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DC’s ‘New 52′ TV Commercial Hedges Bets On Motion Comics And Keyboard Metal

One of the most intriguing elements of DC Comics imminent relaunch of all its superhero titles is that the publisher intends advertise the “New 52” line in the form of mass-media commercials in hopes of driving new readers to comic book stores and digital outlets. This week, the LA Times Hero Complex debuted what’s really more of a film-style trailer that’s meant to be shown in movie theaters and on television in conjunction with this September’s new releases.

As we’ve said before here at ComicsAlliance, a full-on advertising blitz for comics is something we’ve wanted to see for a long time, and now it’s here. You can check out DC’s 30-second commercial, including its truly awful music, after the cut with our commentary on what this might mean for the new DC Universe!

What you see above is the 30-second television version of DC’s “New 52″ commercial, but Hero Complex also published an extended two-minute cut that features a pretty good sample of artwork from new titles like Justice League, Aquaman and Action Comics thanks to an exclusive from DC Comics.

It’s worth noting that the site disabled video embedding, which is great for driving traffic to Hero Complex but counterproductive on DC’s part, assuming that they want to get the commercial in front of as many people as possible. They presumably spent some amount of money to produce the two-minute commercial as part of a push that, let’s be honest, the entirety of the company is resting on, but ended up undermining their own strategy by making the full-length version of the “New 52″ ad impossible to view outside of a single website. Go figure.

As for the video itself, I’ve got to say that it’s not bad at all. I’ve gone on record before with my opinion that motion comics may in fact be an incarnation of Satan himself, but in small doses, they work pretty well as a promotional tool. Adding a tiny bit of animation and a few visual effects to dramatic shots of Superman’s glowing heat vision eyes doesn’t sound like it’d end up very appealing, but they actually did a pretty nice of job of representing what we’re actually going to be seeing in the comics. It looks pretty exciting.

Well, as exciting as “Aquaman fights a van” can be, anyway.

From the looks of the longer trailer, DC definitely tailored the visuals to the movie theater environment, focusing on characters the audience will recognize from movies and other mass media. We see Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern doing the stuff you want to see them doing — beating dudes up, throwing heavy objects around, deflecting projectiles and making shiny green things, respectively. It’s a pretty strong indication that DC is trying to capture the people who like those versions of their characters, which is supported when we catch a look at the villains, including a more Batman Begins-esque version of the Scarecrow:

Also, I think it’s hilarious that Professor Pyg has a nametag reading “PROF,” just in case the pig mask wasn’t enough of a tipoff. Either way, it’s a pretty fun set of visuals.

The music, however, is absolutely terrible.

It’s not as noticeably bad in the 30-second trailer, but once you get into the two-minute spot, the fact that you’re hearing the same repetitive two notes over the beat from a Casio keyboard’s “Metal” demo is maybe the worst thing that I have ever heard. Seriously, this is the fate of the company we’re talking about here. At least try to not have it sound like the opening credits of a Sci-Fi Channel original movie from ten years ago.

As someone who’s been reading DC comics for a while, I can’t help but wonder what audiences that aren’t so familiar with the characters are going to take away from this ad. It’s certainly a darker take on the heroes than what most people would consider their “classic” versions, with images of brutal combat from Batman and Nightwing, a more intimidating Superman holding a man up on the edge of a balcony while facing down the police, and even Aquaman attacking people with a trident without a single fishy friend in sight. Even Wonder Woman, who looks the brightest and happiest out of everyone in the trailer, is in darker colors, pulling off some pretty awesome action courtesy of artist Cliff Chiang:

None of that darkness should really come as a surprise if you’re familiar with DC Comics of the recent past; this is, after all, a company whose most successful franchise of the past few years, Green Lantern, has recently involved people puking blood at each other in outer space. But for the “lapsed fan” DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has talked about recapturing and the casual moviegoer who only knows these characters from films like The Dark Knight or the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, these images probably seem pretty intriguing. “Superman fighting cops” certainly has a bit of edginess to it that makes you want to know what’s happening.

As to what that means for the actual comics, whether we’ll be seeing a darker, more movie-style take on DC’s characters and, most importantly, whether that’ll be enough to get the people who see this ad interested in checking out the actual comic books, we’ll just have to find out next month.

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