This week’s DC comics see the second in what is apparently a series of four insert comics advertising Subway – the third such insert in the last month, factoring in the Super 8 one that ran a few weeks ago. While these are free comics – which should be a good thing, right? – I doubt I’m the only person who’s been finding them oddly abrasive and annoying as I leaf past, trying to pick up where the “real” story left off.
DC has a history when it comes to insert comics – In the late 1970s and early 1980s, series like The New Teen Titans and All-Star Squadron debuted as 16-page inserts in other titles before being spun out into their own series, and a decade later, DC tried out new talent in a series of “Bonus Book” inserts that appeared across the line (I remember that Gordon Purcell, who went on to draw Star Trek comics for a long time afterwards, had his first published work in one of those, but did any other creators from those go on to become regular comic professionals?) – so it’s not as if these inserts have come from nowhere with little warning (They’ve even done advertising inserts before; I can remember ones for both Masters of the Universe and MASK toys, although both properties went on to become licensed DC series for awhile afterwards).
But in the past, DC’s insert comics have been for the most part limited to appearing in one book, as opposed to the entire line, which feels… I don’t know, better, somehow – Perhaps it’s because it makes the insert feel more like a special event rather than an overlong advertisement, or perhaps it’s simply because it means you don’t get bored seeing the same thing over and over again if you’re buying multiple DC books that week.
It remains an odd thing to begrudge, though; they’re free comics. At the very least, we can just ignore them, and at the most, they might be fun (I didn’t hate the Super 8 one, although I did hate that it didn’t have an ending as such). So why do the recent inserts feel so irritating?