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Monday, November 05, 2007 

I wonder if Vertigo is destined to go the way of Marvel Knights?

Looking at more news on today's sales figures, including this Tilting at Windmills article (via The Beat blog), I discovered that Vertigo's sales have dropped considerably in the past three years. The observation that the editors of this line ended up encouraging a wait-for-trade mentality is certainly an intriguing one, but we can't rule out that bad writing might've also contributed to its downfall. The recent attempt to relaunch Swamp Thing, IIRC, was certainly a disaster, even critically. Now that I think of it, that could partly explain why the latest take on Jonah Hex has been published under the regular DC logo instead of Vertigo - they did not have enough faith in the Vertigo label to do it that way.

With this discovered, one has to wonder if Vertigo will eventually be all but done away with, just like Marvel eventually put an end to their Knights label. It probably will. In fact, this reminds of when, almost a year ago, I came upon a blogger who said that he thought Swamp Thing should go back to being among the regular DCU. I think it safe to say that the possibility of that isn't too far off.

Is that a good thing though if these adult line ends? Of course not, since there were some high points to it. But in recent years, I figure that bad storytelling has affected even the best of the adult lines to the point where nobody cared about them either.

And while we're on the subject of sales, I may as well add some things about Marvel and DC's main lines as well. First, we'll look at Marvel's sales, and it looks like they may be starting to lose steam on all the publicity stunts and crossovers they've hammered the audience with of recent.

You have to hope then that people are starting to wake up and realize how 1]these crossovers and thinly veiled publicity stunts are simply not worth paying money for, and 2]why continuing to buy them will only ensure their continued badness. The Marvel-zombies, as I've said before, have to continue to receieve some flak for letting this happen by buying regardless of story quality, just as much as the editors do. These Marvel crossovers are becoming way too much, and the latest one, an X-Men crossover written by Ed Brubaker, certainly isn't helping matters.

Then, we've got DC's sales again. They're not doing much better, in fact, they're selling considerably less than Marvel again, with only a trickle of books managing to pass the 100,000 unit mark. And Supergirl, to bring up one example, is still nose diving. If to elaborate on it, I can understand why. It had a couple things going against it in the past 2 years, such as:

1]fighting the heroes more than the villains, or even Supergirl fighting a dark clone of herself, doubtless the really weak point in Jeph Loeb's run.

2]no establishment of a secret identity and making it a regular ongoing feature, and when one was shown, it was only done symbolically.

3]poor promotion to the girl audience: the story in the 15th issue in which Supergirl makes a point to Power Boy about how you don't beat up on people you really love could've had some value, but the way Eddie Berganza promoted it most certainly didn't ("mimbo"? Oh, that's clever). If he'd really wanted to impress upon the female audience, he could've scored one by telling how Supergirl fights back against a domineering cretin, and didn't have to tell that Power Boy was the crook. Instead, he made himself look incredibly silly, and that no doubt spoiled the impact the story could've had.

4]the story in issue #16 became otherwise irrelevant soon afterwards, so I don't really see what the guest writer, Mark Sable, was trying to prove there.

5]making Tony Bedard's temporary 3-issues a crossover tie-in, which must've made people feel like victims of bait-and-switch. Plus, I don't think I'd taken full note before, but the exploitive covers for issue #21, might've sunk it too. Did they have to put that kind of embarrassing emphasis on Kara's hip, or even to draw her a hip? I don't think that kind of character design would pass muster on Donna Troy. The cover art gimmick here is a publicity stunt-like tactic similar in some ways to one Bill Jemas used with a miniseries starring Namor from a few years ago when he was the Marvel EIC, which was embarrassingly bad.

So when people put 3 and 3 together and realized that DC was continuing to be dishonest in how they were promoting and publishing the Girl of Steel, they had enough. Thus, I can see why the ongoing series is sadly taking such a plunge.

With Kelley Puckett now assigned as the writer, one can ask - will the storytelling improve? Answer: if they let him write it without being bound by editorial edictions that involve crossover-itis. And maybe the sales will improve. But after all the dishonesty DC editors displayed, I do not forsee Supergirl regaining the levels it had almost 2 years ago, and who knows if it'll regain them again at all?

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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