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It’s only been weeks since they have been announced but already DC Comics’ “Villain Month” and “Forever Evil” is making a large buzz around the Internet. The bold, for lack of a better word, nature of it is the topic of heated debates, praise, and contention. What is really at the heart of this whole thing? What is worth looking into, in this grand scheme? What are the pros and cons, so to speak?
One of the biggest things to have surprised many readers and fans about "Villain Month" has to have been the selection of creative teams. Sure there are the clear-cut ones like for The Flash or Batman, which each have at least one issue that contains the regular team but it’s the more out of left field ones that are the real stars. For it seems that in their quest to fill up all of the slots in this madcap assault of books they’ve happened to give a lot of good, and in some cases great, writers into the fray. Not that DC has any problem getting good writers, but for the last several months they’ve had nothing but bad press in that regard. Now, with “Villain Month”, not only are they getting good pinch hitters like Greg Pak and Matt Kindt on a variety of different titles but also brilliant old guard writers.
In particular they’ve gotten fan favorite and acclaimed writer John Ostrander (The Spectre, Suicide Squad, Hawkworld) to write a special Cheetah #1 that describes the villainesses’ life in Belle Reve Prison – all classic hallmarks of Ostrander’s and it’s a match made in heaven. Something else on such a par is the placement of Sholly Fisch onto Superman’s Bizarro #1, a writer who wrote amazing and silver age-esque backups to Grant Morrison’s Action Comics is now on one of the perennial Silver Age characters. Of course there are still the dud writers thrown in with this lot, but the amount of traction that the good ones are getting in one sole month is simply astounding, to put the bold point on it – Marv Wolfman is returning to Teen Titans for the month in Trigon #1. It doesn’t get any more “classic” than that.
One the better things about how this is all structured is that, while titles are taking a month off to expand on the villains, these are being treated like simple, harmless, one-shots. Much like the Joker’s Asylum one-shots from a few years ago they seems to just be single stories that are “done-in-ones”, a thing that Big Two comics are in desperate need right now. Every once in a while there needs to be a step back from the large, months long, story arcs and just do a good single issue. Sure, they are apart of this whole line wide crossover, but other than a tangential connection most of these are simple origin or exposition stories about the villainous subjects. It makes it easier to just pick up an issue that concerns the singular villain that a reader is interested in. It's accessible.
Overall it’s a step up from DC’s previous gimmick months such as “Zero Month” as in everything seems much more thematically connected – but separate where it counts. It’s going to make the inevitable omnibus, as they’ve already done for their previous gimmick months (which includes the beginning of the New 52), a much easier read and understandable collection.
Now that the gushing is over with, it’s the inherent insidious nature of “Villain Month” that is the biggest black mark on it. As one might have probably read in one of my previous features about the weak effects of events, variants, and gimmicks they are naturally bad influences on readers and local comic shops alike individually. They are designed to be nothing more than cash gougers to both to the consumer and to the secondary supplier, giving profit to only the parent company – to put it blank these affectations are cheap shills. Usually it’s either one or the other(s), but with “Villain Month” it’s actually all three.
Not only does this month have all of those in spades – but also it has all of those together, in a group of a cash hike. It’s got “special” 3-D covers, are essentially “new” #1’s, is a big gimmick month, ties into a large multi-series event, but no – the clincher is that the main miniseries has variants. It’s a perfect storm of local comic shop orders and fandom demands, and the resultant orders will once again be reaped by the parent company. It’s almost admirable if it didn’t seem like they were trying to get as much as they could in one month. In fact the cherry on this cake is that the lower, or less, selling titles are being integrated and branded under other series in order to increase sales on that end.
For example, Paul Levitz is writing the Worlds’ Finest villain issue under the Earth 2 banner, and all of the "Batfamily" titles (ie. Nightwing etc.) are simply being published that month under the main Batman titles. It’s ingenious actually. The stores will stock more of the big sellers than their moderate sales cousins. “Villain Month” sounds fun, it sounds like it’s going to be quite the time – but don’t forget the ulterior meanings behind it. It’s business and DC Comics is waiting to pull in some big business this September – but what will you do? Are you going to wait it out? Are you going to pick up only a select few? What are you excited for or not excited for? Please don’t forget to comment below.