THERE’S NO NEVER IN COMICS

I am starting to come out of the hell that was the Power Couple promotion.  But I see some people remaining totally disheartened by it.  I still have my lapses into wallowing but seem to be gaining my footing emotionally.  These are the thoughts that keep me keeping on.

One of my favorite lines from Adventures of Superman #638 is Lois Lane reminding Clark Kent, “We live in hope.”  Great philosophy for life.  I’ve got the t-shirt.  And maybe DC Comics is depending on Superman fans to continue to believe.  Superman still is their most compelling icon.  He was the first and is beloved worldwide and has been for generations.

1) They rebooted an entire universe on the premise “How do we get Superman in a love triangle?”   Clark and Lois were married at the time.  But as I have stated on this blog before, the triangle is not Lois/Superman/Diana.  It is Steve Trevor/Diana/Superman.  This will answer the question why Superman and Wonder Woman just don’t work romantically or how  their iconic character attributes don’t mesh as a couple.

2) The infamous triangle-for-two has not been recreated yet.  This is stalling Superman’s story in his new 52 books.  (Wonder Woman is doing just fine in her own book with a new vision and no Steve Trevor.)  There is a five year gap between Action Comics and Superman comics which coincides with the five year gap between issues 6 & 7 of Justice League.  Clark and Lois apparently worked together at the Daily Planet as reporters, but readers are not privy to those scenes.  Nor have we seen the first face to face meeting of Superman and Lois Lane.  Why?  Because if DC shows that initial spark between Clark and Lois and then tried to hookup the power couple, it would damage the icons.

3) In the power couple promotion, the word love is never mentioned.  In fact, it is entirely based on physiology.  Superman is a character of great heart (especially with humans), if he’s not being true to his heart then he’s not Clark Kent or Superman.  With the introduction of Steve Trevor after a quarter century absence in Diana’s story, it also raises the question:  Can powerful beings have relationships with humans without harming them?’  Diana chose to leave Steve Trevor in order to protect him, being associated with her was leading him into danger (even though he saved the entire Justice League’s asses in JL12).  To make sure he will be ‘safe’, she fired him as liaison of the Justice League.  And as was stated in the book, “Steve Trevor is the Justice League.”

What we may see in JL is that Superman can be harmed also.  He’s not without his weaknesses which Diana could expose him to on a daily basis with her supernatural nature and those of her enemies.  If you look at the covers for issues #13 and #14, they are going to be battling Cheetah, a supernatural being.  This could cause Clark problems.  Since they’re hooking up wasn’t based on desire or love, then this experimentation in dating may prove a failure romantically.

4) Reboots like story conflict usually involve taking something away so the creators can rebuild it and give the readers buy in and a pay off.  Taking away the Kent marriage hurt, but it’s a reboot.  Not addressing the triangle-for-two hurt more, but DC didn’t want to go there just yet.  Having the power couple hookup with it’s multimedia misconstruing of facts was devastating.  Now that it has been revealed, the building can begin (most likely in Superman and Action).

Justice League has not established The Trinity.  In fact, just as we expect the triangle-for-two (Clark and Lois), our expectation that Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman are the Trinity is also being squashed.  Justice League is barely a team (even after the five year jump) and now with the power couple, Batman is not going to be happy.  He doesn’t share or play well with others anyway.  There has to be trust — and there is none especially with the hookup.

DC Comics is now revving up for the Trinity War in 2013. In May of this year we saw a sneak preview in the Free Comic Book Day issue. Is it possible that with the failure of the hookup and the decision to be friends, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman begin to trust one another and the Trinity is born?  Then they can go on to do battle for the Earth and all the humans on it.

5)  Steve Trevor.  Out of the picture for over 25 years, he is back.  Johns made him the hero of Justice League and with his firing, Trevor will be forming the Justice League of America.  This was announced soon after JL12 was released.  Steve Trevor, a human, will show what humans can do and will inspire the superbeings as well as dispell any notions of humans being weak or fragile in any way.  The human will and capacity for hope will show the way.  I believe that Steve Trevor is the King Arthur of the story, showing the powerful that might doesn’t make right, but . . . RIGHT MAKES MIGHT.

6) Clark Kent in the new 52 has lost his parents to death.  As was said 2 years ago, this will alienate him further.  But remember, he has met Lois Lane and was raised by the Kents.  The reason we haven’t seen what is in the five year gap or his time with the Kents — it would not allow him to remain ‘alienated.’   In JL7, we see Lois is a popular, successful reporter and yet Clark Kent remembers his time in middle school not being chosen for basketball?  If Clark and Lois worked together for 5 years — what the hell?  Again holding back on that story to present a Superman who feels he can’t relate to humans, even as Clark Kent.  This is not good for the character, but seems to be necessary in order to present the power couple and their evolution in realizing humans are powerful in their own way.  Humans do what they can with what they have — same as superbeings.  And humans are willing to take emotional risks, because that means they are living their lives to the fullest.  Life is messy and has pain, but to play it ‘safe’ is not living.

In Superman, Clark has returned from an absence (#1) and in all the books since that time (#12), it is often stated, “he’s not himself.”  Since the reboot, we as readers are not sure what Clark being himself is like.  It’s a reboot.  Creators on the book were micro-managed by editorial to the point that at least two veteran teams who loved the characters left the book.  Scott Lobdell has taken over in Superman Annual #1 (August) and we see Clark loves being amongst humanity and missing Lois Lane in particular.  JL12 also was released in August, so the slow build of the triangle for two may be beginning within Superman (now edited by Eddie Berganza) and Action.

In Action, Grant Morrison may have given us some behind the scenes clues in Action #9.  In Action #12 (August), he also hinted at the transformation between the pre-52 era and what we could see eventually for the triangle for two.  Superman’s emotions heated up in that issue – Lois was injured and he was frantic to save her life while fighting the villain.  It was a burst out of the blue, and we loved it!

In Action #0 (Sept), we read how newly arrived to Metropolis, Clark Kent, was ‘obsessed’ with Lois Lane’s gutsy, truth-til-it-hurts reporting style.  Lois loved Clark’s blog, written before his job at the Daily Star and later, the Daily Planet.  Superman rescues the abused child who stole his cape.  This is the best of Superman, when he shows his love for all humanity no matter what.  We also saw how Lois came to name Superman for the world.  They still did not meet face to face.

7) The power couple promotion had falsehoods and misinterpretations.  An AP writer reported that Clark and Lois would never date.  (This was after a statement by Superman Group Editor, Matt Idelson, several months previous, where he stated Clark and Lois were not inevitable and wouldn’t be on his watch.  He still edits Action for now, but does not edit Superman.)  This meant even more anguish for the Superman fandom.  How could that possibly be?  DC Comics corrected the AP statement by saying that was never stated by them.  So DC doesn’t want to rip away all hope for the triangle for two.  Yes, they wanted to promote their latest ‘stunt’ but to say that their most famous, iconic pairing would never be together?  That’s just bad for business and Warner Brothers’ coffers.

Also Dan Didio stated they had to ask permission from Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment, to do the kiss.  Why?  Because it could affect sales, which means money, not only for the comics, but also the movie going public and the worldwide consciousness.  EVERYONE knows Superman and Lois Lane — to damage that would be costly — VERY COSTLY.

8) Speaking of money, Diamond, distributors of comic books to stores, reported about August orders, that despite the one week earlier promotion of the kiss cover — Justice League #12 had over 3,000 less orders than it did in July.  This issue was ordered 3 months previous to its release date.  After JL12 was released, DC said there was a second printing with a new glitzy kiss cover.  Why, if the orders didn’t meet the numbers of the previous month, let alone to exceed it?  Also, Batman #12, without multimedia promotion and glitzy cover, had more orders than JL12.

DC may have counted on one of the ‘tricks of the trade’.  Collectors and speculators buying multiple copies of the event cover.  This is a practice from the 90s when people thought buying comics and their multiple covers would be a good investment financially.  Marvel better pay attention to what happened with JL12 as they are going to revitalize this practice for their Marvel Now series next month.

Maybe it didn’t succeed because of the subject matter (or it was a #12 not a #1) — people know it is Clark and Lois, Superman and Lois.  It’s ingrained in us since birth.  That doesn’t make it boring, but it’s part of a wonderful mythology because he’s an alien raised by humans who falls in love with an independent, career woman who has human flaws but is the best of humanity.  Clark Kent is Superman’s love story with humanity and Lois Lane in particular. (Tarantino got it wrong in Kill Bill)

Another reason, JL12 didn’t exceed JL11 numbers?  Comic book shop owners are more savvy about DC (and Marvel)  marketing practices.  My local shop is not large, and there was a sign on JL12 that said people were only permitted to buy 1.  This practice could have happened across the country since there is anecdotal evidence of it.  Why the sign?  Because shop owners have long boxes full of X-men #1 (best selling comic of all time) which they never sold.  The dependence on the theory of speculators and collectors in these times and after the history of what comics are truly worth in a future market — may be proving to be a failed practice.  Jim Lee designed 5 covers for X-men #1 in the 90s when speculator consumption was in full force.  But now, comic shops cannot afford such conjectures, especially if it means a loss of revenue.

If speculators wanted to buy the new cover, they could have returned the following week as there were piles of JL12 in comic shops all over the country.  Another point about this practice, by making the kiss cover the ‘common’ cover — it would have upped the Aquaman ‘variant’ in value instead of the kiss cover.

9) Backlash.  DC has had the power couple in the works for two years, all stemming from that writers’ retreat in October, 2012.  They cannot backtrack now with their promotion and storytelling.  They have to see it through.

However, seeing how readers and potential readers react to the news of the power couple tells DC Comics a lot.  Fans came out of the woodwork to tell DC Comics how beloved the triangle-for-two is.  How it is a pillar in the DC Universe (and has been since 1938).  It is the Superman mythos, without it, he’s just another guy with powers who can’t relate intimately with the humans he has vowed to protect.

DC Comics and in particular, Geoff Johns (author of Justice League), have to tread lightly here.  They’ve already secured the five year gap as damage control, but — if they affect the general movie going public, this could prove horrendous for the Man of Steel movie in June, 2013.  Generally, comic book publishers try to align their books with the movie releases — not necessarily storywise, but definitely character-wise.  For instance, Marvel could not have Tony Stark as a villain in his book when Iron Man was coming out.  This was changed.  So time is limited for the power couple — and the new Camelot-esque triangle is not end game.  It’s not profitable enough.    Story-wise it has an ending because of the character of Superman/Clark Kent, who can relate to humans just fine because of the Kents and Lois Lane especially.

10)  Geoff Johns.  Anyone who has read Johns knows he loves classic mythos.  Every Superman fan should read his Secret Origins for Superman (2009-2010).  Geoff has also written 4 hours of episodes for the Smallville television show in seasons 8 through 10.  He totally gets why Superman works as a character for all these many decades.  And why the triangle-for-two is an important part of that.

In Justice League International Annual #1 (released same day as JL12), Johns co-wrote with Dan Didio (the other Co-Publisher at DC Comics) how a future Booster Gold wearing an ARGUS badge came back and stopped time to warn the present Booster Gold.  Superman and Wonder Woman had to be stopped or they would cease to exist.  Both Boosters disappeared, but not before the present one saw the kiss of doom.  Whether the Boosters disappeared because of Rip Hunter, a traitor or a combination of the kiss of doom destroying the future, we don’t know.  Johns informed the fandom in a tweet that Booster would be back in 2013.  Since he wore an ARGUS badge, perhaps it will be with the Justice League of America.  And if Booster will be back, will the newly introduced and taken away Blue Beetle be far behind?

In 2013, Johns will also be writing Justice League of America.  This is Steve Trevor’s baby and an answer to the high profile, squabbling Justice League.  The new team will consist of Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter, both rejected by the Justice League as members.  As well as Catwoman, Katana, Stargirl, Hawkman, Vibe, and the new Green Lantern, Baz.  Low profile and probably more of a workhorse team, they’ll get the job done that the Justice League can’t.  (With Catwoman, Katana and Green Arrow on this team, could a black cowled billionaire be playing a part in this new incarnation?)   Plus Steve Trevor will prove he does what he does because he is a soldier/warrior and wants to keep the world safe.  It’s his life whether Diana is in it or not.  Could this mean the Amazon will begin to follow her heart?  Wonder Woman doesn’t need to be a girlfriend either of a superbeing or a human, but as a character/being she does need love (and perhaps a soulmate).  She needs something to fight for.

11) Real life timelines.  This Spring will mark the 75th anniversary of Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent.  Let’s hope that DC Comics, despite the lawsuits, will celebrate this monumental happening with a special issue or story.  On June 14th, 2013, Man of Steel arrives on movie screens.  Henry Cavill plays Clark/Superman with Amy Adams, award winning actress, playing Lois Lane.  The rest of the cast is equally as amazing.  This is the film Superman fans have been anticipating, and hopefully will love.

With the new movie, there is a rumor (and perhaps an announcement coming at NYCC) that there will be a third Superman book coming out called, Man of Steel.  With Superman’s story in limbo until the power couple announcement, DC may not have wanted to have more than two books during the first year of the reboot for Superman.  Now, if they develop the triangle-for-two and the DP cast, they could see the demand for this story (see backlash section) and give the character a third book.  This is plausible.  We’ll have to see if it comes to fruition.

12) Lois Lane . . . is still in the books.  Lois Lane, appears in Action and Superman, hopefully we will see more of her in the coming year (starting October, 2012) than ever before in the new 52.  The plans are there, it would seem, if what Scott Lobdell has said and Morrison has written (Action #12 and #0).  Lois Lane has also appeared in Superboy #1 as investigating NOWHERE and again in Batgirl after that.  And Johns placed her in the first issue of JL that happened in the present timeline.  She’s important.  She’s not out of the DC Universe.  Her presence has been diminished by being placed behind a desk as a new media producer within the Daily Planet, but that could change.  A solicit stated as such a few months ago, but it didn’t happen in the issue.  That doesn’t mean it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.  Separating Clark and Lois would have been necessary before the stunt, but may prove a liability after the announcement.  Clark and Lois fans want to read their story.  The new 52 has yet to make it so.  Let’s hope DC Comics after destroying the characters intimate connection can now rebuild it to be bigger and better than ever.  Write with truth and do the characters justice.

13)  If you don’t like what’s happening, then don’t buy the books or have a book on your pull list you’re not going to read.  This just makes sense for any comic in this day and age where entertainment dollars are hard to come by.  BUT if you do like a book and feel it will be a consistent story in that direction, then do by all means put it on your pull list as a vote for that book.  This will send a clear message to the publishers of what you like and are willing to buy.  Notice I said books, not characters.  Just because you love a character, doesn’t mean the book will give you what you want.  Don’t be a slave.  Don’t get books you’re not going to read or love.

14) Non-52 books.  If you want full-bodied Superman with his supporting cast, you really need to start buying Smallville Season 11 (a digital-first that later is a print) and Superman Family Adventures.  These are the best Superman within this new DCU.  Give them a try. You won’t regret it.  And it’s Superman while waiting for him to get his shit together in the new 52.

So not all hope is lost.  Yes, it will be rough waiting, anticipating, hoping.  But if the story becomes something you want to read, then love it.  It’s what the comic business should be about — creating great stories with awe inspiring characters for people to love and buy.

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September 15, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . BaudyBlahBlahBlah.

10 Comments

  1. Maya replied:

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. However, the orders for Justice League 12 doesn’t have anything to do with the stunt or is a measure of the success or lack thereof. DC did not go in PR over drive until a few days before the book hit the shelves. So the orders were already in. Meanwhile Batman has been trumping JL for a few months now.

    Had retailers known in advance what was going to happen there is no way to know if they would have increased orders.

    Speculators did come to my LCS looking to buy multiple books however my store had a one copy per customer policy so they were left with inventory on the shelves. Stores which didn’t implement this policy? Who knows if they sold out or not.

    Bleeding cool reports that the second printing was the 3rd most ordered book.

    I don’t think any conclusions can be made from August estimates because the orders were in before the stunt was made public. It’s the orders for the second printing (which was high) and then to see what happens going forward with JL #13 onward that will tell the story.

    I’m hoping that post second printing blip that there will be no measurable change. Lee is leaving the book, I also wonder what this will do to orders?

  2. baudyhallee replied:

    Hi Maya!

    You make a good point and something to consider.

    Yes, JL12 was ordered 3 months previous to August 29th, The power couple announcement was August 22nd. Giving speculators and collectors a heads up a week in advance.

    On the 24th, Bleeding Cool said there were 150,000 books ordered, which they could have gotten the number wrong. August was 120K+.

    On the 30th, the 2nd print cover and reorder was announced. Collectors and speculators would not get the first kiss cover, but a new one.

    Yes, not every comic shop had the only 1 policy. But if collectors and buyers wanted it, they could have returned to buy. There were a pile of JL12 first kiss covers at my shop as well as others around the country, anecdotal evidence at best. So does that mean it didn’t even sell all 120K-some of what was ordered for August?

    That said, anyone interested in the power couple walking into a store in September would be greeted with a Justice League #0 which didn’t address the power couple story at all.

    The success of JL 13 may tell us more. Yes, Jim Lee is off the book now. Tony Harris Is the artist for #13 and #14, then Reis takes over.

    With Lee’s departure, the ‘gimmicky covers’ may end.

    Order numbers will rest solely on the story and how it unfolds.

    We’ll have to wait and see.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. Maya replied:

    I agree with you that not all JL 12 sold out at various stores. Some did and some didn’t. However it is very important to understand that the ranking are based on retail orders not actual sales to the public. It’s unclear if any of these books actually sell out everywhere even if they go in to second printings.

    We also don’t know if Bleeding Cool was including over seas orders to their report? The estimates are US based only.

    Meanwhile even if stores didn’t sell out of the first printing of JL 12, they might still order some of the second printing because it has a different cover and collectors are by nature completests.

    People walking in to the store in September will likely see both JL #0 and left over JL #12 if the store has inventory and the second printing of JL 12.

    Going forward orders will be based on what sold and what didn’t.

  4. Maya replied:

    I’m sorry I didn’t include in my previous comment, thank you for this post and the upbeat analysis. I agree with a lot of what you say and I hope you’re right in the end.

    • baudyhallee replied:

      Thanks, Maya. Yes, some stores will order the 2nd printing and some will not. It will depend on whether or not they have buyers. I know one of our LCS will not be ordering 2nd printing as they want to get rid of their pile of the first. Some local comic shops budgets are very tight — and with Marvel Now happening in October, JL12 2nd printing might not be picked up.

      Any money made from purchases of 2nd printing will be gravy money. Glitzy collector covers are not an indication of whether or not people like the story inside. It is a way to make money though. Shiny objects and all that.

      I hope I’m right, too. I could be wrong, and will freely admit being so. Only time and issues will tell.

  5. Sephiroth replied:

    Hi baudy, I knew you from a clois forum(Divine Intervention) and I have been enjoying reading your posts. The SM/WW thing is still grating on my nerves but I have chosen to read it through to the painful end, given what I saw in the JLI.

    However, I want to point you to some answers Matt Idelson gave recently after that horrifying “not on my watch comment”…seems he’s trying to correct himself coz there were apparently alot of clois questions or something like that.
    You can find it here:
    http://www.supermanhomepage.com/inter-action/inter-action.php?topic=ask-editor/ask-matt

    Lois fans, clois fans…thanks for taking him to task on what he sai…lol

    Sephiroth

    • baudyhallee replied:

      Hi Sephiroth!

      Thanks for commenting. Am glad you’re enjoying the posts.

      I am aware of Matt Idelson’s answers on Supermanhomepage and will soon be writing a post regarding that and the storytelling situation in the Superman books currently.

      One of the questioners was Natasha and this weekend on the G2Factor we will be discussing the Q&A. You might also recognize Rachel and Kelly who also asked questions.

      Here’s a link to the G2Factor website here on wordpress: http://g2factor.wordpress.com/

      And here’s a link to our G2Factor show on talkshoe:
      http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/97368

      DC Comics has given us a new 52 Superman with no hope. I don’t think they understand how that not only hurts the characters but his fanbase. The five year gap in his story may be a way to ‘protect’ his character but it also is a burden solely on Big Blue and not any other character in the new 52.

      I hope you’ll give us a listen on Sunday on G2Factor.

  6. wwayne replied:

    “Just because you love a character, doesn’t mean the book will give you what you want. Don’t be a slave. Don’t get books you’re not going to read or love”: Totally agree. For example, I’m a big fan of Blue Beetle (it was my favorite New 52 series, along with Animal Man and Team 7), but I decided to drop it from my pull list because of an awful narrative choice. I’ll try to be more specific.
    The first 12 issues of Blue Beetle were all fantastic, and you know why? Because of the attention given to family, Mexican culture and mythology. Blue Beetle never showed just a superhero kicking a villain’s ass: there was always something more intriguing and instructive to read.
    And then, all of a sudden, DC decided to make Blue Beetle a space-opera-like series. No more family, no more Mexican culture, just aliens, planets and spaceships. This change of direction totally deprived Blue Beetle of all the things that made him special. It is probably the worst mistake DC has been making since the reboot started (along with Green Arrow’s rejuvenation).

    • baudyhallee replied:

      Thanks for replying, wwayne. I’m sorry that Blue Beetle lost its way. I don’t know why DC seems hellbent on not having families involved with their heroes unless their name is Batman. 😉 I’m with you aliens, planets and spaceships are fine as long as there are subplots that contrast with those like family, culture and relationships. Otherwise it’s just boring. Same battle, different issue. I did catch Blue Beetle’s appearance and leaving in Justice League International Annual #1. Am hoping he and Booster return soon to straighten this mess out. 😀

      Thanks again.

      • wwayne replied:

        Thank you as well for your replies! : )

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