Wednesday Comments – The Curse of September With DC Comics’ The New 52 Futures End & More

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It’s September so you know what that means; DC Comics has special issues of all of their regular monthly titles. Since DC launched The New 52 in September, every September that followed DC has churned out issues that follow a theme.

In 2012 the theme was zero issues that flashed back to stories set five years before the relaunch. In 2013 the September event was Villain’s Month, where the villains took over as the leads of all of DC’s titles. On top of that the covers of those books were 3-D motion covers.

This year’s event is Future’s End, where all of the books flash forward to five years into the future of the current books. And not only do the books also feature 3-D motion covers just like last year, but they tie-in to DC’s Futures End weekly book, at the very least thematically.

Now I’ll admit to having picked up all of that first crop of #1’s back in September 2011. And in 2012 I picked up all of the zero issues for the titles I was still reading, plusa handful from titles I wasn’t reading. Last year I did manage to get all of the 3-D motion covers. But this time around, I’m basically sticking to the titles that I read, and I doubt that I’m the only one.

2011 had all the buzz and it was a fresh start. It made sense that everyone was going to pick those books up. And 2012 also had elements of a fresh start, because they were zero issues, which implies ground floor. I might be curious what Green Arrow was like five years ago or Catwoman.

2013 was the most gimmicky by far, but it was also pretty stand-alone. The covers were gimmicks, but the issues themselves focused on characters that don’t usually get the spotlight. There’s something inclusionary about that, despite Villain’s Month being tied into Forever Evil.

But this Futures End month feels set up to fail.

First off, I’m not curious what Green Arrow is going to be like in five years. I’m not reading his book right now, why would I care about what the character is doing in the future? The same goes for Catwoman and Superboy and Aquaman. I think the only additional book I’ll be getting is Booster Gold, but he doesn’t have a monthly at the moment, so it barely counts.

Secondly, not all of the books have the regular creative teams. Earth-2 Futures End really suffered from not having the regular creative team working on it. It felt disjointed and didn’t have the usual punch that Tom Taylor brings on a monthly basis.

Of course because of the fancy covers the books had to be sent to the printers earlier than usual, which precluded some of the regular creators from taking part. But that’s the point; the book suffers as a result of the gimmick.

Another thing; so far of the five Futures End issues I picked up last week, exactly one had something to do with Futures End, the underwhelming Earth 2. Grayson had the best issue of the bunch, while Swamp Thing seemed to provide a thematic ending to Soule’s run on the book. Both Detective Comics and Green Lantern seemed to follow through on previous tales (Detective Comics Annual #3 and last year’s Black Hand #1) but didn’t really leave an impression.

So while they have the “Futures End” tag, they don’t really tie into the event other than taking place in the future. So on a purely marketing level, they disappoint because they’ve got little impact on the Futures End event, making them feel kind of disposable.

I’m old enough to remember when DC used to have yearly events, with themes that linked titles, they were called Annuals. There was the year where all of the annuals shared the theme of Legends of Dead Earth. There were the Pulp Heroes annuals. Elseworlds and Ghosts were also themes for annuals.

Eclipso: The Darkness Within was pretty good. Armageddon 2001 was fun. Bloodlines, well, Bloodlines is better left forgotten.

I’m fine with DC having a yearly events with themes, but let’s go back to making them annuals. Especially if the theme is going to be diluted by barely having it impact the actual event.

Another thing about the Annuals is that they were spread out over months. DC’s September event is four weeks and if you’re not interested in it, that just makes is easier to take a month off from comics.

Obviously DC is going to try to keep their September events going. I’m sure that this year’s sales for September won’t match last year’s and I predict next year will see a revamped effort, possibly with a different gimmicky cover.

But hopefully September 2015 will see a DC event that puts and emphasis on quality.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday so go out and pick up some fresh new comics from your local comic shop.