Could the Cancellation of DC’s First Wave be the First of Many?

Late last month, word came out that DC Comics was putting an end to “First Wave” – it’s line of licensed pulp-hero comics which included Doc Savage and The Spirit. It wasn’t the first cancellation in comics – or the latest – but when you pair it with the mid-February announcement at the ComicsPro conference that several titles in the core DC line – namely Azrael, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman Confidential, The Outsiders, Freedom Fighters, Doom Patrol, R.E.B.E.L.S. and JSA All Stars – it brings to mind a big culling of DC’s line. All of the titles floated at the lower rungs of the sales charts and could be attributed to the economy as well as DC’s stringent $2.99 price point meaning individual sales mean even more than ever.

But with those cancellations, this writer’s eyes turned to other titles floating out on the lower rungs of DC’s ladders to wonder what other titles might be on the verge of cancellation. While DC’s Kids line and Vertigo titles rely more on sales outside the Direct Market than the DCU core titles, there remains a few DC titles you might worry about.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: Launched with much aplomb and with critical praise high on it, Nick Spencer’s reboot of this storied DC franchise has yet to be a bit hit with comic retailers. January 2011’s sales put as #165 in the Top 300 titles of the month, lower than recently cancelled titles like Outsiders, Batman Confidential and JSA All-Stars. Factoring in the news last week of Nick Spencer’s exclusive agreement with Marvel, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents needs to brace itself for a big change in the coming months.

Booster Gold: Just months away from 50th issue, Booster Gold was never destined to be a top seller but the sales continue to lag – dropping over 15% in the past six months.

Power Girl: Launched by the power trio of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner,Power Girl has been a major part of some of DC’s over-arching storylines but has yet to find a rock-solid platform for her own solo stories. The team of Winick/Basri has done an admirable job after the original creative team’s departure, but I could see where DC might want them to work on a higher selling book.

Gotham City Sirens:  Launched with writer Paul DIni in 2009, the title has experienced numerous creative shake-ups, with a total of four writers in the first eighteen issues and the current one, Peter Galloway, being a newcomer to comics.It’s January sales put it at #85, two below the cancelled Batman: Streets of Gotham but still above some of the other floundering titles.


  1. Well when it took two years for a six issue series to come out, and the ‘universe’ therefore can’t get a foothold, of course it’s gonna get canceled.

  2. I’m not really surprised DC is cancelling the line. Should anyone be?

    When was the last time anyone really talked about the First Wave book, Doc Savage, and The Spirit? Hell I’m shocked any of these books last over the year they did. Also, I thought Sirens was going to get cancelled and leave with Streets of Gotham. That hasn’t been confirmed yet? 

  3. Booster Gold is tying directly into Flashpoint so it’s probably safe until after the miniseries ends. It also looks like issue #50 coincides with the end of Flashpoint so I could see the title morphing into a Time Masters Series or something new for Dan Jurgens.

  4. It took like what, 3 issues to get Batman into the world? They messed up at every stage, the staggered release was the final nail – but the poor pacing, sloppy advertising as to what exactly this world would be.

    It’s been cancelled? Justice.

  5. As much as I love Booster Gold, it feel like it’s been treading water ever since he rescued his sister from Coast City untold issues ago…

    I long for a new direction. Hopefully Flashpoint and JL:GL wrapping up will get it back in gear.

  6. i loved the idea of first wave, but never actually enjoyed reading it. I dropped it very early. Some of those other titles like Power Girl and Booster Gold…they seem to have pretty fervent followings even if they are very niche. 

  7. First Wave was pretty good, shame about the delays and lack of cohesion between the books. The whole thing felt a bit halfbaked. Just once it would be nice if they followed through with all the hype. Instead it’s like the DC machine gets bored and moves on to the next big thing like hyperactive child.

  8. Please not THUNDER Agents, please not THUNDER Agents….


  9. After the last batch was cancelled, Jonah Hex and THUNDER Agents were left as the two lowest selling, in continuity DC books. I think they have enough critical acclaim and cult following to keep them around for awhile though. I hear they just had a meeting about the next year’s worth of Hex artists.

  10. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these titles leave soon. They don’t get much buzz outside this website and sales for them are low. Maybe Thunder Agents has a shot of continuing but with Spencer getting an exclusive at Marvel; how long will that honestly stay around?

  11. I will be crushed when they cancel Power Girl.

  12. Booster Gold dropping 15% is probably a function of the creative change and there being essentially three Booster books on the market.  That’s about to be un-done, so it should help sales. <fingers crossed> 

  13. I really hope Power Girl can stick around for a while longer, I don’t like it as much as I did when Palmioti, Gray, and Conner were on it but it is still quite good.

  14. Booster Gold has been lagging. Not having Jurgens and angsting over dead best friends made it hard to enjoy. Time Masters was far more enjoyable and  I found myself wishing that the plot in Booster was just a good.

  15. I’m a life-long Doc Savage fan and was really excited when I heard that DC had acquired the rights for reviving the character. Then I tried to read the comic.

    Now, the flagship book, First Wave, started strong. But I recently grabbed #5 off my stack and couldn’t remember anything that had happened in #4.

    To quote Huey Lewis, “Sometimes bad is bad.”

  16. Somehow, I missed the February announcement of the Doom Patrol cancellation. I thought it was highly entertaining and Clark’s art was beautiful. But, I’m not surprised, because I never heard it mentioned on the iFanboy or EOCC podcasts, so there wasn’t even a buzz among the intelligentsia to boost sales by a few hundred copies.

  17. @QuayLewd  We talked about Doom Patrol one or two times when it first started. It was interesting at first, but Josh and I both dropped it after a few issues.

  18. @Thursday You’re in luck then. The last two issues of Booster have been a different direction. Giffen and DeMatteis are playing around heavily with time travel.

  19. @cskilpatrick I do remember the discussion of DP #1, now that you mention it. But you and/or Josh should have stuck with it. There were some standout issues that focused on individal team members, sorting out their convoluted continuity. I’d encourage you to track down some of the issues and read them in chunks. Or maybe it’s more of a Josh book, since it had echoes of the Vertigo days.

  20. I will really miss The Spirit book, it was one of my favorite reads every month, not life changing by any means but a fun book with excellent art.  I agree that Doc Savage had to go though it was a mess from the start and the First Wave mini was severely underwhelming sadly.  I know its unlikely to happen now but could they not just keep The Spirit as something separate from the First Wave line and keep it going?

  21. I would hate to see any of these be cancelled, but especially T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. It’s a really good book, but I wonder how many more issues will have Spencer?

  22. So, I heard rumors of the First Wave books being cancelled, but was it ever officially announced?  Will J.G. Jones upcoming storyline get completed?  I laugh, cause I was waiting on all of those books for the eventual collections…and all of the series are being cancelled before the collections hit this year.  Terrible timing.

  23. I loved the latest Doom Patrol run, but even I knew it wasn’t long for this world. I was a little surprised that Gotham City Sirens was kept on while Streets of Gotham wasn’t, as I prefer the latter, and suspect it may indeed be close to the axe, as suggested.

  24. @TheNextChampion  to veryfythunderagents started out at #111 on top 300, then 165 december, 123 january, then171 febuary dc is soliciting issues 5,6,7? is it going beyond  7 we dont know are they going to put out 5 6 7?

  25. I really liked the Doc Savage/Batman one shot that launched First Wave but the miniseries was pretty terrible.

  26. First Wave was a big dissapointment to me.

  27. Honestly, I wish they wouldn’t cancel these books for those that read them. However, not many people read them. I don 19t read a single book that has been cancelled. Further, I was never even interested in any of these books as they currently appear. My money is too valuable to me to spend it on things that don 19t have a good chance of entertaining me. Even the books I love are far more expensive than is logical when analyzing the cost vs. time entertainment is provided.

  28.  Doom PatrolR.E.B.E.L.S really too bad especially the latter.

    Everything else in the mid Feb list I can see why.


  29. 2 titles that I’d be god damned miserable to lose. Shit

  30. Poor performance usually leads to cancellation. Whether it’s a TV show or a comic, the numbers need to be there. That said, a comic  could potentially sell more issues if it was more widely available. I’d probably have bought all of these books if they were on the iPad. Since they’re not and I can’t get to a store, that’s one lost sale. The only thing fans can do is buy the stuff they like. If it last, it lasts.

  31. I see Booster getting dropped soon. Everybody I know has dropped it. It was good when he and Blue Beetle/Ted Kord/ teamed up. I think when they stopped jumping around in time during old storylines/ Killing Joke/ they lost something and by making Rip Boosters kid has just left it dead in the water.

  32. Every month I pick up my copy of Doom Patrol and marvel that it’s still being published. it’s one of those books that is continually relaunched over and over again every few years and never quite catches on. But I thought it was a really good title, one of the 3 I get from DC (the other two being Batman & Robin and The Flash.)

    I totally forgot those First Wave books existed. But I will miss Doom patrol. 

  33. that sucks about power girl, i really felt winick’s very good run was overshadowed by the greatness of palmiotti and grey’s. but if it happens, i hope they give her a grand send-off

    i was worried my beloved batgirl would be cancelled as well!

  34. Jeff Reid Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    I really wanted to get into FIRST WAVE proper. Rags’ art has always been a favorite of mine. The delays of the mini series killed any interest that I had in it since I was lost by issue 3. Too bad though. On paper, it sounded like a very interesting world.

  35. @wangman31888  Keep in mind, none of these books have been canceled or have been anounced as being canceled or anything like that.

  36. @QuayLewd  Doom Patrol was not a Josh book at all. I stayed with it a lot longer than he did.

  37. To be fair, DC is going to keep giving these titles as much life as they possibly can. Again if this was Marvel, ALL of these titles would have been gone over a year ago.

    I’m sure in a good 1-2 year time (if it does come) we’ll all be saying, ‘Gee, I can’t believe Thunder Agents lasts over 20 issues in today’s market.’ 

  38. I loved the First Wave line. I really did. And I will be sad to see it go. But here is where I have to go on a mini rant:

    What killed First Wave for me was 2 things:

    1) First Wave’s constant rescheduling. The thing with this book is that it’s six issues. And, much like the trend of today, unfortunately books aren’t always shipped on time. It was a shame because out of this entire line, First Wave was the main book. It wasn’t a satellite book the other two (and that’s not to put the other two down) but it’s hard to maintain interest when this book is always late. And that’s such a shame because I remember the buzz around the First Wave line. It was good. People were talking about it. But then it was late. And late. And late some more. Why should we care about a book when they can’t put it out on time.

    2) Doc Savage. This is especially hearbreaking as I’m a huge Doc Savage fan. The comic was boring. Howard Porter was not a good choice for the first arc. And as time went on the stories just became more and more dull. This current arc feels like it’s been going on forever. I think when a line has a few books, it’s okay to have one bad book. But when the line it three books, one is never on time, one is really good and the other is really bad, it doesn’t help mantain the interest.

    The Spirit has been consistently good. But First Wave as a whole was so disappointing. I was looking forward to this, but they only gave us a little at a time and most of what we got wasn’t good.

    I love Booster Gold. Power Girl I’m just getting into. I’ve been hearing such great things about T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents but with Nick Spencer exclusive to Marvel… risky. I haven’t heard much about Gotham City Sirens.

    It’s sad, because there was such potential.

  39. Love Booster Gold, love Doom Patrol, love all things Keith Giffen. As a completely nostalgia-laden fanboy, I put forth two new(old) possibilities for Giffen’s future travels once the ax falls:

    1)Whatever ongoing Generation Lost is leading up to.(Return of the JLI?) 

    2)A return to glory with Paul Levitz on LOSH (please, please, please)

  40. First Wave was such a disappointment, from its delays to its lackluster cornerstone books.  It’s a bad sign when both Doc Savage and Spirit series are bad (although the Spirit was pretty good for the first couple issues…).  It’s a shame because I really wanted it to succeed. 

    Chris makes strong points for these titles being chopped.  Let’s hope that doesn’t come to pass.  Less comics means less for consumers.

  41. @Thursday  I agree entirely about Booster lagging since then.  It’d be a huge shame if Booster got cancelled now.  Hopefully a new JLI and Time Masters book would keep me happy instead.  But only if we get both!

  42. If Power Girl gets cancelled, I think I’ll cry. I’ve loved every issue. The only other book on this list I read is Gotham City Sirens and I can live without that since there’s so many Bat-Family books. Besides, I’d rather just have a Catwoman title.

    As for First Wave, I read the first two issues of Spirit and the first two issues of First Wave. I couldn’t get into the mini-series (and the delays didn’t help) and my shop sold out of Spirit #3, so I figured I would just trade-wait.

  43. Booster Gold, Power Girl, The Outsiders, and Gotham Sirens have been very good books in my opinion. As for JSA All Stars we already have a JSA book and that should be good enough if they rotate the roll call from time to time. It is such a crappy economy that it makes it tuff for everyone in any industry to hang onto the bottom fruit. I will be very sad if I loose any of those titles I listed above and there really is nothing we can do about it. Not to mention all comic book companys are charging way to much for the books in my opinion! I would be happy to go back to the old paper if it means bringing the prices back down. Gas alone is killing us not to mention the cost of living and there are thousands of comic fans that are no longer able to read multiple titles and can only afford one or two a month. Me I am still hanging in there and eventually I will need to start trimming all of the titles I am reading. Like last week I finally dropped Emerald Warior and First Wave; both very disappointing. Not to mention the Marvel titles that have been just as crappy lately.


  44. I wish publishers would reinvent the concept of cancelations.

    Wouldn’t it have been better for DC to announce that they’ve “renewed” titles like
    Batgirl, Zantanna, Jonah Hex for another story arc rather than announce the cancelation of titles folks the majority of fans aren’t reading in the first place?

    And to that end – when a publisher launches a new title why announce it as an on-going? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to promote a title based on its story or art than just on its characters?

    I’d really like to see a publisher try this approach. It just seems like it’d be more positive to fans and the creators.

  45. @TheNextChampion  What are you basing your analysis that marvel would have cancelled these books immediately on? Marvel keeps books around that don’t sell that much for long stretches of times if they want to give it a shot. Dan Slott’s She-Hulk ran for a long time, despite low sales. Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy weren’t exactly burning up the sales charts, but they were around for quite a while. Even Captain Britain and the MI13 lasted longer than it would have in the past with the sales figures it had. there was a time when a low selling book was axed after 7 issues. Now they frequently make it into the teens, twenties, or even more. 

  46. @Smasher  I have thought this for a long time. I think comics should take a cue from TV and just do “seasons.” Have a creative team do one season of a book and don’t offer it for sale until the run is complete. The next episode of a TV show is never late because they are still filming it. They film then well in advance, then air them. If a book s popular, order another “season” and get to work on it while the first one is still coming out. Have a break in between and try other titles. That way you can have a larger number of titles, but the same amount of comics. I don’t need 12 issues a year of a title. I would be perfectly happy with 6 issues if they were of a high quality and I got 6 issues of another really strong title in the gap in between issues of the first series.

    For books with a bigger audience, like Batman or Spider-Man or the like, you can have it come out monthly. Also, with the “season” idea, it’s not as big of a commitment. If Marvel announced they were launching an 8 issue “first season” of a title like Iron Fist, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab it. If I liked it, I would buy the next season. If I didn’t,  have one complete little run that was complete, and the collector in me wouldn’t feel the need to keep buying it if I didn’t like it as much as I thought i would.

    Each new season would relaunch with a new #1 issue and be a good spot for new readers to jump on. And older seasons would be collected in one volume editions, much like TV series are now, making it easy to catch up if you discover a book after the first few seasons.

    This is a concept that I think should at least be tried. It seems like it has a big upside to me. 

  47. @John: Yes that’s why books today like SWORD, She-Hulks (the new run), Young Allies, and Thor the Mighty Avenger have lasted as long as they did. Because Marvel saw the first sale figures and thought: “Yes it doesn’t sell well, but we’ll let it run anyways with no interferance on number of issues it can have.”

    Oh wait… 

  48. @TheNextChampion  Yeah, there are titles that get the axe right away. but there are also titles that are given a chance to find an audience. it’s unfair to say Marvel cancels titles at the drop of a hat when history shows otherwise. They do no more quick pulls of titles that aren’t selling well than DC does. 

  49. You know, this better not get blamed on us, the fans. I’ve been seeing a trend where, when a book doesn’t sell, it’s often attributed to “The book just didn’t sell well enough” As if to say that we didn’t make an effort to go to the store and buy it.

    For everyone who says “Oh, late books are a part of the business now and don’t affect how well a book does.” Yeah, look at First Wave.

  50. @JoseRivera83  It’s much easier to say “the book didn’t sell well” than it is to admit “The book didn’t sell well because it wasn’t done well enough to attract a wide enough audience.” People don’t like to take personal responsibility for their own actions. Sure, there are high quality books that don’t sell because they have a niche audience, or they weren’t marketed right so people knew about it, but usually, if something fails, it’s because it wasn’t good enough. Or, as you said, it was delayed and people got sick of waiting. 

  51. @JohnVFerrigno  The history of modern popular media would be in direct contrast to the idea that “if something fails, it’s because it wasn’t good enough.” It’s usually the exact opposite.

    @JoseRivera83  I bought all of the First Wave books… for a while. It wasn’t lateness that killed those books.

  52. @conor  So you’re saying things fail because they are good?

  53. @JohnVFerrigno  Things often fail because they are too good/smart/etc., yes.

  54. @JohnVFerrigno – Look at the most popular tv shows, movies, and music. Most people do not have what you’d call good taste. As Conor said, for the most part, people with good critical taste are in the vast minority.

  55. things also succeed because they are great. Things also fail because they are crappy. its a bit dangerous to get into that indie rock mentality where its only good if no one has ever heard of it kinda thing. 

    A lot of success has to do with cultural zeitgeist. If Walking Dead came out a few years earlier, it might not have made a splash.  

  56. @wallythegreenmonster  No one has made any absolute statements.

  57. @Conor. I see your point. I’ve been buying all the First Wave titles since they first came out. What kills Doc Savage for me is that it’s painfully boring. That and the Justice Inc back-ups tend to be more style over substance, but that style is so gray and drab. The Spirit I love because it’s hardly ever dull, but I could honestly care less about the Spirit B&W back-ups. Now that they’ve dispensed with the back-ups, it’s not too bad, but Doc Savage is still unreadable.

    First Wave did get killed by lateness because with a book that started off so strong and eventually just died out, no one really cares anymore. That’s supposed to be the main book but it’s never on time and has more padding than a teenage girl’s bra. I remember reading the preview/bible in the Doc Savage/Batman crossover thinking “Wow! Look at all they have set up. They have all these great characters!” Oh, the characters do show up, but for like a second and they don’t have the impact you thought they were going to have. They’re just…there.

    I’m a DC guy through and through, but I can honestly say I had more fun with the Marvel Noir books than this. If only they could have done more.

  58. @conor  I don’t think things fail because they are too great or smart. I think they fail because their audience isn’t large enough to support them in their medium. It’s the problem with entertainment for the masses. In order to appeal to a large group of people, you have to be less specific.

    It’s like if a large group of people are eating pizza. One guy might like sausage, one person likes bacon, and then there are those wack jobs who put pineapple on theirs. Nobody can agree, so you just get a plain pizza. That’s what most super-popular entertainment is: plain pizza. it’s not necessarily BAD, it’s just not as specifically suited to as many people’s particular tastes. 

    Great shows/movies/comics that fail didn’t really fail because they are great. they fail because they are more specific in nature and people who like that specific thing are outnumbered by people who don’t. The blander, more generic stuff isn’t as sophisticated, but it’s something more people can agree on. 

  59. @j206  good critical taste is also subjective. What somebody loves and thinks is fantastic doesn’t appeal to everyone else. It doesn’t mean the thing in question is bad if somebody doesn’t like it, it just means it doesn’t appeal to their personal tastes. I’ve been coming to this site/listening to the podcasts, etc for about 3 years now. In that time, there have been some things that Conor has loved that I have tried and said “YEs! this is amazing!” there have been things Conor has loved that i tried and said “This is not for me.” It doesn’t mean that second thing is BAD, it just means it appeals to an aspect of his personality/tastes that doesn’t overlap with mine. We have enough in common that if he raves about something, I’ll give it a shot, but nobody agrees on everything. 

  60. If they’d launched First Wave back when Darwyn was doing The Spirit, I probably would’ve bought into the line. Sadly, by the time they did, I was over it.

  61. @JohnVFerrigno  You described exactly my point.

  62. @JohnVFerrigno  Mmmmm, I love Ham & pineapple pizza.
    I also like some off-the-wall Indie comics

    But I like Pepperoni pizza  too (that’s Marvel/DC super-heroes)

  63. I’ll be disappointed if Power Girl and Booster Gold get cancelled.  I’ve not been happy with the direction things took with Booster’s title since Giffen and Co. took over and Ive been quite vocal about it, but I’m really hoping to see Dan Jurgens come back and set the right tone again.

    I’m ok with the JSA All-Stars getting cancelled as the characters will just fold back into the original JSA book.   Freedom Fighters would have done a bit better if it had kept more of the tone and painted style it had in the two miniseries.

    I wanted to like Doom Patrol, REBELS, and Outsiders more, but I just couldn’t.  I had a hard time picking those up with any consistency cause they just never grabbed and hooked me.

    I’d also add Zatanna to the list of titles to be worried about cancellation.   I want to see it do much better than it has been and Im worried it will see the axe before long. 

  64. @conor  I think I am the only person alive who can argue with somebody I’m agreeing with.

    My head hurts…….

  65. if they cancel Power Girl, I will be crushed, but at the same time, I’m happy I got any solo Power Girl books at all. 

  66. @Conor
    The history of modern popular media would be in direct contrast to the idea that “if something fails, it’s because it wasn’t good enough.” It’s usually the exact opposite.

    Never a truer word was spoke.