In a move that will surprise no one, DC Universe’s content will migrate to HBO Max. DC Comics, of course, has experienced a serious shake-up in the last week, and the future of the company, once synonymous with comic books, remains in flux.
A quick checklist of known changes appears below:
WarnerMedia, which owns DC, has made several changes in the last week, with the following results:
-the surviving DC Universe content will move to HBO Max. Some shows, such as Stargirl, will remain as CW exclusives.
-at least 20% of DC’s staff have been laid off.
-Contrary to the online rumours the announcements have engendered, DC will continue to publish comic books. We do not know for certain what their future line-up will look like. Obviously, Warner will not abandon the valuable intellectual properties included among the DC characters.
-DC Direct will cease to exist in its current form. Future collectibles will be licensed to other companies.
The pandemic has hit the industry hard, the comic market has always changed with the times (remember that time Marvel teetered on the brink of extinction?), and, DC has made some problematic creative and business decisions in this century. Which creative decisions caused the most dissension varies wildly, depending on which DC fan you ask.
I’m a Marvel fanboy, so I don’t follow this as much except where it relates to the industry as a whole. There were rumors of selling DC comics over to Marvel a while ago, and I didn’t think it was likely but can’t help imagining how that would end up looking, from a story-telling perspective. Marvel got Conan (the licensed property) back and now he’s an Avenger, but I don’t want them to take the massive catalogue that is DC and just shuffle it into the Marvel Universe. At the same time, I like how Marvel tells their stories better than DC (as you can tell in my first four words on this post) so seeing Marvel take over DC but keeping it separate would mean more good stories for me to read.
Jim’s interview reads very much like “For comics, we aren’t doing anything different…. yet.” I expect we will see more before the year’s end, but with things being driven by fiscal calendars more than news cycles.
Other than that detail, if DC were to stop publishing the comics and just keep their IP in other ways (like moves or TV shows) I don’t think I would be phased by it.
I don’t read any comics these days, and I’m familiar with both Marvel and DC. I’ve read more DC, and they’ve had a couple of heydays. It’s very difficult to keep telling the same stories about the same characters for decades. At one time, the main audience were kids, and that turned over. Then the industry cultivated the adult fan audience, and that has been a mixed blessing, to be certain. But trying to keep the same universe with the same universe of characters functional comes with problems, even without real world problems impeding, like a pandemic and a corporate owner that does not really understand the audience.
Star Wars and Star Trek have kept themselves alive by telling new stories, often about entirely different characters. Many fans might not care about those extended properties– I remain only marginally interested in the Star Wars Franchise– but it draws others. Disney keeps adding new stories and recycling the old characters so that a new generation can discover them, enjoy them, and then buy nostalgic stuff when they’re older.
Aside from a few explosions of creativity– DC in the 80s, for example– DC and Marvel keep rebooting their continuity and/or telling stories about the same characters, long after the context in which they originally made sense has passed.