Regardless of the fact that DC Comics is still touting “The New 52!” on the covers of their books, the “New” 52 is now six months old. In those six months, I had gone from being a fairly completest DC Comics customer, to buying FIVE books with any regularity. DC Comics is writing for a different audience and good on them, they seem to have found one. In the past several months, DC has dominated the sales charts in units sold (though, now falling below Marvel in dollar share thanks in no short measure to Marvel’s inflated pricing structure). My decade and change investment in the publications and characters of DC Comics is over.
Admittedly, I would be tempted to drop the remaining five DC books I have managed to hold on to… my completest nature, however, will not completely allow me a clean break. The five books I continue to collect are:
Justice League International
Batman is my pick for strongest title. It’s no surprise, considering that the Batman titles (along with the Green Lantern books, apparently) kept most of their backstory. If the “New 52” had not come to pass, this Batman could have easily existed pre-Flashpoint (with a markedly younger version of Commissioner Gordon, admittedly). Keeping in mind, we are still in the midst of the opening story-arc, whether or not existing Batman characters will be “re-introduced” or “re-origined” in the coming months remains to be seen.
Action Comics is the title I was most excited for during the lead up to re-launch, and thus far it has struck me as rather underwhelming. Not bad, by any stretch of the imagination… just not what I expected. I’m too big a fan of Grant Morrison to outright drop this title, and I would imagine that if anything noteworthy to the DC (n)Universe were to go down, it would happen in either this title or…
Justice League. The flagship book for the new DC, has delivered on what it’s promised. What it’s promised, however, is not really to my liking. Though, I understand the addition of Cyborg as a founder of the team, for diversity’s sake… I’m still not a fan of it. I’ve always enjoyed Cyborg as a Titan, who “graduated” into the ranks of the Justice League. Then again, I’m a bit of a sucker for the “Legacy” methodology to the old DC Universe. In the last volume of Justice League (of America), the team was comprised primarily of legacy heroes… graduated Teen Titans. This displayed that there is a hierarchy to DC’s super-hero teams… that a Teen Titan or an Outsider could one day become a member of the vaunted Justice League. Hell, I’m also a pretty big Martian Manhunter (who Cyborg replaced) fan, so that may be clouding my judgment a bit as well. Back to the new volume, it feels as though the new backstory is being shoe-horned rather painfully into place. A handful of issues in and Batman ALREADY shared his secret identity with Green Lantern? In the book, they’d just barely met… I know, I know, this is not necessarily the Batman I grew up reading, so I cannot use his “existing” pattern of behavior to diagnose his current personality. It still rubs me the wrong way, however. This title will likely remain on my pull-list, as I have a nearly complete run of Justice League starting from a couple of years before the original Crisis.
Justice League International is a bit of a strange one. Being “launched” out of 2010-2011’s Justice League: Generation Lost maxi-series, this title features most of the characters normally associated with the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League. However, with this being the re-launched universe, the characters now share no backstory. The whole purpose, at least to me, for launching this type of title is to play off the character’s existing histories. Why would anyone care about the dynamic between Booster Gold, Batman and Guy Gardner without being able to reflect on past experience with the characters? I know it’s unfair of me to say that these characters are being written “out of character” considering we are playing tabula rasa with the whole affair, however, I am having a difficult time reconciling myself to the fact that these are for all intents and purposes NEW characters.
Teen Titans rounds out my list of keepers… a rather dreadful book, in my opinion. The only reason I keep this one on my pull-list is, like Justice League, I have a nearly complete run of the Titans dating back to the 1980 Wolfman/Perez “New Teen Titans” run. That, in addition to the hopes that the title will improve will keep me coming back for at least the foreseeable future. Again, I need to be careful not to harp on “mischaracterization” of some of my old favorites…
So, has the DC re-launch been a success? Undoubtedly. DC should be applauded for their risky undertaking of turning their existing universe on its ear, and coming out on top (as of this writing). I do hope that this does not become the precedent for boosting sales throughout the industry.
Unfortunately, I can see Marvel doing something like this come the Avengers vs. X-Men summer cross-over. With all the talks of late of the Phoenix returning to earth to make things die, and be reborn… I fear Marvel may be going the re-launch route this coming fall. If this were to occur, I fear it may be my time to tap out. If/when this occurs; if DC is anything to go by, it will be a great boon to sales, and fiscally speaking… I cannot think of a reason NOT to do it. I am rapidly shifting gears here, going into a subject which may be better off a new post… so I will save it, for if and when we get any further details.