As evidenced in Part 1, BATWING is a title with great potential, however, it is one of the lowest selling Batman-related books and the last remaining DC Comics “New 52” solo series starring a black character, after the cancellations of STATIC SHOCK and MR. TERRIFIC. It is also the only DCU book set in Africa, giving it a unique perspective no other title can replicate. While the title is not in immediate danger of cancellation, there are things that can be done to help ensure its long term stability. Efforts by DC Comics, retailers and fans can all be beneficial.
Obviously, the efforts with the widest possible impact are those by DC Comics itself. Writer Judd Winick is already doing an excellent job of putting out intriguing characters and story. More people just need to give the book a chance. DC has already taken one positive step, bringing in Marcus To as the series’ new penciller with BATWING #9. The series and lead character will also get many more eyes on them as a participant in the first “New 52” Batman line crossover “The Night of Owls,” starting, again, with #9 in May.
Winick has also, seemingly, set the stage for one other element that would appeal to DC Universe fans in general: The Kingdom. It was rumored during James Robinson’s JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA run that he was planning to introduce an African version of the team starring Congorilla and the alien Starman, Mikaal Tomas. The changes to the DCU brought on by the “Flashpoint” event prevented that from coming to fruition. However, Winick has created his own equivalent to the JLA with the African “Big 7” team, The Kingdom. Inactive for years, The Kingdom returned to the spotlight when the murderous Massacre began hunting down the founding members. Rebuilding the team with established Africa-centric DCU characters would attract fans to the title, particularly since many of these characters have yet to appear in the “New 52” universe. Potential membership in a new Kingdom team would, obviously, include Batwing, but also Vixen, a longtime JLA member, B’Wana Beast, King Nnamdi, ruler of Gorilla City, and the aforementioned Congorilla. Incorporating Gorilla City into BATWING, even ancillarily, opens up the title to appearances by the classic villain Gorilla Grodd and The Flash.
Another possible DC effort would be beneficial in more ways than one. BATWING often shows the plight of the African people, dealing with poverty, corruption, disease and war on an ongoing basis. This coincides with a new charitable endeavor by DC Entertainment, titled “We Can Be Heroes.” DC has partnered with aid organizations Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps to bring relief to the hunger crisis affecting The Horn of Africa. DC has created an awareness campaign, starring members of the JLA, will match consumer donations up to $1 million and offers select products for sale, proceeds of which go directing to helping this impoverished part of the globe. Batwing, as the Batman of Africa, would also be a natural tie-in to this endeavor. A special issue of BATWING, addressing the Horn of Africa crisis with proceeds going to the relief effort, would not only bring attention to Batwing, but also raise funds to help those in need. And since the situation fits so organically within the setting of the BATWING series, it would not come across as a forced effort. Fans and retailers can help by taking to various social media platforms and expressing their interest in such an issue.
Which brings us to what the rest of us can do to stabilize this book. Social media is an excellent tool for spreading the word. One can let friends, family and customers know about BATWING through postings on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Twitter, especially, can reach a wide audience using hashtags like #Batwing, #DCNew52, #comics and #WeCanBeHeroes.
Pre-ordering is also an important component to any title’s success. Readers should be sure BATWING is on their pull lists with their comic book store. Additionally, the upcoming first BATWING trade paperback, due in stores July 28th, offers an excellent opportunity for new fans to catch up on the series. DC, however, will cancel a TPB release if enough copies are not pre-ordered. Be sure to reserve your copy now with your retailer or pre-order online at sites like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
One other effective grassroots concept is that of the “Comic Swap.” One can find out more at the linked article, but, basically, fans of BATWING will offer to buy and read an issue of another title, if that person agrees to do the same with a BATWING issue. Afterward, both participants review their respective issues and post it either at their comic shop or online. Hopefully, they enjoy the series enough to continue reading it.
A combination of the above options would help ensure the long term publication of BATWING. A series offering a complex character in a setting unique to the rest of the DC Universe comics. BATWING can be purchased at Philadelphia area comic book stores. To find a shop near you go to www.comicshoplocator.com.