Sunday, June 27, 2010

Freedom Fighters Return (Again?)

Remember when I mentioned Uncle Sam's appearance at the end of Blackest Night, and how it might signal the return of the Freedom Fighters to the DC Universe?

Well, apparently I was right, as the Freedom Fighters will have a new ongoing title launching in September of 2010.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1
Written by JIMMY PALMIOTTI & JUSTIN GRAY
Art by TRAVIS MOORE & TREVOR SCOTT
Cover by DAVE JOHNSON
1:10 Variant Cover by SHANE DAVIS

A new call to arms begins as Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters return in an all-new action packed ongoing series helmed by the writing team of Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Travis Moore and Trevor Scott!

A national mystery unfolds when the government learns of the existence of a Confederate super weapon intended to insure the South won the Civil War. Who built it and why wasn’t it used? Find out when Uncle Sam leads the team on a quest through the hidden history of the United States!  With new challenges and old threats returning to plague them, the stakes are higher than ever.  Can even these stalwart heroes stand by their duty when their country calls?

Now, even though I predicted we'd see them return, I'm a little hard pressed to explain why someone would greenlight an ongoing series with these characters.

Let's look at the numbers of the last two mini-series, both written by the team of Palmiotti and Gray. (For those of you not interested in the numbers, feel free to skip down ;) )

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters 2006 mini-series
1 - 40,700 (issues sold)
2 - 31,600
3 - 28,400
4 - 26,500
5 - 25,100
6 - 23,200
7 - 22,400
8 - 23,000

So for the first series, we end up at 23K with an average of 27,000 units sold per an issue. Not a runaway success by any definition, but sound enough sales to warrant a second mini-series, which is what we got in 2008...

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters 2008 mini-series (Brave New World)
1 - 23,700
2 - 19,000
3 - 17,100
4 - 15,800
5 - 15,000
6 - 14,100
7 - 13,700
8 - 13,400

That's a pretty low start with an dismaying drop through the months!

And I think I know why - when you are pitching a series like US&FF, you are trading off of the awareness of the old characters to some degree. Elsewise, why not just create a new group of superheroes? However, when peddling a series with such a strong nostalgia factor, it seems switching out the characters with new (grim and gritty?) versions is a mistake which eventually erodes the sales of the title.

And looking at the numbers between the two series, what are we to predict for the sales of the first issue of the new mini-series? Will it start at 23K like the Brave New World mini or will it start at 13K, the low end of that series?

I predict two things:
We'll see first issue sales around 18K
The series will be selling less than 10K by issue 8

I think a tough marketplace and disenchanted readers are going to take a toll on this new series.

What I would MUCH rather see done with the Freedom Fighters name is a sort of 1940's era Marvels Project 8 issue mini-series. Possibly illustrated in that same style with someone with a love for the era writing the series.

I'm not saying Palmiotti and Gray would be bad. They handle Jonah Hex well enough, and that's a period piece. I just don't know how they would handle a WW II story.

My dream writer for such a project would be Michael Chabon, as he's demonstrated an incredible knowledge of the history and feel of the Golden Age Era in both his novel Kavalier and Clay and his Dark Horse Comics The Escapist.

It might also be interesing to see Darwyn Cooke such a project. Simply because I think his clean style evokes some of the simplistic beauty of the Golden Age.

Until then I'll content myself with the classic adventures of Uncle Sam from the pages of Uncle Sam Quarterly!

Uncle Sam Quarterly 01

[ Uncle Sam Quarterly 01 ]

Uncle Sam Quarterly 07

[ Uncle Sam Quarterly 07 ]

- Enjoy!

7 comments:

Trey said...

Are these the "grim and gritty" versions of the characters?

I mean, I assume its in that continuity, but I wonder if there going to try to lighten it up some. "Brightest day" and all that.

Reno said...

Well, as evidenced by the other Brightest Day titles, things haven't lightened up one bit.

JimShelley said...

@Trey - no, I'm pretty sure this series will feature the new versions of the characters based on the writing team (who created the new versions.)

JimShelley said...

@Reno - yeah, thinking on it, outside of Generation Lost, there hasn't really been a single book I can say has elements of Brightness in it now.

cash_gorman said...

They killed off several legacy characters in order to create MORE legacy characters? And, in one of the more gratuitously violent superhero storylines to come down the pike. I didn't mind the second Ray or Blackhawk as they didn't actually kill off the predecessors. Even though I give them props for bringing back Miss America and Neon (although, changed so much I'm not really sure if it is the same guy), I don't have enough interest to fill a thimble.

JimShelley said...

@Cash - I'm right there with you on the Zero Interest thing - and not just because they are new characters, but rather they are just more of the same (From Sovereign Seven to Darkstars to Stormwatch to Secret Defenders) - random superheroes shouting at each other.

cash_gorman said...

Just realized I said "Blackhawk" where I meant "Black Condor", a different bird of the same color.

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