Four Months In, Which New 52 Titles Might Be On the Bubble?

<i>By <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p>In November, we presented a countdown looking at 10 of DC's "New 52" titles that might be based entirely on our own conjecture after considering a number of factors "on the bubble" and need a little bit more support to stay afloat. <p>At that point, our countdown only had one month of sales figures to go on, but right now we have three soon to be four. We also have this quote from John Rood, DC's executive vice president of sales, in an early December interview: <p>"We were at the 'road show' last summer talking to retailers, saying, 'Well, we'll probably wait until Issue #5 to make any replacement decisions.' And gosh, it's going to be closer to something like issue #8 before we entertain that situation, which is in the "great-problem-to-have" department." <p>The #8 issues of The New 52 will arrive in April, the month covered in the next round of solicitations, which are coming in just a couple of weeks. So if there are going to be cancellations with #8s which is not in any way a guarantee at this point we'll know which ones soon. <p>So we've taken another look at the numbers and other various intangibles reviews, creator team shifts and general buzz  and re-examined our list of 10 New 52 titles that might be on the bubble. As always, this is in no way meant to be a reflection of the quality of any of these titles or rooting for any series to fail, but a look at what lower-selling books could use some attention think of the various fan campaigns that have kept <I>Chuck</i> on NBC. <p>Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to start the countdown. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>

CAPTAIN ATOM

A solo book starring a lower-tier character like Captain Atom is a pretty tough sell in this market, as the character's had a murky last few years from lighthearted member of several Justice League teams to an immigrant to the Wildstorm Universe. In November, <b>Captain Atom #3</b> was the eighth lowest-ranked new issue among The New 52 one that featured a guest appearance from The Flash. <p>As we noted back in November, writer J.T. Krul who has been one of DC's mainstays in recent years has made his enthusiasm for the series clear, saying, "I don't think I've been more excited about a project" while announcing his departure from <i>Green Arrow</i>. And that kind of passion is key to the success of any creative endeavor.

LEGION LOST

Back in November, we noted that DC was taking a bit of a gamble with two ongoing Legion of Super-Heroes series, when the publisher had a hard enough time supporting one in recent years. <p>Last month, <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/legion-lost-writer-change-111205.html>comic book veteran Tom DeFalco</a> was announced as taking over as writer of <b>Legion Lost</b> from Fabian Nicieza with March's issue #7. Though DeFalco has a long track record of success in comics just look at how long his <I>Spider-Girl</i> lasted, despite all odds a creative team switch that early in a run, for whatever reason, is often not the best sign of a book's long-term prospects. <p>It should be noted, though, that <b>Legion Lost</b> is still reporting better direct market sales than several other New 52 series, including the widely acclaimed <i>I, Vampire</i>.

MISTER TERRIFIC

On one hand, <i>Mister Terrific</i> is doing pretty great. With much of the Justice Society of America in total limbo as a result of the post-<I>Flashpoint</i> era at least until the Earth-2 <i>Justice Society</i> miniseries by James Robinson and Nicola Scott starts at some point in the near-ish future Michael Holt is starring in his own ongoing series for the first time. That right there is a win. <p>The unfortunate part is that the first issue was among the lowest-selling New 52 releases, and nearly the lowest for a book with a recognizable lead characters from the "old" DC Universe. In November, things weren't much better, with issue #3 ending up the sixth lowest-selling book of the New 52. <p>So what can be done? How about getting Mister Terrific more involved in the DC Universe as a whole? In the prior continuity, he was a JSA mainstay so where does he fit in with the rest of the company's heroes in the evidently JSA-less world of The New 52? It's great for books to stand on their own, but a shared universe has plenty of strengths that can be utilized and this is an opportunity to do so.

O.M.A.C.

<i>O.M.A.C.</i> has a lot going for it. It's gotten a great reception for being one of the most inventive and quirky titles in DC's new crop, it's got art from comics veteran Keith Giffen (who is clearly one of The New 52's MVPs given his fill-in stint on <i>Green Arrow</i> and recent appointment to <i>Superman</i>), and it features a concept created by beloved comics legend Jack Kirby. All that, and it's co-written by DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, which certainly can't hurt. <p>None of that changes the fact that it was the lowest-ranking of DC's 52 #1s in September. No matter how you spin that, it's not great. Things were a bit better in November, so that's a positive sign. <p>So the book needs a little bit of a push. DC seems to be aware of this this month, the book is crossing over with another well-reviewed yet mostly under-the-radar New 52 title, <i>Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.</i>. Time will tell if the cross-promotion gives both books a bump, but it certainly doesn't seem like a bad thing.

GRIFTER

<i>Grifter</i> had an uphill climb from the beginning. It's been a long time since a <I>Wildcats</i> comic was a true sales success, and a Grifter solo book was pretty much an untested commodity, unless you count the Ed Brubaker-written <i>Point Blank</i> miniseries from 2002. Plus, <i>Grifter</i> writer Nathan Edmondson is a relatively unknown name to mainstream superhero audiences, as his previous output was limited to creator-owned work such as the acclaimed Image miniseries <i>Who is Jake Ellis?</i>. <p>So given that, it's not a shock that <i>Grifter</i> was among the lower-ranked New 52 titles in September. Things looked a bit better in November, with <i>Grifter</i> outpacing the likes of <i>Hawk and Dove</i>. <p>Everything we wrote a few entries back about <i>Mister Terrific</i> applies here. We still don't know a lot about how Grifter "fits" into the new DC Universe, and it's time to get him involved on a larger scale. There's a very recent precedent, after all he was a major part of the Resistance in <i>Flashpoint</i>.

STATIC SHOCK

Oh, Static, you just can't seem to rock a solo book in today's market. This one is probably going to get some leeway, whether it's the fact this is one of the most recognizable (thanks to a mildly successful animated series) minority characters in the DCU, or the fact that without his own book he wouldn't fit very well in the rest of the DCU, or the fact that Static is the only Milestone character who even has a series right now. <p>So maybe Static's not as on the bubble as we think, but mediocre reviews, more mediocre sales (the third lowest-selling book of the New 52 in November), and a bit of redundancy (why do we need <i>this</i> hero here), a creative team shift early in the book's life, not to mention recent history of his stories/sales all point to this book being almost perpetually on the bubble. How do we save it? Get him out of his own corner of the DCU. Guest stars early (which isn't something we'd recommend for a lot of books, to be honest), and a way to show Static as a competent, capable hero from the start, as opposed to say, a hero who carelessly gets his arm chopped off in the first adventure we see him in. There's a good amount of mystery to Static so far, and that's a good thing that should be played up more too, if the book is to stay around.

RESURRECTION MAN

So, who is Resurrection Man? <p>Unfortunately, that question is one probably pretty commonly asked, and rarely answered, by the comic readers of the world right now. As a book, this is one that's ripe for one-and-dones, and it isn't taking that approach. It's one that seems like it could really skirt the line between the "edge" and "dark" areas of the DCU as easily as the big heroics of the Justice League, but it doesn't seem to be doing that much. It's a book that is just so undefined, possibly even by design, but here that's working against it. <p>So how can this one be saved? Well, we made a couple suggestions just above. This is a character and concept in need of some firm, immediate definition (see: what's being done with <i>Animal Man</i>) and we haven't seen a lot of that yet. Put RM's cards on the table before we see if it's still something that gets shuffled away.

VOODOO

Controversy is a double-edged sword. It can bring in readers wanting to see what the fuss is all about, but it can also drive people away. And while the adage says "no such thing as bad publicity," that is only true to a point. T&A is a standard in mainstream American comics, and when the first issue of this book took place mostly in a strip club, many in the comic book public cried foul (seemingly ignoring strip club scenes in everything from the high-rated shows on FX and HBO to prime-time network television like <i>Friday Night Lights</i>, but we digress). <p>This story may also suffer a bit from being slightly too far on the fringe of the DCU. It's hard for this main character to be very special <i>just</i> because she's an alien. There are lots of aliens on this version of Earth, some of whom wear colorful clothing and save the world! So how can it be saved? We don't want to say tone down the T&A as much as we want to say more overtly contextualize it. And make Voodoo special by bringing up the other DC aliens and really punctuating that this lady ain't no Superman. <p>With original writer Ron Marz now off the title and the book coming in as the fourth lowest-selling New 52 title in November, it's now up to new series writer Joshua Williamson to see where things go from here.

BLACKHAWKS

War books are hard to market right now. For one, we have multiple ongoing conflicts that seem endless; that kind of fatigue naturally carries over into entertainment as seen in <i>Blackhawks #3</i> ending up as the lowest-selling New 52 title in November. The Blackhawks, likewise, are a bit of a conundrum why is this group of people necessary in a modern DCU? Add to that the only recognizable Blackhawk of the last decade or so, Zinda, being seemingly erased from continuity, and this book is a big question mark. <p>How can it be saved? Well for one, bring in Lady Blackhawk! Why take out a character fans know when relaunching a property? Just seems silly. At least DC didn't do that with any other titles or characters...

MEN OF WAR

And that brings us to the other war title, which unfortunately is both one of the lowest selling titles and one of the most out-of-place. The book doesn't seem to know if it wants to be heavily entrenched in the DCU or off in its own corner, and the marketing (or nearly complete lack thereof) doesn't do it any favors. Covers that tell you nothing about the story and a back-up story that didn't really support the front of the book don't help its case either. <p>The story has had mixed reactions from reviewers across the internet, but most stories do. How can it be saved? Toeing the line of the DCU might be the wrong move; maybe there's a different way to say "yes, we're here in this land of superheroes" but also "we're doing our own thing, and showing modern warfare." <p>Ultimately, the saving grace will be simple: more people need to read it. With the title second-to-last among The New 52 in November sales, that needs to happen soon.

Four Months In, Which New 52 Titles Might Be On the Bubble?

Date: 03 November 2011 Time: 09:18 PM ET