Yesterday DC Comics announced that they will be making the first round of cuts from the New 52, cancelling six titles after their eighth issue. The titles headed to the chopping block are:
- Men Of War
- Mister Terrific
- Hawk And Dove
- Static Shock
This announcement doesn't really surprise me, as most of these titles seemed destined for the trash bin due to poor sales and a lack of quality. I've only read three of the titles up there (Static, Mister Terrific, Blackhawks), so I can't give full reviews, but here's my thoughts.
- This book had a very "GI Joe" feeling to it, which sadly included a lot of the throwaway characters without any solid development.
- Like many New 52 titles, we were thrown into action without a chance to actually care about the people we were reading. Here's a protip: if the first issue of the book closes with a "stunning murder!" cliffhanger, you are doing something wrong.
- The Blackhawks are an act based on Nostalgia: if you're picking up the book you're either looking for something completely new (and running into the problems above), or you're looking for any similarity to the badasses of old. Sadly, that isn't present here, which leads me to think they could have just made a leap of faith and used them as new IP.
- They had no relevance to the DC Universe. There was never any feeling (unlike with Secret Warriors/Avengers over at Marvel) that their action had some permanence or significance. There's a number of DC books feel like they could be in their own imprint, instead of part of the universe proper.
- This book is possibly my biggest disappointment out of the New 52 (well, maybe besides the Gail Simone-helmed Batgirl). It took an awesome character with defining traits and turned him into a Black Reed Richards, dullness and all.
- Michael Holt was never about super science, but subtle science. He was an atheist while standing beside gods, and stuck to his guns. Medical emergency? Guy was there. Computer virus? Memetic villain? This guy's your man. Time travel, teleportation and space adventures? It just didn't seem like his style. Holt was at his best when he was showing pure brainpower, not being flashy.
- I'm not saying that that kind of comic scientist isn't great, but it's stuff we've seen before. Michael's old incarnation wasn't. He was unique, and DC smeared some vaseline on him, diluting his character, gave him Karen Starr as a sex-buddy and murdered someone in the first two issues (see above).
- This is perhaps the only surprising entry to this list of cancellations: I was under the impression that this book was at least the same quality as the surviving Blue Beetle.
- Again, this book suffers from poor characterization and a rush to get to the action, leaving us to not care about the people we're reading about. Static lost a lot of his "realness" as a teen hero, and a convoluted backstory (which is just being revealed now, four-five issues in) did not help him.
- He seems to be a know-it-all, well-funded super-genius, which, again, we have seen before. We didn't see much interaction between Static and other teens except when he was in "stakeout" mode, and it just took away from the belief that he actually had a life when he wasn't in the suit.
- The book was a terribly formulaic, poor attempt at replicating the "Spider-Man" success without any qualities for teen readers to identify with and latch onto. Villains would scheme, Vergil would show up, spout some science and zap them into submission.
- He would then go home and deal with his sister and her evil doppelgänger (which still hasn't been explained and is still treated as a "normal thing", five issues in), while the villains would scheme again. It was like Tim Burton's Batman film: Batman ended up not being the main character at all.
A Growing Problem
It's a pity that two books with African-American leads are cancelled at the same time, but the quality of the books were indicative of a growing problem. Terrific's creative team changed issue-to-issue, and Static made no traction to actually getting the story under way.
It's disappointing, because these were characters with a ton of potential. I enjoyed them in Teen Titans, the DCAU and Justice Society in the "old" DCU, and it pains me to see that the New 52 has chewed them up and spit them out.
Consistent quality is the most important factor in the opening months of a new book, as it establishes readers and gives a strong foundation to build off of. These books, sadly, did not have that.