In tomorrow’s DC Nation #2 free magazine, DC Co-Publisher Dan Didio pens an editorial that coincides with the already controversial Batman #50. In it, he mentions how fans know the DC Universe so well that “oftentimes they can see the twists coming“.
And he recognizes the inherent struggle to “be consistent with our characters and who they are while finding new directions and new types of stories to tell with them.”
But he also doesn’t shy away from how much choice there is out there, and “comics, while still a cheap medium, have gotten more expensive.”
In response to these concerns about shifts in consumer behavior he states that DC Comics is “bringing all the talent together soon to sit down and come up with a mission statement about what DC wants to be and what types of stories we want to tell.”
While that last comment might raise the hackles of many a comic reader, given that we live in a world of perpetual reboots and relaunches, it isn’t the most pressing of concerns and is most likely in reference to their annual creative summit and the recently announced shift in Rebirth architect Geoff Johns‘ duties.
One line in particular catches my eye. “oftentimes they can see the twists coming”
It’s true. longtime comic readers can usually peg where a story is likely to end up, plus or minus a few details (frankly, even I couldn’t have called good Captain America leaping out of Stevil’s chest in Secret Empire.) but I have to ask, is that really a bad thing?
Yes, an overuse of the “set and reset” approach can drive even the most stalwart fan to the point of “who gives a Sh*t” (looking at you Marvel) but when good creators juke around plot points and story hurdles with readers hot on their heels, it adds an exciting element of cat and mouse to the whole endeavor.
The weekly comic shop run transforms from “I need to see what happens next” into “I need to see if I was right about what happens next”. This may seem like a subtle, almost inconsequential shift but it is indicative of the reader’s emotional investment. Not only in a single story, but in the overall narrative the publisher is trying to convey.
Impassioned readers don’t stop and “what happens next”.We weigh the consequences of each story, each issue. Wether we enjoy whole heartedily it is second to proving ourselves momentarily equal to the men and women crafting these tales. We get twenty eight pages to sit and match wits creative juggernauts and see how we measure up.
In short, we get to become our world’s greatest detective. We get to be Batman.