So big was the news about REBELS that despite that we've lost Doom Patrol: Fire Away, JSA All-Stars: Puzzle Men, and the Weird Worlds collection officially, and good money says Nick Spencer's Supergirl: Good Looking Corpse is going to go soon, too, this is the first time the recent cancellations have scored mainstream comics news coverage, with an article posted at Bleeding Cool.
Fan Joe Kontor posted about the cancellation to Dan DiDio's Facebook Wall, and Dan replied, "Sorry but the sales were not there to support this book going to press."
On the Collected Editions Facebook Wall, reader Matt Adams shared anecdotally that he heard from his local comics shop that the "print slots" are being used for DC New 52 reprints instead.
I can't say if that's actually the case or not, and I do understand that DC Comics is a business that has a responsibility to make money, and that if they complete an equation that says the REBELS trade (or Doom Patrol, or Manhunter way before it) isn't going to be profitable, they have to cancel it. I don't believe anyone's out there thinking, "Let's pretend we're going to publish it and then snatch it away just to make people mad." I'm sure that's not what's happening.
Two items I'm wondering about, however:
First, why was REBELS the cancellation that seems to have brought wider attention to this, at least for the moment? Is it that while Tony Bedard has not necessarily been writing comics longer than Doom Patrol's Keith Giffen, for instance, Bedard has written more "high profile" titles of late like Green Lantern Corps and seemingly does more work for DC across the board than say Manhunter's Marc Andreyko, and therefore the cancellation of one of Bedard's trades is a larger shock (and if so, wait'll DC axes the Supergirl trade!)?
Or did REBELS achieve a level of fan favoritism greater than Doom Patrol (or, certainly, JSA All-Stars) with its Starro storyline and the inclusion of Lobo, Starfire, Adam Strange and others? I know I enjoyed the space opera and the chance to see the LEGION characters in action again; you can read all the Collected Editions reviews of REBELS at the link.
Second, DC solicited REBELS: Starstruck in August for December release; the book came available in most stores for pre-order in September, and then was announced as cancelled at the end of October. That's not much time for readers to get their acts together -- and literally no quarter given to what I'd imagine are the large majority of readers who don't want to pay ahead of time for a book they won't receive until four months later, and instead want to walk into a comics shop or bookstore like a normal person, see what's out that week, and then make their purchasing decisions.
We all know the old chestnut that "pre-ordering is your friend," but now it seems more like "pre-order or die" -- apparently, the only guarantee that a book will reach the shelves is sufficient pre-ordering ahead of time. Is this tied to reprintings of the DC New 52, as Matt Adams suggested? Or have DC's benchmarks for sales levels of trades changed (and does that suggest greater difficulties on DC's part)? Certainly, I don't believe we've seen such week-to-week, higher profile cancellations previously.
I'm not sure I like a system where I have to put down my money early in order to certify a book even gets printed (like the Groupon approach to comics buying), especially when book contents have had a tendency to shift and change sometimes from solicitation to arrival.
Quick glance at the latest DC Comics solicitations, for January 2012 ... anyone want to place bets whether Hawk and Dove: Ghosts and Demons, Power Girl: Old Friends, Justice Society of America: Monument Point, Xombi, or Titans: Broken Promises won't make it to the stores?
UPDATE: Another fatality from DC's November 2011 solicitations -- along with Weird Worlds, REBELS: Starstruck, and Supergirl: Good Looking Corpse, David Hines and Matt Sturges The Spirit Vol.2: The Clockwork Killer is also on the chopping block.
Frequently bought together? I don't think so ...