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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).