The death of Alfred Pennyworth may not be the biggest recent death in the DC universe. That title may belong to DC Comics itself.

End Of An Era?

After the firing of DC publisher Dan DiDio last week, word is coming out that AT&T, which owns TimeWarner and DC Comics, plans on closing down DC Comics if DC’s upcoming 5G reboot is not a success.

5G is a planned reboot which will take place this fall. 5G stands for the “fifth-generation” of DC heroes, one in which the current superheroes are phased out and replaced.

So goodbye to the likes of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. In October new identities will be under the costume.

If the reboot does not work, then the DC Comics imprint will no longer exist, but the characters still will as AT&T will just move to a model in which Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are used as licensing properties instead.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise since the comics industry has been on life support for a number of years and has not recovered since the last industry crash in the 90s.

During the 90s, it used to be that a top title would sell a million copies. Today only 100,000 is considered a big number and publishers group together issues into trade paperbacks to squeeze out some profit from them.

Doomed To Fail?

It’s probably not a question of if, but rather when DC will close down.

We can sit and wait to see if 5G is a success and saves the publisher, but let’s be realistic, any time a change is made to classic characters, it never works. Fans always revolt, sales go down and they wind up needing to go back to the alter egos that got them there.

Ask Marvel how well trying to get rid of Peter Parker worked. And DC thinks they could do that will their entire roster of characters?

Good luck with that.

Speak Of The Devil…

Rumor is starting to spread that if DC does shut down that AT&T is considering licensing their characters to long-time rival Marvel Comics of all places.

The logistics of how both sides would pull something like this off would be hard to imagine.

Marvel isn’t doing to well in sales either, so while adding DC’s roster to theirs would give a short term boost in sales, it probably wouldn’t help them out in the long run once people got used to seeing the two universes mixed.

The real value for Marvel would be in the film rights to the characters, but why license them to Marvel for a fee if you already own one of the biggest film studios in the world which is already making those movies and TV shows themselves?

DC already tried licensing their characters to Marvel in the 80s.

Both companies had a deal in place for Marvel to take over the characters, but it was put to an end when the smaller publishers complained it would create too big of a monopoly in the industry.

If they had another agreement again, would they really be able to get it through this time?