Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another verse of the low-sales blues: DC cancels Blue Beetle

Thanks to Scott over at Hero Sandwich, I just heard the news that Blue Beetle — which labored for almost three years under the burden of consistently low sales — has been canceled.

As a fan of Blue Beetle I'm disappointed, and a bit frustrated. From the beginning the title has been a comic that was critically acclaimed, but for some reason just couldn't find a larger audience. It's a shame, because Blue Beetle could be counted as a successful reboot of a legacy character, bringing in completely different aspects while maintaining (and in some cases, even strengthening) ties to what came before.

Jaime Reyes was something new, but still comfortably familiar. A young Latino from El Paso, Texas, Jaime was thrust into the DCU community of superheroes, suddenly gifted with enormous power he didn't know what to do with. Watching him struggle, then learn, then begin growing into the hero he could be, was part of the fun. I saw Blue Beetle compared to early Spider-Man more than once, and that's not far off.

Blue Beetle was also rare in that it featured a nearly fully-formed supporting cast. Best friends, eventually a cool girlfriend, and most importantly family, were essential parts of what made Jaime Reyes an interesting character. You couldn't think of this Blue Beetle without thinking of the people around him, and you ended up caring about all of them because the book was about all of them. This Blue Beetle did not stand alone.

Obviously, I'm sorry to see this title go. Like Manhunter (and Robin, Nightwing and Birds of Prey), the pieces have been put in place so the characters can be folded into other books. I'd guess Blue Beetle will make more regular appearances with the Titans somehow, and will otherwise be popping up here and there in the DCU. But it won't be the same — Blue Beetle needed its own book in order to have its own voice.

It would be easy to point an indignant finger at the big, bad corporate overlords, but I really can't blame DC for the cancellation. And you certainly can't blame the various writers and artists who have worked on the book. I blame the readers.

As a community, we always complain there aren't enough quality books out there. But when a good title deserving of our support hits the stands, we're often nowhere to be found. Actually, there is a way to find us — just look for the latest poorly thought-out crossover event or one of a dozen books whose titles start with "X-." We get the books we deserve, and we lose the ones we neglect. We can't be surprised when a comic dies after we've starved it.

No, in the case of Blue Beetle (and unlike the on-again, off-again Manhunter), DC gave the title a fair chance. It's a shame more readers couldn't do the same.


Khairul H. said...

Just wrote something similar in DGR as well. Yeah, it sucks but whatchoo gonna do? Sales were always around 16k per issue. I share some blame being a "wait for the trade" guy myself.

I fear Jonah Hex may be next for the chop. Damn.

Maxo said...

To be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing more titles go exclusively to trade. The stories are written to fit the trade anyway, and maybe some of these struggling books would have a better chance.

Yeah, I hate to say it, but DC gave Blue Beetle a fair shake. Still, I'm sorry to see it go.

Sea_of_Green said...

You know, this is all starting to smack of the "DC Implosion" of the late 1970s. I hope not, but that's what it looks like.

And, Maxo ... Your blog is VERY MASCULINE. Muy macho! ;-)

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

While I wasn't really fond of this version of the Blue Beetle, I feel your pain. I've read over and over again how this book has built a serious following and it does matter to a group of readers. Too bad it has to go.

There's a lot of stuff that I didn't like about this book, but I won't name them here out of respect.

Maxo said...

Sea: Thanks for saying so! Now I can stop ... *sniff* ... my, my ... sobbing ...

I hope that's not the case, but it certainly smacks of the implosion, doesn't it?

Chris: Ha ha! Well, I was a fan, but no comic is perfect. Don't feel obligated to agree with me — well thought-out discussion is always welcomed!

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

Oh, I do agree with the feeling :)

That's exactly how I felt when Hawk & Dove was canceled a little while ago, okay, some 15+ years ago, lol. I liked it so much, but it wasn't meant to last. It still makes me sad :'(