There's no way I could kick off this week's DC FanDome-focused special edition of BCTV Sunday Slices without addressing the 800 lb. Solomon Grundy in the corner. As someone who's gone through a "corporate bloodletting" myself, my heart and best wishes go out to everyone across the board at WarnerMedia who lost their jobs- in particular, at DC Comics and DC Universe. Losing your job and all of the sudden uncertainties that it creates is a horrible thing to face during whatever used to pass as "normal times," but it's doubly stressing in the midst of a pandemic that's still not controlled.
What I did want to address was the initial response to the firings, and how it reflects a bigger problem when it comes to comics. When the news started breaking, there were initial rumors that DC FanDome would be canceled and that WarnerMedia was in disarray. I was shocked and stunned and in near-panic mode. But not because I thought one of our biggest coverage days was going to be trashed. There was never a chance that was ever going to happen. No, I was freaking out because I thought I had time-slipped backward to the 90's- when comics still had some major real estate on the pop culture landscape.
But it's not the 90's anymore. Comics is no longer the "game-changer" it once was, and this is coming from someone who spent years in the long boxes. DC FanDome was never going to be canceled because that event is about promoting comics second (or third), with the focus on film and especially television. I don't say this to throw mud or kick anyone when they're down, but there's been this growing narrative on social media that DC Comics is a "poor victim" of "corporate overlords" who have turned HBO Max into a "total disaster" and now they're paying the price for it.
So a few things to consider. Yup, AT&T is definitely making some moves to lessen its debt load- the main reason why they're looking to sell Crunchyroll, for example. But to judge any streaming service- whether it's Disney+ or HBO Max (yes, even Quibi)- less than a year after its initial rollout in an exercise in futility. That said? Streaming is the future, and content is queen. So when some say that "comics" aren't going anywhere, that's not quite right. The intellectual properties (IPs) those comics are using won't be going anywhere, but the printed paper medium? How could it not? Look at the magazine industry, and how newspapers struggle when there isn't a Trump around.
On top of that, television/streaming has shown over the past few years that not only can it adapt comics really, really well- it can do it while dramatically improving upon them (The Boys). In the case of HBO's Watchmen, television gave Alan Moore's classic a better "sequel" than the original medium could. As for DC Universe, that was something we were tracking since last November with Swamp Thing so that also wasn't a big surprise (and having two streamers wouldn't make sense).
As I alluded to earlier, this isn't coming from a bad place but it does come from a place of frustration. Before the masses begin storming the corporate ladder with torches and pitchforks, my hope is that there's at least some pause for a little housecleaning. What are we at now, $5-$6 for 20 pages of story at Marvel and DC? We've priced comics out of the hands of those who want to read them. Of course, we have the 24/7 endless event cycle, so that nothing has any meaning anymore. X-Men getting rebooted for 1,283rd time? Cool. How long will that last? Until "Fall of the Empire of the Ultimate X-Pansion"? Are there any more words left to put in front of "Crisis"? And is there anything being done currently in a monthly comic that couldn't be done through monthly animated episodes?
But the biggest red flag for me? In the middle of a pandemic, when millions were forced to be home in self-quarantine and to social distance, at a time when video games, television/streaming, audio dramas, and other areas of geekdom were stepping up to get as much content out to the masses as possible? The comics industry looked its readership in their eye and pretty much told them to go f**k themselves. To be clear, we're talking about an industry that already had the capability to deliver comics digitally to readers- but they didn't. And while I know there will be those reading this who will automatically jump to the defense of comic book retailers, distributors, creators, etc., I'm looking at it from the readers' perspective: in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime global health crisis, comics chose "flight" over "fight."
Now here's a look at some thoughts on the television/streaming schedule for DC FanDome (all times PT starting Saturday, August 22), including Supergirl, The Flash, Batwoman, Black Lightning, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Superman & Lois, Lucifer, Titans, and more- with the full schedule available on the DC FanDome website here. Just to be clear, this isn't including any news that might drop on upcoming series that don't have sessions: Matt Reeves' The Batman spinoff, J.J. Abrams' Justice League Dark, Greg Berlanti's Green Lantern, Strange Adventures, and other possible surprises.
10 – 10:40 a.m "The Flash": Well, we know we're getting a Season 7 teaser/trailer, so that's a strong start.
10:45 – 11:20 a.m. "Black Lightning": While we're expecting a little new-season talk, we're checking it out for the tribute being paid to Black pop-culture from the 1990s.
11:30 – 11:50 a.m. "Pennyworth": Expecting at least a teaser, with some solid second-season details.
12:00 – 12:35 p.m. "DC's Legends of Tomorrow": While we might get some more information on next season's "little green men," it might be a bit too early for serious new-season intel.
12:30 – 12:55 p.m. "The Expansion of DC's Watchmen Universe": Having Damon Lindelof serve as moderator for a panel discussing the expansion of the Watchmen universe is either a ten-ton hint or a twenty-ton trolling. We're still in Emmy voting season so it makes sense- but could we be looking at Lindelof's Watchmen living on in comic book form?
12:45 – 1:05 p.m. "BAWSE Females of Color Within the DC Universe": with Batwoman, The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and Titans represented, there's always a chance for news about a cast member directing or deeper-dive details into upcoming eps or storylines.
1:15 – 1:50 p.m. "Doom Patrol": With the season having just ended, the biggest news would be official Season 3 renewal and casting, maybe storyline teases.
2:35 – 3:05 p.m. "Superman & Lois": This one's an open book, with any footage whatsoever being a bonus.
5 – 5:20 p.m. "Lucifer": Lucifans know they'll be getting a look at the musical episode' performance of "Another One Bites the Dust," and should expect solid Season 5 Part II talk, and possible more sixth season talk than expected considering the final final season builds of the fifth season.
5 – 5:30 p.m. "Titans": For Titans fans, it's anything and everything Season 3- and I'm hoping some discussions about how the series will change/benefit from a move to HBO Max.
6:45 – 7:20 p.m. "Stargirl": The hit series is coming off an impressive first season, so expect teases for the second season. I'm also hoping for a little clarity when it comes to the show's ownership. Will WarnerMedia be looking to have HBO Max take DC Universe' spot, or will the second season of Stargirl remain solely with The CW?
7:30 – 8:10 p.m. "Batwoman": Anything and everything Javicia Leslie. Fans want an image at least, if not some teaser/test footage (the latter might be a tough one). A close second? Fans will want to know a little more about what lead to Ruby Rose leaving. Chance of that happening? Eh.
8:15 – 8:35 p.m. "Harley Quinn": If there isn't a third season renewal announcement for the Kaley Cuoco-voiced series, I'll be legit shocked- and that would probably be one of the biggest shocks of the day. Coming off two seasons that grew in both popularity and quality, I can't imagine this series going anywhere (especially with Cuoco's The Flight Attendant miniseries coming soon to HBO Max)