Posted by HubrisRanger (144 posts) - - Show Bio

Despite having made a big deal out of the first few batch of new books coming through in designed “waves”, DC seems to have fallen into a habit of regularly canceling and announcing new titles. Based on what has been announced alone, every month in 2012 through June will have either the first or final issue of a New 52 series. That’s half the year, and that’s not taking into account any unexpected cancellations in June.

This makes my series of semi-regular DC-wave analysis articles more difficult to plan for, but with the recent rash of DC cancellations, it feels as good a time as any to at least do some post-mortems. We currently know three of the eight titles that are slated to be replace the outgoing books (assuming Man of Steel is one of them), but we’ll hold off on that blog post until those final five are announced. For now though, let’s take a look at the dearly departed.

April Cancellations:

DC Universe Presents: A bit surprised to see this book disappear, only because it always smelled like a loss-leader anyway. More or less this was an anthology line of mini-series, largely for characters who wouldn’t carry their own ongoings. In theory, it could be used to test the waters of interest for the new incarnation of certain DC properties, or in the case of James Robertson’s excellent Savage story, be the launching point of a new character completely. However, I can understand why it would be an ordering nightmare for retailers, and thus it becomes harder to justify creative costs month over month. I have seen some folks online suggest that it be converted to a digital-first format, which I agree fixes the issue of having a book you don’t know how is going to ship from arc to arc. But along with the failure of DC’s stabs at the war comic genre, this seems to continue the expectation that anthology titles just don’t sell in the American market.

I, Vampire: Less surprising to see go than DCU Presents, but profoundly more disappointing. I, Vampire has been one of DC’s most distinctive books since the relaunch, as it blended classic horror comics of the past with modern storytelling devices, while introducing new entertaining characters into the fold. It’s art was breathtaking, blending a sense of Renaissance beauty with horrific imagery. More importantly, it was felt wholly unique from anything else that DC was publishing, a distinction more books could use. Sadly, word of mouth and stronger than expected trade sells don’t seem to have been enough to help the book rise above an obscure property and unattractive title. It is some comfort that Andrea Sorrentino’s art will live on in Green Arrow, and word on the street is that Falkov is being slated to play a major part in DC's new Green Lantern creative office. A step up in exposure for both creators, but expect to see this title reach a small but vocal cult-following after it's untimely demise.

May Cancellations:

Deathstroke: Mixed feelings here. Kyle Higgins initial run on this book remains one of the hidden gems of the New 52, a compelling story of family grief and the price of a life lived in service to violence. Also, it had a man dropping a giant cruise liner on Slade Wilson. Sadly, the book in that format wasn’t selling, so it along with a horde of other books were put under the creative eye of Rob Liefeld; I like to think of this as the Liefeld gambit, where a score of books were given one last chance under the guidance of a creative voice who, if nothing else, was one-of-a-kind. In Deathstroke's case, which Liefled both wrote and drew, the book promptly became an unreadable mess, both losing the original tone of the series and botching the re-introduction of Lobo to the New 52 universe. The book was salvaged somewhat when Liefeld left the company and Justin Jordan took over, showing promise with a self-contained two-part story that was a bit of campy, violent fun with some political touches. Still, villain books are hard to keep readership up for, and the fact the book had two soft relaunches already made this cancellation seem more like an eventual “when” rather than “if” it was going to get axed; I strongly suspect that DC had no illusions about Jordan saving the title, and more wanted to keep him in their corner until they were ready for another wave of cancellations to roll out. Ultimately disappointing if only because Higgins proved that a fantastic Deathstroke series can exist. It just might not be able to sell.

Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men/Man: Firestorm is one of those concepts that keeps coming back up over and over again, largely due to a cult following that passionately loves the central conceit. And this version of Firestorm certainly had a lot of ideas going for it, from the dual identity of it’s heroes to the idea of superheroes as literal WMDs. But it also often lacked direction, giving the impression it was one of the infamous DC books that was being written by editorial committee rather than a single author's vision. The book was never depressingly unreadable, but it also never reached the inspiration of it’s high concepts beyond a few flashes and a handful of really eye-catching character designs. Wouldn’t be surprised to see these characters pop up somewhere else in the near future, but not enough vision or purpose to maintain a long-term solo book.

Ravagers: The one book on the list of cancellations I don’t recall seeing anyone publicly grieving the passing of. And it’s not really hard to see why: it was a Teen Titans spin-off back that was spawned by the generally unpopular Culling crossover, was spearheaded originally by the divisive Howard Mackie and featured an unlikeable cast of misfits. Add to all of that the fact that the book reverts to some of the most unseemly tropes of angst-ridden young supers comics, and it isn’t hard to see why this book was often the subject of ridicule or, perhaps more often, outright apathy. Some of the earliest issues were a good showcase for Ian Churchill’s new dynamic artistic voice, but that’s hardly enough to recommend the book, and between being a crowded market and a product of questionable quality, this book’s fate was more or less a foregone conclusion at some point. It’s worth noting that with this cancellation, there are only two books in the Young Justice line, and one of those (Legion of Super-Heroes) is in dubious standings in terms of sales numbers. I suspect more will be announced for a June premiere, but as it stands right now, the next generation of DC heroes are an endangered species.

Savage Hawkman: Another book that hasn’t seen many tears shed upon it’s passing, though there are some that would argue there’s always a space for Hawkman on the schedule. Perhaps the most puzzling part of this announcement is that the character is set to have a much more prominent role in the DCU as a member of the new Justice League of America. But like Deathstroke, the numbers on this book were so low that any sort of rebound that putting a new creative team on it would have earned probably wouldn’t have been enough to keep it on life support. Another victim of the failed Liefeld gambit.

Sword of Sorcery: A lot of people have pointed towards this book cancellation as some sort of lightning rod that signals not just the doomed state of DC, but of the comics industry as a whole. A book targeted towards female readers, by veteran cartoon writer Christy Marx, sporting a slightly different tone than the rest of the capes and cowls DCU, and it can’t last even a year. But it is important to keep in mind that it’s fairly astonishing that DC attempted to publish a book like this at all. You can contribute several different factors to the book not capturing the audience it needed to justify it’s existence (unknown character, high price point, confusing title, lackluster promotion), but as I said when this book was announced, DC remains dedicated to at least diversify and experiment with the kind of books they’re willing to publish within the DC Universe. People might complain that it gets cancelled before it has a chance to fly, but don’t weep because it’s over. Celebrate that it ever happened at all.

Team Seven: There is an emerging theme that can be traced through certain New 52 books since the relaunch of the line: paramilitary books haven’t done well. I’ve talked extensively about the troubles that DC has had launching a straight military book, but even edge cases like Blackhawks, Grifter and Deathstroke have had difficulty as well. While Team Seven hedged somewhat closer to traditional superhero comics than any of those books, it still had a bit of a GI Joe look and smell to it, just enough to keep it towards the basement of DC’s sales figures. Unlike Deathstroke, which Jordan was always likely assigned to more or less steward towards it’s inevitable grave, this was a book that he launched and failed to capture a wide audience with. If the next set of DC titles has another vaguely guns-and-bombs book, I wouldn’t put even money on it lasting very long among the rest of the crop.

#1 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (27437 posts) - - Show Bio

@HubrisRanger: GI Joe sells so why don't books like GI Joe sell?

#2 Posted by lightsout (1811 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm lucky in that I'm not really into any of the "non-mainstream" characters/books (especially the ones that aren't really part of the DCU), so the cancellations don't affect me. I read the new Firestorm but found that I only prefer the character in teams, not on his/their own. I WAS really disappointed in Blue Beetle being cancelled though, I loved that character (and I have a bad feeling he won't be that big a part of Threshold).

#3 Posted by HubrisRanger (144 posts) - - Show Bio

@Jonny_Anonymous said:

@HubrisRanger: GI Joe sells so why don't books like GI Joe sell?

I'm not entirely sure why not. I think a large of part of it is that GI Joe to a certain extent sells on nostalgia alone, while all the DC attempts at a similar tone are for lesser known properties. Same reason that Ninja Turtles still sells, but there has never been a real thriving mutant animals genre in it's wake. The brand is popular, not necessarily just the concepts behind it.

#4 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (27437 posts) - - Show Bio

@HubrisRanger: TMNT is also very well written which doesn't hurt I suppose.

#5 Posted by Mighty Thorion (797 posts) - - Show Bio

Hawkman never manages to sustain his own title for long. Not surprised I Vampire has gone, but I thought Firestorm would have lasted longer. Deathstroke (like Hawkman) will remain a part of the DCU, but concepts like Team 7, Sword of Sorcery and Ravagers clearly haven't found a niche in the comic book market place.

Prediction : I don't think the new Katana book will last long judging by the 1st issue!

#6 Posted by WaveMotionCannon (4671 posts) - - Show Bio
@Jonny_Anonymous GI Joe is done well. Team 7 like Ravagers was generic and boring as hell and predictable as the sunrise.
#7 Posted by DoomDoomDoom (3900 posts) - - Show Bio

The only book I was reading out of the six that got canned was Savage Hawkman. I've never been huge into Hawkman, I mean i'm interested in the character but could just never find a good place to start. The series wasn't perfect by any means but it was a good book IMO under the guidance of Daniel and Tan. I'm going to pickup JLA simply because of Hawkman and the martian,

#8 Edited by xybernauts (858 posts) - - Show Bio

@HubrisRanger:

April Cancellations:

DC Universe Presents:

DC Universe Presents: ... largely for characters who wouldn’t carry their own ongoings. In theory, it could be used to test the waters of interest for the new incarnation of certain DC properties, .... I have seen some folks online suggest that it be converted to a digital-first format,.... anthology titles just don’t sell in the American market.

I agree with what you said above. Honestly I'm guilty of not reading this book also, but it would be nice to have a book "that explored characters who wouldn't carry their own on-goings".

I, Vampire:

I, Vampire: unattractive title.

The quote above is the only thing I agree with in regards to this title. I tried out issue #1 and a few issues that crossed over with Justice League Dark, and I wasn't that impressed. I found it dark and dreary. I'm glad to see it go.

May Cancellations:

Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men/Man: and Savage Hawkman: Happy to know that atleast Hawkman will live on in Justice League of America. I didn't keep up with either of these books, but I hope to see them live on in team settings. I'm surprised that DC couldn't tap Hawkman's reincarnation based origin more.

Sword of Sorcery: Honestly I was alittle disappointed by this book. The only reason I started reading it was because of the Cartoon Networks DC Nation shorts, which I thought were really pretty good, but unfortunately the DC Nation short was in no way inspired by this comic. If it had been then maybe the book might have survived.

Team Seven: Truthfully, I was alittle disappointed by this book as well. The first issue really was disappointing. I would have dropped the book altogether, but someone on one of the threads was really praising the book, so I gave it a second chance. It did grow on me once I let go of my expectations, but I can see why it didn't survive. Personally I don't know what other people were expecting, but me, I was expecting a more down to earth traditional special forces team like Seal Team Six, but with superpowers. Also, I was expecting them to wear traditional military gear not a bunch of guys with "colorful" superhero costumes. This really hurt my first impressions of the book. Even worse was the team line-up. I can't believe they left out characters like Deathblow, Battalion, and Dane (from Wetworks). That said, most of the characters were cool except for Black Canary's husband, and three new characters they seemingly created out of the blue. Instead of canceling the book I wish they fixed it instead. This is the only book that I'll miss, alittle.

#9 Posted by The Stegman (20786 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm sad to see Team 7 and Ravagers go, they had so much potential. And I'm really mad at I Vampire and Deathstroke.

#10 Posted by HubrisRanger (144 posts) - - Show Bio

@xybernauts said:

@HubrisRanger:


Sword of Sorcery: Honestly I was alittle disappointed by this book. The only reason I started reading it was because of the Cartoon Networks DC Nation shorts, which I thought were really pretty good, but unfortunately the DC Nation short was in no way inspired by this comic. If it had been then maybe the book might have survived.

Actually this is a very interesting point. The cartoon version of Amethyst (which I can only assume was being made around the same time that the comic was first being published, due to the lead time for making these shorts and the extended hiatus that DC Nation went into) is much lighter, sillier and kid-friendly. When Sword of Sorcery was first set under "The Dark" imprint, I knew it wasn't going to be the light, young reader romp that I initially expected; the fact that the first issue has a threat of rape at it's center certainly speaks to that, and the back-up strips were quite dark in tone and content. Honestly, it's a coin-toss on if either tone would have been more financially viable; the market seems bent on making it very clear that there's no room for all-ages superhero books from DC or Marvel, but I know personally that I find the 'toon Amethyst very charming and wouldn't object to more of that in print form.

#11 Posted by TDK_1997 (13728 posts) - - Show Bio

I was loving Team 7 so far.I don't know why they are cancelling it.

Online
#12 Posted by Mighty Thorion (797 posts) - - Show Bio

@TDK_1997 said:

I was loving Team 7 so far.I don't know why they are cancelling it.

Low sales figures is nearly always the reason for a book's cancellation

#13 Posted by Sharkbite (288 posts) - - Show Bio

Basically, GIJoe does well while Paramilitary books in general do poorly because it's the result of good writing. GIJoe: Real American Hero, for example, has kinda floundered, but when GIJoe: Cobra was a knockout success once Christos Gage told Chuckles undercover story and reached the peak with the death of Cobra Commander.

That is Christos Gage. He is a brilliant writer. He carried Robin through a solo series that outlasted so many other 'A-list' heroes. He ran the entire 3 years of Avengers Academy, launching with an entire cast of brand new characters, no hype, and no real notable crossovers, and still developed good sales and some of the most fiercely dedicated fans you'll find. (Just take a peak at the uproar on the Avengers Arena forum after what Hopeless did to Gage's creation).

Couple that with GIJoe's willingness to go where more mainstream titles are unwilling to go. Death of Cobra Commander killed off the single most iconic GIJoe character ever. Duke or Flint or Hawk could have died and there would have been less surprise, but when Cobra Commander was killed, it was like it was game over. And then it launches instead into a new story, continuing to gain ground and becoming one of the most popular runs of GIJoe history: Cobra Civil War.

Imagine if Batman RIP would have actually had the guts to kill Bruce for good. Imagine if Battle for the Cowl would have set the new Batman up for the next 10 years, instead of just the next 10 issues. Imagine the cowardly, noncommittal writing of stories like Death of Superman and Captain America's assassination in Civil War aren't done for shock and awe with a plan already in place to bring the character back before they're even missed. Imagine Marvel if they never pulled the chickenstuff moves like One More Day/Brand New Day, or a DC where they don't hold another Crisis reboot every few years to avoid dealing with continuity.

GIJoe does not sell well based on popularity of the characters; Superman is way more popular than GIJoe. But Superman stinks at the sales charts because of watered down stories that are afraid to try anything risky.

#14 Posted by HubrisRanger (144 posts) - - Show Bio

@Sharkbite said:

GIJoe does not sell well based on popularity of the characters; Superman is way more popular than GIJoe. But Superman stinks at the sales charts because of watered down stories that are afraid to try anything risky.

I can't speak for the quality of the GI Joe books because I don't read them. Still (and this is something I should have checked when someone else mentioned Joe succeeding), it's worth noting that in terms of sales, Superman does indeed outsell GI Joe. By quite a lot. As does every other New 52 title, including all the cancelled titles above. In fact, Team 7 was nearly outselling Joe by two-to-one. Check it out for yourself. Again, that is not to speak to the quality of the above, but to act like GI Joe is smoking Superman or even Team 7 in terms of direct market sales figures is simply a fallacy.These sorts of numbers are acceptable for IDW because their line is smaller, and they also make a fair amount of their money on trade sales, digital distribution (that's where I buy almost all of my IDW books) and special collections of older works.

#15 Posted by Mighty Thorion (797 posts) - - Show Bio

How much longer can books like Batwing and Legion Lost survive? Sold less than Team 7, Ravagers, Dial H, Demon Knights and Sword of Sorcery in January

#16 Posted by Twentyfive (2405 posts) - - Show Bio

Batwing should have been canceled... can't believe it made it this far. Oh well, next up on the chopping block, I guess.

#17 Posted by HubrisRanger (144 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mighty Thorion said:

How much longer can books like Batwing and Legion Lost survive? Sold less than Team 7, Ravagers, Dial H, Demon Knights and Sword of Sorcery in January

That actually was the last issue of Legion Lost in January. The continued existence of Batwing is a bit more confounding.

#18 Posted by Mighty Thorion (797 posts) - - Show Bio

@HubrisRanger said:

@Mighty Thorion said:

How much longer can books like Batwing and Legion Lost survive? Sold less than Team 7, Ravagers, Dial H, Demon Knights and Sword of Sorcery in January

That actually was the last issue of Legion Lost in January. The continued existence of Batwing is a bit more confounding.

Didn't realise LL had gone - but i was surprised to see how few copies Batwing sold.

#19 Posted by SoA (4592 posts) - - Show Bio

sad to see ravagers, sword of sorcery, firestorm, dc presents , getting cancelled

#20 Posted by arnoldoaad (1007 posts) - - Show Bio

the only titles that i will miss are I, Vampire and Sword of Sorcery

the rest im actually surprised werent cancelled sooner

#21 Posted by tomlikesfries (4523 posts) - - Show Bio

So sad to see I, Vampire go. And I was actually surprised to see Deathstroke up there. It just got a new writer, who was been doing a very good job so far.

#22 Posted by Fallen_Crippled (6193 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually enjoyed Sword of Sorcery.... which is strange. It was different than anything that I have read. That and DC Presents is the only two things I am sad to see get cancelled.

#23 Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose (5553 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mighty Thorion said:

@HubrisRanger said:

@Mighty Thorion said:

How much longer can books like Batwing and Legion Lost survive? Sold less than Team 7, Ravagers, Dial H, Demon Knights and Sword of Sorcery in January

That actually was the last issue of Legion Lost in January. The continued existence of Batwing is a bit more confounding.

Didn't realise LL had gone - but i was surprised to see how few copies Batwing sold.

It seems to have been selling badly for quite a while. I've heard people suggest that it's getting special treatment because it's Batman related, and that does kinda look like it's true.

The solicits appear to suggest that they're replacing David Zavimbe with somebody new in the Batwing suit. If they do that, that sort of says to me that they're admitting that the character is a failure.

#24 Posted by KnightRise (4753 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah it sucks when really good books get cancelled, but DC is a business and low sales hurt. They are taking risks with the obscure character/titles, which is awesome, but when they don't payoff I don't know what we should expect DC to do.

#25 Posted by BlackWind (4070 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm surprised Demon Knights is still going. If it gets cancelled, hopefully DC goes for another Demon title with Etrigan.

#26 Posted by JamesKM716 (1992 posts) - - Show Bio

I want the following books to come about:

The Outsiders: Led by Nightwing

Blue Lanterns: Saint Walker

Replace The Dark Knight with a Bat brotherhood book with Tim and another Robin

Secret Six by Justin Jordan

#27 Posted by wisesonAC (160 posts) - - Show Bio

@Twentyfive: why batwing?

#28 Posted by Twentyfive (2405 posts) - - Show Bio

@wisesonAC: I said that because Batwing is one of the bottom 5 selling books at DC right now. It is a good title too. It is such a shame bad books persist to sell because of brand names, whilst good books people don't care about. Sword of Sorcery's cancellation was just awful imo.