Is the new DC the ‘New Coke’ of comics?Written by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A venerable company that founded an entire industry feels the pain of rapidly shrinking revenues and an ever-growing rival firm. The company decides to reconfigure its aging product and reintroduce it to the world, despite the concerns of a vocal minority of its core consumer base. The new product is given a wide promotion and a splashy introduction and the company’s leaders tell its fans the evolution of the brand is necessary and that nothing should be considered so sacred as to be allowed to stagnate.
The above story is the story of New Coke — but it is also the story, so far, of the new DC Comics. The similarities in the reasons behind the respective changes are amazing, but it remains to be seen whether DC’s new output — a company-wide relaunch of all titles — will follow the same route as Coke’s wholesale embarrassment in the 1980s. New Coke sits alongside the Edsel in the Hubris Hall of Fame; comics fans can hope that DC’s alterations will be remembered as an industry milestone and not just another watershed.
New Coke was replaced by its classic counterpart within three months of its introduction, the relapse reportedly prompted by an overwhelming backlash against the new formula. Diehard fans of “Coke Classic” shouted their displeasure and the company adjusted accordingly. Some said New Coke should have been simply another taste in Coke’s product line, but its powers-that-were demanded that the tried-and-true formula of a hundred years just wasn’t good enough anymore. Fans of DC have also wondered why a separate new line couldn’t complement their classic books and looks, much as rival Marvel publishes a parallel “Ultimate” universe of titles. For whatever reason, DC drank the New Coke instead and dreamt of starting afresh; in with the new and out with the old.
Today, in comic shops everywhere, “Justice League” No. 1 hits the racks, a surefire hit of epic proportions for an industry that’s seen much better days. DC’s sales should spike dramatically and for months to come — but whether ABC News will interrupt “General Hospital” to announce the return of “Classic DC” is any fan’s guess.