We are now three months into DC Comic's 'The New 52.' It's hard to believe that just a few months ago we were all sitting around waiting to see what was going to happen. There was excitement along with plenty of fear and trepidation. DC's idea was to make things fresh and to bring in new readers. These were things the comic industry did indeed need.
For long time readers, many felt they were being alienated. We had given years of commitment and knew the characters inside and out. Many of the stories we loved were going to go away and some of the characters bore little resemblance to the heroes we followed.
What we ended up with a mix of old and new. Some characters reverted to their original roots, some have gone through some big changes and others haven't changed a bit. If the idea was for DC to really shake things up, should they have taken bigger risks with their characters?== TEASER ==
Since the relaunch, it's been Starfire's portrayal in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS that has been the center of some controversy. Long time readers have expressed their outrage towards writer Scott Lobdell's first issue. Starfire has a new attitude and many were offended at her casual views on certain...intimate matters. Starfire has never been an extremely bashful individual but her bold statement and acts, along with conversation with Roy Harper enough to get people talking.
It's possible there may be more to the story of Starfire than we've been allowed to see in the first couple issues. The fact that a bold move was made is something to think about. Lobdell took a risk and isn't that what 'The New 52' was supposed to be about? We don't necessarily need all comics to go straight for sexual content but it was an unexpected scene.
Many characters haven't gone through any changes. Looking at BATMAN, GREEN LANTERN and some others, the books pick up pretty much where they left off before 'The New 52.' For long time readers, that's a good thing. But the point of this was to make things stand out in order to bring in new readers.
As much as comic book readers have been enjoying the stories, clearly they weren't enough. Prior to 'The New 52,' sales were in a slump. Something needed to be done to entice new readership.
That's where the double edge sword comes in. DC could have given a mandate and told everyone to shake things up to the core. For some of the characters, we're seeing them for the first time once again. There is some excitement in that. We're familiar with the characters but we don't know what might happen next.
If we believe everything we know about the characters is safe, there's no need to be concerned. Readers could even step away from a title for a period and come back, believing nothing truly major would happen.
We have seen some bold moves besides Starfire's new attitude. Barbara Gordon can walk once again and we still don't really know how. Wonder Woman now has a father. The relationships/marriages between Clark Kent and Lois Lane as well as Barry Allen and Iris West have been wiped out. Were these moves enough for the new readers to get excited about comics?
Change for change's sake isn't always a good thing. Other drastic differences could have been made. I recently talked to someone who suggest Guy Gardner should have been reverted to a teenager. Imagine a teenage Green Lantern Guy possessing one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. Long time readers would hate that but there would be new and different stories that could be told.
Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating that every character should have been flipped upside down. It's no secret I am enjoying books like BATMAN, ANIMAL MAN, GREEN LANTERN and so on. These books, and others, haven't necessarily completely re-written who the characters are. We're just getting some really kick-ass stories out of those writers. But we have had kick-ass stories many times in the past. They never were enough to fully rejuvenate the industry and bring in hordes of new readers.
It was the introduction of the black symbiote suit for Spider-Man that caused me to start reading comics. Making the news was a great way to get me to find a comic shop and find out what was going on. I'm even willing to admit that I enjoyed Rick Remender's FrankenCastle storyline because I knew things would go back to normal. I enjoyed the story and appreciated the risk he was willing to take.
Big changes can attract new readers. They just have to be well-written so long time readers don't get angry.
With comic books, even the biggest changes can be reverted. This is why the time is perfect for taking risks. We may not like change but sometimes it can be for the better. How many people thought Dick Grayson replacing Batman could turn out as awesome as it did? If a big change was made and it failed, there's always a loop hole in comic book logic.
Let's hope writers will continue to push themselves as they currently are and make this an exciting time to be reading comics.