Saturday, October 1, 2011

DC The New 52: Thoughts and Impressions One Month Later

It's been a whole month since the reboot bandwagon rolled along and DC Comics ushered in "The New 52" to the comic industry, and so far things have been looking up and good for the most part. With titles like Justice League #1, Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #1, Batgirl #1, Animal Man #1, The Flash #1, and Aquaman #1 leading the charge, it's a safe bet to say that the Direct Competition has paid off with their gamble to relaunch their universe after the events of Flashpoint. Here and there, I've seen tons of books being sold out in comic shops around the metro, and all I can say is that I'm GLAD I'm not collecting all the books en masse. Not to worry for those hopefuls out there who are itching for their own copies. DC has commissioned reprints on sold out titles, so there's a chance yet to pick up your favorite book if you missed the first prints, or you could simply hold off until the trade paperbacks come in.

In the posts I've made a month or so prior to the relaunch taking effect, I've shared my concerns and preconceived notions regarding The New 52, and majority of my outlook to these titles hasn't changed one bit. Granted, I enjoy certain creative forces and their runs on certain books (Action Comics and Aquaman being among them), but the other books feel like wasted opportunities and unnecessary rehashes that have certainly left longtime fans of these characters dismayed and alienated for the most part. A good example of this is Harley Quinn, The Joker's gal and cute sidekick. She was someone who didn't have to undergo the "strip tease" treatment and become a comic book slut, but she was made into one anyway, and gone is the jester getup fans adored since she made her debut in Batman: The Animated Series. Honestly, the new look doesn't work for Harley, and while it may reflect her current appearance in the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City games, it doesn't necessarily translate to the new look treatment. Again, Just because it ain't broke doesn't mean you have to fix it.

Speaking of the Batbooks, I guess that's the only thing that kept me glued and fixated on The New 52 all this time. While I've decided not to pick up the titles in a regular basis save for Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's run on Justice League, I have successfully gotten all the first issues of the four main bat-titles: namely Detective Comics #1, Batman and Robin #1, Batman #1, and Batman: The Dark Knight #1. Detective is easily my favorite thanks to the art delivered by Batman R.I.P and Battle for the Cowl artist Tony S. Daniel, but it's Scott Snyder's run on Batman that surprised me the most. The latter title has a action-mystery narrative and storyline going that will easily get Batfans pleased and interested to invest, and if you know how Snyder delivered in his previous run on Detective Comics with Dick Grayson as Batman, you'll know what I mean here.

The new dynamic between father and son running in Batman and Robin will get some heads turning since Dick has returned to being Nightwing and Bruce is paired with his son Damian this time, but I trust Peter J. Tomasi will deliver something decent, although not in the caliber of Grant Morrison's run for that book when it began some years back. As for Batman: The Dark Knight, it's David Finch's take on Batman's adventures, and while it has interesting art, I have yet to be pleased with its delivery. Overall, the Batbooks hold out on their own, and like the Green Lantern books, they are among the select few titles that still hold on to the continuity prior to the changes enacted by Flashpoint, thereby being counted as "Semi-Reboot" titles within the DCnU (or DC new Universe for those not up to speed).

Another thing that seems to be a growing trend since The New 52 started is "controversy". In the first week, Action Comics #1 got hit with concerns from several sources over the word "GD" being uttered by Supes himself, which was interpreted as slang for "God" by some readers. Then, Catwoman did the dirty deed with Batman in the last few pages of Catwoman #1, thereby garnering widespread attention and gossip among the comic book community and those outside of it for its "explicit content". I'm all for Sexy scenes between characters and all, but there was also an incident in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 which played Starfire off as a sex addict, something that didn't really sit well with most fans.

These are just some notable examples of how sensitive some readers get over the material sometimes, and remember these are fictional characters and stories here, so it shouldn't be taken seriously for the most part. In fact, DC has tried to quell the controversy by having their writers and talents explain their side. Heck, Grant Morrison just referred to the "GD" as another way to say "Umph!" or "Guuuh!" when someone takes a hit like Superman did in his book. Then again, Mark Waid pointed out via twitter references to Superman stories of the 70's that showed the word "GD" being used in various ways, so Morrison may have something up his sleeve.

Heck, in Aquaman #1, Geoff Johns uses controversy to his advantage by playing on the ridicule that surrounded Arthur Curry's character for decades, and to me it works so well in honoring the character and establishing him to a newer audience who follow his new series and The New 52. It downplays the jokes and makes something out of the hero, which makes it all the more entertaining for readers like me.

So that pretty much sums up my thoughts on DC The New 52 one month later. The new barge of #2's are rolling in soon, as well as a couple of new titles, like Huntress #1. So far DC has lived up to expectations and sold most of their books well despite the small issues and controversies up in the air. Here's hoping they keep up the pace and make good with their new universe!

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