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I Tried–and Now Have Canceled–My DC Universe Subscription

no_to_dc_universeI really have to “blame” fellow blogger Natalie (Stabbing Stardust) for getting me to TRY the DC Universe thing when I was initially adamantly intending to stay away from it for awhile*. With stuff she’d posted and said about it, I was curious enough to try it, initially thinking to breeze through Constantine in a week, and when I only got through a few episodes, decided to go ahead and go with a single month to start, figuring that’d give me time to finish Constantine, and poke around a bit.

(*This blame is not a bad thing, and IS one of the great things, to me, of being part of a comics/blogging community!)

I have YET to really in any way LIKE the interface–VERRRRRRY briefly on the computer a couple times to browse (nothing impressive) and mainly on a Roku TV app.

There’s no simple, alphabetical list of series, it at least SEEMS LIKE they keep changing stuff around for what’s grouped where in the menus/home screen, and with so little actual COMICS content available, even SEARCHING doesn’t do much.

The app even launched BEFORE even ONE of the new, announced series were ready to go–five weeks of ME using it, and NOW there are only THREE episodes of Titans available, and UNlike the Netflix model of dropping an entire season at once, it’s on a weekly-drop schedule, and NOT even at “midnight” (at 2am EST Thursday night into Friday morning, the app gave me a note saying the third episode of Titans would drop in “5 hours”).

Of all the tv content, really only Constantine (a single season) and Superboy seasons 2-4 are of any immediate interest to me; the former to catch up on the character as they’ve continued into the “Arrow-verse” and the latter for nostalgia and finding a certain scene that sticks out to me from when I was a kid.

The CW shows–Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow–are not available on it, nor is the ’66 Batman series. It seems a handful of “classic” cartoons–the ’40s Fleisher Superman shorts are available, and I think I saw some Super-Friends thing; but I don’t believe the ’60s/’70s cartoons are available, nor the RubySpears Superman.

There are several documentaries, but as I have at least a couple on DVD, even those aren’t a great draw, and none “justify” $8/month; I’d rather pay the $8 for a dvd and have that tangible product in my actual collection!

Most egregious–and what most directly led to me actually CANCELING–came Saturday night after I finished episode 3 of Titans. Finished with the episode, I decided to browse to find a comic or story to READ. I’d previously experimented with the navigation with Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey #1, and Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (The Death of Superman/Doomsday! part 1) but hadn’t actually READ any full issues yet.

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Amidst the stupid-loose categories (more “Raven,” more “Titans,” etc), looking at individual stuff, I spotted a SPELLING ERROR. Suicide Squad: Trail by Fire. Trail, as opposed to Trial. A simple, stupid typo, but extremely grating to me. Trail OF Fire would make sense as an alternative to Trial OF Fire. But the “by” would mean that a Trail (A-I) by fire is a trail running alongside fire…as opposed to a Trial (I-A) by fire being under fire, via fire, amidst fire, etc.

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Then I noticed one of the loose categories was “Last Chance to Read.”

LAST CHANCE…to read?!?

Not even TWO MONTHS and a crap selection of comics, and they’re ROTATING COMICS OFF the app ENTIRELY?!?

I understand, condone, and would even EXPECT them to rotate what they are ACTIVELY PROMOTING, what they are “PUSHING,” at any given time. Batman Day? Push the Batman stuff. New show about the Titans? Push stuff related to those characters. Halloween? Push the haunted stories. Etc.

But making EVERY SINGLE COMIC available essentially something on a TIMER, something FINITE and LIMITED…something INTRINSIC to their existence, to their having characters anyone cares about…but basically saying “hey, read ’em NOW or not at all!” is just a massive stomp on the foot, to me.

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While I was stewing on that, I then noticed ANOTHER typo, in the Batman/New Titans crossover A Lonely Place of Dying. A 29-year-old story…but they have it listed as A Lonely Place FOR Dying. Nitpicky? Yeah, but it’s extremely personal to ME, as that was the first story in Batman that I had a part 1 of as a kid (My very first issue of Batman was 439–the conclusion of the 4-part Year Three; my second-ever issue was 440, part 1 of Lonely Place OF Dying).

This thing’s been compared to Marvel‘s Marvel Unlimited, as an “answer” to that, as something potentially “better” (at least TRYING to be “better”) since DC hasn’t HAD anything REMOTELY similar.

But the ticking timer on comics mean the ENTIRETY of the app is “curated,” not just curating recommendations and themes or such. And if they’re rotating comics content, who’s to say they won’t decide to rotate other content? The animated movies? (I own those already, too; many of them also digitally that I can watch on Vudu with hundreds of other digital movies)

I’d THINK that (especially with Titans having a “TV-MA” rating) as a late-30s male who has been into comics–primarily DC over the years, for basically 30 years now–I should be the primary audience. Nostalgic for digital back-issues (to preserve sales of modern stuff), violent, dark tv (Titans), old enough to have kids to expose to the animated content, a family to share other tv content, and so on.

But again, I can only figure “I’m obviously NOT the target audience.”

And I can’t in good conscience feel as strongly as I do on all this and complain about it without backing it up with some sort of action. So, catching it a day before it would have renewed, I’ve cancelled my subscription, and with no subscription, will be removing the app/”channel” from my Roku devices (and never even got around to installing whatever app there may be for phones/tablets).

Maybe I’ll check back in later. I’ll probably wait to see how long the DC Universe “exclusive” shows will be available and in what form–are THOSE going to be “rotated” as well? Force you to–if you’re more than 5 weeks “behind”–resort to waiting for some sort of DVD/Bluray release (as even the “Netflix-Exclusive” shows have)? Or will I be able to re-subscribe later and watch the full season?

While this thing has “potential,” 1. the app being SO RUSHED that it was launched “only” a few weeks before new, original content was even ready to be launched; 2. the extremely limited, crap selection of “sampler”-like comics and 3. the rotating OUT/off of stuff, rather than simply ADDING TO an ever-growing “library” of content…that’s 3 strikes, in my eyes.

I’m so incredibly glad I opted to only spend $8, rather than $75+ for some annual thing. I feel strongly enough NEGATIVELY toward the thing as of this typing that I even considered re-upping with Marvel Unlimited on PRINCIPLE, even though I would ONLY be able to make easy use of that on my PHONE.

“Passively,” I very much do NOT recommend DC Universe at this time. I’m extremely discouraged and frustrated with stuff, but knowing I’m a bit of an anomaly having so much dvd content in my personal collection, I’ll stop just shy of actively recommending against the service, as far as the tv/animated content goes. Comics-wise, don’t waste your money, though!

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Musing on Marvel Monthly Mailing: Subscriptions in Today’s World

A friend was talking to me about ordering a Marvel subscription for a niece, which has prompted some other thinking for me on the subject OF Marvel and actual subscriptions (like, you pay in one chunk, and then on a regular basis across the next X number of months receive so many issues by mail without ever having to seek out or visit a comic shop).

So I did a bit of poking around–and I do have some questions (but not such that I want to contact them via Live Chat Support or such, as I feel it’s stuff that SHOULD be OBVIOUS withOUT someone having to go through extra steps to know/have answers!)

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Firstly…It’s been years since I truly considered the notion of the "classic" mail-order subscription to a comic title. For nearly a quarter-century I’ve had the near-weekly routine of visiting a comics specialty shop (aka "comic shop" aka "Local Comic Shop" aka "LCS") and browsing the current week’s new selections, if not having stuff pre-ordered on a "pull list" or "subscription" in that sense.

In short…it’s something I for one totally take for granted.

Seeing this page hit me, though: save 40% off $3.99/issue?!? That’s $2.40/issue…a hekuva lot better than the $3.99-$4.99-$5.99 price points Marvel has on everything.

BUT…you’re paying lump-sum up front, so while $20 might get you 4-5 single issues this week at the LCS to "try," if you want to "try" 4-5 series you’re over $100, sight unseen, via subscriptions…and on the hook for an entire run.

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But look! New(-ish) titles! Some have already started, at least one hasn’t (that I’m personally aware of), others…I haven’t the foggiest, thanks to all the renumbering shenanigans lately.

On the static subscription page at Marvel‘s website, though…there’s nothing obvious at this point as to where in a series you’ll be started/starting, nor which ‘version’ of a series. Captain Marvel? What is Marvel up to now–5th series? 6th? In hardly a decade? So yeah, you’d have a subscription to something called Captain Marvel but might you be getting, say, #17, a couple more, then #1-8 or 9? Would the subscriptions department even properly carry your subscription over to the "proper" title, or would they take your Captain Marvel subscription and simply funnel you over to Ms. Marvel or such? (Not saying one title is bad, but if I order/paid for one title, getting a completely different title would be disappointing at the least).

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And I’m honestly shocked at the presence of Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy appearing here–if one is diligent enough to follow stuff enough to know about the event and that they’d "need" it along with any other subscriptions, I’d surmise that they can find a comic shop and/or would be inclined to go through something like Discount Comic Book Service or such.

To say nothing of the fact that it is a mini-series consisting of 6 issues.

Yes, the copy specifies that it is a 6 issue subscription… but once the first issue has shipped, shouldn’t this have expired an no longer been part of the subscriptions page/site?

After all, it says right there that the last issue processed was #3–meaning that at best your subscription would start with #4! So if you pay $19.46 for a 6-issue subscription right now, you’d begin with #4, receiving 3 issues. Then what? Would you just receive 3 issues of some arbitrary mini-series or followup/event? Would they send you several issues of The Amazing Spider-Man? Issue a refund?

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Then there’s the matter of Marvel‘s constant renumbering for their "seasonal model" they’ve adopted.

When it often seems like a stretch for something to "make it" even 12 issues, and even if it is a success, getting renumbered after (often seemingly) little more than 12 issues, that would seem (to me) to play havoc with the notion OF the 12-issue subscription model.

I’ve personally lost track of how many Deadpool and All-New or Estraordinary or Uncanny or Whatever X-Men titles there are, have been, and are coming up and which iteration they are.

(At least in the 1990s, even with ~9 titles in the X-"family," there was Uncanny and "Adjectiveless" X-Men, then stuff clearly indicating other teams/characters (Wolverine, or Cable, or X-Factor or such)

With three out of eight titles including All-New, Extraordinary, and Uncanny X-Men along with ’92, I would guess that might be a little off-putting to someone who is not steeped in the week to week  of comics in general nor "continuity."

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When a series has been cancelled–the solicitation provided weeks/months in advance–shouldn’t its entry be removed or at least "frozen" on the page?

Additionally, shouldn’t something be posted about what to do if you ordered a 12-month/12-issue subscription and received less than 12, as to what series you’ll be receiving as a "replacement" or what steps to take for a refund?

It also seems highly insular…someone just wants to get their kid or a family member "a subscription" to a comic series, as a Christmas gift or birthday gift or such, and (Marvel particularly as I’m going off stuff from their site) has so many titles that one somewhat would have to GUESS at what they’re ordering.

Combined with some advisement from someone like me–I know that Marvel does all this renumbering crap, so I can’t even think of what TO suggest be ordered, outside of perhaps one of the titles based on whatever iteration of whichever animated series…though that would almost seem "token" if not "insulting" to kids nowadays (and by "kids" I realize I’m now old enough to consider college students "kids").


While not exactly a same-fruit to same-fruit comparison…I also just considered this: why not offer "pre-orders" directly on collected volumes/graphic novels? If people are going to "wait for the trade" anyway, and it’s so darned important to pre-order, then take ’em directly and make sure they stack up to whatever finances are required to pay the creative team and still profit acceptably and such. If you can refund subscription remainders on perhaps 6+ issues, why not just take pre-orders on twice or thrice yearly collections OF six or so issues, and be able to offer refunds if there aren’t high enough sales to justify getting to the fullness of the "next" book?

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