So I went and bought me a few DC Comics superhero comic books.
Since I've been writing the "DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales" column, you see, the question how familiar I am with the various DC books has occasionally come up. The short answer being, I don't usually read a lot of them. There's just not much that interests me, in terms of characters. I tend to pick up whatever Grant Morrison, Alan Moore or Frank Miller happen to be doing there, and some of what Kurt Busiek, Greg Rucka, Warren Ellis and a few others happen to be doing. As far as the DC Universe is concerned, though, I'm not particularly well-versed. I know the broad strokes, of course. But I've never bothered with Crisis on Infinite Earths, for instance, and I've yet to read a Wonder Woman comic, or a Justice Society comic, or a Legion of Super-Heroes comic. You get the idea.
Now, for various reasons, I don't think that poses much of a problem as far as commenting on the books' sales is concerned. Chiefly, I'd argue that the bulk of what retailers and their audience react to in a given comic can be gleaned from the advertising copy released in the Previews catalogue every month and from subsequent reviews. Or look at it this way: You don't have to drive a Porsche to analyze that company's performance - being up to date on the perceived qualities of the cars and the industry in general is sufficient.
Nevertheless, I thought it was time for a little experiment. Given that DC's comic-book sales have been in a bit of a decline in the last couple of years, I was curious whether the public perception of the publisher's output, as shaped by the publisher itself and by online reactions, was an accurate reflection of the content of their books. Which, of course, is a copious way of saying that, in the next few weeks, I'm going to read and review at least 20 DC Comics superhero comic books over at Supercritical. Here's the rub: They're all comics I wouldn't normally touch with a ten-foot barge-pole, so part of the fun for me has been to see how I like them. The first four are review copies I received from DC back in 2006, the others I bought myself. The first one went up yesterday, and the rest are going to follow daily, Monday to Friday.
So, you know, feel free to go over there and have a look.