The New 52 – One Year Later
It has been one year since DC Comics radically reinvented their universe with the New 52. As with any such event (restart, reinitializing and reboot just does not seem to be the best words for it), there have been ups and downs. That will happen with just about any such occurance. Naturally, I do feel the need to share some of my thoughts on the New 52, one year old.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Most Improved Character
I really find it hard to believe, but I actually now look forward to Aquaman every month. Geoff Johns has managed to take this seemingly eternal DC mort (even Big Bang Theory has ripped on Aquaman) and found his true potential as a major character. Gone are the jokes about his ties to water (well, except for the first issue, which really plays off the old Aquaman stereotype). Now Aquaman is a power player, both in his own comic and in Justice League, with some new powers to boot. Well, I would not say new powers exactly, but a redefining of the characters abilities that actually makes sense with the powers we all know. In issue 12, he actually shrugs off small arms fire, a seemingly new power that, when you think of it, actually makes a ton of sense.
Behind The Scenes Intrigue
A lot of attention has been made about some of the New 52 writers and artists jumping ship, some quite vocally. The issue seems to be a toss-up. On the one hand, it does seem like DC is micro-managing their titles, much to the chagrin of the creators. On the other hand, it is possible that DC is trying to maintain a constant continuity. Not really knowing both sides of the issue, it is tough for me, or anyone, to comment beyond speculation.
If there is any upside to whatever is going on behind the scenes at DC, it is that Rob Liefeld has jumped ship. I have never been a fan of Liefeld. I find his artwork amateurish (though, granted, still better than anything I can draw), and his plotting and writing weak (I’m pretty sure I could write better). Out of all the initial New 52 books, I found Liefeld’s Hawk & Dove the weakest of all of them, mostly because the writing was uninspired and every character looked like the other characters, sometimes to the point that I could not tell which character was supposed to be which.
Best Books of the New 52
I have already mentioned Aquaman, which still remains strong with its current “The Others” storyline. But, also on this list are Animal Man and Swamp Thing, two of the darker titles that are now tied together with a common enemy, The Rot. I have also been enjoying I, Vampire, each issue of which has left me eagerly awaiting the next. And, the GL books (Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Green Lantern New Guardians) have been maintaining the same high quality that was in the GL books before the New 52. the Third Army crossover looks to be intense.
Worst of the New 52 Still Published
If there are any books that are really teetering on the brink of being dropped by me, it would have to be Red Hood and the Outlaws and Firestorm Fury of the Nuclear Men. Neither series has managed to capture my interest.
Not Sad To See Them Gone
Hawk & Dove and Blackhawks were two of the earliest fatalities of the New 52, and with good reason. Neither one was all that great. Hawk & Dove became a victim of Liefeld’s mediocrity, while Blackhawks was just too much of a revamping of the original concept to pull me in.
Sad To See Them Go
Though it has not happened yet, I will be sad to see Resurrection Man get cancelled. I was a fan of the original series, especially since the character was such a departure of anything we had seen before (Mitch Shelley cannot stay dead, and every time he returns from the dead, he had new powers). Hopefully, the upcoming 0 issue will wrap his story up in the matter that he deserves.
What The Hell Happened?
I loved the first few issues of Grifter. The comic read like a summer blockbuster with one of the coolest action heroes as the main character. Sadly, though, over the last few issues, the quality has dropped significantly. I’m starting to feel like I’m holding onto false hope that this book will turn itself around.
Wish They Had Done It Differently
I am a big fan of anthology books… when they are done right. I am perfectly willing to pay a bit more for a book when it gives me a little something extra than I can get with a normal comic book. While I like DC Presents and All-Star Western, I do wish there was more than just two stories in each title. Even the one shot format of National Comics is okay, but I still want more.
I also wish they had maintained the numbering of Action Comics and Detective Comics, turning each into an anthology title with Superman and Batman (respectively) as the leads, along with two back up stories exploring the New 52 within the anthology’s respective themes (Action focusing on, well, action oriented characters, while Detective explored the mystery of the New 52).