Although I cheered the recent news (see "Walmart To Carry Exclusive DC Comics In 3,000 Stores"), as The Bleeding Cool piece "The Trouble With Those 100 Page DC Comics From Walmart" made clear, some “retailers are upset, feel betrayed and are up in arms” over it. And it’s not just that this material will be available somewhere else first, though that’s definitely a factor. Rich Johnston claimed since the new readers DC are looking for “wouldn’t care if a story is exclusive to that volume” this initiative is actually a stealth plan to siphon customers from comic shops. Or as he put it, “Walmart is relying on getting existing comic book readers into the store with those exclusive stories, those who absolutely have to have them right there and right now. Walmart is using those customers as a base on which they can build other sales.”
I prefer to focus on how their presence at Walmart will substantially raise the profile of comic books, because in spite of the fact that our popular culture is saturated in superheroes, a remarkable number of people remain utterly unaware that there even are comic books. And that DC has actually come up with a format, 100-pages of original material and recent DC reprints for $4.95, which actually seems likely to appeal to someone who's never bought a comic book before.
To circle back to that "controversial" original content, in my humble opinion one of the problems with previous outreach attempts made by DC (and Marvel) is publishers didn't want to commit their brand name creators to them. Their understandable assumption being top talents would be “wasted” on an audience unfamiliar with either comics or their work. And while new readers most likely* will have no idea who Tom King or Brian Michael Bendis is, they're still capable of appreciating their work. It seems to me if you're attempting to create a whole new generation of comic book readers, a publisher should bring their A-game.
In the past I’ve confessed I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Super Sons (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - The Word Of The Day Is: Embiggen”), but the pair finally wore me down and won me over. And the comic that did it was the Super Sons/Dynomutt Hanna-Barbera Crossover. Perhaps because for once the usually unbearably stroppy Damian Wayne was just tolerable enough that it didn't seem incredibly implausible Jon Kent would want to hang out with him. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s weird, dark and a surprising amount of fun.
Occasionally I report how some unexpected or unlikely celebrity has revealed that they’re (as I like to say) “one of us,” a fan. But I never suspected Samuel L. Jackson, one of the coolest humans currently alive, was one. But in the piece “How Samuel L. Jackson Explains The Current Superhero Boom” that appeared on the cinemablend website, he’s quoted as saying:
"It's just not even the current modern times, it's always been that - we just didn't have the means of doing it, or the technology to make it happen. From the time I first picked up a comic book when I was a kid, I figured there was a space. And I watched the Superman TV show when it was on, with George Reeves. I watched that! I watched the funny Batman. So there's always been an interest. It was just a matter of time to get it on the big screen and make it work. We watched Flash Gordon and everything else. People just don't realize -- we had superheroes when I was a kid."
* However, King and Bendis have both appeared on the NBC talk show Late Night With Seth Meyers so, who knows?
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.