Let’s face it – despite the denials, you knew Brian Bendis was going to be writing Batman in some form at DC and that you weren’t going to have to wait a couple years for him to get around to it. You probably weren’t expecting to need to go to Walmart to get it, though.
Selling comics at Walmart has been one of the holy grails for mainstream high volumes sales that DC and Marvel have been chasing for years – and that’s something that’s worth chasing if the terms of sale are right. Walmart has a lot of stores in areas without a direct market shop, so its theoretically good outreach to new readers.
This time around, DC’s trying something a little more ambitious: monthly 100 page issues featuring a new (presumably lead) story and then a set of reprints. And they’re using some big names for this. The two big A-List announcements are Tom King / Andy Kubert doing a Superman 12-parter in what they’re apparently calling Superman Giant, starting in issue #3, and Brian Bendis writing a 12-part Batman story with an unknown artist in Batman Giant, starting in issue #3. You’d think those are things a lot of people will want to read and it ought to be vexing to retailers who can’t order it and also to urban dwellers who aren’t anywhere near a Walmart. There is no mention of whether or not these comics will be available digitally.
The length of the new stories isn’t specified, but with 4 stories per book and 100 pages, figure it’s probably in the vicinity of a normal 20 page issue (and then some ads to round out the page count). The reprinted material runs the gamut from recent titles like Super Sons, The Terrifics and Sideways to New 52 material to the Loeb/Lee “Hush” arc from Batman. The price point is $4.99, so the size will more than double some of the other $4.99 titles you see in the Direct Market.
Is this the way to go? Well, it’s sure worth trying. This sort of thing might not fly in the DM because the reprints are recent enough, an awful lot of people will have already read them if they were interested, but this is pretty clearly an attempt to pull in a different audience. It _would_ be interesting to see these as all-original anthologies if they could get the price under $10.
This is actually a variation on what DC last tried at Walmart. Observe:
Those photos were taken at a local Walmart where several copies of that comic/magazine were sitting unloved for months, tucked away near the trading cards. While $9.98 technically is under $10 as the blurb claims, I’m sure a few people let loose an expletive and dropped it like a brick when they saw the semantic trick there. If you’re having trouble reading the table of contents, it contains: Batman: Rebirth #1, Wonder Woman #1 (New 52 version), Batman & Robin #30, Batman #13 (New 52 Snyder/Capullo) and Justice League #1 (Rebirth Hitch/Daniel version). I think they were on clearance not too long ago and know it’s apparent why.
Will cutting the price point in half and adding new material from popular creators help sales? Will a non-DM audience know if the creators are popular or not?
Certainly, not having the new design resemble Wizard Magazine is an immediate improvement.
This experiment starts “by July 1st” (a Sunday), so figure they’ll start start appearing on shelves sometime between now and then. Might be shelved near the trading cards, has was the case with Showcase and comic packs. Might be over in books, where other experiments have been located. If you haven’t been to a Walmart, they’re kind of big and it helps to know where to start looking.
Official PR follows
This summer, Walmart shoppers will receive a personal invitation to discover the lore behind their favorite DC experiences as DC Entertainment announced today that a series of “giant” monthly comics will be sold exclusively in more than 3,000 participating Walmart stores around the country.
Available for $4.99, each 100-page anthology features all-new stories written exclusively for these books by some of DC’s top creative talents, including Tom King (BATMAN, MISTER MIRACLE, HEROES IN CRISIS), Dan Jurgens (ACTION COMICS, BATMAN BEYOND), Brian Michael Bendis (SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, THE MAN OF STEEL), Andy Kubert (NEW CHALLENGERS) and others. Each title will also include additional story arcs drawn from fan-favorite DC eras such as the New 52, Rebirth and the New Age of DC Heroes.
Each of the four titles – SUPERMAN GIANT, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT, BATMAN GIANT and TEEN TITANS GIANT – will arrive in stores by July 1. Beginning in August, the Superman and Justice League of America titles will arrive in week one of each month, with the second pair, Batman and Teen Titans, arriving approximately two weeks later.
“We are extraordinarily excited about working with Walmart to expand the reach of our books,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio. “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series. It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”
The debut title lineup includes:
SUPERMAN GIANT #1
SUPERMAN GIANT #1 features chapter one of the two-part “Endurance,” an original story written by Jimmy Palmiotti (HARLEY QUINN, ACTION COMICS) with art by Tom Derenick (HARLEY QUINN, CYBORG, BATMAN/SUPERMAN). The Daily Planet sends Clark Kent to Tornado Alley to do a story on the area, but when the storm hits, it turns out that this mild-mannered reporter is more helpful as Superman.
The issue also includes:
THE TERRIFICS #1 (2018) – From this year’s New Age of Heroes and born of the events of DC’s hit series DARK NIGHTS: METAL.Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl are a team of heroes bound together by fate and united by the spirit of exploration and discovery. Together these heroes plumb the depths of the fantastic to learn what it means to become family.
GREEN LANTERN #1(2005) – Written by best-selling writer Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver and Carlos Pacheco, this first chapter launches the fan-favorite three-part story “No Fear,” in which Hal Jordan makes his return to the DC Universe as the Green Lantern, casting the light of justice on the darkest corners of Space Sector 2814.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #1 (2003) – The iconic fan-favorite story arc, “Public Enemies,” returns, courtesy of writer Jeph Loeb, with artists Ed McGuinness and Tim Sale. Batman and Superman unite when President Lex Luthor accuses the Man of Steel of a crime against humanity and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in by any means necessary.
September’s SUPERMAN GIANT #3 features Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King’s first return to the Man of Steel since his poignant and heartfelt tribute story, “For Tomorrow,” in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1000. Together with DC Master Class artist Andy Kubert, this powerhouse team will take readers on a new 12-part adventure titled “Up in the Sky!” When a little girl is kidnapped and taken from Earth, Superman embarks on a galaxy-spanning mission to find the perpetrators…but has to decide what lengths he will go to in order to save one life!
TEEN TITANS GIANT #1
In this original six-part Teen Titans story by Dan Jurgens with art by Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Jim Charalampidis, the Teen Titans’ pizza dinner is interrupted by the introduction of a new villain, the Disruptor. Teaming up with the Fearsome Five and working as an agent of H.I.V.E., he had one mission: kill the Teen Titans! The battle spills onto the streets of San Francisco, putting its citizens at risk, while H.I.V.E. uses this distraction to begin their plan for world conquest!
Additional issue #1 stories include:
SUPER SONS #1 (2017) – From DC’s smash-hit Rebirth event, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez reintroduce the sons of Superman and Batman, Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, in part one of “When I Grow Up.” As Robin, Damian’s more than ready to take his place at the heroes’ table and has zero plans to wait his turn. And he’s dragging Superman’s son along for the trip, whether Jon likes it or not!
SIDEWAYS #1 (2018) – Also from the New Age of Heroes, this story written by Dan DiDio with art by Kenneth Rocafort introduces fans to high schooler Derek James who, during the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, has acquired powers from the Dark Multiverse and stepped into the role of superhero! But when cracks begin to appear in the space-time continuum, he soon learns that with that much power comes even greater liability!
TEEN TITANS #1 (2003) – Written by best-selling author Geoff Johns with art by Mike McKone. Cyborg, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy welcome in a new roster of young heroes to train to defend humanity—Wonder Girl, Impulse and a Superboy who’s been cloned from Superman’s DNA!
BATMAN GIANT #1
Batman is on the case of a missing girl in “One More Chance,” an all-new story by writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Patrick “Patch” Zircher. Batman is the world’s greatest detective, but what happens when the trail in his newest case leads him back to a place from his past that he never expected to revisit?
BATMAN GIANT #1 also includes:
BATMAN #608 (2002) – Written by Jeph Loeb with art by comics icon Jim Lee, issue #608 kicks off “Batman: Hush,” one of the most popular storylines in the Dark Knight’s fabled history. When Batman sets out to unmask the mystery character wreaking havoc in his life, he teams up with an unexpected ally (Catwoman) and finds himself facing off against not only his deadliest foes, but some of the toughest characters in the DC Universe, including Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and even Superman!
NIGHTWING #1 (2011) – From DC’s New 52, this story by writer Kyle Higgins and artist Eddy Barrows debuted a new look for Dick Grayson as he dives into a tale of murder, mystery and superhuman evil against the backdrop of Haley’s Circus, the place that started him on his path from acrobat to orphan to sidekick and ultimately superhero!
HARLEY QUINN #1 (2011) – Also from the New 52, writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Amanda Conner break Harley Quinn out of The Joker’s shadow with all the force of a giant mallet!
Beginning with BATMAN GIANT #3 in September, superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis makes his DC debut on the Dark Knight with a 12-part story, “Universe.” Batman’s run-in with the Riddler leads the Caped Crusader into a mystery that spans the globe!
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT #1
Justice League member Wonder Woman is spotlighted in “The Conversion,” an all-new story from NIGHTWING writer Tim Seeley and artists Rick Leonardi and Steve Buccellato. In this single-issue story, Wonder Woman comes face to face with Ares, god of war—who sees her as a promising new recruit!
JUSTICE LEAGUE GIANT #1 also includes:
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (2011) – From the incomparable team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee comes this version of the League from the New 52. In this alternative spin on the union of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, superheroes are a strange and new phenomenon. The mysterious Batman discovers a dark evil that requires him to unite these reluctant heroes to protect Earth from a cosmic-level threat!
THE FLASH #1 (2011) – In this New 52 version of the Fastest Man Alive, writer Brian Buccellato and artist Francis Manapul introduce Barry Allen to a villain who not only can be everywhere at once, but is also a close friend of the Scarlet Speedster!
AQUAMAN #1 (2011) – Award-winning writer Geoff Johns and dynamic artist Ivan Reis team up on this story from the New 52! Aquaman has given up the throne of Atlantis, but the sea still has plans for Arthur Curry as a broken race of undersea creatures, the Trench, emerges from the ocean depths, bent on destroying the surface world!
In issue #2, Seeley teams up with artists Felipe Watanabe and Chris Sotomayor on “Mother’s Day,” a stand-alone story where Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island for the first time since her exile, only to find that the Amazons – and Queen Hippolyta – have been abducted by Echidna, the mythological Mother of Monsters, with a brood of unstoppable beasts as children!
Issue #3 begins another original 12-part Wonder Woman story by HARLEY QUINN co-writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti called “Come Back to Me.” When Steve Trevor’s plane crashes on an island outside of time itself, it’s up to Wonder Woman to rescue him from this mysterious land, full of monsters, dinosaurs and some very surprising citizens.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.