By Outside_85 1 Comments
So last night a man i respect pointed out how negative I had turned a conversation with him regarding the state of DC and the New 52, to try and correct that a bit I will try and make a list of the stuff books and ideas that I think has been good in the New 52, here two weeks after its two year anniversary. Just to make it a bit special I will be comparing entries with music references that may not be entirely accurate :)
In reverse order:
The Billboard Charts: (Things that I hear good things about, but isn't into myself)
Batman-mythos: Despite my own feeling of the franchise being stretched too wide and is perhaps a little too influential on the rest of the DCU. I can't deny that Batman is an entity that's still going strong in the world of comics. It has a great primary architect in Scott Snyder who continues to build on the elaborate world of the Dark Knight and get everyone excited for his work. Also, it is hard not to notice that so far, the Batman-family of books is the only one that's not cancelled a single book which has to count for something.
Events: One of the things I dreaded would follow in the wake of Flashpoint was a Marvel-esque tendency to go from earthshaking event to earthshaking event with little downtime between them, things didn't look well when Night of Owls, the Culling and Rotworld started loom on the horizon. But I was happy to notice that all of those books were limited in how far they spread in the DCU and the first really big event has now arrived in the shape of Forever Evil, which I hope will serve as a way to tie many of the fractured elements of the DCU together a little.
Equality: Probably much higher on other similar lists, but doesn't really apply to me personally; the DCU seems like a much more diverse place than before. More characters have been changed from being white to people of color and quite a few others have come out of the closet, which I feel is for the best. Comic's like the rest of pop culture should reflect the society that surrounds it. It's not perfect yet, but it's a step on the way.
Fading Stars: (Stuff I liked, but have started to fade)
Animal Man/Swamp Thing: At the start of the New 52 I really adored these two, they had great and very unusual art and the story was rock solid and I was really looking forwards to the meeting between Animal Man and Swamp Thing. My trouble with them however began when the two books were about halfway through Rotworld, where I realized I just wanted them to hurry up and get to Arcane instead of having to stop and see how everyone else had been turned into a zombie. Currently I am hoping Soule can save my interest in Swamp Thing with his curious ideas, which remain with the introduction of the Whiskey Tree-story and the upcoming Burgher Thing. Animal Man is currently digging a little too much into the grieving thing for me and I am waiting for Buddy to move on from that.
Creative experimentation: One of the greatest strengths of the New 52 at launch was its diversity in titles, you had your standard fare superheroics in Justice League, you had medieval fantasy with Demon Knights, you had weird as hell horror in Milligans Justice League Dark, kids with capes in Young Justice and even an alien stripper in Voodoo. DC has to their credit tried to continue the experimentations, with some books doing better than others, but I feel that this willingness is slowly drying out, mostly because many of the most recent new books have been 'safe bets', like Superman/Wonder Woman, Batman/Superman and the Snyder/Lee Superman Unchained and most of the experiments have since been cancelled. I hope I am wrong, but I think the next experiments will only arrive after Forever Evil have run its course.
Creative teams: Like with the books themselves, the New 52 had a huge amount of diverse creators coming on board, ensuring that there was nearly a guarantee that there was something for everyone. Today, things are a little more uniform, many creators have departed for various reasons and currently most of what's left are sorta in the same vein, which is a shame. But if hiring the likes of China Mieville for assignments are still in the plans, I am looking forwards to it.
Rock on!: (Things that were good, and have stayed that way)
Same day as print: As a man who lives in a country where superhero comics have mostly faded into obscurity to the general public, I can't tell you how much of a difference it has been for me that I can have comics to read on the same day as they are released. See, if I didn't have this access, I would have to travel 200km to get to a store and back again at a gas price at roughly 2$ a liter. And this has generally meant that I don't have to wait 4-6 months for a digital release (as it used to be), I don't have to trade wait or wait a month and a half for DC's subscription service that might get lost on the way :S I am not even bothered by the fact that the price of a digital is the same as that of a physical copy, we are paying for the story and not the paper it's been printed on anyway. And due to my current situation and Comixology's release schedule, it means that I can now read my comics before most Americans have gotten out of bed :D
Unusual visuals: This is a personal view of mine, that the visuals of comics doesn't need to be set in stone, which means I tend to gravitate towards books that feature artists that have a unique way to portray the story. Artists like the stylistic Cliff Chiang, hyper-stylistic Jay Lee, the unusual layouts of Yanick Paquette and W. Haden Blackman, along with the sheer beauty done by Mikel Janin and Nicola Scott can get me interested in whatever stories they are doing from now on and I hope DC can keep finding artist like them in the future. This is not to say that I find other DC artists bad, it is just that they give me what I expect to find in a comic book, and I like to be surprised.
The Dark: For me, the Dark family of books has been the greatest success of the New 52, having given me more great books to read than all of the other families combined. Sure, quite a few of them have been cancelled due to low sales, but I am talking about great stories and not sales. The likes of Dial H, Frankenstein and Demon Knights may no longer be with us, but none can take away that have have been amongst the greatest stories of the New 52 and the rest of the line appears to remain strong and Dark.
Rising Stars: (Things on it's way up for me)
Ray Fawkes: It's dawned on me that Fawkes is a man to keep an eye on as he is currently crafting the tales of both Constantine and Pandora, both of which I am nurturing a growing interest in.
J. M. DeMatteis: I may be a latecomer to this comic-veterans work, and possibly missed out on his best offerings, but so far he has been doing all the right things to keep my interest. He's given the Phantom Stranger a proper direction, where the book was interesting but meandering under Didio, time will have to tell how long it lasts after Trinity War/Forever Evil. Also he is taking over on JLD from Jeff Lemire later this year, which I hope will mean the books regains a bit of the dark weirdness of Milligan that faded a bit under Lemire.
Robert Venditti: When the change from Paul Cornell to Robert Venditti came to Demon Knights, I was concerned, I had never heard of Robert before, and Cornell had launched Demon Knights as one of the most entertaining books being put out by DC and I worried that it would change. It didn't, it actually just got much better and the book just became stronger under his pen. I may not care about Green Lantern, but I am keeping my eye on Robert from now on.
Superstars: (Stuff that's still riding high)
Batwoman: While not a book I have been following since it launched, or re-launched for that matter, I can't deny that this is one of the greatest books DC is currently producing and the Bat-family book thats been the closest to get my to invest in it. It has a strong story direction, the artwork is phenomenal and the characters are believable and I appreciate that it has so far almost stubbornly refused to take part in whatever major troubles the rest of the Bat-wearers have been involved in during the past two years.
Wonder Woman: Before Flashpoint, I wasn't terribly interested in Wonder Woman, I knew her backstory, I'd read a few of her tales, but to me she was a character that was getting dragged down by the inability of DC to keep her in a straight line. Every time a new writer came on, the supporting cast was changed, the tone was changed, Diana would be moving to a new city and at least one pre-COIE's trinket would get dragged back into mainstream continuity. Many of those trends haven't changed with Azzarello and Chiang taking over the book. But this is by far the most interesting Wonder Woman tale I have ever read, everyone in it is a character with their own personality and mannerisms, the visuals are stunning and the story has real gravitas. Also like with Batwoman, I appreciate that this book isn't letting itself be influenced by the presence of the rest of the DCU, it's out there and everyone in the book knows it, but this is Diana's tale and she is the one best equipped to handle it. Azzarello's take with Morrisons Wonder Woman Earth One tale, I am convinced the 2010's is going to be the decade of Wonder Woman and I am looking forwards to what the future brings the current Goddess of War.