When my colleague Jesse Lab and I saw the DC Universe panel at last year’s New York Comic-Con, we came out of the room incredulous and skeptical (and with over a free year of the service). It’s been a full year since then, and at a press reception for DCU last Thursday night, the tone was different.
The streaming service was successful, but not in ways some of us expected. It may be a “universe” for their content, but it was as much a universe for their fans and community—and DCU is taking advantage of that in year 2.
While much of the focus at last year’s panel was on their expletive-laden original shows, this presentation to the press emphasized the curated legacy content available to subscribers. With a number of comic books, show, and movies, recent and old, DCU members are getting the bang for their buck. Mentioned specifically were the direct-to-DVD movie Reign of the Supermen being the most-viewed film on the service, with the comic DC Universe: Rebirth No. 1 being the most-read book.
But the love for the community really showed through the newly-announced shows coming to the service. While Titans, Doom Patrol, and the upcoming Harley Quinn animated show are more so aimed to a mainstream audience, some new projects for the streaming service were a bit more niche and aimed towards some more knowledgable fans.
Amongst the announcements that night was BizarroTV, a new “mixed media” anthology show, with a splash screen featuring a cube-shaped Earth and who I assume is Bizarro flying around the world backwards. Through that, we’ll see a number of obscure but beloved characters, with Space Cabbie being the prime example given in the presentation.
More explicitly aimed towards the community was the initiative called DCYou Unscripted, a project for DCU in collaboration with Ideas United. DC fans will have the unique opportunity to pitch their own shows for the service, with ten finalists, three pitches going to pilot, and the aim of one of those to go to series for DCU by this time next year. The presentation didn’t elaborate what kind of shows, genres, or formats would be eligible, but the idea is fascinating regardless.
Direct engagement was the main theme for DCU year 2, with the service receiving a number of new features scheduled for October 23 for what DC is calling “Community Week.” A number of guests and creators from comics, TV, and animation will participate in “book club discussions, live Watch-Alongs with behind-the-scenes insights and deep dive explorations of the shows and scripts.“
I had a concern that at one point, DC Universe would be superseded and absorbed by HBO Max from DC’s parent company. At NYCC 2019, DC made the case for their own standalone venture—it’s a platform, a community, a supplement for TV viewers who don’t read comics, or vice versa.
The press reception ended with a look at Titans season 2, with an unexpected guest: Krypto the Superdog himself. If the optimism from DC for DC Universe wasn’t showing enough, look no more than to that very good dog.