Thursday, August 22, 2013

Best of All Universes

I was reading about Dynamite's upcoming Shadow Now series, written by David Liss and illustrated by Colton Worley, and it occurred to me that DC missed a great opportunity with its New 52 reboot. Shadow Now is set in the present, updating the Shadow for modern times. It's also a standalone storyline, separate from Dynamite's other Shadow series. They've done similar things with The Lone Ranger, with a new writing team bringing a new approach and restarting the numbering, which actually, drives me crazy as I try to keep things in order, but a minor quibble, that.

So why couldn't DC do something like this? Why couldn't they continue the old DCU and also start a New 52 universe for those main characters they wanted to explore in a new venue. They could even have reassigned some titles, ie Action for the old DCU Superman and Superman for the new one, or Detective for the old DCU Batman and Batman for, well, the New 52 Batman.

They could've had cool logos and maybe a different type of cover design to set the DCnU books apart from the old DCU books. The old DCU could be called DC Classic. Characters like Animal Man who got new books could've been given the New 52 treatment. Characters like Jason Todd could have his team book, Red Hood and the Outlaws, in the New 52, yet have his own DCU title, while in the old DCU, Roy Harper could've been a supporting character in Green Arrow.

Perhaps, DC could've visited other universes, ones where the Dibneys and Ted Kord still lived, for a few titles, almost like Elseworlds. There is absolutely no good reason I can think of for all the stories to be set in the same universe. Even with Earth-2, DC is still using one universe as Earth 1 and Earth 2 exist in the New 52 'verse.

With all the experimentation DC has done, with event storylines for instance, and that done by Marvel, why not really play around with the form? Why not just write good stories and assign them to the appropriate "reality"? There could even be a kids' version of the main characters, in their own universe. They already do this with their female-centric version for kids: Ame Comi Girls.

Would it be confusing to have so many versions co-existing? Maybe, but I'll bet most readers would either adapt, or just settle on the universe they prefer. Would it increase overall comics sales and bring in new readers? I don't know, but marketing would definitely be a factor. And I know a lot of readers get tired of all the event stories and needing to get issues of comics they don't normally read because of the crossovers. Maybe instead of going bigger, the thing to do is to go smaller, into niches.

US TV is starting to get the idea that business as usual is no longer working. Seasons are being split on cable networks. Seasons for many shows are becoming what once would've been called maxi-series, with half the episode totals of the major network shows. With so many cable networks doing original programming and now online services getting into the act, with Netflix leading the charge, TV viewers have more options than ever.

Comics readers have choices with a number of smaller companies producing excellent comics to compete with DC and Marvel, but how much better it would be for the big companies to give us choices, too, not just a variety of characters, but a variety of approaches for those characters. Then maybe they'd concentrate on making each book the best it could be rather than trying to make them all fit together, cookie-cutter style.

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