DC Comics has a new logo. And no, it was not made in MS Paint.
A press release from DC Entertainment announcing its new logo said it “has the character and strength to stand proudly alongside DC’s iconic symbols” and that it is a “perfect tribute to DC’s legacy.” The blue, sharper, more aggressively-angled logo mirrors DC logos of the past. The new logo will debut on the cover of the DC Universe: Rebirth Special #1 comic book.
DC has had 11 logos over the past 76 years, most of which were straightforward and contained the circle theme. The exception was its 2012 high-concept logo that incorporated both letters in a kind of peel-back design. At the very least, the new logo is a vast improvement on 2012’s peel-back logo, its last update.
The very least indeed. Comic book geeks—the ones the logo is aimed at—have voiced mixed feelings about the new logo. While most fans agree that it is better than the 2012 conundrum, few absolutely love it. In the forums on Slashfilm, a blog that religiously covers superhero movies, comments ranged from “Best logo since the 70s” to “leagues better than 2005” to ”doesn’t blow my mind” to “weak.” More than one commenter made the above joke about the logo being created in MS Paint. But then, it’s a notoriously hard audience to please.
Even on DC’s own announcement page, where one would expect opinions from the most passionate of DC’s fans, the reception to the new Pentagram-designed visual identity and logo system is, well, tepid. One painful assessment compared it to a logo of “a high school football team” saying it is “so basic and tells no story.”
One thing everyone agrees on is that the DC logo from 1977 remains the brand’s high-water mark. Known as DC’s “bullet” logo, it features off-kilter DC letters with four stars. The “DC Bullet” was the work of iconic designer Milton Glaser who also gave the world the I ♥ NY logo. The logo survived during a golden age of DC Comics from 1976 until 2005. Many fans wonder why DC did not go back to its iconic logo that was bold, strong and heroic. Whatever is said of the new logo, “heroic” is not one of the adjectives you’ll hear.
Mark Askwith, Special Projects Producer for Canadian entertainment channel SPACE, calls the new logo “pseudo retro” and “badly conceived.” In addition to having been a producer on TVOntario’s Prisoners of Gravity, Askwith is a comic book writer and historian.
“It looks so clumsy to me,” Askwith commented today. “The Milton Glaser design is my favorite. A brilliant piece of design, as iconic as the (Mercedes-)Benz star.” He added that he would have preferred a return to Glaser’s logo over this design.
Even if the logo design itself is defensible, the color scheme is not. For whatever reason, DC has chosen the circular blue of characterlessness. In fact, according to The Logo Factory, it is the most popular corporate color, especially popular with financial institutions.
In the end, DC’s new logo is only as good as what that logo represents. And right now, it represents a distant, struggling, second-place contender in the battle of comic book-based entertainment brands.
DC’s new logo comes as its rival, Disney’s Marvel, continues to pound it in popular relevance, vision and organization. Even when DC finally caught a break this year with its bone fide hit Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Marvel punched back stronger with global sensation Captain America: Civil War.
DC’s one glimmer of hope is August’s dark villain-based Suicide Squad, which will square off against Marvel’s Doctor Strange (Nov.). DC recently announced that Suicide Squad star Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) will get her own film. Meanwhile, as DC struggles to build its universe, the comprehensive and interconnected Marvel Universe slate of films is already scheduled through 2020.
Blue logos via The Logo Factory.