A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson
I don’t know exactly why I walked into my comics room this past weekend and, despite all the great (and still not inventoried) stuff in there, came out with several short boxes of DC New 52 titles. You remember that DC initiative, right? (Gosh, I hope so. It hasn’t even been a year since it ended. Yes, I was shocked — shocked, I say — at remembering that as well.) I was especially shocked that I had actually bought THAT MANY New 52 comics, before I realized that most of them weren’t doing anything for me. I dropped the entire line cold turkey back in late 2012 — and then started re-reading my many old Silver & Bronze DCs to remind me that DC comics weren’t always that bad.
It’s only been five and a half years since the much-promoted launch of the full-line overhaul, and now, with Rebirth the new new thing, the New 52 is ancient history. Now that that era has (mostly) gone, it’s interesting to look at it again. And reconsider the books with the benefit of hindsight.
I realized that, yes, there were really good Batman titles — and that legacy continues on to this day. On the other hand, compared to the current (and boring) writing of Bryan Hitch on today’s Justice League flagship title, the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee run deserved all the excitement it created back then. If nothing else, the New 52 convinced DC of the value of incentive covers — although I’m not always sure that was a good thing for the industry overall. But I understand their importance to retailers, especially when ordered both smartly and conservatively.
BAILED EARLY… HAD GOOD REASONS
I only bought about a year and a half of the New 52 at the time. (I think the lenticular villain covers stunt was the thing that finally broke me.) Although, truth to tell, the revamp was going on while we were moving cross-country with around 80,000 comic books, and it ended up being much more expensive to transport them than we thought. We also had to find a house with enough storage space for the collections. (Yes, sadly, I have more than one collection.) Comics require a lot of space. More than all the other collections combined. (sigh)
Dropping an entire line of comics because I was only enjoying a few was kind of a no-brainer. I’m not really sure why I dropped the ones I was enjoying, but it sure helped the finances.
BOTH RIGHT AND WRONG
I’m now seeing the New 52 books with clearer eyes by comparing them to current titles which no longer are entertaining for me — except now I’m losing interest in a lot of Marvel titles. (I’d give you a – long – list, but Roger likes me to be mostly positive here these days.) I’m enough of a long-time DC fan that I’d like to read the issues I missed, but I will likely do that with collections. They’ll be cheaper that way, and I’m more likely to finish reading the whole thing in one sitting. Plus, if it turns out that I don’t want to keep the trades, there are much better (and larger) systems in place to sell or “recycle” my old purchases to get other things.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m completely aware that not everything was wonderful about DC’s New 52. They were almost completely tone-deaf (or at best, inconsistent) in how to portray women. Depending on who was writing or drawing, Wonder Woman suffered from changing creators and approaches every few months, leaving her New 52 legacy reduced to replacing Lois Lane as Superman’s Girl Friend — an obvious play for the drooling fanboy readership, which was about all that DC had left by the time.
The bimbo portrayal of Starfire in the pages of Red Hood and the Outlaws was even more offensive, totally draining the character of the emotional (and physical) strength she displayed in the earlier New Teen Titans (and to a generation of TV cartoon viewers). On the plus side, a new version of the Barbara Gordon Batgirl was developed late in New 52 that was both popular and appealing to most everyone (and still is today). I was kinda sorry that the extremely positive portrayal of Barbara as Oracle (from the pages of Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey) had to disappear, but if they had to go back to the older version, I’m glad she came out so well.
I’m probably not ever going back to read much of the New 52 Superman. It wasn’t horrible at first (just kind of weirdly off-putting overall), but reading about Kal-El reduced to being a near-criminal towards the end was just so wrong that I’m not surprised that the recent Rebirth relaunch went the completely opposite direction — getting Superman solidly into a family setting.
Of course, pretty much everybody loved New 52 Batman — many calling it a renaissance for the character, especially in the core title by the team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. I also got a kick out of seeing the Jonah Hex-starring All-Star Western sorta become a Batman title through the connection of co-staring Arkham Asylum founder Amadeus Arkham. It didn’t hurt that the late, great Darwyn Cooke dropped by the ranch occasionally to draw (and occasionally write) a Hex story for the series. I’d say that All-Star Western was certainly one of the more underrated New 52 series, and it’s a shame that more didn’t follow it.
I know there’s more good stuff hidden around the New 52 that I never paid attention to — like Tom King’s Omega Men — which was amazingly cancelled and then immediately revived due to the fans calling foul. (One of the few correct things DC did during that era.) It looks like I may be reading a lot fewer Marvels in the future (due to sheer boredom, hatred for current go-nowhere storylines, and simply because Marvel can’t sustain their huge output much longer (they shipped over 100 comics last month, not counting trades) and keep high standards). It’s the perfect time to re-explore the DC Multiverse (?) of comics that I already own and am just getting around to reading now. Plus, I haven’t had a back issue buying spree in a long time. That might be fun…
KC CARLSON still hasn’t recovered from seeing The Lego Batman Movie in IMAX. All those characters… All those colors… Everything moving SO FAST. What a migraine I had afterwards… I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT AGAIN!!!
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. It’s nice that comics have become such a minor irritation compared to other things these days…