By Vance Astro 105 Comments
In the last two years, DC & Marvel decided it was time to try something new that would generate some interest for their publications. Two different marketing schemes, but with similar outcomes & variables. The question is which one do you like more? Which of the two did the best job of making YOU, want to read..this is what I thought.
The Big Picture
I have pretty much always been "a Marvel" as far as comics are concerned because too me they always had the better roster and the more interesting stories, but with Marvel getting very predictable, gimmicky, and almost devoid of any real creativity before Marvel NOW, I started to read and enjoy more DC books. With these latest developments, i'm finding these publishers almost neck & neck in terms of quality and the changes they've made to get me interested in what they are doing or planning to do.
DC Comics\New 52 Universe
A.The Integration of Vertigo & Wildstorm
Although this may be a problem for those of us that were already reading Vertigo & Wildstorm books but I think by adding them to the more popular imprint, it grants them more exposure and also suggests that DC has the faith in them that they will help carry the flag for DC as a publisher. This also shows that DC didn't forget about those imprints as they are moving forward, they are making them a part of their overall plan moving forward.
B.Better Villains make better Superheroes
I've never really taken DC's villains very seriously, I find most of them to be poorly designed & cheesy. I also feel that many of them run out their usefulness in a short time. Some of them, just based on their powers and how they've been handled in team books and against other superheroes than their arch-enemy don't even appear capable of defeating the character they were created for. The New 52 revamp seems to have breathed new life into villains like Black Manta, Captain Cold, Cheetah etc. that I previously thought were pretty lame, but they also brought in New villains like, The Court of the Owls\Talons, He'l, Anguish, Saiko, Grotesque, Reach etc. who are not only interesting but a bit different from what you're used to seeing from DC. I'm used to villains with corny names and ridiculous costumes.
I think they are doing a good job of creating a rogue gallery for characters like Barbara Gordon\Batgirl who didn't really have villains of her own before I also like how they are producing a bunch of one-shots or single issues within certain ongoing series, specifically about certain villains such as Darkseid, Two-Face, Deadshot, & Killer Frost so that a newcomer to DC (like me) can get some incite their bad guys.
DC has so many different types of books now. It's like they are just throwing tons of ideas out there and seeing what sticks. A character like Grifter who hadn't had a solo since WildC.A.T.S. was an Image property, may have never seen an ongoing again but in the New 52, So many characters are getting a shot. DC is even kind of trying to do something for readers that are into the arcane, the occult, magic, witches, etc. with books like Demon Knights & Justice League Dark. Minority characters like Batwing & Vibe are also doing the solo thing. It's like no matter what type of books you like DC is trying to capture that audience.
D. Attention, Please!
Aquaman may not have been a book that you picked up before, because Aquaman kind of had a bad rep. Alot of parodies and jokes have been made about the character and his "supposed" uselessness over the years but I think the introduction to New 52 gave readers the urge to try something new and pick-up books they probably weren't interested in before. I think DC had been actually trying to revamp Aquaman and make him more bad-ass over the years but people weren't taking to him but I think the idea of the New 52 kind of alerted people that there would be changes and new developments with their characters. This isn't just an Aquaman thing, this could apply to any character that you didn't really like before. Maybe you weren't a fan of Harley Quinn before, because you thought she was kind of a goofy love-sick sidekick of the Joker, the New 52 did some work on Harley to try and change your mind. In other words the marketing scheme raised the awareness and the writers gave you a reason to keep reading.
A. Ever Changing Creative Teams
I don't know what's going on at DC but it's like they can't keep writers any more. It seems like on certain books writers change monthly. Green Arrow for instance has had 3 different writers and it's only 12 issues long. It seems like creatively everyone isn't on the same page. Just recently Batwoman's creative team quit over issues that they were having with editorial interference in their work.
B. If It's Not Broke, Don't Fix It!
I understand that DC made alot of mistakes in the past and that they are trying to cover them with this reboot\retcon but it seems at this point they are making alot of changes just for the sake of making changes. Cyborg doesn't need to be a founding member of the Justice League. We all know that DC was started in an era where that wouldn't have made any sense, we also all know that DC isn't really doing much with Cyborg. You make him a founding member of your biggest and most recognizable team and he can't even get a miniseries? How about the JSA being an Earth-2 team? What was the purpose of taking them out of the prime continuity? Why make Alan Scott gay after over 60 years? Why all the ridiculous costume changes? The Justice League looks great now. Superman's costume makes more sense than that whole "underwear-over-tights" thing he used to do, Wonder Woman's costume has some minor changes, Batman's costume is looking more like armor now than spandex; and it goes on like that down the line, but what is this nonsense that DC is doing with Lobo? Why does Bronze Tiger actually look like a Tiger? What is Power Girl wearing? If you wanted to cover up her "boob window" that's cool, but why not better design her costume? Why does Superboy look like he's stuck in a game of Tron? What did they do to Poison Ivy & Black Canary? The new costume designs should have been far better than this. I've seen alternate universe versions of characters that look far better than this, why when you reboot..this is what you get?
D. The Ones We Left Behind
Although DC has brought in alot of characters from their other imprints and they also brought back and revamped alot of characters from their previous continuity, there are alot of characters that have yet to appear in this continuity that are actually decent characters. What happened to their Milestones imprint? They added Icon & Rocket to their Young Justice costume but where are they in comics? Static Shock is the only Milestones character i've seen so far.
E. Continuity Inconsistencies
Many readers probably won't notice and it all depends on what you read, but if you..like me are one of those people who decided to try out multiple books with the relaunch, you may find quite a few continuity errors. They don't really confuse me when I'm reading but they do cause a problem if you're trying to follow the stories between books.
Marvel Now\All-New Marvel Now\Marvel Universe
A. Attention, This is Not a Reboot
I thought that DC, rebooting their universe instead of simply making necessary changes did them a disservice. These two comic publishers have existed for FAR too long for you "start over". What Marvel actually did was take the things that we already liked about them and the characters we already enjoyed and continued to expand on them.They've made alot of mistakes and ridiculous changes over the years, but they don't give up..they keep it moving.
B. Let's Take a Risk
Unlike DC, Marvel has never really been able to capture a female audience or really keep solo & team books with female characters as the focal point afloat. Marvel said "that's cool..let's try again!" They now have an all female superhero team in the Fearless Defenders and an all-female X-Men team. The Fantastic Four is made up of almost all female members and characters like Ms.Marvel\Captain Marvel,Lady Sif & Red She-Hulk have secured solo titles. Marvel isn't putting out as many minority based titles as they used to but they did just release a Mighty Avengers book that is made up entirely of different ethnic groups & genders.
C.Hickman over Bendis
If Avengers is going to be the most important book in the Marvel Universe, it needed a new writer. I feel like Hickman is taking the Avengers back to what they used to be where as Bendis spent 6 years tearing them apart and then reforming them without considering team chemistry. Hickman's "plan" for the Avengers was INSTANTLY better than what we had come accustomed to from issue #1.
D.Hiding the Heavy-Hitters
Marvel has a habit of taking characters that are uber-powerful off of earth and hiding them away, even in times where Marvel Earth is facing some of their biggest threats. It seems that's a thing of the past. Where they previously didn't use Blue Marvel at all, he's now become an Avenger. Where Thor was "dead" for major events and Hulk was depowered or M.I.A. they've brought him back into it. The Avengers as a unit are probably more powerful than they've been in years or maybe ever.
E.Making Old Favorites New Again
The changes in creative teams all over the Marvel Universe is getting me excited about comics again. If you take a book like Captain America for instance, I had my doubts of it being any good after such an AMAZING Brubaker run especially considering that for alot of it..Bucky was Captain America. After Remender's lackluster Secret Avengers starring Steve Rogers..I didn't think he would be able to pull a solo Cap book off. I was complete wrong. Although it's alot different from Brubaker's run, it's just as good.
F.Back to the Basics
Although Marvel is still doing an event every year, they are still making it so that all these events aren't spilling over into their books so heavily that it actually hurts the story, if they even allow tie-ins at all. Each character is having their own individual adventures again. Marvel NOW can be your starting point. If you weren't a Marvel fan before, this is a good place to start getting into some books.
F. Villains Wanted and Gained
Alot of Marvel characters that I actually liked have had garbage rogue galleries for some time. Daredevil for instance (although like Spider-Man all his villains were just copied from Batman) has had some interesting additions to his list of enemies as of late. Marvel seems to be taking more of an interest in the villain element in their comics.
A.The Events Still Aren't Good
Moving into Marvel Now, their first event was "Age of Ultron" and it was god awful. Marvel hasn't had a good event since Civil War\Initiative. They've been mostly marketing schemes to raise suspense and then they are full of ridiculous twists and turns that lead to a conclusion that will be overwritten within a few years.
Apparently Marvel is trying to match their animated series,films & comics so characters like The Falcon who don't deserve to be an Avenger...get to be again. Putting a character you don't care about in a film or an animated series isn't OK and then changing the comics so that the character can have some relevance there to pretend you DID actually care all along is even worse. Let's be honest Marvel, lack of exposure isn't why nobody likes the Falcon. He's sucks. He's not interesting, his powers are boring, and he's no actual help to the Avengers. I'm sorry to say this but neither is Black Widow. You don't EVER need Black Widow on a team with decent street level Avengers. She has no skills that they actually need or can't get from other characters. Just because the Avengers film made her a founding member doesn't mean Avengers Assemble should kick off with her on a short roster they don't need her on. I fear the same thing is happening to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
C.Call Your Team Something Else
Although most Avengers Books are actually good now, there are too many Avengers books..way too many. One of which Avengers Initiative was cancelled some time ago with an extremely similar but less entertaining book, Avengers Academy..which was turned into Avengers Arena with Marvel NOW! Avengers Arena is so bad and such a pointless book. I would rather them bring back the Marvel Knights giving exposure to actually good character instead of wasting our time with a book where Marvel pretends they are willing to effect their status quo by killing off a bunch of characters they don't care about! Also the Illuminati book is called "New Avengers" although it doesn't actually follow an "Avengers" team. I understand that they are using the popular name to sell the book but that just minimizes the attempts they made at "taking risks". We can believe you are a risk taker if you are afraid that a book as important as New Avengers wouldn't sell unless it had "Avengers" in the title. Avengers A.I. also comes to mind, why couldn't Marvel just have created a new team under a new name? You're milking the "Avengers" enough don't you think?
There are probably some things that I left out, but just going off memory these were the things that I thought should be noted when talking about these two marketing plans. I wouldn't say that either is really ahead as far as holding my interest because DC has alot of more books now that I find interesting than I think they did before. I would have liked though if DC simply revamped and not rebooted. I feel like the reboot is kind of making it hard for me to keep reading books that I liked before because I feel like those books were already moving in the right direction and the changes made don't really enhance them. Several of the Batman related books, for instance; had been on a roll without taking away anything from the villains and supporting cast. After the Night of the Owls arc I kind of lost interest in Batman: The Dark Knight.
I know these revamps\relaunches happened quite a while ago, but what do you think about them? Have they increased your interest in their books? Did they completely let you down? Were you disappointed? What are your thoughts?