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.


Ramblings about DC’s 52.

“You know what would be awesome? If DC had an eight-page weekly comic that was solely digital and ran for free on iTunes for a year. I think it’s a damn good way to get a whole bunch of eyes on your IPs. Plus, it primes those eyes for a regular expectation of DC content. I say DC because DC and Marvel are really the only companies with the money to do that. Or (going into souless company man mode) you make it a talent contest and have the audience vote on eight-page stories. So, you’re getting free content from creators who wish to audition. The entry with the highest rating gets a miniseries deal.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Please note that my awesome ideas are awesome and should happen immediately. Also, please note that a digital exclusive that costs money will not get one anywhere. People who have never tried comics are not going to start if they have to open up their wallets. They need a regular hit of that free, uncut Batman to get them hooked and into the routine. Man, DC. What the hell are you doing over there?

Also, if the entries are really good? You package those suckers into a couple of graphic novels and make a few bucks off printed trades. It would also be best if the content were serial in nature. Like a soap, strip, or old radio show.


JL: The B-List

Justice LeagueI feel rather guilty commenting on this image. After all, a character is a character is a character where a superhero is concerned. The redundancy that occurs is so rampant that a mainstream comic is only as good as the creative team attached to it. The concept? The character’s design? Well, it has all been done before, hasn’t it? Any complaints I have simply come down to a matter of personal taste. My opinion is no more valid than the opinion of any other reader.

A company only has to worry when a large number of negative opinions correspond. And even in this instance action is not necessarily needed right away. Trademarks can take quite a few blows before one is forced to assess the damage and make crucial changes. DC could have happily coasted on America’s love for Batman for several more years if need be. However, its second base, Superman, seemed to be wearing away beneath a wave of apathy and continuous court proceedings. It was clear that a change was needed. But have enough changes been made?

Aside from the addition of Cyborg, DC’s “big seven” are the same characters we have always seen. And so far, the costume designs and origins have not been altered enough to spark my interest. But on a positive note, these small changes might be the exact changes needed to rein in lapsed DC fans. Personally, I would have swapped Cyborg out for Mr. Terrific. Yes, Cyborg is a known intellectual property, but the majority of individuals familiar with the character know him as a teen. Placing him in the JLA is akin to putting Blade in a children’s cartoon. It can be done, but why? Mr. Terrific is a better fit as the JLA’s resident tech hero and a JLA placement would have helped to bolster sales of his solo series. Again, just one opinion. I would have also swapped Barry for Wally, but most Americans couldn’t care less which character is in the suit. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. All of DC’s most powerful trademarks are lined up in a neat little row—as it should be.

The second tier is where DC veers severely off course. And sadly, the second tier is more important than the first, for that is where the powerful trademarks of the future are found. Judging from this group? DC’s future looks weak and out of touch with mainstream America.

But let’s focus on the good first. The Atom. If that is a poorly rendered Ryan Choi, then I’m very impressed. Bringing an Asian American character into the “big leagues” is a great move. Bringing back a dead character that fans thought of fondly? Even better. Bringing in a character that can bring a fun Spider-manesque quality to the table that is truly unique for the crew assembled? Enjoy your home run, DC. You’ve earned it. Still, that could be Ray Palmer depicted, but I’m not even going to contemplate the possibility that DC would make such a backward-looking and uninspired choice.

Moving on, we have Deadman, Element Woman, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Mera, and an unknown woman who could be any number of DC’s light-haired heroines. The first thing that comes to my attention is how overwhelmingly white the troop is. This wouldn’t be an issue, but given the minimal ethnic and racial diversity within the “big seven” it is a troubling problem. This is supposed to be the future of the DCU. These are the intellectual properties that will be DC’s building blocks for the next several decades. And they in no way reflect the future of America visually. They in no way reflect the present of America visually. I think making this incarnation of Hawkman multi-racial/ethnic would help—especially given America’s latest crop of action heroes. However, DC’s new characters of color seem to be exclusively male. This should also be rectified. Replacing a redundant character such as Mera or Element Woman with a female character of color would be an improvement—preferably a woman who is not the same ethnicity as Atom or Cyborg and doesn’t have the same exact powers as another member of the team (Aquaman or Firestorm). Energy blasts or magical powers, perhaps?

The addition of Green Arrow is another misstep. The character’s skills are dated. A character that shoots arrows in an age of guns? The character’s appearance is dated. A Robin Hood pastiche? And there are already two white male blondes on the team. Why has a third one that brings nothing to the table and has failed consistently in connecting with fans been added? The answer to that question had better not be because the character appeared in Smallville—a show that is now cancelled.

As for Deadman, Firestorm, and Mera, being showcased in high profile events and series have not roused fan interest. Why the continual promotion of characters that fail to perform? Is it because DC is looking to place these characters in film or television? Note: What works in one medium does not always work in another. I think Hitman would work well as an HBO series. Hitman would also be a terrible addition to the JLA. Everything has its place. Research and common sense help to identify that place cheaper and faster.

And with that? The constant DC coverage comes to an end. I mean, really. DC doesn’t pay my bills and doesn’t even produce the comics I actually read!

Shout out to Dark Horse, by the way.


Voodoo dreams.

Voodoo

Ron Marz is a capable and dependable writer. Fans are familiar with him.

Still, I have no plans to read the new Voodoo series. Sadly, I don’t think many other people will either.

Of course, I’m guessing that their reasons will vary greatly from my own. Though I love the character, Pris is hardly popular with mainstream comic fans. Come September, she will be crowded out by more popular intellectual properties. There is only so much money to spend, after all. And most of it will go towards the Dark Knight and his merry band of leather-clad associates. And though Marz is capable and dependable, he is neither controversial nor novel. His interviews and output do not draw the same attention given to those featuring veteran peers such as Morrison or fresh young upstarts like Edmonson. Edmonson has an attractive, exciting reputation that has drawn fans to discuss Grifter—Grifter!—I character I adore, but one that I can easily admit is merely a slapdash mix of Gambit and Wolverine. And yet here I sit, contemplating purchasing the character’s new series—with nary an X-Men or Wolverine to be found on my pull list. Why? The mix of a character that I am fond of plus the addition of a “hot” creative team has sparked my interest.

So, why am I not picking up Voodoo? Solid creative team, a character I adore—should be right up my alley, no? No. Lackluster interviews and promotional copy that alludes to the fact that the character will be brought back to “square one” in terms of character development has put me off. I’ve read stories where this character has grown from a naïve plaything unaware of her heritage into an accomplished fighter deeply proud of who she is. I am not interested in reading a new version of that arc. I’ve read Alan Moore’s version. I’m pretty satisfied. Then again, I’m not the target audience.

Honestly, I don’t feel that there is an audience for this book. Fans of Voodoo don’t want to see a rehash of earlier stories. Fans of Marz would rather see the creator work on a character that “counts.” Witchblade fans are fans of Witchblade. I don’t see many of them following Marz to his new series.

My armchair editor rundown? Why, of course I’ll give it to you! I would have stolen Marz from Image too. However, I would have placed him with a mainstream second-tier superhero with a built-in audience. I believe that handing him a character with barely any name recognition was a mistake. As for Voodoo? I would have been on the hunt for the next Liu to take the reins of that book. I would have quietly approached YA fantasy authors and writers from popular cult shows like True Blood to pen a six-issue arc—someone who could draw as much attention as possible to the book. I might have really gone out on a limb and approached a writer like Zane. I probably wouldn’t have been pleased with the result creatively, but that writer knows how to get people to part with their dollars, and holds the attention of an audience DC could never dream of reaching. Plus, having a black writer on Voodoo might have taken the edge off of comments such as this one. I love Voodoo, and Vixen certainly doesn’t offend me in any way, but on paper DC’s only two black heroines are a stripper and a woman who can mimic wild animals. Whoo! So not a good look.


Social media ramblings.

“Was I right about the fifty-second book being another 52? Because that is an awesome idea and I am awesome for having it. Two five page stories each—$1.50 for ten pages featuring background information and character spotlights. Plus—plus—it’s used as a way to break new artists and writers into the industry. Aspiring creators will bring their A+ game in the hopes of moving up to the big leagues. And DC could get a nice chunky backlog of stories in case a regular artist is late…which will happen.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I still think it’s a good idea. It’s also a nice way to let long-term readers discover where the characters they once loved are now in the new DC universe. Are they heroes? Average Joes just trying to make it in the DCU? Inquiring minds want to know!


Back to the future.

Teen Titans

All I see are the same four white kids I’ve always seen and two hideous monsters.

Going by the gossip around the web, I’m assuming that the two unknown characters are POC. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t it have been a good idea for the POC characters to actually be clearly visible as POC? Especially since they seem to be teenage girls of color—who have been pretty much invisible in the past at DC. Also, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to put Jamie and Static in this book as well in order to slowly build their popularity in a team setting instead of throwing them right into solo books to automatically sink or swim in a very short time frame in a very weak market?

I know I’m harping on the few negative things about this reboot, but I’m hoping that these are things that can be tweaked before everything is locked into place come September.

Oh, and while I’m complaining, let me bring something else up! DC, why aren’t these books available for preorder? People should be able to pay for these books right now while they are thinking about them! I was all set to make a big journal entry about all of the upcoming DC comics featuring black characters and post it on some of the non-comic black-focused entertainment boards I frequent. Then I realized that there would be no point. None of those readers would remember to walk into a comic shop three months from now and buy those books. And three months from now, I’m not going to feel like digging through Source blog posts for pictures and copy to repost. Wouldn’t it have been nice if I could have told people about Mr. Terrific, people could have went to Amazon or iTunes to order his comic, and the comic would have been delivered to their iPads and inboxes three months later like a fantastic little surprise? Boy, that would have been nice!

Oh, well.


Lost girls

I am going to talk about all of the wonderful things going on at DC in a minute. Right now? We’re going to talk about the bad things—bad things that are not exactly exclusive to DC. I had hoped the new focus on diversity at DC would result in a focus on different creators as well as different characters. Unfortunately, only the latter happened. I’ve got to admit that I’m a little disappointed, especially since some wonderful female and POC creators were lost in the shuffle while creators I wouldn’t have picked for projects were handed ongoing books. C’est la vie. But guys? Guys?

This is crazy. Know what else is crazy? Nicola Scott doesn’t have an ongoing.

Allow me to repeat that. Nicola Scott does not have an ongoing. DC, have you lost your mind? Nah, I’m playing. With only 52 books, certain creators are going to be lost in the shuffle. That’s just the way it is. But man, did you lose a couple of aces in that shuffle.

Meme time! And I’m tagging each and every one of you out there! Name a female or POC creator that you would have liked to see at DC who has worked for them in the past. That’s not all! Name a book that’s a perfect fit for her/him. And those books don’t have to be limited to DC, either! I’ll give you one to start off with.

Creator: Nicola Scott
Books: The Caped and the Vestless—a humor miniseries along the lines of Heroes for Hire, but focusing mostly on romantic and familial relationships with a side order of face-kicking and car-throwing. She-Hulk. Ms. Marvel. A flagship X-Book. Gen 13 (starring Static, Blue Beetle, Traci 13, Miss Martian, and Aquagirl). Power Girl. Empowered Special: Sistah Spooky Speaks!

Okay, name your own! And yes, WS creators count! Hmm, I should go ahead and make a Marc Bernardin list too.


The image.

Justice LeagueWell, everyone else is talking about it! I might as well throw my two cents in.

Aquaman: Isn’t he dreamy? Kudos for going the pretty boy route. Is Aquaman next up to get the CW treatment? I could totally see this Aquaman standing out in the rain casting lovelorn looks at some chick from a dysfunctional home near the docks. This is your heart throb, DC. Your Jax Teller. Your Thor. I want to see some epic angst-ridden romance with this dude. And then farm it all out to television and wait for the Tumblrs to start tumbling. Late 20s on this one. Noble. Brooding. Suffering in silence.

Flash: Get rid of that chin guard! So ’90s. Just stick with the classic look! And I hope that’s Wally. I don’t give a damn about Barry. Let Barry be a blissfully happy family man in his 50s. And Bart can get kicked to the future. And I know this is going to make some people mad, but I don’t want Flash married with kids either. Knock him down to his mid 20s. We don’t need a million characters with speed powers running around. Give Barry some kids and let him be a mentor to Wally. One Flash. That’s it. It’s a title that gets handed down through the family. And why does he look so serious? Flash should be fun!

Cyborg: No. No, no, no. Again, so ’90s! Technology is getting smaller and sleeker by the day. What is this? The good thing is that Cyborg’s costume should be constantly updating; you can get away with quickly changing this design. I understand that Cyborg needs to be the “big guy” on the team to keep him in line with what people remember from the Teen Titans cartoon. Fine. He can be big. The costume should be sleek. Something akin to the Engineer from The Authority. Remember Adam Warren’s take on Cyborg from his Titans one-shot? I want to see Cyborg doing crazy stuff like that too. As for the man inside the weapon? I’d like to see him look like a regular guy when off-duty. White suits. Low haircut (Google Reggie Bush or 50 Cent). Glowing eyes to let people know that something’s not quite right with this dude. Early 30s. Can be a bit abrupt or cold. There’s a danger of him getting lost in the machine.

Green Lantern: Honestly? I just don’t care. It’s fine, I guess. Mid thirties. Established. And boring—just like he’s always been.

Superman: Why so young? You need to bump his age up to early thirties. He’s the Cap of the DC universe! Plus, nobody feels like sitting through this dude’s origin again. Real talk? I’m not a long-term DC fan, so I could care less if you make him single again. But long-term fans will care. A lot. You’d better have Lois in there somewhere as a viable, likeable love interest. Learn from Marvel’s mistake on that one, baby. And don’t chain him to the paper either. Or to Metropolis. Print is dead and globalization is here to stay. Make him an investigative journalist. A younger, wilder Anderson Cooper. A Superman story should be able to take place anywhere at any time. Never mind. Just let Morrison do whatever the hell he feels like. Fans will buy it on his name alone. And there a 99.9 percent chance it will be amazing.

Batman: Mid thirties. Established. Old money. Long money. Honestly, I’d go back to basics. One Batman. Anyone else running around with a Batman symbol on is doing it without his approval or training. I’d make Cassandra Cain his Robin. He’d use her for minor jobs where he felt the risk involved was very low. She’d keep pushing for more. I like the design! But it’s fairly impossible to screw up Batman. No matter how insane the design or story, it always seems to work.

Wonder Woman: Sigh. Either use the classic design or go with the final one from the pilot! And please cut it out with the man-hating Amazons! Look, I’ll make this easy for you. Female Thor. Showed up in the late 1800s as Lady Liberty, but was so disgusted with “Man’s World” that she returned home. Popped up again in the ’20s and ’70s. Rumored to have vanished in the late ’70s to give birth to a child in secret. She doesn’t like when people bring up that rumor.

Uh, that’s it! We can sift through the other rumors later—especially any pertaining to the WS characters. You know I’ll be on those soon.