Saturday, September 15, 2012

Return of Captain Midnight

 Dark Horse has announced they are bringing back Captain Midnight, first in their anthology Dark Horse Presents and then as a mini-series. Unfortunately for me, their anthology book is usually too expensive when there's only one feature in it at a time I'm interested in.Link

This isn't the Captain's first return. He's been showing up some in the Airfighters comic by the company that's doing a manga influenced Airboy. AC has reprinted a few of his old tales, only promoting him to a major (presumably for trademark and copyright purposes).

But, the news story is interesting. Most companies, including Dark Horse, announce the "return" of a character only to mean a new character using the old one's name, powers and maybe the costume if you're lucky. However, in this instance, the story is all about using the Fawcett version of the character. I'm not thrilled with the angle being the US Government hunting him down and hope they move away from that. At this point, it's bit of a cliche and an easy target. I want to see the character as a cross between Captain America and Nick Fury. Hopefully, when they get the introductory story out of the way, we'll get more of that. However, the writer Josh Williamson says all the right things about trying to remain true to the character and his history and honoring that. A far cry from creators that bash the original material or praise it, while changing everything about the character.

In some ways, this almost seems like an anti-Dynamite book. At least from the one bit of artwork shown, the Captain is not getting a heavy re-design. He's not being re-imagined from the ground up. The cover art by Steve Rude is like Ross only it embraces the superhero aspect of the character. He's larger than life and very dynamic, not looking at all like someone striking a pose. It alone makes me want to read the story.

To quibble... the serial was a movie serial. And, there was a tv series (never seen it, but those usually weren't serials although the serials themselves would sometimes re-air on tv). Their particular take of "the man out of time" disillusioned with the present isn't really all that different either. That's pretty much the whole point of Marvel's The Twelve. Frankly, that seems almost the obvious take and pretty much patently false. It's looking at the past through rose-colored glasses which may work to an extent if you're a white heterosexual male. The strides we've made (though still a ways to go) in regards to race, gender, religion. There's no jet-packs, but an African American President! There's 100 plus channels on tv. In color. In high definition. We've been to the moon and have a robotic car on Mars. Our telephones can do what machines the size of a room could not do. We can cook a dinner in minutes. Sure, there's bad stuff too. But, this is a man that saw WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. Prohibition and gangsters, Great Depression, the Holocaust, the Atomic bomb, the Red Scare.


This just in, DC discovers that selling 4 titles a month makes more money than selling 2 or 3 titles a month and making more money is good for business.

 One of the more annoying conversations I sometimes run into is explaining to people that late books is bad for business. It's less product for DC to sell, it's less product for stores to sell which is especially damaging as many stores are largely dependent on their weekly deliveries and new comic sales to make budget. The length of time it took JMS to finish The Twelve, Marvel could have completed the series, had the trades out, a follow-up series or spin-offs with the characters. Instead, it lost all momentum, and a year of lost opportunities. If Frank Quitely or Frank Miller can only put out as half as many books as other creators, do their books sell over twice as well if other artists had been associated with the book? You'd think this would be common sense but  judging by conversations I have had with some fans, common sense is not all that common.

Plus, the evidence suggests that coming out on time and regularly increases the sales each month. Thus a book that comes out on time 12 times a year sells more than just 25% more than one that only managed to eke out 9 issues that year.

Here's another angle. If you have a regular publishing schedule and keep to it, advertisers are more prone to advertise with you. After all, they want to know if they run a Christmas theme ad, the title actually comes out before January. You run a business professionally and it instills confidence in others to do business with you.

Post-reboot — with the exception of very few titles — DC has been publishing its comics on a strict monthly timeline. While fans may be disappointed by the fill-ins that are required to keep the train running, the sales performance of the overall line is more steady and predictably higher when all the books are shipped each month.

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