By Glenn Walker
Urban legend has it that several years ago, though not too long ago, there was a stockholders meeting at Time Warner and two things were brought up. One was that “Superman” and “Batman” were called properties, not characters, or pop culture icons, or even comic books. The other thing was apparently folks at that meeting also were quoted as saying, “Comic books? Do they still even make those things?”
For the record, Time Warner owns DC Comics, the publishers of both Superman and Batman for seventy-five years, and represents almost half of the comics market. Now whether this tale is apocryphal or not is still up in the air, but it does shed some light on how comics and their characters are viewed in the business world. The two don’t really mix.
In the tiny subculture of pop culture that is the comics world, one of the biggest events of the last year has been DC Comics’ Blackest Night. This Green Lantern mini-series and storyline crossed over into many of DC’s other titles and featured not only multiple colored versions of the Green Lantern Corps, but also the dead coming back to take the living. Don’t worry, the good guys won, and the series was quickly followed by the current bi-weekly series Brightest Day.
Blackest Night was successful for a number of reasons – just darned good writing and visual storytelling, accessibility to new readers, and of course, the marketing. With each new color of Lantern that was introduced, DC decided to release a corresponding ring. Some were free, and some came with the purchase of certain comics, and now, they are available for separate purchase.
The Power Ring props – in green, yellow, violet, red, orange, blue, indigo, and finally black and white – were a driving force in both marketing and promotion. And as a promotion, it worked quite well. It brought folks into comic shops that didn’t usually come to such places. They might not have been reading the comics, but everybody wanted their own Power Ring.
The marketing didn’t stop there. DC Comics has its own merchandising arm, DC Direct, which specializes in such things as statues, action figures and other props. It’s a smart move, as sometimes the collector market is bigger than the comics market. DC Direct has produced wave after wave of action figures based on the characters of Blackest Night. Man, it’s a good time to be a kid, um, ahem, a collector.
And if playing make-believe with your action figures on the carpet (or glass collectors cabinet) isn’t your style of play, there are even Blackest Night paraphernalia for the gamers out there. HeroClix, the tabletop collectible miniatures game by WizKids, has just released a special set to commemorate the series featuring the various colored Lanterns. Now you can bring the events of Blackest Night and Brightest Day into play with your HeroClix.
Maybe they should change Green Lantern’s oath to “In brightest day, in blackest night, no merchandising shall escape our sight…” Proof positive that the fun of comics and the business world can mix, sometimes.
But it’s all good, nothing’s wrong with toys. Toys rock. And if any of these toys or other accessories –or the comics they are based on- get you interested or excited, be sure to check out All Things Fun!
By Glenn Walker
When a new HeroClix set comes out, it’s just like the lottery. Like the baseball cards of decades ago, you never know what you’re going to get. As you open each booster pack, there’s that sense of surprise as you pull each new HeroClix figure out. And as most times all the figures are not listed online when the new series come out, like the lottery, it’s often a pleasant surprise.
The newest series for DC Comics HeroClix, The Brave and the Bold, simultaneously cashing in on the TV show from Cartoon Network and perhaps one of DC’s best comics right now, was recently released. As an occasional HeroClix player I purchased two booster packs. I should be honest. It’s been some time since I actually played, although I did quite a lot for some time. My interest recently in the ‘Clix has been more for the collecting angle and also to use as figures in a superhero role-playing game I run. Either way, it was a good purchase.
Lotteries are gambling, and the gambling comes in the idea that I bought a total of ten pieces today, in two boxes, with no idea what I might get. My haul for my first shot at this set was interesting: a Clark Kent and a Bruce Wayne, Harley and Ivy together, the Holiday Killer and the new and annoying Damien Wayne Robin squatting down. I also got Gizmo, Brainiac, a Parademon and an Amazon, among others. It was a nice gamble.
Looking online for what is available in the full Brave and the Bold set, I see that there is much incentive to try the lottery again. Many of the figures this time out are double-based duos featuring some famous team-ups from the comics, including: Green Lantern and Green Arrow, Hawkman and the Atom, Fire and Ice, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, as well as less likely teams like Captain Marvel and Black Adam. The addition of secret identities for DC’s big three is a nice bit as are some of the amusing figures like the Martian Manhunter surrounded by Oreos. There are even surprises, like Cave Carson and Kid Zoom (!).
The added bonus in this set is the presence of some characters from Blackest Night including Nekron, Black Hand and Black Lantern versions of the Golden Age Superman and the Martian Manhunter. And don’t forget the special buy-it-by-the-brick figure featuring Batman with Catwoman lounging on the Bat-Signal.
The makers of the game have caught on to something not thought about in earlier versions. It’s not just about the game anymore. The sculpts are important as well, and the selection. These adjustments show that they know there’s also a collector’s market out there beyond the game.
So get out there and get your booster packs for HeroClix: The Brave and the Bold, available where else – All Things Fun! Maybe you’ll win the lottery…
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- Review – Uncanny Avengers #7
- Review – Happy! Trade Paperback
- The Original Guardians of the Galaxy
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