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Friday, June 20, 2014

How DC Comics Could Benefit from Their New TV Shows


As some of you recall, all four television pilots based on DC Comics/VERTIGO properties were picked up last month by their respective networks.  Later this fall and in early 2015, comics fans will get to enjoy Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and iZombie in live-action, but will DC Comics be able to take advantage of this increased exposure for their characters?

Diamond's sales list of the top 400 comics  for May 2014, taken from ICv2, shows that DC could certainly benefit from more readers who become interested after watching one or more of these series.  So with that in mind, here are some suggestions on how DC might solve some of their sales problems beyond letting Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder write everything...

Gotham

The Problem -- Batman titles generally sell very well for DC, particularly Batman and the Batman Eternal weekly series at the moment, but a number of titles including Batgirl, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Catwoman and Batwoman aren't.  Catwoman would certainly benefit the most from Gotham, but Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Renee Montoya and the rest of the Gotham City Police Department don't exactly have a series to showcase them as lead characters.

The Solution -- Catwoman could be relaunched as a series set in Selina Kyle's earliest days as a thief in Gotham City, a "Catwoman: Year One" series that delves deeper into her character and criminal escapades more than 42 minutes a week on Fox will allow.  As for Gordon and the GCPD, the most obvious solution is to bring back Gotham Central, the critically acclaimed police procedural series that ran for 40 issues from 2003-06.  It would be fantastic if DC could persuade Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and/or Michael Lark to return, but there should a number of top-notch creators who would love to work on such a title.

The Flash

The Problem -- According to Diamond's list, The Flash #31 came in at #62 with sales of 34,240 copies, and this is with the new creative team of Robert Venditti, Van Jensen and Brett Booth along with increased awareness due to the controversy of changing Wally West from a redheaded caucasian to a bi-racial character.  There's also the issue of Barry Allen's current relationship with Patty Spivot, his lab partner at the Central City Police Department, who isn't featured (at least, not yet) on the new TV series.

The Solution -- Presuming DC doesn't want to pull the trigger and bring in another new creative team, there should be more of an effort to incorporate elements from the TV series into The Flash comic series.  S.T.A.R. Labs could feature more in storylines and so could a more traditional Reverse-Flash that isn't Iris West's brother Daniel.  As for Patty, the simplest way to address things would be to break her and Barry up as a couple before exploring a potential Barry and Iris hookup.  It would be really bad for Barry's look if he flirts with Iris while still involved with Patty.

Constantine

The Problem -- Constantine #14 charts at #138 on Diamond's list with just 17,422 copies and would probably be marked for cancellation by now if there wasn't a new television series.  The decision to relaunch the VERTIGO mature readers series Hellblazer as a sanitized New 52 series set in the DC Universe appears to have been a creative bust, although sales are still higher than Hellblazer's later years as a VERTIGO title.

The Solution -- The most sensible thing to do would probably be to bring back Hellblazer as a VERTIGO series, but perhaps with the title Constantine instead.  The Constantine television series promotes itself as "based on the series Hellblazer," not the current New 52 Constantine, so why keep the series that most fans don't seem to want, anyway?  There really should be a way to tell the mature readers stories that longtime fans prefer while still allowing Constantine to appear in the New 52 DC Universe.  Perhaps just having Constantine appear regularly in Justice League Dark while publishing a Constantine VERTIGO series is the answer?

iZombie

The Problem -- There isn't an iZombie ongoing comic book series.  Not since the VERTIGO comic that ran for 28 issues from 2010-12, anyway.

The Solution -- In the immortal words of one Buffy Anne Summers, add it up, it all spells DUH.  A new iZombie VERTIGO series is certainly needed after the show begins airing.  Bringing back the original creative team of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, however, seems doubtful considering Allred is currently the regular artist on Marvel's Silver Surfer and Roberson had a rather public exit from DC Comics.  Still, it would be quite a notable event in the comics industry if it actually happened...

Gotham, The Flash and Constantine will begin airing this fall on Fox, The CW and NBC respectively.  iZombie will be a midseason replacement on The CW beginning in early 2015.

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