One big question mark in last week's announcement of DC Comics Earth One original graphic novel initiative was what the price point would be, and how many pages.
We get at least an inkling of that answer today with this solicitation for Superman: Earth One, at $19.95, 128 pages, and hardcover.
Here's some rough math, and please correct me in the comments section: Your average issue of Superman is $2.99 and 22 pages (that's story pages, if I understand correctly, not including advertisements). 128 pages is five to six issues; let's split the difference and say five and a half issues would be about $16.45.
So to start with, we see that Superman: Earth One is more expensive than the same number of comics issues. But everyone and their uncle gets some kind of discount on comic books, at least 30%, so let's say Superman: Earth One will actually cost about $14.00, not $19.95. Now we're looking at each "issue" of Superman: Earth One costing about $0.50 less than your average comic book.
This is important for two reasons:
1) A side benefit of being a trade-reader has always been that the books tend to cost less than single issues. This only makes sense; as with movies and other media, the customer gets immediate gratification (the weekly comic) and pays a premium for it, or gets delayed gratification (the later collection) but saves money to offset the wait. By rights Superman: Earth One should cost less than equivalent single issues.
2) Price will be key for garnering readers. If the cost of Superman: Earth One were ostentatious (and it could be, given that it's technically a "first run" book), this would be another reason to dismiss the Earth One concept out of hand. $19.95 is considerably low in comparison to other hardcover collections (Superman: New Krypton volume 1 was $24.99) and that means we'll see an even cheaper paperback to follow.
One sore spot about this announcement is the release date, September 2010. Granted any of these details could change -- including the page count and price -- as the release gets closer, but September is a very, very long time to wait for the Earth One books to begin -- DC runs the danger of losing excitement for the project before it even begins if it's after next summer before it starts (though this gives lots of convention lead-time to advertise). I expected something more like March or April. Maybe it'll turn out Batman: Earth One is coming first, but currently it doesn't look that way.
Five and a half issues, from my perspective, is still better than nothing. I remain very excited about Earth One, especially since it begins to look, if not thick, then affordable at least. What do you think?
Couple more new solicitations in addition:
* Batman and Robin Vol. 2: Batman vs. Robin - The second volume of the Grant Morrison series also in deluxe oversized format, like the first volume and Batman RIP
* Justice League of America: Team History - The first James Robinson/Mark Bagley trade after Cry for Justice
* World's Greatest Super-heroes Deluxe - This appears (unconfirmed) to be a deluxe format edition of the painted Alex Ross stories written by Paul Dini. These were previously only available as very large paperbacks and an Absolute edition; "deluxe" is a far more manageable size. Could this be the beginning of an Absolute-to-deluxe trend?
* Batman: Life After Death - Following Judd Winick's Batman: Long Shadows, here's the next volume in the solo adventures of the new Batman, by Tony Daniel
What's on your to-buy list? Does Superman: Earth One made the cut? Chime in at the comments section below.