The Comics Corner - DC New 52 6 Months Later
|Six whole months have come and gone since DC Comics launched the ‘New 52’, a brand new universe and starting point for all of their popular characters and long-running series. After six months has the tremendous gamble paid off? Is the New 52 better than the old DC; is that even a fair question? Did DC bring back old readers, create new readers or did they simply upset their loyal, long-time fan base? In short, did it work? This week inside the Comics Corner I share my journey through the first six months of the New 52 as well as my opinions on the entire initiative and where it might go from here.|
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The only fair way for me to judge the success of the New 52 is through my own experiences. Opinions will undoubtedly vary from person to person and there are countless tales of long-time readers giving up on DC completely, as well as many stories of long-gone readers returning to the medium they once enjoyed so thoroughly. The following is merely my opinion on the results of DC’s incredibly courageous idea.
It’s always best to begin at the beginning so let’s begin with the list of ‘#1’ issues I purchased from the New 52:
Action Comics #1
Batman & Robin #1
Demon Knights #1
Detective Comics #1
The Flash #1
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
Green Lantern #1
Justice League #1
Justice League International #1
Red Lanterns #1
Wonder Woman #1
These seventeen titles equate to a third of DC’s initial offerings in this new universe. As you can see from this list – I am what is wrong with mainstream comics. Readers are constantly shouting for something new when all they really want is the same thing, over and over. With the exceptions of Demon Knights and Frankenstein everything on my list of first issues are DC’s marquee superheroes. No Animal Man or I, Vampire for me. At least I can take some comfort in the fact that Action Comics and Wonder Woman are nothing like their counterparts from the old DC Universe. Embracing the spirit of the new direction and the opportunities it creates Action Comics and Wonder Woman have been simply fantastic.
Embracing change has not come easy to Batman and his extended family of former sidekicks and ‘co-workers’. Barbara Gordon has returned to the role of Batgirl, no longer confined to a wheelchair (despite the events of The Killing Joke still being a part of this universe’s canon) and Tim Drake has been shoved to the side only appearing regularly in Teen Titans. Those changes aside, not much has changed in Batman’s extended family. Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc. concept is set to return in the New 52 and all of Grant Morrison’s other recent additions, most notably Bruce Wayne’s son Damian as the new Robin, remain intact. Batman, Batman and Robin and Nightwing (if you’re the sort of person who believes what DiRT tells you) are all excellent series and are not only the highlights of the Bat-books but of the entire re-launch.
The discussion of those titles that have embraced the change (Action Comics, Demon Knight, Frankenstein, etc) and those that have not (Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, etc.) isn’t really what this column is supposed to be about which is the big, important question:
Are people buying what DC is selling?
I started the re-launch buying seventeen of DC’s New 52 and after six months I am still reading eleven of them. Some were dismissed almost immediately (Red Lanterns, Batwoman) and other titles lost my interest shortly after (Superman, Detective Comics, Green Lantern). And even at my current number of eleven, I’m still way ahead of my totals prior to the re-launch of the New 52. And based on sales figures, I’m not the only one reading a lot more DC these days! DC has dominated the sales charts since the launch of the New 52 and on certain months has even claimed the entire Top Ten! What more proof could anyone need that DC’s gamble has paid off?
Perhaps the most important thing for readers to keep in mind is that DC has done this before. DC has a long, storied history of shaking things up leaving many fans upset but creating all new ones at the same time. For example, Superman’s new costume might be upsetting to some but since his creation in the 1930’s the Man of Steel has gone through many, many wardrobe changes and it’s nothing to get too upset over. I miss Stephanie Brown as Batgirl but for me, Barbara Gordon is who I think of as Batgirl and I’m thrilled she’s back in that role. I miss Tim Drake being an important and interesting character but just because the New 52 has left him in the dust doesn’t mean he can’t catch up.
Nothing is any more set in stone now than it’s ever been. In fact, six titles have already been announced for cancellation with six more standing by to take their place. Personally, I cannot wait to get my hands on Earth-2 and World’s Finest (even though it’s not the well-known version of World’s Finest). The schedules have reminded intact (with the notable and not unexpected exception of Justice League) with many series using fill-in artists to keep the comics coming out on time. By eliminating low-selling books with instant, and clearly pre-meditated, replacements there can be no questioning DC’s commitment to not only the stories of the New 52 but also all it represents to DC as an entertainment company.
DC didn’t reinvent the wheel or even change the face of the comic book industry. But what they did do, and have done for the past six months, is get people talking and more importantly, got people to start buying. DC has returned to the top of the sales charts and is clearly following a well-conceived agenda for remaining there. The next six months promise plenty of cross-overs (get ready for a whole lot of the Court of Owls), the re-introduction of the Multiverse to the pages of DC Comics and the release of the first round of collected editions (trade paperbacks and hardcovers) making it entirely possible that six months from now, a year into the New 52, things will be even more popular and successful than they are now.
So, are people buying what DC is selling? Yes!
What about all of you? Did you give the New 52 a try, or did you stay far away? Has the buzz and high sales numbers changed your mind? Are you excited or terrified at what might be next? What titles are you reading that you think I should be as well? Feel free to sound off in the forums and share your experiences and opinions with everyone else!
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