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Four Color Fury: What Do DC Comics Covers Say About Their Fans?

Robin 163

Well, I’m not here to give you a rundown on the latest Previews. Chris over at the Invincible Super-Blog does that much better than I could hope to.

I’m here because I still get Previews even though I can’t remember the last time I found something while flipping through it that I decided I positively had to special order. And while flipping through, I noticed something. On pages 64-66 of the April Previews, you had one, two, three covers with blood on them. Batman #667 has a nice helping of blood and Robin #163 does as well. In fact, the Robin cover makes it look like Robin is in pain. Since we already know that DC Comics writers are not only passing off bad fanfic as writing but also are closet sadomasochists (since they never seem to lose an opportunity to inflict pain or rape or both upon their heroes–their heroes, mind you), I started to wonder: if I looked at all the DC covers, what would I find?

[ad#longpost]Well, out of a total of 38 covers for books set in the normal DCU (excluding Wildstorm, Vertigo, and trades and such), I found that 9 had a bunch of blood on the cover. Plus 4 that didn’t necessarily have blood, but featured a hero either in pain or beaten down in some way. So that’s around 33% of the covers showing the heroes either in a great bit of distress or with the promise of bloodshed inside. For those keeping score, I counted not just the two above but Catwoman #68 (Catwoman down for the count), Action #851 (where I couldn’t tell if Supes was pissed or pain, but he’s in distress–or maybe just having really bad heartburn, who knows–so I counted it), Superman #664 (Supes down for the count), Superman/Batman #36 (both Supes and Batman down for the count), Checkmate #15 (looks like some serious torture going on), Green Lantern Corps #13 (blood in the water, a fire in the sky), Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1 (the GL Corps on spikes), JSA Classified #27 (bloody Wildcat), Jonah Hex #20 (Hex strung up and looking beaten up, although he’s Hex, so he always looks like that, so), Outsiders #48, and Wonder Woman #10.

Cover of Justice League of America #10

Some notable omissions: All-Star Superman #8 has Supes kinda down but tied to a rocket. But the last All-Star book you could take seriously was All-Star Squadron, so how could I possibly count it regardless? I did not count Birds of Prey #107, despite the coffin on the cover. I did not count JLA #10, despite the fact that Power Girl’s spine must be in terrible pain, unless it’s been replaced by STAR Labs at some point.

(Admittedly, this is a terrible survey, doing just one month’s worth of titles and then not having anything to compare it to. Five years ago, what would have been the numbers? Or would we have seen the same amount of Hero Smackdown, but without all the buckets of blood thrown everywhere? Or am I just full of shit? I have no answers to these questions, but encourage reasonable commenting down below. But anyway, indulge me for a minute. This is what I do instead of have a life.)

Ahem. So what does this say about DC Comics readers? Or at least what DC Comics thinks their readers want? Well, based on how well recent “event” books have been selling at DC, the trend at DC is towards having heroes suffer and die, honestly. And yes, of course, we’ve always had heroes struggle to overcome all odds–that’s what always made them heroes–but now we just want to see them suffer. I mean seriously suffer. I think the epitome of against all odds/rising above adversity type of situations is Spider-Man pinned under the wreckage, who talks himself into gathering the strength to get free. I say it’s the epitome, because it’s been paid homage to so many times, down to having the wreckage look identical to the original panels. How does that compare to Robin sobbing over his dead father? Or the Freedom Fighters getting butchered with Uncle Sam lying face down in a pool of blood? Or Sue Dibny not only getting raped, but when she tries to struggle, Dr. Light burns her wrists to subdue her?


The difference is that instead of triumphing over these things, the heroes of today just sort of…endure. They take it. They suffer and move along, doing the best they can. They don’t really…well, they don’t triumph over jack shit, do they? What did they triumph over at the end of Identity Crisis? The Atom’s ex? Their own hubris? Hell, what did they triumph over at the end of Infinite Crisis for that matter? Um, two heroes gone bad?

DC Comics appears to be imploding from a story standpoint, dead-set on dragging their heroes down and corrupting everything we liked about them. Maxwell Lord? Oh, well, he’s been a villain from the get-go. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold? Those wise-cracking guys are dead now. Mary Marvel? Her bit in Countdown is called “Seduction of the Innocent,” because we can’t have any positive non-screwed up female characters about, can we? I mean, have you seen her now? Somebody called her a “goth cheerleader” and there’s no better description.

Now, I’m no psych major–hell, I’d probably be better paid if I was, but paying each month to watch your favorite superhero characters get bloodied up and beaten? Do you really secretly hate these heroes so much that you enjoy watching them get used like this? What does that say about your head?

Also–just to set the record straight–I’m not calling for a return to comics about puppies and flowers and crap like that. But I would like a return to comics where when something bad happens, it’s not done just for shock value, but to actually further a good story. And please notice I said a good story. Which is hard to find these days.

Coming soon: I do the same thing with Marvel covers.

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