Is The Level of Quality Slipping At DC Comics? A Reader’s Perspective.
With every one of DC’s comics hitting issue number 12 this month, that pretty much means we as readers and fans have made it a full year into DC’s new 52, which essentially rebooted and reformatted many of our favorite books and heroes. Now opinions still vary, it was a good thing, bad thing or just “meh” with regard to the new 52. A year later readers have either started reading new titles , continued on with their fan “faves”, or maybe even dropped some books that just didn’t fly with them (DC has). Yes either way new peeling band-aid logo and all we can at least say that it’s gotten us all talking, and taking a good hard look at DC and what they are trying to do with their business. But something has caught my eye while taking one of these good hard looks at DC’s books. Mistakes, Genuine quality level mistakes. Let me show you what I’m talking about here.
Exhibit A: The World’s Finest, Huntress and Power Girl title. Now I love this book and have been a huge fan of Power Girl ever since Jimmy Palmiotti’s and Amanda Conner’s run in the old DC. But something caught my eye with our current Power Girl, namely her hair. Her hair? Yes her hair, it seems to have the ability to change its length at will. I give to you World’s Finest issue #3, pages 12 and 13; Karen Starr a.k.a. Power Girl flying around rescuing cats, with her long hair in a pony tail. Cut to next scene of Karen Starr again with her long hair in a pony tail and under baseball cap, then hey!! Short hair for slinky white dress.
Well I thought ok, so maybe this Power Girl from Earth 2 changes her hair length to disguise her identity from Power Girl to Karen Starr C.E.O. But no this oddly unique Earth 2 Kryptonian power seems to come and go at will and very randomly. I go back to World’s Finest issues #2 & #1 and sure enough we have the ever changing long hair length switching to the short 70’s feather look and everything in between. Note here: Huntress’s hair length stays constant. This is a pretty obvious discrepancy here that could merit an article all its own. Needless to say this changing hair is obvious in almost every page of the World’s Finest books. But you know I let it go. I don’t want to be that picky fanboy. I’ll write it off as Artistic License. A very big license! But you know what? It’s a good book I really, really like it. And Maguire makes it look ok; he’s a great artist and if anyone has earned such a big license its him.
But then came Smallville Season Eleven issue #3. I never watched the show but since I’m not liking or reading any other Supes titles this would give me my Kal-El fix. It was pretty good until Exhibit B:Where for a second or two I thought I was Dyslexic, “Your husband did he what had to.” Think that was supposed to be “DID WHAT HE HAD TO”.
Ok moving on to Exhibit C: It was small but I caught it, because there was a word missing. I read it over a couple times but yes, I was missing the word “ME”. As in “Please anyone who blows out my ear drums gets to call “ME” Lex.”
Exhibit D: You’d have to read this one in context to catch it but not sure a “Day” can call in squadrons of bombers. However Lois’s “Dad” an Army General might be able to do just that. It’s Kind of hard to ignore not one but several mistakes in a single issue.
But hey that’s just one issue and some crazy hair changes, right? Let’s read some Batgirl issue #11. Exhibit E: I was hoping to read “There’s no saving them. “They’ve” seen so much horror.” But no instead we get a “They’re”.
Alright well hey I’m loving Nightwing! Let’s read some Nightwing Issue #11. Exhibit F: Oh man, Nightwing is trying to solve “ Who killed “The” your friends” Now with Mr. Grayson’s upscale private education I’m sure that he did not mean to stick an extra “The” in there.
Alright then let’s check out some awesome All Star Western issue #11. Rather let’s read the backup story in this issue titled Terrence 13. Exhibit G: Oh no! Yet another extra word here. “So you will “YOU” aid us in this investigation?” We got ourselves an extra pesky “You” there.
Now a note here I’m reading a lot of DC titles but not all of the DC books, so this is a small sample from a medium size pool of titles here. Not sure if there were other mistakes/typos in any other books. These are the ones I caught from my own pulls.
So what’s the point? My own writing is not that great, in fact by the time you’ve read to this point in the article I’m sure you’ll have zipped past a few of my own screw ups, but then again I’m not a professional writer at DC. Am I a grammar Nazi? Not so- much at World’s Finest and Smallville Season Eleven I kind of let it go as some flukes, some glitches in the matrix. But when the other titles came up with errors as well, it really bugged me. So why is this bothering me? Well I’ll tell you why. And this is strictly my own editorial opinion. I feel cheated. I feel bamboozled, I feel taken for the proverbial “ride”. What we have here are some serious quality issues. The product and customer experience has suffered in my opinion. Ok maybe a bit dramatic, but when you have something like dialogue that is screwed up, it does in fact interrupt the flow of the comic you are reading. It’s not a smooth and clean transition from panel to panel if you have to go and re-read the words again. It gets jittery and staggers in the readers’ mind much like an online video buffering.
But not only that, I feel kind of taken as a consumer by a slip in quality. It’s the overall picture really. DC reboots its entire line a year ago. Many of us groan and complain. “We’ve seen it all before!!” But hey you either hop on and pick and choose what you like from the new line up, or you hop off the ride all together. But many of us looking back “One Year Later” see the new 52 for what it was, a re-hash of an old sales ploy in comics, whether you call it a reboot or a Crisis, we’ve seen it before at DC. But also let’s bring in some old “XTREME” HOT talent from the 90’s that sold for us back then as well. Oh, alright DC some of those guys weren’t that bad, and some have earned comic icon status by now. But then we get to the new 52 one year later and hey, we’re dropping books that just aren’t selling and starting others that will. OK hey that’s just business we understand. Also we have ZERO HOUR, I mean MONTH coming soon plus variant covers! Oh…alright I guess that’s new, kind of…
So you see for me it’s all that, plus the added taste of poor quality/editorial on top of all the slick sales ploys. In a way the drop in basic quality is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In addition to this we have many issues crossing that $2.99 line at DC. (Smallville Season Eleven has a $3.99 cover price; which is about the cost of a gallon of gas in most parts of the country.) I’d like to think that DC is putting more thought into the quality of it’s products that we buy while at the same time jacking up their prices on us. Now please understand how I’m looking at this issue of “Quality” here. I’m not talking about art or layouts etc. that comes and goes. You like an artists’ or writers’ style or you don’t. Maybe you drop the title and come back to it later when the lineup changes, this is how the comic book hobby goes.
I’m coming at this quality issue from the business/production side of things. See in my professional life I come from the Corporate/Manufacturing world and when a product has a serious quality or defect issue it’s up to the management to fix it. It’s up to the manager or managing teams to say “hey wait a minute the buck stops here”. It’s up to the managing staff to insure that the customer gets a product that has little to no defects. A product that they are happy with and can feel good about handing over their hard earned money for. And in the publishing world that quality assurance is the editing. And that’s what gets me so mad about these types mistakes; it feels like DC is pumping out books simply for the sake of sales and not caring too much about the poor of quality books/products that its placing in our hands. As a reader and as a customer who hands over his or her money you can’t help but feel a bit taken.
And here is the other side to the coin; I don’t blame the artists or writers in any of the books. Yes, perhaps the writers made errors in their scripts and made the above mistakes, it’s bound to happen; but it’s up to that next level up to catch those errors. I don’t blame the “Makers” cause I know they are working their tails off to bring us awesome books. You just know these creators are working double hard to meet tight and rushed deadlines, and are still turning out awesome work under varying pressures. Sure you may have a weird panel here or there, or predictable dialogue every now and then but they are all still performing excellent. And that’s another thing that gets me. These awesome creators whom we’ve come to love and become big fans of are working so hard for the readers, and yet when you see these types of mistakes, these types of quality issues slip out. You get the feeling that maybe the Editors and Mangers at DC aren’t pulling the same amount of weight as the “Makers”.
So why else should DC maybe care about the level of quality it’s turning out in its products? Well to go a little further with the business side of things… You see when you are fighting with Marvel comics for market share, and they are pumping out some great titles and event after event without any mistakes or similar quality issues (Some on a bi-weekly schedule i.e. Amazing Spider-Man and AvX.) you might see why DC’s market share slipped 38.23% to 36.55% in July. When a single issue Image comic, Walking Dead #100 can steal some of that market share and sells roughly 350,000 issues in July, DC might want to think about the quality of product it’s putting into customers hands.
But this is just one readers opinion. Can we overlook these types of mistakes? Are we ok with a lesser quality item being sold to us at higher prices? So far it mostly seems to be these issue 11’s, maybe the Managers/Editors at DC took some time off in July? I really hope things get cleaned up at DC. I’d hate to think that the basic quality of our comics has been overlooked and stepped over due to a simple lack of caring over at DC. Because really in any business and in this economy you better believe that the quality of your product counts everyday of the week.
But then again in the Comic Book business there is an old saying: “We don’t make errors, just variants.”
Let us know what you think.
CREDIT NOTE: Sales info gathered from Bleeding Cool, thanks you guys wrap that stuff up nice.
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