Post by Rick N –
So by now it’s no big secret that Rebirth is out-selling Civil War II. Any number of comics news websites, including Newsarama, have published articles discussing the topic. Marvel is usually top dog but they stubbed their collective toes this last summer, and DC swooped in to take their place atop the comics podium. Question is: what happened? Where did the usually sure-footed Marvel stumble?
Both Civil War II and Rebirth are big summer re-boots following big summer re-boots (see New 52 and the well-written Secret Wars–the 2015 version–or just read any big storyline of the last ten years!). Each company has a healthy mix of new titles out with some older, established titles such as Amazing Spider-Man and Action Comics. You can’t even blame it on movie tie-ins because apparently the Batman vs. Superman: Dark Justice movie rated a 27% on the tomato-meter: see the infallible (cough, cough) Rotten Tomatoes site for proof. By comparison, Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising earned a 62 % score. ‘Scuse me while I slide down that rabbit hole.
No, according to retailers it’s just a matter of good story-telling. This long-time Marvel reader is inclined to agree but don’t take my word for it. See the Imaginary Wars Jul 15 blog post by Jim. I’ll go on the record and agree with him: Action Comics is one of DC’s best titles right now, and I don’t even like Superman! Dan Jurgens has found a way to make me care about the omnipotent Superman through characters other than Clark Kent in the book. Superman is a dad! And a husband! Cool! I’m a dad and a husband, too. Ok, let’s read this! Doomsday is back and he’s threatening Superman’s family? Well, I’m not going to give many points for originality but you got me. (Question: Does Kal-El heat up baby bottles with his laser vision? I would. Major time saver.)
Over on Aquaman (Yes, I know, Aquaman but hear me out) the other Dan, Dan Abnett, he of Guardians of the Galaxy fame, is telling a straight-ahead, good story. Manta is back and together with Aquaman they have acknowledged that Manta lives a meaningless existence other than to try and kill Aquaman. Love it. Stories like that add to the onion layers new readers get to unravel when they sign on to a new book. Look at the Joker and Batman, who long ago acknowledged their symbiotic relationship in movies and comics. Read Batman: the Killing Joke or watch Christopher Nolan’s second -to-last Bat-film, The Dark Knight which by the way has a 94 per cent tomato-meter rating. Seems like that rating must defy the laws of physics or something. By the way, issue six of the new Batman series by Tom King was one of the best stories I’ve read in years and it was really just a filler issue.
DC seems to have drafted a roster of experienced artists and writers who just know how to tell a good story. I’ve mentioned Abnett and Jurgens, but what about Priest, who is writing Deathstroke? He’s only been around comics since 1982. I don’t know about you, but in 1982 I was five. Look up some of Priest’s Spider-Man and Batman stuff or just believe me when I say, he writes good, tight stories. He might not be Frank Miller or Jonathan Hickman, but he’s good. Add names like Abnett and Priest to Greg Rucka, Scott Snyder and Bryan Hitch on Justice League and JLA writing duties and there you have a stellar line-up. (I’m not even all that crazy about Hitch as a writer!) Best of all, the artists are still there: names like Lee and Finch; regular DC–workhorses like Tony Daniel, and Booth haven’t left the company but have just shuffled to new titles.
I think the acid test comes in the form of my pull-list. Every two weeks or so Kyle hands me a pile of DC books and I jump right back in where the stories left off. The plot seems to move along fast, and yet is still engaging. $2.99 (USD) per issue twice a month isn’t a better deal than $3.99 (USD) once per month, but so what. I’m hooked and there are more good stories and (good art) waiting every Wednesday.