DC Comics has apparently sent retailers a FAQ presentation regarding their upcoming September relaunch, which I assume you've all been following to some degree if you're reading this blog, as I've been talking about it pretty much non-stop. I'm going to link to Heidi MacDonald's posting of it at The Beat, as that was the first place I've seen it.
Go give it a read, if you haven't seen it already.
That, by the way, is the good news part of this update. It showed DC reclaiming the naming and marketing of their initiative, which my former paymasters at Newsarama have taken to calling "The DCnU," a name that's stuck about as well as any, given that DC has seemed kind of loathe to explain the move in any great detail until this FAQ. (Don MacPherson noted that the publisher seemed to cede the naming of their "baby" in a mid-June Eye On Comics editorial; he responds to their new name in this one).
It also addressed a lot of specific retailer-ish concerns, and spoke about the initiative in broad terms, which I imagine will allay a lot of retailer concerns (Of course, shouldn't this have come out around the time the solicitations for September's 52 #1s were released?).
It was also nice to see the publisher attempt to answer some actually frequently asked questions, like why they were giving all their heroes new, worse costumes and why they were renumbering Action and Detective and what was the deal with their continuity (i.e. the DCU's strongest selling point to its dwindling fans).
As a reader, I wanted to know the answers to these questions, and I'm afraid I didn't really get them; the answers provided were sometimes frustratingly vague (One possible exception? An example chosen to illustrate their approach to continuity was Barbara Gordon/Batigrl/Oracle, which indicates they are at least taking that decision seriously enough to single out for greater attention here).
It basically sounds like they're rebooting continuity in the exact same way they did with Crisis On Infinite Earths, Zero Hour and the years-long tweaks of Superboy punches/Infinite Crisis/52/reverberations of the New Gods' activity/Final Crisis: extremely selectively. In each of those cases, readers knew a lot of things changed, but what exactly changed was addressed piecemeal, and often wouldn't get laid out until a creator wanted to reference something or build something on a past story or character or shared memory.
The fact that DC has done this so many times now shows the flaws in the system. At least with Zero Hour, the changes were relatively few and all laid-out for creators and fans alike; with the latest rounds of changes, all accomplished while the current regime at DC was pretty much in place, no one seemed to be aware of what changed, which causes problems for creators, and confused writers and artists lead to confused (and frustrated) readers.
I would like to believe Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, Bob Harras and a bunch of their writers and editors all got together for a few weeks and hammered out a big-ass DCU timeline and Bible/encyclopedia, but for the most part, this seems as fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants as everything else the publisher had done in the past five years.
Which brings us to the bad news.
Comics Alliance has a fun—if scary and/or sad, depending on one's level of interest or investment in the September relaunch—post noting that DC's website including some pretty dramatic typos in terms of the names of some of the writers involved (You can read it here). Such as having the names of entirely different writers than those who were previously announced attached to some of the books. And, coincidentally enough, some of those wrong names happen to belong to writers who were rumored to be working on books for the relaunched DCU.
In other words, how last minute were some of the who's-doing-what decisions, and how long, exactly, did the creators asked to take "the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories " and then "modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales," while also gearing them to a wide enough audience of brand new readers to minimize the risk of gambling much of the publisher's existing fan base have to figure out what the hell they were doing?
A couple weeks, maybe?