Alibi V.27 No.30 • July 26-Aug 1, 2018 

Idiot Box

Civil War

DC Comics launches its own network

If you think living in today’s political climate—separating people into partisan camps of “conservative Republicans” and “liberal Democrats”—is unnecessarily divisive, just wait until shadowy government forces drag you off a bus and force you to declare your pop cultural allegiances. “Star Wars or Star Trek, citizen? And anyone who mentions Battlestar Galactica is going straight to lockup!” Sound unrealistic? Possibly. But America’s future is increasingly being staked out by proprietary corporations, who don’t want you to support another corporation’s product. “All-inclusive” entertainment tools such as Netflix are quickly being abandoned in favor of exclusive, “over-the-top” streaming services (the industry term for audio, video and other media transmitted via the internet without the need for intermediate operators such as cable or satellite). Wanna watch the new “Star Trek” series, for example? Then you’d better be a monthly subscriber to CBS All Access, because it ain’t airing anyplace else.

Now comes word that the war between Marvel and DC Comics will soon create an even wider schism in popular culture. The massive San Diego Comic Con just concluded, sending waves throughout the movie, TV, video game and comic book industries that will continue to reverberate for months. Among the most seismic of announcements was the news that DC would begin beta testing its DC Universe, a video-on-demand subscription service, in August 2018. For one low fee ($7.99 a month or $74.99 a year) you can read a rotating selection of digital comics, view all the new TV shows DC is developing and gain access to older DC live-action and animated films and TV series.

So what will you get by paying for DC Universe? Even if you aren’t itching to watch Batman v. Superman every day, you’ll have a decent roster to choose from. At Comic Con DC unveiled the trailer for “Titans,” a gritty, live-action version of “Teen Titans.” Dark, peppered with curse words and featuring a very angry iteration of Robin, the trailer impressed most who saw it. (Although it sticks awfully close to DC/Warner Bros. wearying “grimdark” house style, a look that’s already being dumped in new movies like Shazam and Wonder Woman 2). Also slated for premiere sometime in 2019: A “Swamp Thing” reboot, a live-action version of the cult comic “Doom Patrol” and a stab at “Stargirl” (a relatively recent heroine created by Geoff Johns). Animated version of “Young Justice: Outsiders” and “Harley Quinn” are on the slate as well. So far, anyway, it’s a better lineup than CBS All Access. But it begs the question: How much of a DC loyalist are you?

Like to watch all kinds of superhero movies and TV shows, regardless of original publisher? Too bad. You’ll have to retain your subscription to Netflix to see anything Marvel-based. (For now anyway. Disney—which owns Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar—is developing its own monthly subscription service and will eventually yank all content from Netflix.) So unless you want to pay monthly fees to each and every company in America, you’re going to have to pick your favorite. … “Marvel or DC, citizen? And anyone who mentions Image Comics is going straight to lockup!”