Tyrades! DC Comics Turns 75!

Friday, May 21, 2010

According to Australia's The Age newspaper, on May 29 DC Comics will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a special event in Melbourne's Federation Square. They're trying to set a Guinness World Record for the number of people dressed as super heroes.

The current record is 1,016 people. Coincidentally, the record for "people who had to break a hot date to dress as super heroes" stands at NEGATIVE 1016.

It's unfortunate that the general public thinks only of caped crusaders when it thinks of DC Comics. Over the years the company has published quite a number of genres, encompassing titles such as Young Love, All-Star Western, Mystery In Space, Peter Porkchops, and House of Secrets. They even published movie star comics, including "The Adventures of Jerry Lewis" and "The Adventures of Bob Hope." If they showcased celebrities today, it would throw collectors into a tizzy. Just imagine trying to find a mint condition issue of "The Adventures of Lindsay Lohan." ("This comic book will self-destruct!")

DC Comics debuted in the depths of the Great Depression. If you could afford those early issues, you would find yourself sighing for the Good Old Days. Bankers left their vaults unlocked at night, mad scientists waved at you from their front porches, and kids said, "Yes, ma'am, there's a blood-thirsty giant ape hauling me to the top of the building!"

Those first comics were "all in color for a dime," but the standard price now is a whopping $2.99. Forget about "You will believe a man can fly." The current slogan is "You will believe a fan can sell his blood."

In order to eliminate decades-worth of embarrassing contradictions, remove deadwood characters, and make the heroes age more gracefully, DC has staged various reboots over the years. The latest "retroactive continuity" involves a finger-pointing "whodunit" about whether Krypton was doomed by BP, Halliburton, or Transocean.

DC has tried many stunts to pump up sales. These include company-wide crossovers, "collect 'em all" variant covers, and Major Events. Events such as "KnightFall" (Batman's back is broken by the villainous Bane) and the misleading "Death of Superman" scored big. Some of the later crises produced dwindling returns. These crises included "Hawkman Molts," "Aquaman Gets Water On The Knee," and "Dadgum Neighbor Kids 'Key' Wonder Woman's Invisible Plane."

Even more changes are being brought about to appease the same folks designing textbooks for Texas. Alleged innovations include : "Green Lantern becomes Red State Lantern;" "It always takes Lex Luthor six days to create anything, and he rests on the seventh;" "Lois Lane wins the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Reporting While Barefoot and Pregnant;" and "Billboards reassure earthlings that 'Alien Death Rays Don't Kill People, People Kill People.'"

Comic book sales are a shadow of what they were when most of us were growing up; but DC is hiring top talent, owns many characters with movie potential, and is experimenting with digital delivery of comics, so I feel confident that our heroes will be present in some form into the far future.

Speaking of which, I need to reserve a copy of an upcoming Flash multi-parter in which the Scarlet Speedster uses his "cosmic treadmill" to travel to the 31st century and attend a super-hero conference hosted by... Betty White! ("Pay no attention the expiration date on the Snickers bars!")

Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at tyreetyrades@aol.com.