New 52: The First 6 Cancellations (and their replacements)

Anyone who has been paying attention to comic sales has doubtless seen countless reports on the performance of the New 52.  And while DC’s ambitious relaunch has done a lot of good for their market share (with Justice League routinely topping the charts and four books selling over 100k copies per month), the sales for a number of their books started lower than they hoped and dropped fast to pre-relaunch levels.  Cancellations were imminent, and today, DC made the announcement, naming six books that will be concluding with issue number eight.

None of these books should come as a surprise, but, well… Rest In Peace, Blackhawks, O.M.A.C., Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific, Static Shock and Men of War.

Now, most of those, I don’t think we’ll miss.  Though Didio and Giffen’s fun, energetic take on O.M.A.C. quickly found a cult audience, particularly among dedicated comic fans who appreciated their history, it never found any mainstream hold at all, shedding 21,000 (over half its readership) in four months and showing no signs of leveling out.

Men of War, though….  Many of us here at read/RANT thoroughly enjoyed Men of War, a comic that (at its best) managed to combine superheroics and traditional war stories in interesting ways.  Though I think the comic was, in general, fairly flawed, it was an enjoyable book month in and month out, and one that had a lot of potential.

It’s also fairly disappointing that many of the characters in these canceled books were in the relatively small amount of minority heroes in the New 52 – Mister Terrific, Static Shock and OMAC all featured strong, interesting protagonists, and its a shame they didn’t find an audience.

Seeing where the cancellation lines falls can’t be great news for a few books on the New 52, as read/RANT critical darlings I, Vampire and Voodoo both hover perilously close to that line, while the less well-loved Captain Atom actually already crossed it, with #4 underselling Hawk and Dove by about 100 copies.

But DC has six brand new books ready to launch, and to my surprise and pleasure, they aren’t all standard, big name superhero books.  Let’s look at the list.

  • BATMAN INCORPORATED – Writer: Grant Morrison. Artist: Chris Burnham. The acclaimed ongoing writer of ACTION COMICS, Grant Morrison, presents a fresh take on BATMAN INCORPORATED, in which the Batman brand is franchised globally in preparation for a major international threat.
  • EARTH 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.
  • WORLDS’ FINEST – Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.
  • DIAL H – Writer: China Miéville. Artist: Mateus Santoluoco. The first ongoing series from acclaimed novelist China Miéville, this is a bold new take on a cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero.
  • G.I. COMBAT – Writer: J.T. Krul. Artist: Ariel Olivetti. Featuring the return of a classic DC Comics series, THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT, along with rotating back-up stories and creative teams – including THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Dan Panosian; and THE HAUNTED TANK, with writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins.
  • THE RAVAGERS – Writer: Howard Mackie. Artist: Ian Churchill. Spinning off from TEEN TITANS and SUPERBOY, this series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against the organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.

I don’t think that anyone is shocked by Batman, Incorporated, a book many of us have been waiting for since the New 52 kicked off.  Same with Earth 2, a book that was announced ages ago and has been discussed in depth ever since.  G.I. Combat and The Ravagers are new to me, and though I’m not particularly excited by either, I’ll happily give both a shot.

The two most interesting entries on the list, to me, are in the middle.  World’s Finest, a pairing of Earth 2 Huntress and Power Girl stranded in the DC Universe, has a done of potential, particularly considering the critical love of the current Huntress miniseries and the previous Power Girl ongoing.  With a solid set of art teams and a neat premise, I have high hopes for that one.

Similarly, Dial H is the kind of splashy choice I’m shocked didn’t make it into the first batch of the New 52.  China Miéville is a fairly major modern writer, and attaching him to a psychological drama in the world of superheroes based on a cult classic could be a huge coup for DC, particularly when his first arc goes to trade and gets sold in book stores with Miéville’s name on the cover.

That said, comic writing, particularly monthly comic writing, is a VERY different skill set than writing books, and I’ve seen plenty of novelists try to jump into serialized storytelling and struggle.  Miéville is very talented, though, and the Dial H cover at the top of the page is ridiculously cool, so for now, I would say this: be excited.

- Cal Cleary

read/RANT

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33 Responses to New 52: The First 6 Cancellations (and their replacements)

  1. lebeau says:

    On the whole, this seems like a trade up.

    • Cal Cleary says:

      Agreed. I’m going to miss Men of War and I wish OMAC could stick around, but there are four books with a solid premise and creative team on the new list, and they are by and large replacing four fairly problematic titles.

      • lebeau says:

        My comic reading has dropped off dramatically since September. I really liked the first issue of OMAC. But I lost track of it quickly. Mr. Terrific, Static Shock, Men of War and Blackhawks all showed promise. But I don’t think I read any past issue 2. So, I’m not going to miss any of these terribly.

        Batman Inc alone makes up for all of these books. (Especially if Steph is still active in Batman Inc…) The Earth 2 stuff intrigues me. Dial H? More of the DC Dark, please!

        The Ravagers doesn’t sound especially appealing, but I thought that about all of Lobdel’s books. And I am surprised every month to find myself enjoying them. So, I’ll give The Ravagers a shot.

        Men of War for GI Combat sounds like an even trade except I am very leery of Krul.

        I was kind of dreading the announcement of a second wave. But, this works for me.

      • Cal Cleary says:

        Mine hasn’t dropped that much, but it HAS changed focus. Lately, I’ve been buying a ton of cheap trades and hardcovers used off Amazon. If you get lucky, you can often get hardcovers (especially Marvel hardcovers) for less than 10$. I got Ultimate Comics Armor Wars, a ton of Ultimate Spider-Man hardcovers, Bryan Miller’s first Batgirl trade, etc…. I got about 25 trades for just over 100$.

  2. strummer says:

    The only one of these that ever piqued my interest was OMAC, and that was only because of some pretty nice looking cover art. Not surprised these are the ones to go at all.

    Out of those replacements I’ll definitely be checking out Dial H and Batman Incorporated. Hoping Morrisons run on this will hold my interest better than his Action Comics stuff did, although your latest review makes it sound like it’s getting better.

    My faves of the relaunch
    Animal Man
    Swamp Thing
    Suicide Squad
    Justice League Dark
    Aquaman
    Detective Comics
    Batman

    Also, I highly recommend checking out the new Wolverine and the X-Men. I’ve been trying to get back into Marvel recently(it was exclusively what I read when I was a youngster) and I find the titles to be too dependant with me knowing all the backstory I’ve missed over the years. I don’t recognize half the new players and the ones I do have gone through so much they are barely recognizable. And at 3.99 a pop the DC stuff is just economically a better choice. That being said the Wolverine and the X-Men stuff is incredibly fun and easy to get into. The art is some of the finest in any title I’m seeing in the shop these days too.

    • xxadverbxx says:

      Yeah, Marvel recently has launched/relaunched quite a few X-Men titles with new #1s recently. A bit sad for X-Men though is that it seems ever since the House of M stuff, they have been mostly following one event after another that all closely tie together with each other that the jumping in point can be intimidating. I’m trying to pull away from DC though as a lot of things have been upsetting me lately with them, and am trying to find some Marvel titles to transfer over to.

      • lebeau says:

        I have tried several times over the years to get back into Marvel and hit the same road blocks you mentioned every single time. I have all but given up.

  3. xxadverbxx says:

    Didn’t they say they wouldn’t cut things off short? But then again, I thought they just made a promise things will make it past issue 6, so I guess they at least kept on that promise. I really should watch sales more though, for I’m rather interested in seeing how DC continues to fare over the next few issues.

    Of the list, Static shocked me at first but after thinking of it, it isn’t surprising. Especially as issue 1 was the only really good issue. I’ll miss Men of War as well and hoped it would last longer, but oh well. Of the upcoming stuff…

    Batman Inc: Ugh, another Batman series? I tend to enjoy the character but this is insane! Must admit I figured (even before the ending of Leviathan Strikes) that it would be coming back eventually. This is the only one I’ll give a shot of this new list.

    Worlds’ Finest: A team up of Huntress and Power Girl… wth?! I know I heard calls for Power Girl to return, but in such a title is surprising to me.

    GI Combat: At least from the description I feel like DC wants to keep some military-based story going on, and think like Men of War that it won’t last long.

    • lebeau says:

      Actually, what I read was that they said very up front that they would cancel things quickly. So, I think they are doing exactly what they said they would do.

      • xxadverbxx says:

        It was a Didio thing I read someplace I believe. Can’t quote it fully, but it was something along the lines that DC wasn’t going to decide to cut something with low sales right away. Come to think of it, I believe it was in response to when DC will start cutting, and it being pointed out that OMAC was having one of the worst sale numbers for DC.

      • lebeau says:

        Gotcha. DC brass couldn’t keep things straight. Not surprising. DiDio is notorious for changing his mind depending which way the wind is blowing. Especially when he’s talking about cancelling his own low-selling book! During the “road shows” before the relaunch, they said over and over again that low sellers would be cancelled quickly. Pretty sure they even implied 6 issues would most likely be where the first cuts were made.

      • Cal Cleary says:

        I thought they’d said they’d wait at least a year… but the sales for the canceled books were TRULY abysmal, so I’m not surprised they moved a little faster. I, Vampire at least has they benefit of (basically) being a Vertigo title – by those standards, the sales aren’t actually that bad. Hopefully that’ll save it from the next round of cuts.

      • lebeau says:

        They probably said contradictory things. Here’s a quote I read during the Roadshows:

        “Many of the new 52 books will have six issue story arcs, and Dan DiDio states that if sales are bad on a title, they won’t wait very long to cancel it. He wants strong sales across the line.”

        So, I had it in my head all along that books would get the axe at 6 issues. They didn’t say that explicitedly. But it seemed implied to me.

        I would expect the next set of cuts to be around months 9 or 12. So Voodoo and I, Vampire probably have some time to improve.

        I was highly annoyed to learn of Marz’s firing from Voodoo. Apparently, he had been making changes to keep DC happy and they fired him anyway. When they said they wanted something different, he asked what kind of changes he could make (given that he was already making changes to keep them happy) and he never got an answer.

        I thought Marz was making lemonade out of lemons on Voodoo. He deserved better treatment. Bt his story is consistent with those of Chuck Dixon, Dwayne McDuffie and others who parted ways with DC.

  4. ikeebear says:

    That list doesn’t surprise at all, although, I found Blackhawks to be consistently entertaining. Static Shock has been on a downward spiral after a strong debut, while Men of War and O.M.A.C. were both okay and fairly consistent at least. Mister Terrific was terribly inconsistent, while Hawk and Dove was just never any good.

    In my One Sentence Review rankings (after all the #4s were rated) they were:

    22. Blackhawks 3.38
    36. Static Shock 3
    =39. Men of War 2.75
    41. O.M.A.C. 2.75
    42. Mister Terrific 2.75
    50. Hawk and Dove 2

    There’s a lot of mediocre in that list.

    • Cal Cleary says:

      Static Shock lost me when I heard Rozum was leaving, and I’m not shocked that Men of War failed – 3,99$ is a lot for a comic, and the back-up for the first three months was pretty bad, so that didn’t help offset the cost at all.

      Mr. Terrific was okay but nothing special, and Hawk and Dove was downright bad. So, realistically, the only thing that surprises me about the cancellations is that Voodoo and Captain Atom aren’t on the list. I’d be shocked if either made it past #12 – which, in the case of Voodoo (and I, Vampire), is a shame.

      • lebeau says:

        I have to see how Voodoo fares after the firing of Marz. I guess DC will give the next writer 6 issues or so. But I fear it will be dumbed down to goose sales.

      • xxadverbxx says:

        Static has just gotten worse as it went on, and I think my reviews will show that for the issues I did. I’m sure DC probably is preparing to cancel a few other titles too, and may just need some more time to piece together what the replacements will be at this moment.

        And yes, the price tag of MoW being a dollar higher – especially with that very subpar side story tacked on the end – really did not help it. Take that away and drop the price to 2.99 and I’m sure it would have done better. Granted, it may not have done well enough to miss the chopping block…

      • Cal Cleary says:

        Oh, Voodoo had its problems – the main character rapes another woman in issue 2, and it’s never brought up again (yet) – but it was just such a fascinating core idea, and Marz was doing some fun things with it. I’ve never heard of his replacement, but I’ll at least give him a shot.

  5. Cal Cleary says:

    Grifter is a solid book that gets a lot of hate for no discernible reason, but knowing that Liefeld will be taking over as writer means I can safely drop it now. I only wish I’d known two days ago, so I wouldn’t have spent that extra 3$. He’ll also be writing Hawkman and Deathstroke, apparently.

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/01/13/rob-liefeld-write-deathstroke-hawkman-grifter/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BleedingCool+%28Bleeding+Cool+Comic+News+%26+Rumors%29

  6. ikeebear says:

    One thing I’ve been thinking about this evening is the artists of the cancelled titles.

    With the exception of Liefeld on Hawk and Dove, I don’t think the artwork on any of the canned titles would have significantly contributed to the cancellations (and yet Liefeld is the only one of them who seemingly has a gig after the cancellations).

    Every so often the regular artist on Mister Terrific does something iffy, but otherwise I think his art is really attractive and dynamic.

    Griffen is a great old school style artist and I’ve been a fan of McDaniel since the early Nightwing days.

    Meanwhile Men of War and Blackhawks (although it has had a few different art contributors) have been better than decent in the art department.

    And with Liefeld going to Deadpool, that leaves Bennett without a gig, and I think he’s done a pretty decent job too.

    It’ll be interesting to see if any of these artists land elsewhere. Some of them are, in my opinion, are better than artists on other New 52 titles.

  7. xxadverbxx says:

    Men of War in my opinion had one of the best art of the new 52. I think Static (out of the ones I was picking up) was the only one in the art department I wasn’t huge on. Deathstroke wasn’t amazing, but far better than Liefeld. And did you just say Liefeld is going to also be doing work for Deadpool? If so, I know another title I’m dropping…

    • ikeebear says:

      Sorry, brain fart (baby-induced sleep deprivation). I meant Deathstroke. I blame Liefeld for being a knock-off merchant who ripped off Deathstroke when he created Deadpool.

      • xxadverbxx says:

        Waaait… he was the creator of Deadpool? I mean I knew he was pretty strongly ripped off of Deathstroke but… oh my… not sure how I feel about this. Was it Liefeld though or someone else who crafted one of my favorites into the Merc who he is today?

      • ikeebear says:

        Liefeld is credited as one of the creators, but in his early appearances DP wasn’t really the character he is today. He was much more generic. Make of that what you will.

      • lebeau says:

        I caught that myself, but I knew what you meant. The characters (as created by Liefeld anyway) were interchangable. How funny he’s now working on the real deal. Might as well just call it Deadpool.

        That baby-induced sleep deprivation is a killer! Congrats, by the way. Enjoy it while it lasts. My baby’s 2 1/2 and potty trained already!

  8. wwayne says:

    Do you remember the action movies in the 90s? There was a Rambo – as leading character (usually acted by Stallone himself, or by Schwarzenegger) forced to fight against innumerous enemies: any other man would have been doomed, but our hero, with his guns, muscles, fight techniques and (last but not least) brain, was always able to find a way out. “Grifter” has the same storyboard, it is the exact translation of those movies in the comic book language: no matter how many enemies he has to face and how complicated their plans are, you can be sure Grifter will find a solution to all his problems. The stories are easy but cleverly written, and the drawings are simply explosive. It is definitely one of the best DC comics right now, so I can’t understand why it doesn’t sell: it should be at the top of the list of every comic book lover.

    • xxadverbxx says:

      Neat way to put it, but I can think of probably two main reasons it was not a big hit. First is many just never picked it up to give it a try. I’m included in that as the concept never really appealed to me. The second would deal with how you described it, as an 90s (and I’d venture then to say late 80s) action movie. How many movies of that style do we see now? Not a lot, really. Yes, most of us remember those style of Stallone or Schwarzenegger movies with fondness, but despite that they are not a big thing anymore. They gave way (in my opinion at least) to action movies with more story to them and usually more finesse than the main character usually just shooting his way through most obstacles.

  9. [...] like last time, I want to talk a little about the books that will be disappearing, as well as what we can expect [...]

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