Winners and Losers of the DC
Last year DC Comics shook the foundations of the entire comic book industry, and the effects hit every aspect of pop culture. They ended every title they were publishing and in September they started all over again with 52 brand new comics. The DC Universe had been rebooted, with Jim Lee and his team giving each character a sleek new redesign and everybody getting a modern origin. As with every other medium some of parts of this bold new initiative were incredibly successful while others failed. Now that we are several months out and many series’ have just wrapped their inaugural story arcs. and hindsight in 20/20 it is time to look back and the successes and failures of DC’s New 52. I have inevitably missed some titles in here so feel free to make your own picks in the comments section.
Justice League: The first series in the reboot and DC spared no expense in making it a blockbuster. Picking the two top creative talents they had at their disposal; writer Geoff Johns and artists Jim Lee, both of them on their own have the Midas Touch to make a book sell several thousand copies and together with their pick of the biggest and best heroes in the DC stable it was a guaranteed success. Sure the first story arc moved at a snail’s pace but you can’t argue with the sales figures and hype it generated with five printings to show for it.
Batman: Hands down the most popular series of the 52 both in terms of critical and commercial success. Horror comic master Scott Snyder had already established his reputation by penning one of the best Batman stories in several years in Detective Comics so it was a no-brainer to give him the keys to the Batmobile and let him drive it around. Perfectly paired with artist Greg Capullo who creates a dark and unsettling world for the Caped Crusader to inhabit, Snyder has weaved a conspiracy laden tale which had given us a mysterious new enemy that preys on Batman’s greatest weakness, that he did not even know he had.
Wonder Woman: Leading up the the 52 many talented writers had tried to make Wonder Woman a success; Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, and Jodi Picoult. Yet, nobody seemed to have what it took to make the Amazon Princess the staple of the genre she should be, so with the reboot DC saw the chance to finally start from scratch with the character and go in a new direction and when the creative team they chose was announced many fans scratched their heads in confusion. Brian Azzarello who is more known for his gritty and violent noir work and Human Target creator Cliff Chiang. The resulting tale brought a brand new sense of realism to the fantastical world at hand. Blending gods and monsters into a fun and action packed comic.
Action Comics: A bold and brand new take on the Man of Steel laced with mad science fiction concepts yet still using the traditional Superman lore and traditions, this looks like a job for Grant Morrison! Forced to solve the age old “Superman’s boring” problem, he brought the Man of Steel back to his pulp era roots as a grounded two fisted champion of the oppressed, a take which would not be possible without the realistic visuals provided by Rags Morales. Glossing over the story of the scientist saving his only son from his planet’s destruction and instead focusing on the journey Clark Kent makes into becoming the legend he was meant to be.
Batgirl: Many fans saw this as the most controversial movie of the 52, many had grown to love Stephanie Brown in the role of Batgirl and now Gail Simone was taking over the series and returning Barbara Gordon to the mantle. But those cries of foul have become cries of anticipation for the next issue. Simone has reminded fans why they fell in love with Barbara and not Batgirl in the first place; whether in a wheelchair or getting back in the groove of patrolling every night Gordon is a very tough and determined protagonist who is a very unique and addition to the Batfamily.
Aquaman: I know what many of you are saying, “Aquaman’s cool?” and the answer is he most certainly is. Rather than shy away from it, writer Geoff Johns, embraced the fact that many do not take the king of the Seven Seas as seriously as they should. In order to make Aquaman and his wife Mera look better he gives them a brand new threat to face which is bound to give people nightmares. But the true star of this book is artist, Ivan Reis who’s style is the perfect blend of realism and grandeur which sets the perfect setting for the series.
Green Lantern: This series was not so much rebooted as given a good jumping on point for new readers. Restoring Sinestro to Green Lantern-hood and having him rely on a recently expelled Hal Jordan for help to stop his former comrades has proven to be a stroke of genius and not to be forgotten is the conspiracy involving the Guardians that is brewing beneath the surface.
I, Vampire: Bloodsuckers are hot nowadays, thus DC has revived an old and often forgotten property from the 1970’s and gave it a fresh spin. Andrew Bennett is a vampire who finds himself at odds with his fellow undead led by his former lover. Adding a nice supernatural gothic flair to the new DC mythos, this series is truly worth a look.
The Flash: Francis Manapul works the double duty as writer and artist for this series and he is turning in a great job. This action packed and fast paced series is the perfect fit for the Scarlett Speedster. Manapul’s kinetic and fluid art stylings fit this hero like a glove.
Animal Man: Some were nervous about someone who was not Grant Morrison taking on Buddy Baker and his family, but Jeff Lemire has added a nice horror twist to the blue collar hero to great success. With an enemy straight from your nightmares and a heavy emphasis on the impact in heroics has on his children this character has been given a fresh breath of life.
Batwoman: A perfect case of not fixing what was not broken. JH Williams III drew mountains of acclaim for his work on the character previously, so when Kathy Kane got her own series I can’t see it having been a difficult decision to put him in charge. I have heard it best put that there is comic book artwork and then there’s what Williams is doing on this series.
Hawk & Dove: How do you ruin a beloved super hero duo written by Sterling Gates who is coming off a great run on Supergirl just simply add Rob Liefeld to the mix. It does not matter how good the story is, ugly art with contorted facial expressions and strange body proportions will drive away readers faster than a speedy bullet. I even heard of some comic shops that were having a hard time GIVING away the first issue.
Legion of Superheroes: The whole point of the 52 reboot was to give new and returning readers a perfect jumping on point for the DC Universe but apparently nobody told the fine folks at Legion who seemed to pick up right where there last issue left off. Instead of giving us an issue #1 we got an issue #8 with a #1 on the cover.
Batman: The Dark Knight: David Finch has obviously stretched himself thin with this one, granted he is a talented artist but with the added responsibility to write the story his art suffers and his stories are not anything to write home about either. With neither the art or the writing up to the par of the other Batman series’ it may be time to drop it.