Admit it. We’re all thinking about it. Monday came with the seismic news that DC Comics had just suffered a round of major layoffs. High ranking executives, fired. 1/3 of the editorial staff, fired. DC Direct, the toy and collectible branch of the brand that had been operating for the last 22 years, shut down. DC Universe, the company’s streaming service has suffered numerous layoffs and is rumored to be on its last legs with all programming being moved to HBO’s new streaming service.
This is the darkest time in the industry. Not since the days of the collector market collapsing in the mid-1990s, where Marvel entered into chapter 11 bankruptcy, or the senate trials of the 1950s, which saw the industry come under fire and lead to the formation of the Comics Code have comics suffered such losses.
But like I said, admit it. We are all thinking the same thing when we heard this news. Is DC Comics in such bad shape that they might be open to a new owner? One with mouse ears perhaps?
In plain English; is it now possible that Disney, who already owns Marvel Comics, could be interested in purchasing the rights and characters of the DC Universe?
Could you imagine? It’s every fan’s ultimate daydream. Spider-man and Superman under the same brand. Batman and Captain America published together. The Avengers Vs The Justice League in a theater near you. (Shut up and take my money now!) The two biggest publishers with the world’s biggest characters, all under one roof. It melts the fanboy’s mind!
First, let’s take a moment to recognize the very real situation that is facing those who lost their jobs on Monday. While this fan speculation is fun to daydream about, there are very real-world repercussions from the massive layoffs that the folks at DC suffered. GWW wishes each and every member of the DC family the best of luck and a speedy and successful return to the industry.
But could it happen? Could Marvel end the publishing battle that has raged for my entire lifetime? Could the House of Ideas end up outright owning the Distinguished Competition? In a word, YES.
It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of Disney owning Marvel was enough to have you laughed out of any comic shop in the country. The same could be said when talking about Lucasfilms and the Star Wars franchise. There was a time when Disney spending billions on acquiring these brands was thought of as a risky business venture.
So why is it so far fetched that the Magic Kingdom could end up owning DC Comics? For the right price, I’m sure that the new parent company AT&T could be lured into a multi-billion dollar deal. There have been whispers of a deal as soon as Time-Warner was sold. While there is nothing concrete to the rumors, the speculation has only increased in the last twenty-four hours. So let’s just take a moment and live in the fiction of a possible merger.
Marvel would own DC. That means that the biggest names in comic book character history would make their way into the Marvel catalog. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, the Teen Titans, The Justice League, Watchmen, Doom Patrol, on and on and on and on…. Hundreds, if not thousands of characters would suddenly bolster the ranks of Marvel’s already amazing group of characters.
The list of crossover and cross-promotion potential becomes endless. Just the comics themselves would sell better than anything that the industry has produced in the last ten years. The possible film and TV projects would be enough to set ticket sales records before anyone saw one frame. While Disney would have to invest a huge amount in the purchase of DC, it stands to reason that the investment would pay off quickly. There is too much fan interest. It would pique the curiosity of fans of every generation to see their childhood heroes together for the first time.
It would be a license for Disney to start printing money. The entire world would be hungry to see what would happen. What could possibly go wrong?
In another single word, Monopoly. Not the frustrating board game that lasts forever until someone knocks over the board– But the equally frustrating corporate kind of monopoly. Disney would have a chokehold in the comics industry, toy industry, entertainment industry– the likes of which has never been seen before. Want to work in mainstream comics? There is only one place to go to. Want to create a successful property based on a superhero? There’s only one game in town. While there is room to argue the merits of small publishing and the indies… it’s already tough enough with “The Big Two” running the industry today. Imagine “The Only One”? Doesn’t sound that appealing, does it?
The comic industry is already in a state of crisis. Freelance contracts have kept wages stagnate since the 1970s, and a majority of the industry works without insurance benefits, health coverage, 401ks, and the other basic employment guarantees that are afforded to the average worker. The idea of a single company running the industry might make a bad situation even worse.
But for now, we all sit and wait to see what will happen next. You might think I’m crazy for even suggesting an idea like this… but what if I’m right? Today was a shift in the industry, unlike anything that we’ve seen before. It stands to reason that what comes next might be just as unexpected.