DC’s New 52 – Half Assed

This is a bit of a sore subject, and proof that you should never do anything half-assed. As 2011 marched on, rumors began to circulate that DC was rebooting their universe. With solicits starting to show signs that series were coming to an end, this did nothing but fuel suspicions. Finally, everything was laid out. The company was canceling every book in their line, relaunching with 52 new #1’s in September.

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As Flashpoint came to an end, this ushered in the new line. The week issue 5 released, so was Justice League issue #1 with superstar creators Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Taking place 5 years ago, the first arc showed how the team formed. The other 51 titles took place in the present, with superheroes being active for 5 years. Lee had redesigned every character in the DC line. The biggest change came to Superman. Gone are the red tights. Now his suit is mostly blue, with a collar, and made of nanomachines. It’s the nanomachines that kills me.

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This reboot presented all manner of problems. At the time, only a handful of characters were working (Green Lantern and Batman), the rest were mostly broken (Superman, Wonder Woman). DC condensed everything that happened into a 5 years span, keeping somethings intact and others were outright gone. Johns’ epic Green Lantern run was still 2 years away from ending, and despite a new numbering, the story continued unaltered. Before, Dick Grayson was Gotham’s Batman while Bruce was traveling the globe setting up Batman franchises. Things were quickly switched with Grayson becoming Nightwing again, and Bruce being the only one in the cowl. Some characters were outright gone. Most have managed to find there way back, with two favorites finally returning in April, 2014, Stephanie Brown, and Wally West, though completely altered. Oh, and Tim Drake was never Robin (though he was the best one). And Barbara Gordon can walk again suddenly.

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Hawk & Dove

DC cancelled titles the didn’t work while constant introducing new ones to keep the count up to 52. Ever since 2006 with Infinite Crisis, DC has been obsessed with the number 52. Some titles were obviously not long for this world like Hawk & Dove, or O.M.A.C. (this one was amazing). Others like the superb I, Vampire and Demon Knights made it a year and half before falling to poor sales.

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Last page of Catwoman #1

There is a lot of negative reception that has grown since the relaunch. Some was right off the bat, like the overly sexualized and cheesecakey Catwoman, Starfire, and Harley Quinn. Other complaints came from the creative teams. DC had an opportunity to bring in new talent, and stretch their legs. Instead, they relied on an old stable of writers and artists, most from the 90’s, with an incredibly heavy hand in editorial control. Numerous creators have left books shortly after taking them over or before their first issue was released. Robert Liefeld, Andy Diggle, and Joshua Fialkov are just a few that have left, producing little or no issues. Gail Simone, the only female creator DC has, was fired from Batgirl. She learned about it via email before being rehired two weeks later.

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The new Harley Quinn

It’s not all bad though. Swamp Thing and Animal Man have been particularly good, while Wonder Woman has never been better. Brian Azzarello has put her in a pocket, free from all the nonsense going on in other titles. Wonder Woman hasn’t been this good since, ever. And of course there’s Batman, which Snyder is nailing.

Every September is some sort of event now. In 2012 every comic had a 0 issue. Some worked well while they mostly interrupted stories in progress. September 2013 is Villains month, with every title on hiatus for the month and, I’ll let you guess how many, .1 (that’s point 1) issues released featuring different villains. This is a tie-in to the Forever Evil event, kicking it off.

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Forever Evil

The biggest problem with the New 52 was being half done. DC tried to have their cake and eat it too, keeping certain elements while removing others at a whim. Claims of sexism has been lobbied at the company from it’s portrayal of female characters to it’s talent pool. Editorial control has become a mandate, strangling creativity. If DC took this opportunity to try new things, completely throwing out old stories, I would have been more satisfied. Now they’re left with a mess and only a few shining stars. Of the 20 titles I started with, I’m down to 4.

What’s your favorite New 52 title? Think they should have rebooted everything or left it alone? Comment below!

It’s sad they cancelled Action Comics and Detective Comics (running since the 1930’s).

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50 responses to “DC’s New 52 – Half Assed

  1. They should never have touched anything. They (DC) shot themselves in the foot by catering to the wrong people, themselves. They forgot about the true fans and have been trying to force this charade of thinking they are doing GOOD stories by retelling the same stories in a different light. They are not creating anything new and are relying on what came before as some kind of tribute. It’s annoying and insulting to these characters as they all deserve better treatment. I will not pay for any DC Comic until they get rid of this crap. These are not the heroes that I grew up with for the past 30 years, They are wantabees in shiny uniforms that are an echo of former past glories. New readers are fooled until thinking this is the way comics have always been. If they really wanted good stories, they should do research and read the original stories that all this new crap is based off of. Anything that was done before “52” far outshines any work, storytelling wise, from the past two years. A true comic book fan should know the complete history of the genre as well as the characters. If they are basing it all on this new crap, they are not real comic book fans. Unfortunately, I pity them all if they think that anything from the past two years is “good”. I am not opposed to bringing archaic ideas into modern light. I’m just opposed to a company thinking they can pull the wool over their fans eyes and everyone is willing to accept and hand over their hard earned money for a art form that is taking a black eye from mainstream companies like DC and Marvel. My opinion is that companies like Dark Horse, Dynamite Entertainment, and other companies are producing more creative and worthwhile storytelling than the two big companies.

    • I think you make a lot of valid points. I completely agree that the New 52 is a shadow of what came before, I think the problem comes from editorial where they didn’t set guidelines. With so many creators and no one on the same page (pun), it’s hard for everyone to decide what’s in or out. I think it’s a little far to say everything they’re doing is bad. Wonder Woman is far and away the best mainstream title they’re publishing. This proves that when creators are left to their own devices, they can create amazing stories. Otherwise, I am with you, I don’t read any of the 52 titles.

      Still, there’s good work to be found, primarily from digital offerings. Lil’ Gotham, Adventures of Superman, Legends of the Dark Knight, and Batman ’66, all great digital first titles. What’s the difference? Outside the New 52, and free to write whatever. DC tried to have their cake and eat it too by rebooting half the line.

      I think Marvel is the best they’ve been in years, that’s including the amazingness of the early Ultimates line. Marvel NOW! has produced many must read titles. You’re doing yourself a disservice by missing out.

      Picking a company that’s currently ‘winning’ creatively, it would have to be Image. Every month they’re launching new, creator owned works while continuing many established ones. Kirkman was right, creator owned is where the industry is heading. I do my best to support them.

      Thank you very much for the thought out, insightful comment!

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  10. A reboot should be that you wipe the slate clean and start anew with everything. This idea of picking and choosing what to keep and what to start from scratch is confusing. It’s also sad to see how they have butchered costumes with needless redesigns and what did they do to Lobo?

    • You’re completely right. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Batman and Green Lantern were going well at the time, but everything else was hurting. Plus, do to weird copyrights, they had to change a few elements (Superman, Captain Marvel/Shazam, etc.). I don’t mind doing something new, trying to be different, but they were too scared to commit either way.

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    • Who knows. There’s been plenty of stories about creators suddenly let go from projects. As far as this case, her rehiring came about because of the fan backlash.

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