Bluewater Comics announced yesterday that they are getting into the superhero game with a shared-universe featuring characters based on the Greek gods who apparently have been transported to modern times.
OK, it’s been done before, but just because Zane Gray wrote westerns doesn’t mean nobody else can write westerns. The problem, as I see it, is that superheroes that are not from Marvel and DC are a tough sell. Let’s take BOOM! Studios as a comparison, as both BOOM! and Bluewater are small indy publishers. BOOM! has well known writers and artists, and it promotes the hell out of its comics to retailers and the comics press. Its superhero comics sell between 10,000 copies (Mark Waid’s Irredeemable and Incorruptible) and 7,000 copies (the Stan Lee titles) a month—respectable for a small press, but hardly DC/Marvel numbers. Bluewater has unknown writers and artists, and while it promotes the hell out of its comics, a lot of the press they get is bad. So it looks like this line has a lot of obstacles to overcome. (Not that bad reviews don’t move comics—I’m sure there are people who bought the Justin Bieber bio-comic because it’s cheaper than LSD.)
I don’t read many superhero comics, but I follow a lot of bloggers who do, and the chief complaints I hear are high cover prices, overly complicated continuity and too many titles for a given character. If Bluewater is offering a new universe, with superheroes no one has heard of, at a cover price of $3.99 (they don’t say that in the press release but that seems to be standard for Bluewater), then it doesn’t seem like there is much there to attract the already committed superhero reader. As for readers who don’t already follow superheroes, they may pick up a few, but this comic has no movie tie-in, no big-name creator, and no interesting hook beyond the Greek-gods angle, which has been done before.
How about creators? That’s often a weak point with Bluewater. They are billing the line as created by art director Gregg Paulsen, line editor AE Stueve, and “a slew of artists and writers.” Paulsen’s Judo Girl looks fairly decent (I’m judging by the cover here, not having read it), and I have seen some good writing in these books, but Bluewater has gotten some bad press for its creator contracts as well, which has to cut into the talent pool. For a line like this, I would want a marquee contributor, but it doesn’t look from the press release like that’s going to happen.
So, while I’m interested in how this will play out, I’m taking it with a grain of salt. But hey, Bluewater, feel free to surprise me!