Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday – DC’s New 52

I hate to stick this right in the middle of a jam-packed and super-awesome Green Lantern Week, but I need to address the fucking insanity that came out of DC Comics while I was on vacation before it gets stale. Although it doesn’t seem that’s going to happen anytime soon. The whole world is talking about this and I can’t even begin to imagine how many trousers have been soiled over at Marvel.

I’ve been discussing DC’s absolutely insane plan for September on Facebook quite a bit, but haven’t really addressed it here because I’ve been on vacation since before the crazyfucking announcement was made.

I love the possibilities that this new plan presents, but I totally hate what it is doing to a lot of my favorite comics. No more Dick and Damian, no more Stephanie Brown as Batgirl (it looks like Bryan Q. Miller doesn’t even have a new title, which – fuck DC if that’s the case), no more Oracle, no more Birds of Prey by Gail Simone. Each of these things hurts me as a comic fan. The only thing that would suck as much would be if Marvel killed Ultimate Spider-Ma… fuck.
So far the character designs have ranged from pretty cool:
To confusingly ugly and conservative (Canary and Ivy):
To even more confusingly less conservative:
To monstrosities straight out of the 90’s:
I’m still not clear on how all of this is going to happen (nobody really is and I speculatively include the DC staff in that statement), but I’m sure it is as a result of DC’s huge “Flashpoint” event. Or, as I like to call it – “What If… Elseworlds Was Canon?”
From what I understand, DC is basically rebooting its Universe in the same way that J.J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek. They’re scrapping all previous continuity in a way that allows them to pretend they’re not; thereby sort of placating fans who have been loyally following said (admittedly onerous and confusing) continuity for the past 75 years. The whole point is to get new fans, and a big part of how they plan to do that is by making these titles available digitally on the same day that they are available in print. This means Joe iPad who may have never entered a comic shop or bought a title in his life can go see Green Lantern and if he likes it can download a Green Lantern comic unhindered by decades of crazy background story. They seem to be overlooking the fact that 1) These comics will be very confusing to Joe iPad because they probably won’t have anything to do with the continuity established in the movie, and 2) it only takes about four or five issues (one if you’re Grant Morrison) to establish a world and story deep and complex enough to put off outsiders.
Side note: I just saw that GailSimone totally confirmed my Star Trek statement. I’m so fucking smart.
And then there’s the argument that Marvel’s Ultimate universe saved the publisher’s butt ten years ago so surely it will work for DC. Except that what DC is proposing seems a lot more complicated and vast and overwhelming than the way the Ultimate books were rolled out. We’re talking fifty-two brand new titles. In a month.
I am torn between admiration for the sheer balls it took for DC to attempt this and contempt for how it is being executed.
They’re also doing visual redesigns on most of the characters and most of them are terrible. Among the worst are Deathstroke, Deadshot, Black Canary, Poison Ivy, and every single member of the Teen Titans.
But I can’t help but be intrigued by a lot of what’s going on. Granted, I’m not fifty-two titles a month intrigued; but there are a few books I’m going to have to pick up for various reasons. Let’s take a look:

  1. Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee – This seems to be the flagship title for the whole deal. I still feel like having Johns and Lee creating is kind of like having Kevin Nash booking, but there’s no doubt this Justice League will be worth checking out for at least the first six or so issues (that’s how long I give Lee before somebody else takes over on pencils). I do agree with a stronger emphasis being put on this book. It should be the cornerstone title of the DCU.

  2. Suicide Squad by Adam Glass and Marco Rudy – I am not overly familiar with the creative team on this one, but it has Harley Quinn and Deadshot. I’m at least going to give it a chance. The writer would normally be my gauge, but we’re talking about Deadshot here. Even if he does have a fucking bucket on his head.

  3. Action Comics by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales – Grant Morrison. That’s all you ever have to say. Morales certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Morrison is responsible for the only story where I’ve liked the Man of Steel, so I have high hopes for this book.

  4. Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo – Dude. If there is one guy that needs to be writing Batman that isn’t Grant Morrison, it’s Scott Snyder. It only took two issues on his Detective run to turn me into a loyal follower. I am also a huge fan of Greg Capullo. I always preferred his pencils to McFarlane’s; to the point where I chose Capullo’s work for my Angela tattoo. That’s right – I have an Angela tattoo:
And it’s not even half as dorky as what’s on my other shoulder.

  1. Batgirl by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes – I’ll read anything Simone is writing, regardless of how much I disapprove of Barbara Gordon being un-crippled. It’s okay – I’ll disapprove even more when they re-cripple her as part of 2012’s Big Summer Event – “Ambush Buggered”.

  2. Batwoman by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder – We’ve all been drooling over the promise of this title for what seems like twenty years now. It can’t get here soon enough.

  3. Batman And Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason – I know I’ll buy this, despite not being overly excited by it. Tomasi and Gleason produced the weakest and most forgettable story arc from the current B&R run and things just aren’t going to be the same when the book isn’t Dick and Damian. Still, this is almost guaranteed to be better than Batman or Batman: The Dark Knight.
Side note: Mrs. Troublemaker (who works in a comic shop) told me that Finch’s Dark Knight sells out every time and Batman Incorporated sits on the shelves. If this is due to any reason other than they order one copy of TDK and eight hundred copies of Inc. then I am even more depressed than normal about the state of humanity.

  1. Green Lantern by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy – Can you use “Getting the band back together” when barely a year has passed since they last jammed? Well I just did, so deal with it. I’m thrilled to see Johns and Mahnke back on a Lantern title together, regardless of my misgivings about Johns’ manager/creator mix.

  2. Green Lantern Corps by Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna – I like Tomasi (when he isn’t writing Batman) and I like books about Lanterns that aren’t Hal Jordan.

  3. Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan, Ed Benes and Rob Hunter – Oooh – this book is going to be even better than I had hoped. Milligan’s anarchic craziness is perfect for the Red Lantern Corps and I cannot wait to see Benes drawing Bleez and Laira.

  4. Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang – Azzarello writing Wonder Woman is not something I expected at all. Cliff Chiang is less surprising, but definitely great news. I even kind of like the newest costume. I know it isn’t all that different from the last new costume, but this one just works for me for some reason.

  5. Fury Of Firestorm by Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar – Based on the cover this looks more like Firestorm Incorporated. As much as I don’t give a shit about Firestorm or Deathstorm or Devon Storm (though I do love Lance), Gail Simone is writing this book so I’m giving it a chance. I also find it interesting that this is what Van Sciver has ended up on. They must have some big plans for Firestorm. 
  6. Stormwatch by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda – Speaking of Storms I don’t give a shit about… but if Cornell is writing, I’m going to buy it.

  7. Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette – I’ve been craving good Swamp Thing comics ever since DC attempted that relaunch a few years ago. With Snyder writing and Paquette providing art (!) I think this book gives Swampy the best chance he’s had in a very long time.

  8. Demon Knights by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert – Cornell writing Etrigan. Fucking outstanding.
And then there are some titles I am curious about but am going to wait to find out more before I commit.
  1. Nightwing by Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows – I loved Dick Grayson as Batman more than I ever thought I would. To the point where I did not want Bruce Wayne back. That is just crazy. All I know about Kyle Higgins is that he scripted Gates of Gotham from Scott Snyder’s plot. I’ve only read the first issue, but it was really good. If this team can keep Dick Grayson as interesting and relevant as he’s been for the past year I’ll happily buy every issue of Nightwing. However. Certain things about the placement of this book make me doubt the word “relevant” is going to be a big part of Dick Grayson’s new role. And that’s a damn shame.

  2. Green Lanterns: New Guardians by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham and Batt – This is a maybe only because I am so intrigued by the current “War of the Green Lanterns” storyline. Krona is trying to make Kyle and Guy “New Guardians”. Could that lead into this title somehow? Time will tell.

  3. Animal Man by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green – I have not read Sweet Tooth, almost entirely because of how visually off-putting I find the main character. I know that’s pretty stupid, but I just can’t force myself to read it. But I absolutely loved the first issue of Lemire’s “Flashpoint” tie-in, so I might check this out if the rest of it holds up. 
  4. Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli – See above; add Frankenstein.

  5. Justice League International by Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti – This is probably the weakest maybe on the list. I see what they’re doing here – I just don’t understand how they think they’re going to do it without Blu Beetle.

  6. Justice League Dark by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin – This just looks crazy and un-doable. I should have just put it up in the “definites”. Yeah. Consider this bought. Despite the silly title. Makes it sound like a Hershey bar.

  7. DC Universe Presents by various creative types – I’ll buy at least the first arc because it’s about Deadman. I like that it's being called "DC Universe" rather than "DC Comics" - it makes me feel like they're really trying to build a cohesive world. It's a small thing, but attention to details like that is hopefully an indicator of a good plan.

You can see the list of all 52 new #1’s here. Please leave your picks in the comments below. I’m curious to see how everybody else feels about these offerings.
I am not against this craziness at all. I think most of the costumes are bad and I am super-pissed about the blows to my favorite titles and creators. But I think this is a brave and brilliant move for DC. If they do it well. It all has people talking all over the world and I personally am very excited to see how it shakes out. Marvel has been killing DC in sales forever now despite the fact that DC has the greatest superheroes in the world. I like Iron Man and Captain America. The X-Men are my favorite team of all time. I grew up loving Spider-Man. None of those characters hold a candle to Wonder Woman, Batman and – though it pains me to say it – Superman. Marvel may have the best writers in the world on those books at any given time, but no Marvel character has the same presence as DC’s top guns (although DC really needs to get Wonder Woman back on track).
The bottom line is that good or bad this is all very exciting and we don’t know everything yet. Heck, we really don’t know anything yet. “Flashpoint” has barely even started. I’m still excited by the possibilities of this shake-up.
The big, big, BIG thing here is going to be how long the above superstar teams actually stay on the books and if they can keep the books on schedule.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Regardless of characters or situations or costumes, the big thing is going to be the writing. The number two big thing will be the art. For me, anyway. Good writing is what makes me a fan of characters and comics. I can make it through lackluster art and delayed books for a great story.
Of course, two years from now we might barely remember this ever happened.

Until next time, stay creepy
All pictures taken from DC's The Source blog.


  1. I really hope that Deathstroke cover art is just bad cover art and not reflective of the interior content, because all I have to say is that Cloud Strife called and wants his damn sword back. >_>

  2. Yeah. About 27 other characters want their stuff back too judging from that obnoxious mess of a costume.