Saturday, July 23, 2011

DC Comics - the New 52 Preview

So, in June DC Comics released the news that coming September the entire line was going to be relaunched. This move entailed a number of things:

- all current titles and storylines ending in August
- starting all book back at issue #1 in September
- shuffling of creative teams working on the books
- cancelling some titles and introducing new ones
- releasing all books in digital format on same-day as paper releases

This bold announcement has been the buzz of the comic fandom now for weeks. To further help sell the new concept, this week DC put out a free sampler to give preview of the New 52 titles coming in September. Since it was free, I picked up a copy - even though four weeks ago I came to the conclusion that I was not going to be picking up new comics after August 31st (this after over 35 years of being a collector).

I thought I would see if the preview could convince me to change my mind.

It didn't.

It starts out with a six page preview of Justice League #1, a retelling of the formation of the legendary team under this new revised continuity. While I appreciate what Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are trying to do here - it looks very good - the story didn't grab me. This Batman attacks police in helicopters and shoots a hook through an escaping enemy's leg. Hello? I get that most fans like a grim, gritty, take-no-prisoners Batman but this isn't the Batman I grew up with. But I guess that is the point. They are trying to get new readers with this relaunch - 18 to 34 year olds who don't read comics. Thus, let's go ultra-violent like video games.

Not impressed.

Then we shift to art and summaries of the rest of the titles. Some get full pages, some half pages. I hadn't planned on getting many of these as soon as I heard the titles and the creative team combos. But some I was on the fence on. Those were:

Justice League International - I love Booster Gold, the international concept and Dan Jurgens. Sadly, Dan was only doing writing and not the art. This would have replaced Booster Gold title for me. Not convinced.

Aquaman - this was going to be a perfect sell as it was being done by the same creative team behind Brightest Day. But the description of issue 1 didn't excite me enough to warrant one book.

the Flash - changed creative teams, neither of which interested me. Even though it is Barry Allen still behind the mask, I'll pass.

the Fury of Firestorm - another BD spin-off. Lots of potential with Gail Simone writing. But the de-aging of Ronnie Raymond back to high school meant all the past history I loved about Firestorm was nullified. Nope, pass.

Green Arrow - J.T. Krul still writing, Dan Jurgens doing art. Should be a win for me. However, again it looks like the past history being thrown out on the character made me not as interested.

Superman - George Perez writing had me interested. Then I read the stories recently of making him more "alien" in nature, the removal of the Kents early in his life, and finally the "it never happened" nature of his dating and marriage to Lois Lane. Basically, everything you read about Superman since 1986's reboot is likely very nullified. Want to know his early history, check out Action Comics. Um, no. I'm not a Grant Morrison fan so I'd skip the later book. And all the revision means I'd skip any of the Superman line.

Of the eleven books that fall in the Batman family of the line, only two would have interested me.

Birds of Prey - I read the previous book but with Gail Simone no longer writing this one and the line-up completely changing (except Black Canary) it was a very easy pass for me.

Batgirl - Gail was moving over here, which was a plus. Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl, another plus. Fitting in all her past history as Batgirl, then Oracle, then recovered to be Batgirl again - and the character is just in her early 20's - um, pass. I've been a Batgirl fan since the 60's TV show and Yvonne Craig. Batman Family in the 70's was a favorite with Babs going from being a librarian to a Congress woman. The character has an amazing, rich history. This relaunch seems to cherry-pick pieces. I don't like how this puzzle forms. Pass.

The Green Lantern line was supposed to remain in tact, since Geoff Johns has put a lot of work into it over the past years. So, I would have expected that this was a slam-dunk title for me. Well, except how this month's issue ended - with Hal Jordan again ringless and Sinestro taking back over his sector. Okay, that's a bit too radical. Still, this would have been maybe the second or third book I would have considered picking up. I doubt I would have jumped on the other three Lantern line books though.

Resurrection Man - this was one I would have considered too. It was a fairly standalone title earlier in the decade. Some of the original team was back on it. It might have been an option.

Suicide Squad - could this replace the departing Secret Six on my pull-list? It was a book about villains. Even Deadshot and King Shart were on board as part of the cast, and Harley Quinn too. But, I saw a look at the art. Yuck! Pass!

Teen Titans - the teaser text seems to indicate a team that has never been before, throwing out the rich Titans history. Strike 1. Saw the redesigned costumes on the known members. Yuck. Strike 2. Saw the new characters being added. Strike 3. With such a rich Titans history to choose from, even if every character is starting back at square one, why do we need unknowns? Pass.

Hawk and Dove - Hank Hall and Dawn Granger back together again? I was in. But it sounds like a lot of the old history was scrapped. Uh...not good. Rob Liefeld on the art was a wild card. Loved his work on them when they first debuted back in the 90's, but his work is hit and miss for me at times. Too much of a risk.

Legion of Super-Heroes - plus was Paul Levitz still writing. The book likely would have continued from what he was doing up to this point. But seven of the team were being dumped back in the 21st Century in Legion Lost. I could have picked up the later now that Adventure Comics was being discontinued, but again this would have just been a few more possible titles.

So, to recap, there was maybe five or six books total come September that interested me. Others turned me off. Would more new titles be announced for October and beyond? Yes. We've already started to see that. But was six books each month enough to justify weekly visits to the comic shop? No, not really.

I came to the conclusion that, for me, this marked a good clean break. Books were being restarted, revamped, re-imaged. These would not be the same books I had been reading. This wasn't the same history I had been reading. It was the perfect combination of factors for me to call it quits.

I'll still have my back issues to read. Plenty of great runs over the decades to revisit. I still have tons of Marvel Comics on PDF files that I bought years ago that I hadn't yet go to reading (thousands of issues). So, I have "new" comics to be reading.

And, the money I was saving each month by not buying comics could go to other things - like filling in some of my music library with digital downloads or CDs.

The sampler convinced me that my decision to move on from new comic books was the right one.


Jim McClain said...

"This Batman attacks police in helicopters and shoots a hook through an escaping enemy's leg. Hello? I get that most fans like a grim, gritty, take-no-prisoners Batman but this isn't the Batman I grew up with."

You sound just like me. I'm out, too.

Martin Maenza said...

I'm still planning to order Back Issue! magazine, but directly from TwoMorrows - might even go digital with that since I can read it on my iPad very easily. I'll also get things like Showcase Presents and Marvel Essentials, but those I can get from for a lot cheaper than my comic shop could do - even with a discount.

The shop owner was very understanding when I told him that my pull-list would only go through August 31st. He totally got my reasons and respected that. I thanked him for six years of service since I lived here.

ApacheDug said...

Martin, thanks for the informative piece here--I've heard a little about the relaunch, but since giving up the comics boards a year or so ago, was basically clueless.

Do you know anything about the pricing? I have a Nook Color & was wondering about the digital pricing...

Anyway--nice piece, thanks for sharing!

Martin Maenza said...

Doug, I am pretty sure the Digital DC books will work via an app. There is a DC Comics app that runs on iPads and iPhones. I believe the apps run on game systems like XBOX (and maybe PS3?) as well. I am not sure if the Nook can do apps or not.

The digital files are really not downloads to your device but in fact access to a stored copy online. Thus, you have to have an online connection to read them.

As for pricing, on day of release they will be priced the same as a paper copy. So $2.99 for a new book on Wednesday is the same price on the download - $2.99. After a month shelf time, the price of the file drops to $1.99. So waiting means a 33% savings.

ApacheDug said...

Yikes! Thanks Martin--yes the Nook Color supports some different comic apps, but I was hoping the e-copies would be a bit cheaper...

Sure do miss the days of 35 cent comic books :)

Martin Maenza said...

Doug, they don't want to go cheaper for fear of totally destroying the brick-and-mortar market. They do have occasional sales on certain issues for 99 cents, and sometimes free books too. You have to check the DC Comics app for details.