It may sound preposterous to suggest that one of the most storied brands in the comic book industry is on its way out, especially if that brand is responsible for such permanent icons as Batman and Superman, and has provided the source material for billions of dollars in entertainment revenue.
But it is, and the only evidence I have to present for it is visual.
Of course, it isn’t this:
And no, not even this:
It is this:
Now, while the tiny world of comics (as in, the actual panel-art booklets) media goes bananas over the latest SJW-inspired mock-outrage publicity stunt of the week, what seems to have gone without comment is the massive transformation of the brand.
DC traces the origin of its brand to one of its earliest single-title books: Detective Comics. It was a crime and soft-science fiction book that rose to prominence along with one of its most enduring heroes: Batman. Before he was the Dark Knight, he was an unusual detective of the night, fighting crime using his superpowerless wits and discipline (and occasional firearms).
The company branched off into other comics besides Detective Comics not long after – Action Comics would produce Superman in short order, and quickly became a sub-brand to the DC name – but officially if not technically, DC is an acronym for Detective Comics.
And DC Comics still claims the brand on the cover of its books.
See, something weird happened down the line. The DC “bullet” (the one above that started in 1976) was a minor update to the long-running simple DC logo, but it was also an iconic one. The star-spangled DC was unapologetic: American, straightforward, and memorable. While competitor Marvel emphasized individual characters in the brand box in the left hand corner of its comic books, DC distinguished itself with an unchanging hallmark:
DC meant Detective Comics, and Detective Comics meant a specific type of heroism. Campy television shows aside, DC Comics characters were not known for their clever quips (like Marvel’s Spiderman) or their catchphrases (like Wolverine or Thing) or their cosmic (if overblown) psychological crises (like the Hulk and Captain America.)
There was nothing ironic about DC. Their heroes played it straight. Batman was single-mindedly obsessed with solving and stopping crime. Superman unironically stood for truth, justice and the American Way. Green Lantern had his simple oath:
“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power–Green Lantern’s light!”
DC changed its logo dramatically for the first time in 2005.
Then, in a move that would have raised Batman’s eyebrow, and even Superman’s patient hackles, they sued DC Shoes for logo infringement. In a turn of justice worthy of DC’s better days, DC not only lost the suit…but they ended up losing the logo to DC Shoes. The comic had to change its logo – a logo that had stood simply and with very little adornment for nearly 65 years – once again.
This time, DC Comic’s parent company, DC Entertainment, itself a subsidiary of Time-Warner, made sure there were no mistakes:
They obliterated “Detective Comics” from the logo.
Now, technically they’ll point to the obvious: DC is still in the name, and the logo itself is still a “D” and a “C”.
But it isn’t. Take a look at the 2012 logo.
What’s left of the Detective “D” is being peeled away. It looks more like a lone teardrop than any recognizable letter. The C is also obscured. “Comics” is now spelled out, which, you will note, would have been considered a redundancy in the earlier logos (what with the “C” standing for “Comics.” The current logo, spelled out, would mean “Detective Comics Comics”, technically. Perhaps the “C” now stands instead for “Comcis” as, ostensibly, DC still self-identifies as a comics company, despite appearances to the contrary.)
Considering that this is the same company that is fabricating the ancient “Killing Joke” controversy (above right) with phony “alternative” covers to drum up interest in their fading book sales lines, I’d say that the Batmobile has lost more than just a wheel, and the Joker has more than gotten away:
He’s running the entire show.