WTF, DC? DC Comics Message Boards

I realize I’m nearly three months late to the game on this one, but I just noticed today that DC got rid of their message boards. Huh. On the one hand, the frustration of arguing with (or being completely ignored by) other comics fans on the boards is what prompted me to start this blog. On the other hand, it was an extremely useful tool for people who wouldn’t be able to strike up a comics-related discussion otherwise. I remember the years-long debate over when/how/if Conner Kent would come back – cloning? secretly not dead? Blackest Night zombie? – and the question of who, exactly, was in that lightning rod Braniac 5 wielded in The Lightning Saga; people insisted it was Bart Allen, but I swore up and down that he was dead, dead, dead, and never coming back.

I haven’t been on the boards in a while, but I was going to check it out today to see how others felt the New 52 was progressing (jury’s still out for me). The one thing I could depend on with the boards was that, regardless of how muddled a timeline or continuity became, some other poster was certain to have it all figured out, or at least be able to explain in a way that made sense. I’m also pretty sure I was alerted to the Sweet Tooth #1 autographed copy/free sketch deal via the boards, by Jeff Lemire himself no less.

DC’s site is now more like a blog and commenting is now done on each specific item via Facebook login, which … yikes. The comfort of message board flame wars was that nobody knew who you really were, thus you could be as brutally honest (or gently diplomatic) as you wanted. Now there’s this weird Orwellian accountability element to it. Also, the extreme pain in the ass of not being able to have comments organized by theme/character/thread – they’re now at the bottom of each specific item, which gives commenting a frustratingly scattered, why-bother feel, and also sort of a creepy vibe, since you’re responding to someone through a social networking site that’s already pretty iffy when it comes to sharing/selling/saving your personal info.

Not sure if this is some sort of deal with Facebook or DC anticipated a tremendous amount of fanboy backlash for New 52 and would rather sweep that under the rug in favor of putting on a happy face to new readers, or are honestly just trying to clean up the site. If it’s the latter, why not a new message board system?

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13 Responses to WTF, DC? DC Comics Message Boards

  1. GeorgeC says:

    It’s partly because DC Management are both cowardly and profoundly don’t care about what the long-term readership (people who were fans BEFORE the execrable 1990s and 2000s) thinks.
    There are a lot of people who were invested in the longterm storylines and chronology… That all has been swept under the rug and there are many storylines and characters who “don’t count anymore.”
    The discomfort and anger over this are understandable even if the characters are fictional… (It begs the question — why is it okay to be a supersports fan but NOT a superhero fan?? Because one hobby is considered more normal and less nerdy?)

    Anyhow, getting back to DC Management… They seem to be following the Marvel formula and stoking the ire of fans on purpose. That’s a very dangerous thing to do saleswise but so far it hasn’t hurt sales much.
    What is a bigger deal to fans is why management at both companies (Didio, Quesada) can seemingly get away with insulting people or belittling their concerns over editorial directions and not suffering the consequences?!?!???! If anything, the “bad boys” have only been rewarded so long as the company overall shows some profit even at the expense of the integrity of the publishing line and long-time characters…

    Note, though, that the most successful film and TV shows released to date have been based on storylines and characterizations that predate by DECADES the efforts of Didio and Quesada!

    BTW, there’s relatively little criticism of the “New 52” being published on the official DC website and Facebook comments section. You have to look elsewhere to see what people are really thinking. There’s a sizeable number of us who HATE the new direction…

  2. I do genuinely love DC (otherwise I wouldn’t always be so thoroughly disappointed in it as a company), but I’m still not sure what to make of the New 52. Rewarding customer loyalty should be a priority, but at the same time attracting new business is integral to financial sustainability. New 52 was a ballsy move and it accomplished exactly what it set out to accomplish: new readers, renewed interest in the company, more money.

    From a narrative perspective, this clearly isn’t the “soft reboot” it was purported to be. Characters are completely different, histories have changed. Which creates a whole new problem: the New 52 was supposed to make things easier for newcomers to dive into what were formerly lengthy, drawn-out story arcs, but after a couple years, those stories are going to be just as complicated as pre-Flashpoint tales, and just as difficult for rookies to approach, so what then? Reboot every couple years? The New 52 hasn’t actually made anything easier.

    I think the message boards attracted a pretty eager fan community, one that would likely be the most vocal in its dissatisfaction regarding the changes brought about by the New 52. Deleting the message boards feels a bit like censorship in service of corporate interest. Newcomers no longer have to see thread after thread filled (theoretically) with dissent, which makes DC look better, and tying comments to Facebook and scattering them discourages negativity.

    • I think DC should’ve approached the reboot with instead of having long storylines giving us more single issue stories with the occasional 2 to 3 part stories. Much like how their animated series like BTAS or STAS or Justice League went with it. They still had the character development, but it is still easy for anyone wanting to jump in to jump in and enjoy what is going on. And maybe once and a while do have an event that involves all the character instead of having 2 or 3 big events a year which I believe makes things confusing.

      Also I think they should’ve truly restarted. Instead of starting off with the different sidekicks and determining which sidekicks existed and which ones they didn’t they should’ve truly started from the beginning with the sidekicks. Make Dick Grayson go back to being in the Robin suit, make Roy be Speedy again, bring back Garth, Donna Troy, and Wally West, as Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash again. With them playing the this sidekick existed and this sidekick didn’t and the 5 years since the Justice League began messing with the Robin history just made things more confusing for the readers jumping on who were familiar with the TV series and the longtime fans.

  3. I thought the DC forum was a huge factor in keeping the fans interested in comics. As a business, they should have loved all the content that was generated for free by fans. I was a member since the 1990s with AOL although I found it impossible to express my view or get along with many of the posters. That being said, some posters added so much to comic book history. It should have been archived. This was a terrible decision, especially since CBR’s forums don’t have a place for each title and each new issue doesn’t have a discussion thread.

    • I agree with every point you make. Archiving them would’ve been a good idea – though I seem to recall that if a particular thread languished for a certain period of time, it got deleted. I only checked in with the boards on a monthly basis, but when I did I noticed my post count was always steadily decreasing instead of remaining fixed.

      Users did generate a massive amount of free content and it fostered a sense of community amongst fans, though some of those fans were pretty terrible. I remember one guy who would, no matter how bad a book was, write a glowing, slobbering review of it. And over time it seemed less like he was expressing enthusiasm and more like he was angling for a job in DC’s publicity department. Seriously – he loved the Blackest Night/Outsiders crossover, (http://greenlantern.wikia.com/wiki/The_Outsiders_25) which is by far one of worst written/drawn issues I’ve ever seen in my life. And then there was the whole “I’m right and you’re an idiot LOLZ” crowd.

      Getting rid of the boards seems like a terrible decision no matter how I look at it. It’s not like the boards used up a lot of bandwidth. And if it was an aesthetic choice, they could’ve been redesigned. It comes off as an unnecessary step to prevent new readers from witnessing any backlash to the New 52. Weak.

  4. Jenni says:

    Hey folks. Before I say anything, here’s the obligatory full disclosure: I am one of those people DC was aiming at with the New 52 reboot. I’d never really gotten into comics because the convoluted backstories frankly intimidated me.

    As a kid I used to watch the live action Batman TV show with Adam West and Burt Ward, but my parents weren’t big on the idea of comics, and by the time I was old enough to buy them with my own money, well… I was expecting to see Bruce Wayne and the boy from the circus whose name I wasn’t sure of, fighting villains like the Joker and Penguin. I found that story arcs had twisted round themselves until I didn’t recognize anything or anyone at all, and my interest faded.

    When I heard DC was rebooting the universe from scratch, I came running, just as the marketing department hoped for. I’m now subscribed to six books; Batman, Nightwing, Catwoman, Batgirl, plus Superman and Supergirl. The thing is, it’s been clear from the first issue that not all of the backstory was scrapped. Bruce Wayne is still Batman, but apparently he’s only recently returned after a year of Dick Grayson stepping in as the Bat, which isn’t explained. His son Damien is the current Robin, Dick is now Nightwing, but from what I can gather there was at least one other Robin and possibly two at various points. One of the Robins is now Red Robin, the other may or may not have died and then returned, but doesn’t seem to be part of the Bat family that I could tell.

    Whatever. I came around today aiming to pop onto the DC forums and ask what I should read to get myself up to speed on the new DCU backstory, particularly in relation to the revolving door of Batmans and Robins. I’m hoping there are a couple graphic novels floating around that I could pick up to explain this to me so I don’t have to go hunting through several decades of comics trying to figure out what was kept and what was erased, but beggars can’t be choosers.

    And then I find out the DC forums are no more. Fabulous. So here I am by way of Google, at your doorstep with hat in hand. Can you point me to a message board suitable for asking these kinds of idiot newbie questions? Where did everybody flee to when the DC forums bit it? Failing that, if there’s a simple answer to the “what do I read?” query, I’m all ears.

  5. Jenni says:

    It’s perfectly clear to me, and exactly what I needed. Thanks! At this point it would be easier to arrange for my checks to be deposited directly to Amazon, but then I wouldn’t have anything left for payments on that new yacht I’ve probably bought for the guys at Midtown Comics. I seriously need some new hobbies.

  6. ZachL says:

    Let me start with some context. My sister and I started reading DC comics this summer. After riding the high that was The Avengers we decided that it was time we started looking at some comics. Luckily for us DC had a bunch of accessible #1s for us to start from and we quickly found a couple of titles (ie. 10) to follow. I was recently looking for a message board to discuss said comics on and I was a bit surprised to see DC didn’t have a board on its site. After doing a little more searching I came to understand why.
    Comments on DC related posts on blogs and in forum threads that concern DC (still haven’t found a good board dedicated to DC though) are populated with outspoken members of the old guard complaining about the reboot. Now, I know there is no way for me to say this diplomatically so I’ll just put it out there. I really don’t care about why people don’t like the changes to the DC continuity. I can understand why these opinions are held and respect that they are there but I don’t want to hear them. As a newbie to DC and comics in general I don’t know the back-story behind all these characters and more importantly I don’t really care about anything before issue #1, that’s the whole reason I decided to start reading DC comics, it looked like I could actually be there at the beginning of something. If I had logged onto the DC main site and the forum was filled with nerd rage I wouldn’t have bothered trying to read these comics. Honestly I think that the DC fan community has been making a pretty bad showing with all their complaints about the new comics. My sister and I are to the point we have comics that we plan on following regardless of popular opinion but I can see how DC could lose new readers due to the percieved hostility of the DC community on the internet. Does this mean that its a good idea to close the forums? No, the internet is a great place for freedom of expression and DC needs to realize a forum will crop up somewhere so they might as well be in control of it, but I can see why DC would want to sweep a lot of fans under the rug, at least until the New 52 can grab a real foothold in the oldtimers community.

    • Yeah, I can’t really argue with you. Part of me wishes I was a kid who’d just seen ‘Avengers’ and wanted to start reading comics – that’s exactly what happened to me when I was nine and saw Tim Burton’s ‘Batman,’ – I demanded my parents take me straight to the comic book store and I picked up Batman #440. It was pretty awesome.

      I think the old guard (which, really, could be people who started reading DC as recently as the last couple years) is upset more because deleting the forums felt like the icing on the screw-you cake. I agree that DC should want to, in a way, own the criticism from fans by having the forums on its site, but at the same time, it’d be filled with such vitriol there’s no way they’d want to be showing that off to potential newcomers.

  7. Jenni says:

    Heh… totally forgot I’d subscribed to this thread. Since I’m here, though.

    Boards full of nerd rage wouldn’t have stopped me in the slightest from diving right into the New 52, but honestly I don’t think I’m really a good example of the norm. I’ve been a Magic player and gamer for 20 years so I’m pretty used to forums full of obsessive people screaming whenever a new (expansion\restricted card\Civ5) comes out and stomps all over somebody’s favorite whatever. It’s not a phenomenon limited to nerds, either, though I admit we tend to be more intense. I think it’s possible I just have a thick skin for nerd bullshit at this point because to be very blunt, girl nerds still aren’t common enough for there NOT to be some kind of mild explosion whenever I go about breaking into a new hobby where 95% of the participants either feel strongly that I “don’t count” in some way, or can’t accept the sad fact that I don’t show up at Friday Night Magic looking for a date.

    I also wanted to thank you again for the recommendations. I picked up every single book you mentioned and a few you didn’t (Return of Bruce Wayne, Battle For the Cowl, also Batman Vs Robin and Batman & Robin Must Die!). After all that I’m down to just one further question. In the first issue of Judas Contract, it’s apparent that Dick has already decided he needs\wants to shed the Robin identity and become someone new. Judas Contract is the story in which he actually does it, yeah, but it doesn’t mention why he made that choice to begin with. I’d assume I can find that out just by going back through the last couple issues before JC, but frankly between M13 and having subscribed to 3 more DC books (plus picked up all the back issues for each) I’m experiencing a cash flow issue. LOL.

    • ‘Battle for the Cowl’…I’m not sure how I feel about that storyline. It was decent enough, but Tim Drake was always set up as being Bruce’s successor, so for that title to go to Dick was a little strange (though the resulting Dick/Damian dynamic was pretty great).

      You’re right about ‘Judas Contract,’ Dick has already sort of made up his mind, but he doesn’t actually become Nightwing until halfway through the book. I think he might have talked about it in the issues leading up to ‘Judas Contract’ but I’m not sure (they’re collected in the ‘Terra Incognito’ trade paperback, I believe). I can’t remember if there was a specific issue of Batman/Detective in which he lets Bruce know that he’s thinking of quitting. I do know there is an issue where he shows up in the Bat Cave as Nightwing and Bruce is clearly upset at the idea.

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