The biggest “issue” with reading comics in general is figuring out when to try a book. If you haven’t read it before or in a really long time it’s challenging to just snag a comic off the shelves, be it digital or physical, and expect to know who everyone is and what’s going on. The challenge can be further exaserbated by indie comics because they lack the general pop culture familiarity of their main characters. You may not know what’s going on in the latest issue of Superior Spider-man but you do know who Spider-man is and the basics of how he came to be a super hero.
Even the big publishers felt the strain of trying to bring in those lapsed and new readers though. Marvel lead the way with their Point One books and eventually the Marvel Now books offering readers a way to jump into virtually any of the companies’ franchises. DC Comics followed with The New 50, a cross franchise reboot of every DC title that offered new and lapsed readers a chance to jump in from a new begining.
Now Dark Horse Comics is launching Starting Points for those same coveted new and lapsed readers. Starting Points is sort of soft launch program as it does not appear to be affecting the story arcs in any indicidual series. The plan with Starting Points is simply to notify retailers and readers each month that this particular issue of a series is a good place to start the series. The story won’t be written specifically for this purpose; it just happens to be a good place to start. Dark Horse will be incentivizing retailers to feature these Starting Points books prominently so they won’t be tough to find in stores should fans be looking for them.
For a publisher that allows much more freedon to its writers than the big two this is probably about the best way to let readers know it’s time to try a new franchise. Few books from Dark Horse actually exist in the same universe so resets or full reboots across various comics can be difficult to do. If these “Starting Points” books were acompanied by a recap page this program might be absolutely all that’s required to get readers on board. I’m not sure if jumpig on at the begining of a new story arc is enough for readers completely unfamiliar with a franchise though. we will find out in Jume when the first two Stating Points books are released.
The first two sarting points books will be Mike Mignola’s Abe Sapien and Captain Midnight. From the press release:
In Abe Sapien #13, the amphibious Abe is haunted by guilt over the staggering death toll in Arizona and vows to never let such horrors happen again—until a crazed healer and a frog-possessed teen block his path! If you haven’t been keeping up with Hellboy’s one-time partner, there’s never been a better time to get onboard with this ongoing series cowritten by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, with art from Sebastián Fiumara!
Meanwhile, Captain Midnight #12 kicks off a brand-new arc! Reeling from the death of one friend and the betrayal of another, Captain Midnight throws himself into his work. Disillusioned with why he wears a costume, the time-traveling hero ponders what the world needs more of: the brawn of Captain Midnight or the brains of his civilian identity, genius inventor Jim Albright.
Look for us to jump into the Starting Points books and give you our thoughts!