"WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?/ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE"
November 22, 2005 Microsoft releases the hit video game system the Xbox 360. After the Xbox being successful with it's LAN parties where people would meet up in the same house to play over various systems/TVs this system really brought multiplayer gaming to a new level. It incorporated online play through Xbox Live. Now, Sega tried to do this first with the Dreamcast, but unfortunately the Dreamcast was so ahead of it's time that it never really took off. With Xbox's exclusives of Halo and Gears of War, this system became such a huge success with FPS players and online players alike. Such a success that many players spent so much time on it that it overheated. This was notoriously known at the "Red Ring of Death" and more often than not would kill your system. It was so unpredictable which systems would get the RROD that even Microsoft had one RROD at one of their presentations. They later claimed to have this fixed when they released the Slim version, but there were definitely still some people who suffered from RROD even on the Slim model. This system was Microsoft's best selling system but still due to the RROD, left a lot of people afraid to purchase it until it was fixed. This was another huge moment in the console wars.
Identity Crisis and all the stories of DC leading up to this point had laid the ground work for the 4 books to come out. Day of Vengeance, The Omac Project, Villains United and Rann-Thanagar War were all precursors to Infinite Crisis. The idea behind this was the each of these 4 titles would be a pillar of the DC Universe. Day of Vengeace covering Magic and how the Spectre dealt without having a human host (as Hal Jordan left the Spectre in Rebirth). The magic world was being torn asunder by Spectre and any major magician was feeling the fallout of this. In this, there were some characters who were magic based but not experts. They teamed up to try to solve the Spectre problem. They became the Shadowpact. The Omac Project dealing with Superheroes (being the Trinity) after the death of Blue Beetle in Countdown to Infinite Crisis. The Trinity (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) found out about Bruce's satellite Brother Eye being hijacked by Checkmate and Maxwell Lord controlling Superman's mind to kill off heroes. Superman was seeing the superheroes as his strongest villains so that he wouldn't hold back. His main target being Batman. Wonder Woman came to help Batman and after using the lasso of truth on Maxwell Lord, he tells her the only way she can stop him is to kill him. So she snaps his neck. Crossing the line of heroes don't kill. This causes a substantial rift between the three. Villains United covered the Villains (as Omac covered heroes they needed one for the villains). This had Lex Luthor build a cabal of main villains who would then recruit all of the other villains in the DCU to team up together and make their plans more cohesive as one unit so that they would be less likely to be stopped. Lex however wouldn't allow a certain six to join as he saw them as nothing more than a joke. This spurned those six and they made it their goal to stop all of the other villains for payback. Thus, the Secret Six were founded. They later had their own title which I highly recommend. It was a great read written by Gail Simone. And lastly Rann-Thanagar War to cover the space/science fiction part of the DCU. Once again, the planets of Rann and Thanagar were at war with each other. Kyle Rayner tries to help barter peace between the warring planets but gets stuck in the middle. All of this was leading to one of the biggest sequels in comics history...
Infinite Crisis (the sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths from the mid 80s) began in December 2005. Each issue had 1 cover by Jim Lee and the variant was by George Perez (the artist of Crisis on Infinite Earths). Culminating out the four lead in books mentioned above, this would see the DC Universe falling apart. Who could fix the darker version this universe had become since the original Crisis? Well, this story would show the return of the original Superman and Lois Lane (Golden Age versions), Alexander Luthor from Earth 3 and Superboy Prime. These characters seemingly gave their lives to stop the Anti-Monitor in the original but ended up in a pocket dimension being trapped and able to see everything happening in the post-crisis DCU. I don't want to give away too much of the fantastic story written by Geoff Johns (again). This mini series would have a long lasting impact just like the original. Now I have always preferred DC to Marvel (I have enjoyed my fair share of Marvel too) I had been marketing DC to customers for years. This was a HUGE turning point in our comic sales. For all of the years prior, Marvel had outsold DC here at Chimp's but that was about to change. This was the title that had die-hard Marvel fans even giving it a try. This opened the doors for many readers to try other great DC stories like Batman Hush, Green Lantern Rebirth and much much more. This shifted DC to be our top selling company and that still lasts to this day, but Marvel was never out of the picture, coming on the horizon was one of Marvel's biggest stories.
Immediately following the end of Infinite Crisis, DC had 2 plans. Their regular monthly books all jumped 1 year into the future titled "One Year Later" and left readers trying to solve the mysteries of what happened to their favorite characters over the one year. They also started doing a weekly series titled 52. Week after week an issue of this series would be released. This was a risky move as weekly comics had been rough to actually release on time, but DC was up for the challenge. This series NEVER missed a week of not releasing the next issue. 52 was written by a five person team consisting of Geoff Johns, Keith Giffen, Mark Waid, Greg Rucka and Grant Morrison. All of the writers said that the entire series was written by all of them and no issue was any one writer by themselves. This book again took B and C list characters and brought them to the forefront. The occasional issue would highlight a bigger character like Batman or Superman, but most of the series dealt with Booster Gold, Steel, Black Adam, The Question and Elongated Man (after his wife's death in Identity Crisis). Every time the book felt like it was losing steam, it was usually just 1 or 2 issues away from something big. This book was an emotional rollercoaster and expertly constructed. Elongated Man's arc was so emotional to watch him go through the grieving stages. Booster Gold was a joke character to many readers but this series showed how awesome he could be. Especially with the mystery he solves at the end. Black Adam met his wife and declared war on the World. Batwoman made her first appearance in this title and the Question's mantle was passed on to Renee Montoya. Such a great read.
As I had stated earlier, Marvel had one of it's biggest storylines on the horizon. In July 2006, Marvel released Civil War. The premise behind this Mark Millar and Steve McNiven story was that after a supervillain called Nitro exploded a school, the US government pressed forward with requiring all superheroes to register their real names with them. Iron Man agreed with this as he thought this would help keep everyone in check and if something happened they would know who did it instead of a secret identity letting them get away with it. Captain America did not agree at all. He felt that that takes away our freedoms to keep our loved ones safe. By having the real names in a database it would be possible for a villain to obtain this information and use it against someone. Spider-man believed in Iron Man enough to reveal his secret identity to the world via a news conference. This immediately started to do what Cap was worried about. Villains started targeting Spidey's loved ones. This showed Spider-man as the every man he is known so well to be. He started to sway allegiance between Iron Man and Cap. War was being waged in the streets as Iron Man and the pro-registration characters had to hunt down the anti-registration heroes as they were breaking the law. Spidey was stuck in the middle and kind of worked like a double agent helping both. By the end of this story, both sides had valid points and most readers couldn't decide which side they felt was the correct one. This made for a great read when it actually makes you think and provides great points from both points of view. This series was a huge hit for us here at Chimp's as it was worldwide. DC had overtaken Marvel on sales for us at this point, but Civil War was Marvel regaining the lead during the event. Civil War did have it's fallout though...
Captain America #25 released in January 2007, it was a Civil War Epilogue that ended with Steve Rogers Captain America getting shot and killed on the court house steps as he was on his way to trial. No one knew this was coming and of course everyone under ordered this issue at the time. This was the culmination of Ed Brubaker's run on Cap that introduced the Winter Soldier. After Cap's death, Brubaker continued his run and made Bucky the new Captain America. Years later Steve Rogers would be brought back from the dead and return to the mantle of Captain America. Most people refer to Brubaker's run as one of the best in the history of Cap as he wrote a lot about the US government, conspiracies, Hydra, Red Skull and Cap's personal life.
Free Comic Book Day was May 6, 2006 this year and like the previous year we worked with the Salvation Army. After getting a pretty good turnout of food donations, this was the year that our contact at the Salvation Army really got excited for what we could do from here on out. He started helping us advertise more by trying to contact radio stations and such. I was contacted by one of the television stations in Mishawaka (don't remember which one) who was doing coverage of the event and wanted to know how we were handling it. We got some coverage from them leading up to the event. I also sent out postcards to anyone we add address info on hand for. We increased again by about another 50 food items donated this year. The Free Comics were Batman Adventures, Archie, Transformers Armada, Simpsons, Superman/Batman, Justice League Unlimited, Donald Duck, G.I. Joe Sigma, X-Men Runaways, Image Futureshock, Metallix, Robocop, Star Wars/Conan, Transformers Infiltration and Tokyopop.
Also on May 6, 2006 Ryan Riggle was getting married this day and Roy, Spore and I were the groomsmen and we definitely weren't going to miss his big day. . As these were all the regular helpers on Free Comic Book Day, that meant we had to run a partial day for the event. Now you may be wondering why there are so many pictures of Ice Cream Sandwiches. Well, this is because at my wedding, Roy and Spore found some Ice Cream Sandwiches in the kitchen of the church I was getting married in. They were hungry and for some unknown (to this day) reason, the wanted to eat one. They grabbed them out and started eating them. They were then caught by the Pastor's wife. Awkward. Well when I heard of this, I realized they had them without me and decided to start a new tradition. When one of my close friends gets married, any of the groomsmen can have an Ice Cream Sandwich, but the groom CAN NOT!!!!! Seems like a right of passage now and Riggle thought it was hilarious. Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Ryan and Laura Riggle!
September 2006 marked the release of the Magic the Gathering set of Time Spiral. This set had a Time Shifted subset that was reprints of older MTG cards. Nothing from the reserve list but it did have some fun cards to play with. Time Spiral was an interesting time for Magic as the gimmicks behind each set in the block were intriguing. Planar Chaos had cards that were typically one color's style get printed in a different color. Like the white card "Soul Warden" would now have a green version called "Essence Warden". Future Sight showed us what Magic's new card boarders would look like in the future and were used exclusively on cards Wizards of the Coast said would be reprinted later. This new boarder was not well received by players worldwide as due to feedback, it was never used again.
November 11, 2006 marked the release of the Playstation 3 and November 19, 2006 for the Nintendo Wii. The console wars for this generation had now heated up. Xbox 360 had a one year jump on the competition by the time these two released. People I had been talking with decided to get a Wii when they couldn't get a PS3 at release. Playstation 3 systems had been snagged up so fast upon release (like you would expect) that they were nowhere to be found but the price point did deter some people from buying it. The Nintendo Wii was almost half the price of a PS3 at launch and I have to admit, that one got me to camp out again as there was a day one launch Legend of Zelda game. Twilight Princess was marked as the last new game for the Gamecube and getting to play it on the new gen system was tempting. Now that the Wii came out and people had started to play the demo game "Wii Sports" we all soon realized that this was a very fun system. I knew people who had never owned a console purchasing this one just for Wii Sports and still to this day people want that game. Nintendo was raking in sales on this and people were checking their local stores almost daily to try to find one before Christmas. It seemed as though the Wii was gonna win this generation as games were getting pumped out so fast to take advantage of the demand. Unfortunately this also meant a lot of bad games were coming out on this system (similar to the E.T. story). Eventually people didn't know what games were gonna be worth it and in the end it left a bad taste for some people. Sony took the long road on Playstation 3. It did well in the beginning but over time they grew their core audience with great games being released and really began to make it's mark in this generation. Eventually it really came down to either Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 as far as which system people seemed to prefer. Nintendo started to become known as the company for the "casual gamer" to the hardcore gaming community. That stigma that would stick with the company for years to come and it was with generation that people started to differentiate types of players more.
During 2006, I tried a Bonus Card Club to attempt a frequent buyer program. The economy was on the downswing and I was hoping this would help with increasing sales. As with any business we had our highs and lows sales wise. Even though the above mentioned items did do well for the store, they were event comics so they were slight bursts in sales. As always, I am always thinking of ideas to try to grow Chimp's and this was another attempt. This one however didn't seem to increase any sales. Customers were still purchasing their normal stuff and most were taking the $10 gift certificate version so instead of increasing sales, I was giving away more product for the same amount of sales. This did not go well and will go down as a failed attempt.
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End Part 8...