After months of hype and promotion (and some questionable words regarding Batman in the first Titans trailer), DC Entertainment’s streaming service, DC Universe, is now live and has delivered on what it promised fans… mostly.
DC Universe is by no means the first service of its kind. Marvel and comiXology have offered digital services for comic books for a couple years now, with varying results. But while it may be true that DC is late to the party, what the publisher has created is far more unique than the offering of its peers. DC Universe is ambitious in its presentation and content, almost to a fault.
What sets DC Universe apart form the rest is the variety of content. While comiXology Unlimited and Marvel Unlimited strictly offer comic books on their services, DC has the luxury of having all of its content, not just comics, under one big umbrella. This affords the service the ability to have back issue of classic comics alongside a library of television shows and films.
The only problem is, with so much content, the individual aspects are strangely slim at launch. For instance, at the time of this writing, the movies section of the service only has about twenty feature length films for fans to watch, only four of which are live action (and two of them are Superman 3 & 4, so…). The television sections fare about the same in terms of quantity.
Comics, Comics, Everywhere…
Where the service really shines is in its comic book catalog. DC Comics has nearly a century worth of printed media, so this really comes as no surprise. The homepage of DC Universe is wise in what it presents as featured comics. Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol and Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing are both listed as trending titles, presumably to drum up new readers’ interest in the upcoming television shows DC Universe will offer based upon the two comics. It’s a smart marketing tool to keep people on board. The number of titles are all over the place (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Comics ranging from the Golden Age to Rebirth are plastered all over the service, and appear to get equal measures of praise. This certainly ties into the notion of DC honoring its legacy while embracing the present.
The downside of the comic book section is the number of issues in each title presented. Some titles offer a huge chunk of their run for readers to dive into; Birds of Prey (1998) has over 30 issues in its offering, and Garth Ennis' gonzo superhero book Hitman has about half its run available, both of which would certainly give new readers for either series plenty to sink their teeth into. What seems odd, however, is how some newer titles only have very few issues available. For instance, the New 52 Batman section only offers the first three issues, and the Rebirth banner for the same title has just one.
Now, the slim number of issues for each title could be the result of several things. The service is new, and we should be seeing more books added in the weeks and months to come. Marvel Unlimited had similar issue upon its initial launch, and it wasn't trying to balance a glut of video content at the same time.
The other reason could be an attempt by DC to really sink its hooks into new readers by whetting their appetites. It's like the nice Costco worker handing out free samples of bagel bites. They know one taste of that artichoke spread isn't going to do its job, and that you'll break down and buy a jar big enough to feed a small army. However, when iconic miniseries like Final Crisis suffer from the same lack of issues (just one in this case), we tend to think this is more of a launch issue and we'll see plenty more soon.