Sunday, November 16, 2008

Comic Compromise

I haven't said much recently about the cancellation of Manhunter and Blue Beetle (and Birds of Prey, though that looks like it might be a temporary, R.I.P.-related thing). For one, I'm not caught up on either book (though I've been buying them regularly), so I'm not sure what's going on yet. For two, while I won't dismiss the arc without reading it, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if cancelling the Sturges Blue Beetle was an act of mercy--the way it was for Shadowpact and Remender's All-New Atom. And for three, it's not surprising. Books I enjoy keep getting cancelled, and The Outsiders keeps going; there is no justice in the world.

So, I understand that there's not enough of an audience to support a monthly Manhunter book, or a monthly Blue Beetle book, or a monthly All-New Atom book, or a monthly Catwoman book, or a monthly Firestorm book, or a monthly Chase book, or a monthly H-E-R-O book. And I understand not selling titles that don't sell well; that's just good business. But what about an anthology book or two? Mightn't there be enough support for an Adventure Comics featuring 12-page stories about Blue Beetle, the Atom, and Firestorm? Mightn't there be enough support for a Showcase Comics featuring Manhunter, the Question, and Chase? Wouldn't there be enough support for 48-page monthly or bi-monthly anthology books, featuring characters linked by a common theme, with finite arc-based stories that could be easily collected in trade forms (a la Doctor 13) featuring characters who can't support solo titles? Might that not be a better way to debut new stories or characters than the endless stream of miniseries? If I were buying a book for Blue Beetle and Firestorm, and there were an additional story about El Diablo, I'd be a lot more inclined to follow that story in the book I'm already reading than to pick up the El Diablo stand-alone miniseries.

I know it's been proposed before, and I can see reasons for not doing it, but isn't it at least worth a try?


Eric Garneau said...

Man, that's a great idea, I'm all on board for that.

In regards to your first paragraph, though, I'm pretty sure Outsiders is now toast too...

Bill S. said...

I didn't even know that Manhunter and Blue Beetle were cancelled. *sigh*

Erin Palette said...

I remember WAY back in the day -- late 70s, early 80s -- where compilation comics like this were the order of the day for DC: Brave and the Bold, World's Finest, Superman Family, Batman Family, etc. As a compilation book, it was slightly larger and more expensive than "regular" books, but you got 2-3 stories per issue.

Sadly, I think all of these comics were cancelled by 1986, if not sooner. If the DC Implosion of 1978 didn't get them, then the Crisis on Infinite Earths did.

Verification word: Rachal. Are you seeing a girl named Rachael, Mr. Foss?

Anthony Strand said...

Yeah, I think that's a terrific idea. Although, when they have done miniseries like that, we've ended up with stinkers attached to good stories.

Or vice versa, in the case of Doctor 13 backing up the worst Spectre story ever written. I'm actually embarrassed to own it.

I will say, about Blue Beetle - I hated Sturges' Shadowpact, I adore John Rogers' Blue Beetle, and I've quite enjoyed the last few issues of Blue Beetle. It's not as great as the series was at its best, but it still feels like Blue Beetle.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely read new Showcase books, ESPECIALLY if they were set up as you described.

Honestly, I wouldn't be so upset if they would have canceled Titans along with them...seriously?

Tom Foss said...

Erin: No, in fact. Don't really know any Rachels. But the "Family" series might really be the best example of this sort of thing. Those were connected by common characters, while these would be more of a common theme or genre. That way, you wouldn't have "Showcase featuring Adam Strange and the Haunted Tank."

Anthony: I think the key here would be to keep it from being tied to events (unlike Tales of the Unexpected), to set it up so there's not one A-story and backstories, but several stories of equal page length per issue, and to keep good writers involved. Granted, there'll inevitably be some stinkers, but I don't necessarily think that's a reason not to do it.

Good to hear about Blue Beetle, though.

Matt: Oh, absolutely. Teen Titans was the book I was trying to think of when I said Outsiders. We live in a world where the Titans can support three titles by two bad writers, and Manhunter can't even support one top-notch title by a good writer. No justice, I tell you.