Saturday, July 27, 2013

Man-Bat Lost 100 Pager

Continuing my series of Lost 100 Pager Super Spectaculars, I present this splendid entry featuring DC's winged warrior of the night: Man-Bat!

The main artwork for this cover was created by Adam Moore, whose artwork I have used before for the fantastic Green Lantern and Adam Strange covers. Adam is also known as Laemeur on You can see more of his artwork on his website:

As you might suspect, I've always been a big fan of Man-Bat as he's one of the few DC Monster heroes (Marvel seemed to be more open to monstrous heroes: Man-wolf, Werewolf by Night, Morbius, Man-Thing, Deathlok, ect...)

In recent years, Man-Bat lost some of his uniqueness IMO as Grant Morrison introduced the idea of ninja man-bats in Batman 656 back in 2006 during the Batman RIP story arc.

More recently, this dilution of the Man-Bat concept was undone with Kirk Langstrom developing an antidote for the Man-Bat serum such that he is now the only such creature in the DC universe (At least until Geoff Johns gets around to creating an entire multi-colored Man-Bat family...)

Since the popularity of the Batman books seems to be one of the few things keeping the DC books afloat now, you have to wonder why there isn't a Man-Bat book somewhere in the DC 52. I can't imagine it would sell worse than Hawkman or BatWing.

 This idea of a DC 52 solo Man-Bat title has even inspired a bit of a following on Deviant Art.

It's probably just a matter of wait and see. With DC cancelling New 52 books faster than Marvel can create comics with the word Avengers in the title, I would say it's a safe bet we will probably see a new Man-Bat comic eventually.

Here's a question: What title do you think DC should publish in their next wave of New 52 replacements?

- Jim

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How are comic book Animated movies doing?

July 30th will see the release of the latest DC Direct to Disc Animated feature: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. This movie is based off of the recent DC event written by Geoff Johns in which the Flash finds himself in an alternate timeline having to unravel a mystery with the help of some familiar, but different, friends.

I've known about this movie for a while (whereas other DC animations tend to catch me by surprise) and I'm looking forward to this one. The storyline has a jaunty pacing and a certain Elseworlds/What If feel about it that I think will lend itself well to a movie adaptation (whereas some of the DC animated features feel a bit long to me.)

Thinking about the buzz I've seen on this movie on the internet got me to wondering how is the DCU Animated series doing sales wise. Since the sales numbers are readily available from various sources, I was able to whip up a graph of my findings showing units sold for each feature:

 Some thoughts:
The first thing that jumped out at me was it looks like the features are rapidly declining in popularity - aside from a few upticks (Justice League: Doom, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1)

Why has there not been another Wonder Woman movie? The first one actually outsold the first Batman, Green Lantern and Justice League movies, so you would think it would be a no brainer to produce another one.

Why did New Frontier sell so poorly? Was because it wasn't more directly marketed as a Justice League movie? (It seems to be titled as such, but I can't remember how it appeared in places like Best Buy when it was released.)

Of course I had to do the same thing for the Marvel Animation movies (which are fewer in number)

Here are the dollar figures for DC:

Title Gross
Superman: Doomsday $9,455,120
Justice League: The New Frontier $5,242,952
Batman: Gotham Knight $8,072,890
Wonder Woman $7,561,719
Green Lantern: First Flight $6,260,099
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies $8,470,749
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths $5,405,463
Batman: Under the Red Hood $7,131,753
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse $6,309,241
DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection $4,034,257
All-Star Superman $4,660,716
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights $2,741,247
Batman: Year One $2,763,042
Justice League: Doom $4,073,754
Superman vs. The Elite $1,279,222
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 $2,650,510
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2 $1,467,026
Superman: Unbound $1,000,984

And for Marvel:

Ultimate Avengers $6,713,941
Ultimate Avengers 2 $7,866,932
The Invincible Iron Man $5,255,593
Doctor Strange $3,930,566
Next Avengers $3,765,837
Hulk Vs $7,523,162
Planet Hulk $5,579,067
Thor: Tales of Asgard $2,300,286

Looking at the last number on both charts, I have to wonder if Thor: Tales of Asgard or Superman: Unbound broke even. I enjoyed a lot of the movies on both lists, but I perfectly understand why the Marvel line petered out based on the sales of T:ToA.

I think the Flashpoint Paradox is going to do a good bit better than Superman: Unbound. I would beg it for at least as good as Justice League: Doom ($4 million).

After that, I have heard that the plans are to adapt the first arc of the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee  Justice League. As that is fresh in the mind of readers at the moment, it might do pretty well too.

After that, I don't know what would sale well. Sinestro Corps Wars perhaps?

What would you like to see as the next comic book animated feature?

- Jim

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Does the Comics Industry really need saving?

Up until a few months ago, the conventional wisdom was that the comics industry was a sinking ship and it was only a matter of time before:

A) There was an industry wide implosion and/or
B) The big two only published flagship titles and spinoffs with no B/C grade characters appearing on the racks anymore.

However, back in May, John Jackson Miller performed some serious number crunching on sales numbers and determined that dollar orders are nearly double what they were 10 years ago.

What's more, as of June 2013, comics shops have ordered $250 million dollars worth of comics and trades. This puts this year as the first time in 20 years that the industry is on track to having a $500 million dollar sale. To get some idea, this time last year, the industry had only ordered $222 million dollars worth of product.

And all of these sales do not take into account the now noticeable bump that publishers are receiving from Digital sales. While neither DC or Marvel have given any figures about their digital revenue (other than Dianne Nelson's vague comment about digital sales being in around a million each month) Image has been more forthcoming.

According to Image, digital sales makes up to 15% of comics sales and 27% of revenue.

Now, with all that said, where does that leave our dark prophecies of a apocalyptic industry? This all sounds pretty good, but there is one detail about sales that people are overlooking (I believe.) As Image Publisher Eric Stephenson says in this interview when talking about the appeal of digital sales:

"I mean, how many comic stores are there? Maybe 2,000 or 2,500 in the United States? There are more radio stations than that. If you’re trying to convince casual [and new] customers to find comics, we’d be better off selling to radio stations than comic book stores.”

At one time, the number of shops in America was close to 10,000 (at the height of the 90's) - and while we can all agree that number was more than the market would bear (without rampant speculation to prop it up) - you have to wonder how are comic shops doing now? 

If, as the numbers suggest, that comic sales are doing so well, then why are there so few comic shops?

I suspect the answer has to do with the way comics are bought by retailers - they are in of themselves speculators. When Marvel or DC announces a new title, they have to guess how many they will sale. Unlike graphic novels (which are a bit more evergreen) retailers have to sort of hope they have ordered enough Marvel Now Captain America or Superior Spider-man to satisfy their Wednesday clientele. Guess too little, and you end up with pissed off customers. Guess too high and you are stuck with a boatload of unsaleable product. For the digital vendors, no guesswork is involved. It's a no lose situation.

I think this is a situation that bears watching before we take the patient off life support.

What do you think?

Does it feel like the industry is A OK to you?
Do you buy as much stuff from your local comic shop as you did 10 years ago?

- Jim

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Freedom Fighters Lost 100 Pager

Continuing my series of 100 Page Super Spectaculars that never, I present this appropriately post-July 4th entry.

This amazing cover illustration was created by the versatile Seth Frail. You can check out more of Seth's artwork at

I've made no secret of my fondness for the classic Freedom Fighters and on numerous occasions have lamented DC's attempts to reboot them in the last decade. Currently, DC seems to be committed to putting out various mini-series with the characters in an attempt to (re?)enforce trademarks on the characters...

I have to wonder about this. Why does DC care so much? One might argue that the Freedom Fighters have some intellectual property value that DC wants to lock down but based on Ed Love's well written article in Two Morrow's Quality Companion, DC has already been able to successfully defend their sole use of the characters over the years. (Ed describes an incident wherein DC Editor at the time Dick Giordano sent Bill Black, publisher of Fem Force a cease and desist letter.)

However, according to Black, the reason he changed the name of his Phantom Lady to Nightveil was a bit different:

DC claimed they owned the name Phantom Lady and, in 1983, Dick Giordano (then DC editor) called me and asked me to cease and desist the use of the name. Big company pressuring a little company… I was just starting up, so I rolled over on this. I later discovered that DC had not and COULD NOT trademark the name Phantom Lady. But by then I had re-created the character as Nightveil. All this was a good thing because Nightveil has become such a great character far exceeding Phantom Lady in any incarnation. At AC we have a “retro” history as Femforce started during World War II. I created the Blue Bulleteer as the masked persona of Laura Wright before she becomes the sorceress, Nightveil. So from 1943 into the 1960s, Laura is Blue Bulleteer and runs around in a costume that is based on the Matt Baker, Fox Features version of Phantom Lady. The fans love it!

And while I would be relunctant to disagree with Mr. Black, if you look closely at the covers of this new Phantom Lady comic book, you will plainly see a TM symbol beside both Phantom Lady and Doll Man. Here is a close up:

And while DC owning the trademark to these characters makes sense (they did buy them after all.) There is another development in the Trademarking of Public Domain characters. Dynamite Entertainment has trademark the Green Lama, Black Terror, The Owl, The Arrow and Pyroman as of 2008.

And pursuant to that end, last week Dynamite published the first issue of a new series featuring their version of The Owl - I guess because during that spate of creating logos for their versions of characters during Project Super Powers, there was no cover  using their Owl logo, which would make defending the trademark a bit difficult. It would be interesting to see someone try go to court in defense of a trademark without ever publishing a single issue of the property in question. ;)

Anyone read this? What did you think?

- Jim


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