I have always respected DC Comics for its ability to compartmentalize comics in the smaller sub-categories that are needed for a vast library. The lines and imprints they currently have include:
- DC Universe
- DC Year One OGNs
- DC Super Hero Girls
- DC Ink (Young adult readers)
- DC Zoom (Middle-grade readers)
- Young Animal
- The New Age of Heroes
- Black Label
- The Sandman Universe
- Vertigo (relaunch)
- Bendis’ upcoming curated line
Back in the day they had Helix for science fiction, Minx for YA girls/women and other now defunct ones like Elseworlds, Paradox Press, Johnny DC, and Wildstorm (which had its own various imprints within).
As a lifelong comics fan and constant observer, I must say DC has been killing it these last two years beginning with REBIRTH and considering all kinds of new imprints and series covering so many different genres and niches. People tend to give mad props to Marvel for the MCU movies and Netflix TV shows, and rightfully so. But that’s an expansion into other media. In terms of just the COMICS, which is where this all began, I think DC has been the better servicer to the discerning comic book fan. Given what they’ve got going on now and what’s on the immediate horizon later this year, It all feels fresh and electric.
Of course, it’s hard to observe DC without also observing its rival. Though Marvel seems to be righting their ship, doing course corrections and improving things, there still seems to be a certain staleness or tiredness/fatigue to what they’ve got going on, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong — they still have, for me, overall the best characters in super-heroics, but operationally/editorially it seems a certain kind of glory is missing as I read their stuff digitally. Some have opined that external success has soured the comics. I don’t know about all that, I think their marketplace dominance and constant “need” to skew the status quo has done that moreso. I just know that for the last few years — at least through the 7 year existence of the CBU — I’ve been more intrigued by DC as a publisher from an objective viewpoint, if not as a hardcore fan, which is weird for a born Marvel zombie. I think the last time I was super excited by a Marvel comic was Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña’s UNCANNY X-FORCE in 2011 (if you read that series then you understand why). I suppose the recent JESSICA JONES and THE DEFENDERS came close to that same excitement, but that’s six years later. Today, in an alternate reality I would be more excited about Jason Aaron’s AVENGERS than I am. I had hoped the new era of SPIDEY would hook me. The return of the FANTASTIC FOUR is also intriguing, at least on the surface. But if I’m honest, a big part of it is the lack of an alluring X-MEN line that really compromises the magnetism that the MU could have on me because they were my main gateway in the mid-80s to early 90s.
At any rate, I started this stream-of-consciousness commentary simply to praise DC for getting back to their old 1990s form in a modern way by doing their damnedest to serve a diverse array of comics fans with a variety of offerings and realizing, unlike Marvel it seems, that mainstream comics should be about more than the in-lockstep collective narrative of a shared universe, which has been Marvel’s amped up M.O. since the Quesada regime began 18 years ago. For the biggest publishers in such a crowded market it seems wiser to be attractive to a wider swath of readers rather than just the opposite. I’ve no doubt it’s a corporate mandate, but still, the vast forest beyond the trees immediately before you should be seen.
That’s just my two cents.