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June 4, 2011

5

DC Will Reboot Its Entire Universe in September

Posted by on Jun 4, 2011

One of the complaints I hear most often in the world of comics (and one often voiced by some of us here at NNAR) is that it is extremely difficult for someone new to the comic book medium (or to a particular hero) to jump in and understand what is going on. The amount of history and backstory for each character can make it a daunting task to get up to speed and invested in a new storyline. Come September, DC is making that a lot easier. Starting with the September issue of the Justice League of America, every major property in the DC universe will be starting over with issue #1.

On August 31, DC will publish the final issue of its summer Flashpoint series and the first issue of the Justice League reboot. 51 other titles will follow suit in the month of September. It remains to be seen whether this will just turn out to be a marketing gimmick or actually allow for some better, more modern storytelling without the burden of legacy story.

The part of the announcement that is potentially an even bigger deal is that starting with these new releases, all DC comics will be available in digital form on day and date of release, making DC the first of the big two to adopt simultaneous digital distribution. This increased commitment to digital comics could end up being really great, especially if the monthly issues are designed with digital in mind, from an art and story flow perspective.

What are your thoughts about the reboot? How about the digital distribution?

  • By contrast, for me this is a good thing – I sometimes feel I can’t pickup a
    comic book because I know nothing about the years of accumulated history
    behind it. If they’re smart, they’ll do a quasi reboot: assume that people
    largely know who these characters are, but prune some of the years of
    history, conflicting storylines, etc.

  • Another question is how many of the established conventions and rules of the universe are going to stay around as well, eg Infinite Earths, Earth 1 history, etc. Are we getting a reset of the entire multiverse of stories, are we getting a new Earth, or is Earth 1 starting from scratch?

  • Tom

    While I have mixed feelings regarding the effects of a reboot on user accessibility and potential content recycling, I do have to say that I’m sad to hear Detective Comics won’t make it to issue #900.  Even more worrisome is my fear that sometime in the not so distant future (especially if this reboot proves commercially unsuccessful) we’ll see a reversion to the old numbering scheme, confusing even further the murky waters of continuity.

    For me, the bigger and (somewhat) better news here is the announcement of digital day and date publishing.  Comic retailers complaining about this are like carrier pigeon trainers complaining about the advent of the telegraph.  The future is now, deal with it. 

    Unfortunately, it’s still not being done right.  The idea that a digital comic should cost the same as a print comic, despite lacking the print comic’s production costs, is a pretty obvious money grab.  Speaking of greedy, the digital version of the 10 cent Batman #14 costs $1.99.  Of course, the original price tag has been digitally removed from the cover.  And, making digital comics only available via fragmented licensing programs is a very, very bad idea.  Hulk hate DRM.  Stupid DRM invariably only diminish usability for paying customer.

    While day and date is a half-step in the right direction, I just wish the world of digital comics would get its act together.

    • CaptPostMod

      The actual cost of printing the book is tiny. Most of the cost is in paying the artists/writers and functionaries who get the book from idea to a readable product. Digital distribution requires conversion to digital formats, which also accrues costs. And since DC goes through comiXology, there may not even be the loss of a middle man to cut out that difference between the DC cost of the book and the SRP.

      • Tom

        While the costs of printing a book in this modern day and age are relatively small, they are still costs.  Every single copy of a paper comic has to be printed and, depending on its popularity, reprinted and reprinted and reprinted…And then recollected and reprinted with a new forward next year in TPB format.

        Once a book is converted into a digital format once, it’s done.  That single digital file is just replicated ad infinitum as necessary.  Even if the initial costs for digital conversion are higher than those of paper printing (which I don’t believe they are), in large enough quantities or on a long enough timeline the digital media will still be cheaper to produce/store/transport than its physical counterpart.

        I would love to see comic companies cut costs even further by abandoning the intermediary retailers you mentioned (comiXology et al.).  Unfortunately, I think the only reason comic companies are even using these “apps” (or their own “apps”, for companies like Dark Horse and Marvel) instead of direct sales is for the “guarantee” of DRM protection.  If more comic companies sold DRM-free, digital format files directly to their customers (see http://nerdnewsandreviews.com/2011/05/01/have-no-fear-mydigitalcomics-is-are-here/), they would not only cut the costs of physical printing and third party contracts, they would also be taking a huge step forward in combating online piracy, something their use of “apps” isn’t really doing.