The Comics Pimp: DCnU the Future is Now
Arguably the biggest news to hit comics in history will happen in September, when DC Comics, home of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash will restart its whole line of comics. They are calling this new universe of comics DCnU. This news is perhaps a little surprising considering that DC is often more conservative than its closest rival, Marvel Comics. Titles that have kept the same number since DC’s inception, like Action Comics (currently at #902), and Detective Comics (currently at #878), will begin again with new number #1 issues.
Dan Didio, in Charge of DC Comics, recently explained the reason for the reboot:
“In September, more than 50 first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee (Jim Lee) spearheaded the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.”
“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line. This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
There is no denying that DC is pushing comics into the future, and it sees that future as an electronic medium. Each #1 issue, along with subsequent issues, will feature a printed traditional comic for $2.99. The same version will be available the same day online and readable on such devices as IPads and PlayBooks for $3.99 (and eventually for $2.99). For those collectors seeking both the online and print versions, one printed version will be available with a code to download the same version on an e-reader (for $4.99).
Though the chance to attract new readers with this initiative is great, presuming the correct marketing is employed, there is also a slight chance that DC may alienate some of its older readers who may have been following a title with decades of history, and may not want to start collecting again with a new #1 issue. The gamble is that the potential for new fans will outweigh any losses from long time readers.
Certainly I take issue with the redesign of some characters, such as Wonder Woman, who already has a costume that is easily identifiable by millions. So why risk having fans new and old not recognize her? If there is one positive about this change, it is that DC has given its fans many options. Every reader has a choice of print, electronic, or both. DC probably hopes that the long-term future will mean the end of the monthly, printed comic. Only time will tell whether this reboot will truly spell the end of the comic as we know it, and the birth of something nU.