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April 19, 2019
In this week’s PopCulteer we’re going to take a quick look at DC Universe, the new streaming service based on DC Comics that was in the news earlier this week.DC Universe is available on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and other streaming devices, as well as on the web and as of this week, Xbox.
A couple of days ago a bit of a non-story broke that caused rumors that DC Universe might be on the verge of shutting down, less than a year after its launch. Production on the first season of Swamp Thing, a new horror series based on the classic comic book by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightston, was curtailed, with the season being shortened from 13 to ten episodes, and with the tenth episode being hastily re-written to serve as a season finale. Swamp Thing is going to be the third live-action original series produced for DC Universe, and it debuts at the end of May.
While this made many people speculate that DC Universe might be on the chopping block, it’s actually par for the course. The first DC Universe live-action series, Titans, had at least one episode trimmed from its initial season, which led to a muddled and confusing season finale.
The reason given was “creative differences” between DC Universe and Warner Brothers Television, which is producing the show, but that seems a bit odd since both companies are part of Warner Media. More likely it had to do with bean counters realizing that when they sell the show into syndication overseas, for services like Netflix in Europe, they’ll get the same amount of money for ten episodes that they would for thirteen.
That doesn’t mean that DC Universe is not looking at ending, or at least changing significantly, but it’s just an unrelated story.
There is also another selling point for DC Universe, which is a big deal for folks who, unlike me, enjoy reading their comic books online. DC Universe is in the process of adding their entire library of individual issues of comics books to the service. These are all the books that were previously available through Comixology. Annoyingly, DC Universe mixes their comics in with their video content, as you can see above. It makes for a less-than-enjoyable scrolling experience when you’re only in the mood for one or the other.
I don’t read comics online. I work in front of a computer all day, and I read comics to get away from that. I also don’t own a tablet. Up until I started getting treatment for Myasthenia Gravis about three years ago, I couldn’t operate a touch screen, so there was never any pressing need for a tablet in my house. The comics available through DC Universe have made me consider getting a tablet, but until that happens, it’s an entire area of the service that I don’t use.
If you are into digital comics, be advised that they won’t add comics until a year after they’ve been published, and there are huge gaps in their Golden, Silver and Bronze Age libraries, with most of the comics that they offer being from the past twenty years, which for me, is a pretty depressing prospect, since that’s when I quit buying most DC Comics because they lost my interest.
Keep in mind here, that I’m hardly in the key demographic for DC Universe, so don’t let my grumpy old man attitude turn you off the idea of subscribing.
There are other informational videos you can watch on DC Universe. So far, I haven’t found one that has anything in it that I didn’t already know, but then, I’ve been reading comics for fifty years. The DC Universe website offers sweepstakes, news articles and a webstore, as an adjunct to the service, too. While fun, none of those are deal-makers or breakers.
The news segments sometimes included some useful information, and then, when the panel started, you could just bail and spare yourself the aggravation. It seems like, for the past few weeks anyway, they have eliminated the news segments, and just go straight to the panel.
I think that indicates that DC Daily may not be long for this world. It would be a bean-counter-induced mercy killing. Again, this may be me bitching from outside the key demographic, but I don’t really need to hear people who weren’t born yet when I was a comic book editor yammering endessly about how absolutely wonderful a comic book I chose not to order is better than the ones that I still I cherish in my collection.
I’ve called the show “an infomerical,” but that isn’t really fair to infomercials. At least I can watch those for more than a minute or two. (Longer if it’s the one with the Super Air Fryer Oven)
I can’t imagine DC Universe keeping that many people on the payroll to staff a daily show that I would imagine most subscribers watch for less than a minute, if at all. They maybe need to revamp the show, get rid of the panel discussions, get rid of the panelists, and find one or two credible anchors who can talk about comics without sounding like blithering idiots. They need a comic book version of Kurt Loder.
Lately, DC Daily has disappeared from the home page of DC Universe on my Roku. It’s still there, with new episodes, but you have to search for it.Not a good sign for its logenvity.
In the end, is DC Universe worth it?
It all depends. If you absolutely love DC Comics and have for your entire life, absolutely. It’s a bargain to have all the animated series in one place, and if you read comics on a tablet, you should be in hog heaven.
If you’re a casual fan, probably not. When you’re weighing your options later this year, eight bucks a month for DC Universe vs. seven bucks a month for Disney Plus, which includes Star Wars, Marvel and Fox properties, might seem like a no-brainer to go with the less expensive service that has five or six animated Marvel series in the pipeline already.
For me…I’ll probably re-up, but I’d like see them make some changes.
That’s this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features.