Bad Beginning for The Ravagers
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Ravagers debuted from one of the worst scripted crossovers of the DCNU, “The Culling.” Why DC imagined that such a sad story would produce a good springboard for a new series is beyond me, but apparently some executive bought into the idea. Thus, “The Ravagers” was shoehorned into the New 52. It made a somewhat impressive debut selling 40,000 copies with issue one, but it immediately lost half its potential readers and has stabilized to a barely surviving 22,000 monthly readers ever since issue 2. In September, sales estimates put “The Ravagers” in forty-third place out of DC’s 52 main titles.
Despite Ravagers bad showing, it is probably safe from immediate cancelation. After all, there are nine titles doing worse than it, and it has not been losing any readers since issue two, but what is holding the series back? Why is it, essentially, a failure?
1. Poor Source Material
An old proverb states that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Why then would DC believe that “The Culling” would produce a worthwhile series? Most readers were disappointed with the story arc, but we all know that stupid stories can sometimes produce excellent sales number, so you might expect that “The Culling” must have brought in some amazing box office numbers to provoke DC into releasing this series in its Second Wave. To quote Lex Luthor, “Wrooooong!”
“The Culling” spanned Legion Lost, Superboy, and Teen Titans. This highly promoted crossover gained a measly three thousand new readers for Legion Lost and Superboy combined, so you might be tempted to call this a slight win for DC. Unfortunately, Teen Titans lost four thousand readers over the arc making this a net loss for the company. (these numbers were calculated by looking at the series’ sales numbers the months before and after “The Culling”)
It is no surprise that the story arc failed to impress or that it provides poor soil for an ongoing comic. Harvest, the main villain of the arc, has no real motivation or character development. The main conflict is basically an amped up soulless version of The Hunger Games. The characters added in the arc were introduced and dispatched without care. In short, it sucked!
2. No Built In Audience
Sure, DC could use the New 52 to try and create a bunch of completely new properties, but they have instead chosen the much safer route of mixing up their previous universes into one brand new conglomerate which has produced mixed results. The appeal of such an approach is that it gives you a pre-fabricated fanbase eager to see their favorite characters.
The problem with doing this to The Ravagers is that the series has only one big name, Fairchild. For those that do not know, Fairchild was the leader of the Wildstorm Universe team Gen 13. Though I am sure some Gen 13 fans have latched on to The Ravagers, I’m guessing it is not a very large number for several reasons. For one thing, there is no longer any Gen 13 tie to Fairchild. This is pretty much a fresh take on the character. This leads to another problem; Gen 13 was already rebooted back in 2005. Wiping out a character’s history twice in the span of ten years is not a great way to retain old readers. Finally, Wildstorm characters are known for wearing much more…fleshy costumes than the average fair in DC comics. I do not think it is a stretch to say that fans of Gen 13 enjoyed seeing Fairchild in revealing outfits, but in The Ravagers, Fairchild is generally wearing clothes which must really spoil Gen 13 fans’ day.
Other than Fairchild, the only other recognizable members of the team are Beast Boy and Terra, and though I am sure some will buy the comic to see some of the classic Titans reimagined, I am guessing that number is small.
3. The Team Has No Point
If you have been following The Ravagers, (and sales numbers suggest you are probably not) then you know that the plot has consisted of little more than The Ravagers running away from various threats. Though I suppose this makes sense in terms of the characters, it is hardly the most exciting role for a group of comic book heroes. It is hard to get behind a group who are primarily interested in nothing but themselves.
A Little Hope
Despite all the negatives, there is a little hope for the series. In issue five, the writer finally got around to giving the team a mission and a goal. If there is any chance for The Ravagers to start building an audience, it will be in the next few months as the group starts actually acting, for the first time, as a team.
Keep an eye out for Monday's commentary, "Nightwing's Greatest Villains #4 - #1"
For more news, reviews, and commentary for the entire Bat Family, check out BatWatch.net.
For anybody wondering, BatWatch is following "The Ravagers" because it was spin off of Teen Titans which is led by Red Robin.