First off, I feel obligated to come out and admit that I kind of experienced a sea-change of sorts with regards to my plans to start buying a few of the new DC titles coming out as part of the whole big DCnU reboot-launch thing. I had expected to pick up the obvious big name books, such as Action, JLA, Batman, etc, however I ended up going camping during the first week of the new books being released and found that when I came back to town, many of them had already sold out at the local comics shops. I guess I just expected them to be sitting on the shelves in abundent supply or something. Well, seeing this unexpected demand (at least unexpected by me), I started to wonder if I should concern myself with picking up the later reprints or instead just plan on buying the trades when they are released in a few months?
I decided that a middle ground might be the best approach to this; I decided that I will wait for the trades on the titles that I am sure I would commit to more than one or two issues of (such as the kinds of books mentioned above) while still going ashead and picking up the singles on books that I am not sure about gertting after an issue or two just to see if they are worth committing to beyond that. So what kinds of books might I be picking up as single issues regardless of whichever printing it is I end up with in my hot little hands? Stuff like Batgirl, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Blue beetle, OMAC, Frankenstein, Resurrection Man, I, Vampire, are all fair game, all of them being titles that I am at least curious about on a tertiary level.
As for this whole big sell out phenomenon, I think it is great. Before the new books were released, we kept hearing about how DC had made some efforts to help cushion the blow for retailers by offering some degree of return-ability on their books, but how it might not be enough to get many of them to commit to ordering higher numbers because of the fact that comic shops would still be on the hook for the shipping costs of any books returned. Any dealers that did order enough quantity of books to qualify for returns is likely not worrying about that now because of the high demand for most titles so far and most other dealers who ordered lesser quantities have likewise had no trouble selling through with their product. It has been a win-win so far for DC and the comics shops with neither side appearing to be left holding the bag.
Now I understand that the dust has not yet settled on this whole relaunch, that the dust particles are still hanging chokingly in the air nowhere near the ground, but I expect the rest of the initial wave of relaunch comics (ie. all of the remaining first issues) to continue to follow suit and sell out as fans seek to get their hands on at least a few of the number one issues before they end up going for $5, $10 or $15 on eBay within hours of their release. What will be really interesting to see is just how well most of these titles are faring, say, six months from now? I suspect that many will still be going strong but that a few will be starting to fall by the wayside despite strong early issue sales. It’s just the nature of the beast that even if a book has some initial or early buzz that helps sell more copies at the start, many times that buzz will not carry through past a few issues and that this fade is reflected in a serious drop off in readership by the fifth or sixth issue when the only ones still around are those comic book fans with no interest in flipping a book on eBay for a quick profit.
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out and whether this invigoration of the DC line is still something to be celebrated a year from now. For the sake of a comics industry that has been beset by a decreasing readership in recent times, I for one hope that it is.