WTF Is Wrong With DC Comics, The Blue Beetle Edition

So, as a company DC has spent the last 3 years promoting the Blue Beetle title, fighting off naysayers, hyping the surprisingly consistently good reviews of the title, and this week they announce it’s cancellation.

BLUE BEETLE #36
Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Carlo Barberi
Cover by Rafael Albuquerque
Say goodbye to the bravest Teen Titan of them all as Blue Beetle takes on a whole space army all on his lonesome in a tale so epic it could only be called the “Valentine’s Day Dance Massacre�!
FINAL ISSUE • On sale February 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Now, as always, it’s perfectly within DC’s rights to cancel a title, for any reason at all. And when one has been a borderline seller as BB has been for the last 2 years or so, it makes even more sense. Or at least it would if the character wasn’t part of a Huge Freaking Multi-Media Promotion right now.

Blue Beetle bio page

From the looks of things, Cartoon Network has plans for the character, potentially beyond just the “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” premiere episode. He’s been in virtually all of the show’s promotional pieces, from print to TV to web. Heck, he’s practically half the website for B:BatB, with a nice big bio-page, appearances on the downloadable wallpapers and a playable part in the online game. Hell, the character gets his own skill set and special instructional page!

bb_gamesplash.jpg

A lot of this would be moot if CN had changed the character significantly from his comic book roots, like Red Tornado or Green Arrow, but he’s pretty much the same as in the comic. The costume is nearly exactly like the book, the character’s a teenage boy starstruck with Batman and not exactly sure of what’s going on around him.

I’m not a huge fan of the new Blue Beetle, but I don’t dislike Jamie Reyes either. He’s actually a pretty decent “Spider-Man meets Power Rangers” kind of character that I can easily see kids getting into. The fact that DC spent so long massaging the title’s life despite diminishing sales shows that they kind of get that as well, which makes the just announced canning of the book that much more puzzling. It just boggles the mind that, a few days after the character becomes a nationally known entity, seen by upwards of a million new pairs of eyes around the world, this is the time that DC sees fit to pull the plug on the book. How does that make any sense at all? Maybe TV exposure doesn’t automatically lead to increased monthly comic sales, but you’d think that anyone with any kind of skill at selling things could use the character’s newfound notoriety to somehow move more issues or the collected editions or something.

With DC’s sales dropping pretty much across the board, resulting in them becoming a distant second to Marvel’s #1 sales position (due partially to Marvel’s ability to parlay Iron Man’s new popularity directly into comic book sales this past summer), it’s pretty incomprehensible that nobody at the company seems to think that they can piggyback on Beetle’s media blitz. But then, if the last few years of DC’s publishing moves have taught us anything, it’s that they rarely do anything that makes sense anymore.



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6 Responses to WTF Is Wrong With DC Comics, The Blue Beetle Edition
  1. mrpeepants
    November 20, 2008 | 2:39 pm

    I’m upset about the Blue Beetle cancellation and the manhunter cancellation. c’mon DC!

  2. Pete H
    November 21, 2008 | 1:30 am

    Dude, you know what they’re gonna do? They’re going to relaunch at number 1 and have trades and digests for backstories.

    Hopefully, they’ll succeed with this character where they failed with Bart Allen Flash.

  3. mrpeepants
    November 21, 2008 | 12:51 pm

    i can see that with blue beetle, but manhunter got cancelled before.

    hope you’re right. or at least clue in the fans especially when there is all the bitterness

  4. Paul Lee
    November 23, 2008 | 12:49 pm

    Economic down turn. Everyone is getting ready to cut costs. It’s a belt tightening measure for sure.

  5. Jim Kosmicki
    November 23, 2008 | 3:08 pm

    but you’re ignoring the real truth. The popularity of the character on TV and/or the website has nothing at all to do with the comic. The comic had its chance and failed — it never sold well. Even if Blue Beetle becomes a huge media hit, it would not sell that much better in comics form. Those are two very different audiences. There are huge audiences for the Cartoon Network shows in the Johnny DC line, and they sell how many copies to the comic-shop market? If Blue Beetle becomes an animated hit, then the comic acts as developmental money spent getting the kinks out of the character. No kid is going to look for a Blue Beetle comic book after seeing the TV show — they don’t even know that they exist. and if they do find it somehow, no parent is going to pay the cost of an issue to get their kid one part of a 4 or 5 part story. DC has some TPBs out there to grab that market if it is real — and then if there’s sales there, they can bring the character back knowing that there’s a secondary market beyond the horrible single issue sales that this title has always had (and I liked the book, folks, but reality is what it is).

  6. Stephen Gerding
    November 24, 2008 | 8:05 am

    Hey, Jim -

    I didn’t mean to imply that BB’s appearance on TV was the thing that was going to kickstart the character’s title into a top 10 selling position, just that it’s am ill-timed announcement. Waiting one more month, or announcing it 2 weeks ago would have made more sense if only because announcing it withing days (hours) of the character’s TV debut only served to draw attention to what would have otherwise been pretty much a non-story.

    DC has every right to cancel whatever they like, and BB wasn’t selling well at all, sure, but it hasn’t been selling well for at least a year now, so why craw attention to the fact that so many of their titles are doing kinda badly by killing this one at this exact time? It’s just foolish.

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