Several months ago, DC had announced that every title in April would have a theme, and that theme would WTF Certified. Each issue would have a shocking moment, with a gate-fold cover teasing that moment. DC was roundly mocked on the series of tubes that make up the Internet, and never really mentioned it again. But even without the “WTF Certified” floating around, they still had these special covers on all of their books. And while they’re just harmless covers, a lot of it felt very, very forced.
Keep in mind that I don’t read every single title that DC releases, but I felt that one of the rare times it actually worked was with Dial H. For those that don’t read Dial H, which is probably most of you, it is about two people that are trying to uncover the secrets of a magic telephone dial that will give them the powers of a hero when they dial H-E-R-O. For the life of the title (previous 11 issues), they have all been random heroes that no one had ever heard of. It’s revealed to Rosie that these are real heroes from other dimensions/Earths/whatever, previously. However, Nelson figures this out when he dials and becomes The Flash. It’s something that’s revealed on the cover, and had actual ramifications within the comic, and was fairly well done. It was an a shocking moment that fit in well with the story. Job well done. Unfortunately, there aren’t really many other instances that I saw where this gimmick worked as well.
Another good instance, more of a nod and a wink, was Detective Comics. This issue would have been issue #900, so you have in second section of the cover, the question of who are the 900, with “900” in very large font. Now, the 900 aren’t anything that’s going to hang around, but it was a good way to celebrate the milestone of reaching issue #900 without going through the hassle of re-numbering.
Most other instances seemed very forced. Like in Earth 2, where Mister Miracle and Big Barda are shown on the cover, but are only on one page in the issue. And it’s not even the last page leading to a cliffhanger. It’s in the middle of the issue, and has nothing to do with anything going on in that issue, or the issue after that. It could have easily been left out of the story. Another instance was in Action Comics. You get a tease that Superman will be fighting Jimmy Olsen at some point. Well, as it turns out, he only hallucinates for 2 pages that he’s fighting Jimmy.
The worst usage of this that I saw had to be in Justice League. On the main cover, it asks “who is killing Superman?” The second section shows Batman, holding Kryptonite. Guess what. There’s nothing even remotely close to this in the entire issue. Not that the issue itself is bad, but that is an incredibly misleading cover. I can only hope that no one actually bought that issue based solely on the cover, because they’ll be sorely disappointed.
In the end, it just seemed pretty much useless. Of course, most gimmicks are pretty useless. The only bright spot is that this seemed like one gimmick that could easily be shoehorned into plans the writers already had. Though, things shouldn’t need to be shoehorned into stories, but that’s a subject for another time.