The New 52 is here. Last Wednesday the Justice League began with Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman. Tomorrow, September 7th 2011 will mark the release of 13 new DC titles. Hot on their heels will be 38 more until we have a whole new DCU by the end of the month and forevermore. There are many pros and cons to this sort of thing.
While this company-wide restart coupled with some major continuity changes is unprecedented, it's been done in parts by DC before. Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986 had a continuity reboot that made all the heroes "the right age" and combined the disparate worlds of DC into one world (trust me, non-comic fans, it was HUGE). Then about five years ago there was the amazing 52/One Year Later event. This was brilliant, revolutionary, and awesome comic bookery. Every book in the DC Universe jumped ahead one year and as you can imagine a LOT happened to these characters in that year. Nightwing was replaced by a brutal vigilante who took the mantle, Catwoman was retired with a baby, Superman had no powers and was living as Clark Kent, Green Lantern Hal Jordan's jet was shot down over Eastern Europe and he was a POW. Craziness. Also, virtually every title got a new creative team. It was exciting! And the story of what happened in that year was told in the new series 52. 52 was told from the point of view of lesser characters in the DC Universe like Booster Gold, Steel, and Black Adam. The book came out weekly and each issue told the story of that week in the missing year. It was getting the whole story in "real time". Brilliant! And this too was an event where fans had no choice but to be onboard.
Now, just because I loved it didn't mean everyone did. There were great comics that "ended" because their creative teams had to leave to make room for the new regime that came with One Year Later.
The New 52 combines the pros and cons of both these events. Yes, there are downsides. There are notable things that I dislike about the New 52. Some major ones:
Jim Lee redesigning EVERY costume No one man should be the visual style of the DCU
Younger, Brasher, Edgier We'll see how it goes but this phrase usually goes hand-in-hand with slanted, pandering writing
Badass Superman Now, this is a new take on the character, but still. I await Action Comics and Grant Morrison's input
Renumbering Action Comics and Detective Comics I do not like renumbering as a general rule but this in particular strikes me as extremely short-sighted
I will say that it's exciting to be able to say to people who ask "I don't read comics but I want to. What Batman should I read?" to be able to say "Batman #1 or Detective Comics #1. They're on the shelf now". And DC is doing a great job of letting people know that if they want to get into comics now is the time to do it. But now never lasts.
Just ask the "new" (old) Flash. He died back in the old Crisis, but he's back now!I like to consider myself an advocate for comics. I love them and think they don't get enough credit, attention, or respect as an art-form. I also support comics by buying them every month. In a time when virtually everything can be downloaded for free it is hard to make a case for paying for things but comics need your help. Unlike the music or movie industries who make millions and who have massive reserves of cash and theater ticket and concert sales to keep them buoyed comic piracy legitimately effects the medium. Every month for years comic numbers have been dropping. As people need to stop collecting due to harsh economic times and because they can download them comics have been selling less and less. It is a fierce market out there right now. The extraordinarily talented people working in comics need your $2.99 to keep making the books you love. And so though I could I do not download comics.
In furtherance of this stance and as a personal show of support for DC Comics I have added every one of the New 52 to my pull list. This dramatically ups the number of books I will be buying every month and I am going to have to cut from my toy budget to do it (that's right ladies, he collects comics AND toys).
This is a heck of a commitment but I feel it will be well worth it. First of all, I want to give every title a fair chance to make an impression on me. Sometimes the cover art or two sentence description when the book is solicited isn't enticing but it turns out to be a phenomenal read. Sometimes a book just surprises you. I want to give every title the chance to surprise me and I don't want to dismiss any based solely on cover art and a catch phrase.
Being a baseball enthusiast I have decided to give each book three strikes. If by the end of the third issue I don't like what I am reading then I'm going to drop it. Now, I do want to say that it will be possible for a book to get three strikes on a first issue if it is abysmally bad. There are some books I don't have high hopes for (Teen Titans better be pretty awesome or I will be sorely tempted).
How can you not love Dan Jurgens writing THIS crazy team?
MOST comic shops are offering some sort of bonus or perk for getting all 52 number ones. My comic shop is giving out gift cards, so it's like getting these books at a discount.
It IS cool that Joker is in Detective Comics #1
I want to show my support the best way I can. I like a LOT of what I've seen and heard about this event. I want DC to know that fans and new readers are on board and the best way I can do that as a consumer is to put my money where my opinions are. But that lightsaber cuts two ways. If I don't like a book what better way to register that complaint than to stop reading it; to take away the sales. I know that I am just one tiny consumer in a market where there are hundreds of thousands of customers but if we all thought this way then comics might be better than they are. I think one of the reasons that companies get away with what they do is because when something happens that fans don't like they tend to keep buying regardless.
And there are books that I want to try out and see how they are - OMAC might be awesome or terrible
I'll be in as good a position as anyone can be to talk and answer questions about the new 52. As I said, I consider myself an advocate for comics and when a company does something SO daring and unprecedented to get people reading comics how can I not support it as best I can?
Plus, it's not like everything is rebooted. Titles like Green Lantern and Batman will keep on as they were, picking up dangling stories like Sinestro wearing a Green Lantern ring instead of Hal!
So, once again I'd ask that you, as someone who likes to read this blog, go out and buy one of the New 52. I will try my best to let you know which ones are hits and which to avoid but I think DC deserves a chance to see how this shapes up. They are taking big steps and they are trying to keep this struggling medium alive and vibrant in the transitioning digital age.