DC Comics wants you to buy graphic novels! Buy them in droves!

I didn’t get any comics for reviewing today, as I’ve dropped Batman, Batman and Robin, and Suicide Squad. But, I did pick up a little thing that I’m fully prepared to tear to shreds.

Okay, so DC put this giant free thing out recently:

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HRMM.

So, there are several parts to this 117-page monstrosity. The first part is the 25 Essential DC Graphic Novels.

I feel like I should point out now that of these 25 graphic novels, four are by Geoff Johns, two are by Frank Miller, three are by Grant Morrison, and a whopping five are by Alan Moore. There are no female creators on any of these books. Six are alternate-universe stories that don’t connect in any way to the main DCU. Eight are Vertigo titles. Two are event books from the last six years. 

Then they have a section where they list all of the first volumes of the New 52 books. Twelve pages of New 52. Not all the New 52 books are essential, DC, especially when 19 of those books have been cancelled so far.

Oh, this is fun. They’ve got a Batman section, a Superman section, a Green Lantern section, a Flash section, a Green Arrow section, a Justice League…and a Women of DC section. Wow, burn. And guess what else?! All the other sections mention the first volume of their New 52 books, too! They just had an entire section dedicated to the New 52, this is ridiculous. But the Women of DC section…five New 52 first volumes, the two Wonder Woman: Odyssey volumes, one non-canon Catwoman story, and Batwoman: Elegy. No Birds of Prey volumes, no Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown Batgirl, no Manhunter, no Power Girl. The Women of DC section is two pages and nine books long, the only singular characters with smaller sections are Flash and Green Arrow.

Moving on to Vertigo! Three pages of miscellaneous Vertigo books, then  literally the entire Sandman series, the entire Fables series, the entire Y: The Last Man series, a whole page for Alan Moore, and a whole page for Grant Morrison. Vertigo over! Onto two pages dedicated to MAD magazine, and another two pages for DC all ages stuff. The remaining 21 pages are just a checklist/rehash of the books they’ve already shown us, and a ‘suggested reading order’.

DC, I…

Okay, look. I understand that you want people to buy your books, and that you want to give new readers some sort of starting point, but this isn’t the way to go about it. For one thing, at least 22 of your 25 essential graphic novels are either no longer canon, or never had any relation at all to the universe you’re trying to promote. Ditto for at least 9 of your 20 Batman books, 18 of your 20 Superman books, three of your five Flash books, four of your five Green Arrow books, nine of your ten Justice League books, and 3 of the 4 non-52 related Women of DC books. Congratulations on your Green Lantern section, though, as 90% of your Green Lantern continuity made it into the New 52 intact in the first place.

This book you made, this tome of tomes, it’s disappointing. You could have really pointed people in the right direction with some of your mainstream books, but you didn’t. There’s no New Teen Titans on there in any real prominence. Batgirl: Year One, probably the best Babsgirl story of all time, was left out entirely (bring this book back into print, DC. People will buy it!). And while I understand that you’re really, really trying to ignore the fact that Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and Wally West existed, you can’t ignore the fact that the trades of their books sold like crazy. Aside from the stupidly expensive Geoff Johns omnibus versions of Wally’s series (which, surprise surprise, are on your big checklist), my LCS can’t keep Wally-era Flash books on the shelf. And I dare you to try and find Batgirl: Silent Running or Batgirl: Batgirl Rising in a comic shop. Can’t be done around here, totally sold out. Hell, the same can be said for the amazing No Man’s Land Batman story! That thing was recently reprinted, and people went nuts over it. You lot have so many great stories that aren’t under your New 52 banner (Crisis on Infinite Earths! Judas Contract! Sins of Youth! All of Gotham Central! The Harley Quinn series! Cooke and Brubaker’s Catwoman! Manhunter! Connor and Palmiotti’s Power Girl! The JLI volumes! Jaime’s first series! Impulse! 90s Superboy! Booster Gold!), but no new reader is even going to know any of it exists unless you tell them. 

DC, you say certain characters are iconic, that these are the characters that everyone knows. Well, of course they are! My grammy hasn’t picked up a comic book in at least 50 years, and she knows who Dick Grayson is. My mom read Wonder Woman comics back when she lost her powers and ran a mod clothing store. My neighbor remembers Hal Jordan back when his weakness was a banana to the face. If you keep showing people the same characters over and over, that’s all they’re gonna know. Take some chances. You made Under the Hood into an animated movie, and guess what? It was a hit! Why not do the same with, say, No Man’s Land? Make a series of films! You did it for that Frank Miller book, your “Greatest Batman Story Ever Told”. Do a Gotham Central live-action series. Get New Teen Titans: Judas Contract out of development hell and into the studio already. Try something new! You may not have a hit every time…but then again, maybe you will.

There are new audiences out there, DC. Young and old. Male and female and both and neither. Folks of all races, and religions, and walks of life that wanna be entertained.

Take a chance. Stop betting on the same old horse and tell a good story. The response may surprise you.

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