Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Digital Moves

And now we’re cooking. Marvel’s back, everyone’s back, and it’s all going full steam once again. So let’s waste no more time and get straight to in Comics Disassembled, my look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the past week of comics, led by DC continuing to march to the beat of its own drummer.

1. DC, Making Digital Moves

DC’s in a real sweet spot right now where nearly everything they’re doing is making retailers mad, and it’s honestly impressive. They aren’t trying to do it – at least I don’t think they are – but I struggle to imagine a way they could be more successful at it if they were.

So what was on the DC naughty list this week? Well, these criminals dared to create a free, digital magazine called DC Connect, a variation on a formula that already existed for them that shares all of the solicitation information about their comics as well as content designed to get people excited, like interviews, previews and beyond. Its objective is simple, as stated in the breakdown on the DC site: “Whether you’re a retailer considering your DC orders for the month or a fan who wants to know what’s up with your favorite heroes, DC Connect will give you the inside track on all things DC!” Those animals! Making a place where I can learn about comics – for free! – from the comfort of my own home without having to look through a print magazine I don’t want, and then tell my shop I’d like to buy said comic because DC Connect made me excited about it? To Arkham Asylum with these fiends!

Then, during the hiatus of comics, James Tynion IV and Guillem March teamed up to create prelude comics for Batman #92 on DC’s Instagram Stories, with the first, Punchline focused one dropping this past week. I know what you’re wondering: how does one CGC an Instagram Story that’s on your phone? Does CGC grade the phone or the digital file? The answer is I have no idea, but for bringing new ideas to the table, I demand DC isn’t just jailed but drawn and then quartered.

I imagine you realize that I actually have no problem with these ideas. In fact, I have the opposite of a problem with these ideas. I believe they’re genuinely great, with the Punchline story making me interested in Tynion’s Batman run and DC Connect being the exact type of thing – free! online! with real substance! – that I would actually look at, versus anything similar to the horrendous nightmare that is Previews. The reason for this is simple: this is just marketing, and honestly decent attempts at it as well, which is typically rather atypical for comics.

I honestly have no idea how upset shops are about this. I heard there was some frustration on the forums, but I’m not sure how prevalent it was. But I will say this: comics needs to modernize how it activates audiences, even the print audience. And I’d wager the vast majority of print comic readers are habitual smart phone users as well. This isn’t renegade behavior; this is logic finally on display. I am 100% in support of these moves. More please! More usage of digital platform to make it easier to get excited about comics! I am here for it!

2. Marvel, Doing the Same

Speaking of digital efforts by the Big Two, Marvel’s list of titles that have switched to digital only single issue releases – before eventual print trade release – has expanded by three, and with it came the first title I was actively reading: Jane Foster: Valkyrie. While its fellow digital refugees – the incredibly named Absolute Carnage spin-off Scream: Curse of Carnage and Revenge of the Cosmic Ghost Rider – met a similar fate, Valkyrie’s the first one that bummed me out at all, as Al Ewing jumped off that book and Torunn Grønbekk sepped in without it losing any of its throwback adventure comic vibes.

At the same time, I get it. I legit did not know anyone else that was buying it in single issues, and in a normal, pre-digital lifespan, it wouldn’t be released at all. It’d just be dead and gone. The fact that I can either a) continue reading digitally or b) finish it with a print trade isn’t something that vexes me. Instead, it’s a treasure, and something I’m thrilled to have (even if the real answer to how I will finish reading the series is Marvel Unlimited).

Sometimes comics don’t work out, even without a pandemic. This is that, but with a chance to actually wind down. I can get behind that, as I think many will eventually realize.

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