I Think I’m a Marvel Kid Now, or, DC You’s Exciting New Revenue Stream

A few weeks ago I complained about DC Comics’ most recent event, Convergence, feeling more like an overly manufactured corporate initiative than a story. If only I’d known what awaited me and my fellow DC readers in Convergence’s wake. As if in response to the sentiment I expressed DC upped their game with a particularly Dundee swagger to show me what an overly manufacturer corporate initiative really is. Using the looser continuity provided by the end of Convergence DC has turned out new status quos (dubbed “DC You”) for a lot of their big ticket characters: Green Lantern has gone from space cop to space outlaw, Superman finds himself a fugitive after the revelation of his secret identity to the world and in Gotham an all new Batman is running around in an all new Batsuit. Narratively, exciting things are going on at DC and the publisher is using that excitement, and the probable sales bump it will likely generate, to sell half page ads on story pages in all of their books. Ads are a part of corporate owned comic books. It was something I had to get used to when I made the transition from reading collected trades to single issues. Usually they’re on their own dedicated pages, separate from the substance of the comic – you know, the story you pay for. DC is now changing that dynamic and truncating two pages of story in each of their books to put maybe the most obnoxious ad I’ve ever seen along the bottom half of the page. DC’s new ad policy, which they’ve thus far declined to comment on the planned longevity of, is embarrassingly intrusive, crossing a line I didn’t even know I had to worry about being crossed and actively infringing on their own product with a tacky commercial. It’s a loathsome move, and it’s got me irked something fierce for a number of reasons, the least of which being that it feels like a slap in the face to fans and readers. Comic book publishers are businesses. They have to make money. I get that. But the reality of that business is there is no money to be made from anyone without the basic passion readers have for superheroes and their ilk. DC’s move to more intrusive advertising not only feels like blatant exploitation of that passion, it feels like the publisher is flat out ignoring it, taking for granted the people that keep them in business in favor of the advertisers that line their pockets. To make matters worse the debacle has come to feel like something of a hostage situation. The obvious recourse to such an obnoxious move on DC’s part would be not to buy their books, and yet not buying DC’s books doesn’t only punish the publisher, it punishes the writers and artists we love as well as new talent just getting their foot in the door with DC’s new line of books. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman is my favorite comic book and while I love Batman the love I have for the book is due entirely to the creative team behind it, a team I take pride in supporting. So what is my recourse when their book is marred by half page ads? Sure, I can and do continue to support Snyder through his creator owned series Wytches, but Capullo is only working on one book. DC’s Batman. I’ve watched Greg Capullo sit at a convention table and shake hands and sign books for hours on end, taking time to chat and take pictures with every person in line. I’ve followed his drawing process on Twitter. I truly and sincerely appreciate not only his work, but his work ethic. That’s the relationship and the appreciation that DC has taken hostage. And if I’m this conflicted over buying a book made by creators I know and love why would I ever try out a new book by a new creative team and risk getting invested in another story DC is just going to use to take advantage of me? Midnighter seems cool. A Martian Manhunter solo book is something I’ve wanted for a while. But at this point why bother adding another book to my pull list that I know is just going to infuriate me when I inevitably turn to the offending pages? Beyond all that let’s not forget the detestable impracticality of the whole situation. Two half page ads? Cutting two story pages in half only to be reassembled as one full story page in the collected trade? Here’s a novel idea: one page with two half page ads, the story I care about stays intact and we all go about our day and pretend big comic book publishers don’t have business practices that make GameStop look like a mom and pop hardware store. DC can probably charge more for a half page ad on a story page, but is the revenue really worth the fan outrage? I love Greg Capullo’s art and I love Batman but if I’m going to be made to feel like a chump every time I pick up an issue then I’ll find another way to support the creators I love.

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