Dissecting the New DCU: Part 2

After Frank’s dissection of the DC’s new “52” relaunch… I thought I’d chip in a thing or two. It’s not that I disagree with anything he’s saying because, even though my views differ to a degree,  I completely understand his overall discontent. This is the reason why I want to write a follow up.

Please read “Dissecting the New DCU: Part: 1” by Frank before reading this entry.

I’m a Marvel fan boy and pretty much always have been. My exposure to the DC Universe has only been through their incredible body of animated projects such as TV, direct to video films, and video games. Their characters never really appealed to me because of their old school approach to character driven plots. Everything in my point of view “right-ed” themselves before the last page of every arch unless some overly established writer was credited like Morrison or Moore. Of course this is a tad exaggerated but as I said before… my exposure was limited.

When I first heard about DC relaunching their entire comic line back to #1 in the attempt regulate their continuity and modernize (or redeem) some of their lackluster characters, this intrigued me a great deal. Since Marvel has been riding their high horse for so long now with a 4-7 issue summer blockbuster crossover every year with mini crossovers in between driven by repetitive storytelling… I felt I needed something to cleanse my palette and take a long look in another direction. Trust me when I tell you… no one believed I would be purchasing DC Comics.

Now I must say… coming from someone who knows next to nothing about these character's previous continuities… the relaunch totally worked for me. There are some exceptions for example entirely too many titles and other titles that really shouldn't be its own ongoing series... yet. I understand if DC and their readers think that every one of their characters have a worthy story to tell but honestly… if you’re essentially rebooting your line; maybe you shouldn’t leave the starting gate with “Hawk & Dove” & “Mr. Terrific”. These characters have next to absolutely no appeal to readers like me solely because of their… well lack of history on two different fronts. One being not mainstream and the other being involved with the A list characters during the relaunch. If you want these titles to last then introduce them in another moderately more popular title and then finally spin them off. Otherwise it just seems like a cash-grab to uphold their constant sliding battle with Marvel's print sales.

There are plenty more that could be considered wrong but let me say a few things I believe the new DCU did right. Here is a list of titles I read regularly either in print or otherwise. Mind you… we’re 5 months in since the relaunch, what I’m writing aren’t necessarily “reviews”, and these titles are extremely mainstream so please don’t expect any hidden gems… here we go.

Action Comics:
Grant Morrison’s new take on Superman is very much what I expected out of a Superman comic. Fun, action packed, and… he’s not in tights? Since the story takes placed 5 years before the events of all the other books, I get the sense that (and hopefully they pay off on) some interesting character building elements that can affect Kent in the other Superman related titles. The opportunities are almost more exciting than the book itself.

Johns of course was going to redeem this character but the first issue was just a lot of winks and nods to what people thought of what Aquaman was and who he used to be (Old DCU). This grew very tiresome after 3 issues, not to mention the blatant hints within the Justice League. Anyways… he’s awesome-er now and if you can ignore my quips… you should enjoy the hell out of this outlandish small town action piece.

This is easily one of my favorite titles from the “New 52”. Of course this is coming from a guy who loves Ms. Marvel (REED) and Spider-Girl (DEFALCO) comics but yeah… it’s emotional, drama, and a girl kicking ass. I adore it.

I like Batman. Plain & simple. It’s not a terrific story but it hits me on another level because it’s very environment driven. It likes to dive into world building ideas rather than assume the reader knows it already. This isn’t my favorite book but I get it and that’s enough at this point.

Batman & Robin:
It’s strange that I wish when they relaunched the universe… that even though it’s been about 10 years since Batman has dawned his cape (in DC years) that he didn’t already go through 3 other Robins (and that’s not including the one-time Robin Stephanie Brown). Bruce Wayne’s assassin test tube child Damien is present and I have no interest in him. He’s too bossy for a friggin’ kid and it annoys me that they didn’t really introduce anything about his origins. I literally had to go online and figure him out. This is nit picky I know but it distracts me... thought the later issues have improved.

Batman: The Dark Knight
So far this title is unless. Too many Bat titles! I love the art… I love David Finch’s work and always have but I’ll just read Moon Knight again if I really cared that much… dropping this title after the arc is complete. Please… please end soon.

A very interesting take and a much appreciated attempt to mainstream a character from the Batman Incorporated brand (which they happened to salvage from the relaunch). It’s a Batman that lives, fights, and survives in the Republic of Congo. Hey, it’s not Gotham so that’s a step in the right direction. Out of a universe cluttered with it's own cities and problems... it's refreshing to see them tackle some real world social issues.

This is a Bat title that doesn’t seem very Bat-like besides the costume. They art is incredible enough for the purchase alone… if you like Batgirl and like it grim… you’ll dig this.

Birds of Prey:
Basically a kick-ass action romp that I decided to go back and pick up after its 3rd issue. And I’m glad I did… probably because I’m really biased and Batgirl is in it. Don’t trust my review of this book.

Besides the overly scandalizing nature of Miss Selina Kyle’s attire(s)… this is incredible story-telling. Nothing about this book is surprising in my view because everything I’ve ever read or seen before about Catwoman is this! I only can hope her portrayal in The Dark Knight Rises lives up to it… with more clothes of course.

Detective Comics:
The first issue was kick-ass and the following kept those strengths going. What’s happening in Detective Comics is what I would love to see on screen; Batman doing detective work. They flow easier, it’s more practical, and his mentally handicapped villains make more sense this way. If they ever (which they will) come out with another Batman series… do it by way of “Se7en” with a tad of action. Oh yeah.

Green Lantern:
Though Johns typically does a great job… this was slow at first and I was primarily turned off with the idea of Sinestro being the main character. So I basically forced myself to go back and read every Green Lantern issue written by Johns up until this one because this title wasn’t relaunched at all. So I love it now… but honestly… do not do what I did. Go to Wikipedia. You’ll save yourself a lot of time.

Justice League:
So far I have to say that Jim Lee’s art is phenomenal but the story is slow. 5 months in now and I know they have to be building towards something or… well I’ll probably still buy it anyways.

Now when I mentioned before about wishing Batman didn’t already go through multiple other Robins… This book stands that exception by being awesome. It’s a great single character story with guest star after guest story. And since it’s a relaunch; the entire plot is predicated off of his origins. Perfect start.

Red Hood & the Outlaws:
I know a LOT of people are up in arms against this title. I can see why now since Starfire is a raging sexual piece of royal meat but I’m disappointed in too much writing without much of a payoff. Starfire’s re-imagining doesn't bother me. Makes sense because she is simply not a human and human emotions don’t make sense especially since she is the last of her kind. I guess this is the plus for a new reader… but I would also like a new creative team working on it.

This is a depressing title at first but I'm forcing myself through It. George Perez is leaving after issue 6... I'll come back to this later. Right now it's terrible.

Wonder Woman:
At first, this book was conflicting as all hell because I wanted to love it. The dialogue is strangely simple but deep… the direction is awesome and what I would expect from a mythical character… but the art is atrocious. It’s a page turner based of the fact that I hate the illustration. I will continuing reading it but that’s about it… get a new artist.

Now I don’t physically collect all of these but I've read EVERY title for at least 3 issues. So there are few honorable mentions like “Static Shock”, “Teen Titans”, “Supergirl”, and oddly “Demon Knight”. All in all… did the New DCU work for me? Yes, for the most part. Now will I continue to collect all these books? Nope. Since I’m still heavily involved in Marvel (which have redeemed a few of their characters), I’m ready to drop a select number of these at any given time. I can understand why the old DCU fans can’t stand this relaunch but they have my vote.

My final thoughts consist of this… they need to let go of this self-imposed craze with the number “52”… They would probably sell more books if they kept it down a little. Maybe have an expansion of "DC: Presents" and slide a few more characters in there. I would love to see the days of Amazing Fantasy come back but I’m old school in that regard. Another thing that may I'm sure echoing from other bloggers as well but their protrayal of women in this new DCU is a bit on the pathetic side... there should be more female authors.

Anyways… that’s it for now. I’ll more than likely do a full year review come this September and weigh the differences. Signing off.

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