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With comics in limbo, creators dream up Marvel/DC crossovers to boost sales
The entertainment world continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world, and this week the comics industry was hit particularly hard. Even as social distancing orders of various kinds sweep the United States, many comic book stores have attempted to adapt by offering things like curbside pickup for their customers. That effort to keep selling new comics was dealt a major blow when Diamond Comics Distributors announced that, beginning next week, it will stop shipping new books to the North American direct market for the time being, shutting off the flow of new products to local stores.
What this means for the immediate future of the direct comics market is still a matter of some uncertainty a day after what looks like the last regular New Comic Book Day for a while. Stores that can keep doing things like curbside likely will, while stores that have been forced to close by shelter-in-place orders may begin offering some kind of online presence to let customers keep shopping. It's also still unclear what major publishers, including Marvel and DC, plan to do with their many upcoming storylines. As of this writing, neither of the Big Two publishers has made their immediate publishing plans — digital, print, or otherwise — clear to the public on a large scale.
Still, there's reason to be hopeful, as creators across social media discuss the enduring nature of the comics medium and offer enthusiastic support of each other in a trying time. There's even reason to be ambitious, as creators have already begun talking about what the industry could do to drive fans back into comic book stores as the crisis eases and the world starts to open back up again. So, what's the plan? If you ask Birds of Prey and Red Sonja writer Gail Simone, what should happen is the first Marvel/DC superhero crossover event in more than a decade.
The last time Marvel and DC Comics launched a major intercompany crossover was JLA/Avengers from the superstar team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez, which wrapped up its run in 2004. Since then, both companies have undergone major transformations, from things like line-wide publishing overhauls to huge leaps to the big screen. The publishers are also headquartered at rival corporate powerhouses, as Marvel continues to operate under the Disney banner while DC is set up at WarnerMedia. The legal tangle that would result from any kind of team-up effort is reason enough for many fans to believe that an intercompany crossover might never happen again, but that didn't stop many creators and fans from jumping onboard the idea under the hashtag #PleaseMarvelDC.
Since Simone first tweeted out her idea on Tuesday, creators who've worked at both publishers have been throwing out ideas for what a crossover might look like, and what they'd specifically like to work on. Simone herself pitched everything from a Tom King Vision/Mister Miracle crossover to a Kelly Sue DeConnick Wonder Woman/Captain Marvel book, while Justice League writer Scott Snyder suggested "Batman vs. everyone," Venom and Thor writer Donny Cates suggested things like Silver Surfer and Green Lantern, and Mister Miracle artist Mitch Gerads offered "Captain Marvel/Captain Marvel," which would presumably unite the characters of Carol Danvers and Billy Batson.
Throughout all of this cheerful online brainstorming, even as many creators (including Gerads) confirmed they were just goofing off, fan excitement continued to run through the hashtag. A Marvel/DC crossover event isn't something that can singlehandedly save the comics industry, but it's clear that there is an appetite for it, and the show of solidarity in the wake of a global pandemic would be a beautiful thing.
So, is it possible? Well, skepticism is healthy for now, but Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston has reported that "the right people are talking," so if you're hoping to see this team-up, don't lose hope yet.