5 Sep 2012

Wednesday New Comics Day – Is the new “52” good?

So it’s now been a year since DC comics launched their New 52, where they rebooted all of their titles back to number one. They merged some other comic imprints into the mix and made a whole mess of the thing.

We’ve had some great stories. We’ve had some really polarising character changes. Writers have come and gone with resounding fanfare and drama fuelled media coverage. Some changes to the titles were nothing but a re-number and the new 52 was only a putter on the cover when other issues took the 52 as a sign to really changes things around.

Is the new 52 worth it? Was it good? The money coming in is obvious to DC that the gamble paid off. When you think of a single good year of sales that very short term when you look at the age of some of these characters.

I think the outcome was more positive then negative. I’m still not sold or sure about where everything fits and connects in the new 52. The various Superman stories ripping through the various ‘S’ logo books are a damn maze. Grifter and Voodoo, carry over characters from Wildstorm, are so different and in many cases not that good. Batman has taken the reboot to go back and tell some great stories without the old history in the way. Green Lantern books have pretty much ignored the reboot and carried on business as normal. Flash and Wonder Woman are two of the big eight (Justice League) who have just thrown away their old history.

I think DC was trying to have their cake and eat it too. When the new 52 happened, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison were kicking ass with their books, and some of the best stories were being put out. Brightest Day/Darkest Night was just finished; Dick Grayson (Nightwing) was the new Batman showing Damien Wayne how to be Robin; Flash (Barry Allen) was back recently returned since his death in the early eighties. Rebooting did not seem like a good idea when you look at those events.
Looking at the rest of the books under DC, many were hurting and sales were low after the last big push for comic shifting DC warping drastic changes, Infinite Crisis and Identity Crisis (one of the best story arcs in comics history). Change was needed.

“Change is good, stagnant water breed disease.”  - Dozer

Could they have done it differently? Maybe, but the widespread success would have faltered and left less of an impact to a company wide reboot. Picking and choosing your history is a neat idea and everyone in the world has a time or place in their past they’d love to change. Alas some of the larger changes and some of the returns of old character has been a bit of a confirmation. Look at the titles that got canned at issue 8.

Static, changed so much that the writer had to leave and the series failed with fans. This character was a strong character. One of more popular character from the Milestone Comics line bought up by DC. Dwayne McDuffie who created Milestone comics was a man gone too soon. Look him up; he changed what you read in comics and what you saw on TV. Hell I’m looking at writing a whole series of posts on this fucking Genius. If you liked the DC animated Universe, you owe McDuffie a high five. He was one of the two guys who did that. Hell he wrote, produced or story edited 69 of the 91 episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

Ok, I’m getting ranty. Back to work…

Static was great character. Popular enough for a self titled successful multi-season TV series. Meaning that the character has a potential to be a real force within its publishing circle. Yet Static gets wasted, thrown into a blender of character development and unwanted short sighted plots that only weakened the character. Cutting off his hand, killing friends and family… thrown away and wasted, earning ire from fans and creators alike.

The backlash was huge and it brought more questions to how DC works behind the pages and adverts.

Other series like Blackhawks, Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific and OMAC also didn’t make it past the 8 issue. Some of these characters and comics were an attempt to strengthen the brand to hold its own, proved after the new 52 that they couldn’t. Others like Static, Mister Terrific and Hawk and Dove were taking some real establish characters with buckets of potential only to have it wasted. It’s sad that such an opportunity was lost with some of these characters.

The new 52 still has a lot to prove. It suffered and has taken the growing pains well. It’s done some great things with some of the more established characters but it’s also been used to hyper modernize other characters and misusing them loosing readers.

Again it’s only been 12 months, a single calendar year. When you look at DC celebrating their 50th anniversary in 1985-1986, and that was almost 30 years ago.

One year is nothing, but two years is the start of a trend.