There’s been a lot of talk about DC’s decision to go “day and date” with their digital books (to release them digitally the same day they go on sale as physical copies) destroying comic book stores across the world. Strangely enough, DC’s big news this week actually underscored the value of a great comic book store, and why it can never be replaced by a tablet or eReader.
To say that my regular store, Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, was abuzz with discussion would not be an understatement. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted by people waiting to jump into the DC Reboot debate. The truly great thing about this is that these were real people, not characters on a screen. If one of us said something that someone disagreed with, they could say as much and have a real discussion, not a few snarky comments back and forth. This was real world reaction to DC’s big news, not off the cuff, snap judgments typed up so quickly that they’re riddled with typos.
A number of things struck me about our conversation. The first is that it seemed like all of us are still unsure what to really think. I mean, consider that: we more or less admitted that we still hadn’t formed concrete opinions. Clearly, I was no longer online for this discussion, as hastily created opinions reign supreme on the internet. We were all willing to say, “Hey, my gut says this, but I can’t really say for certain yet.”
We also got a fairly diverse group as far as perspectives go. One person actually said he was considering getting out of comics all together, and that DC’s reboot was the perfect spot for that. Someone wondered how Marvel would counter the move. Some saw it as a chance for DC to right numerous crimes, like the Women in Refrigerators syndrome.
Meltdown’s Atlantean sympathizer, Chris, approached it from a retailer angle. He wanted to know what DC was doing that would keep people on board after the first month or so. He also suggested that if they’re going to release digital comics the same day, they should make the physical copies returnable – a fair trade off, I think.
Almost all of us wondered how DC would even come up with 52 different titles and 52 creative teams.
What was particularly telling is that no one really complained about years and years of DC history possibly being wiped away. No one was upset that Blackest Night might not “count” (as Tom Breevort would say) any more. It seemed like DC hadn’t really created anything in the last 25 years that people would be too upset to see overturned.
With one exception.
Mirroring online reactions I’ve seen, the only real concern with a full reboot had to do with the Batman titles. A decent case could be made that the Batman family of books have never been stronger, due in large part to substantial changes in the status quo. The idea of losing all of this recently created, rich history did not sit well with a lot of people. The idea of undoing perhaps the greatest character evolution ever seen in comics also didn’t sit well with a lot of people (yes, I’m referring to Barbara Gordon).
Surprisingly, the same concerns weren’t voiced regarding the Green Lantern books. Taking a wild guess, I would say it’s probably because a) Hal Jordan hasn’t been back for too long and b) the GL books come across as fairly self-contained, like the stories that have been told aren’t dependent upon the rest of the DCU.
I was at Meltdown for an hour and a half last night — much, much longer than I normally hang out there. And I stuck around because the conversation kept flowing. Maybe DC’s big news managed to make people realize just how important it is to be able to go to a store and have such discussions. And maybe that realization will keep them coming back, even after the digital revolution marches forward. Let’s hope, because I spent all day yesterday watching the clock in anticipation of going to the comic book store.