DC’s readers are familiar with and even fond of the notion of a large number of worlds due to the current Multiverse concept and DC’s defunct Elseworlds imprint. An event embedded in the idea would not be foreign or appalling to its audience. And I firmly believe it’s something DC should try.

The fate of the universe is at stake.


Timeless icons.

Batman 1972I know comics and I broke up a while ago, but I must state that Francesco Francavilla’s pet project modeled after works appearing under DC’s Elseworlds imprint is money on the table for DC. Three sets of 64-page one-shots starring the trinity. Each character gets a different decade: Superman against the backdrop of the gluttonous, Cold-War-fueled ’80s; Batman in the crime-ridden, wayward ’70s; Wonder Woman fighting for our rights in the mid ’60s. Superstar artists all the way. When it’s all done, bind that sucker up in a huge hardcover crammed with all sorts of pin-ups of the trinity in different time periods. Then? Do it all over again with a different set of artists: Superman in the early atomic age (’50s); Wonder Woman taking on Nazis during WW II (’40s); Batman trying to keep Gotham from sinking during the Great Depression (’30s).

Money on the table.

I want to take a moment to expand upon what I mean by that phrase. Every product containing Batman is profitable. Fans of the character will purchase even subpar work containing an appearance by the Dark Knight. However, the work I described in the preceding paragraph, if marketed correctly, would have a great deal of longevity as a trade and would easily interest fans outside the standard direct market. What I described is a coffee table book crammed to the brim with trendy, superstar artists, featuring America’s favorite modern myths and leaning heavily on the country’s most beloved form of entertainment—nostalgia.