DC Comics’ cancellation zone seems to be somewhere under 20,000 units sold. Of the titles not already cancelled, these are the titles that fell under that mark in the month of October: Ravagers, DC Universe Presents, Dial H, Batwing, Firestorm, Savage Hawkman, Legion of Super-Heroes, Demon Knights, Deathstroke. That doesn’t mean that these are the titles that will be cancelled next. Some of them most certainly will be cancelled, but others will probably be given extra time to regain lost readers with a change in focus or creative team. These are usually the signs of a book before cancellation. Sometimes you can even tell a book is going south before the sales figures can even be posted.
1. Phantom Stranger doesn’t sound like a title that will make it very long. It was kind of a surprise that it even existed in the first place. I figured the Stranger would be walking around somewhere, but definitely not in his own title. It’s kind of hard to see this book even making it through its first year. While the title has seen better sales than probably expected (people love Phantom Stranger), the book has already seen a 35 spot drop in its second month of publication. Many other New 52 books have been cut short after issue #8 and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of them.
The problem with the book stems from the Phantom Stranger character himself. He’s been traditionally depicted as a mystery. Where did he come from? Why is he doomed to wander the Earth alone forever? Was he a fallen angel? Was he the biblical Judas? No one ever knew and it was really fun to be able to guess about it. But in the New 52? No. He’s definitely Judas Iscariot, he was punished to wander the world looking like he’s a crime noir coachman and he wears a necklace made out of the thirty pieces of silver he sold Jesus for. Now he has a secret identity and he has a mission and a motive. This is not the Phantom Stranger. Elimination of all the mysteries surrounding him does not make him a more compelling character, it makes him feel hollow. Especially when he’s a religious figure. I can only imagine what actual religious people think about this.