Thursday, January 10, 2013

The new 52 isn't working for me

So, before making the weekly pilgrimage to the comic shop on Saturday I asked twitter for opinions on what the good Marvel series are.  I have expressed my frustration about DC's titles here before.  My feelings aren't lessening so I am considering dropping most of my DC focused pull list.

My problems with the new 52 are many.  I appreciate they wanted to provide an all new jumping on point for new readers.  I appreciate they wanted to revitalise their intellectual property.  However, part of the reasons I love DC's comics is the 70 odd years of history you get with each title.  That tightly wound continuity, the banter and Easter eggs you get within titles.  The knowledge that what is happening in one title will impact upon and be referenced by other characters - maybe not in the same week, maybe in a years time, or five years time.  I loved discovering what each new chapter brought and immersing myself in the world.  I loved building up the history of the cities, the houses, the philosophies, the religion, the characters, the technology, the leaders, the poor, the everything.  Most of all, I loved how the old DCU worked.

Now I don't have that.  Not in my titles.  My current pull list (for new 52 titles) is:
Animal Man, Green Arrow, Superboy, Demon Knights, Birds of Prey, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans.*

I used to buy 20 odd titles a month.

But for those I am buying, all those series have been restarted from scratch.  I was getting Justice League and Aquaman.  Aquaman wasn't rebooted (much) but Justice League was.  I know Batman and Green Lantern kept their history but I am not interested in reading them regularly.

Now the DCU is just 5 years old I cannot understand how Batman has had so many teen sidekicks.  I have no idea how the old Justice League stories that I love fit in to the new history.  Guy Gardner's origin has changed (he's now no longer an ex-teacher but an ex-cop) and I am just not interested in reading a rebooted version of him.

Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen - one of my favourite couples in the DCU - no longer are a couple and haven't even met yet.

Superman is no longer a source of hope and compassion.

Wonder Woman's backstory has been pulled away from the women led utopia.  She is no longer an inspiration to me.

Supergirl is an entirely new character, losing all the history and humanity the Gates/Igle run put into her.

Superboy has been rebooted, yet we seem to be retreading the same old ground.

Birds of Prey is all new, and again, has lost all the rich history.

Teen Titans, well Wonder Girl, Solstice and Kid Flash are entirely new characters.  They are not anywhere near the same as they were pre-new 52.  Robin also seems like a new character.   Bunker and Skitter are actually new and I am vaguely interested in reading about them.

The good things are that Animal Man has kept his history, and has always had a slightly odd series of his own anyway.  Demon Knights provides historical context to the DCU.

Another thing I do not like is the way DC is approaching their 18-35 demographic.  They seem to be going for a very narrow interpretation of what this demographic will like, and they appear to be going for mindless shallow fight scenes and little depth of storytelling.  Like the very worst of Hollywood blockbuster films.

Most adult characters have been de-aged to mid-twenties.  I am not interested in reading about characters that are all of an age, and an immature age at that.  I want heroes in their 30s, 40s and 50s.  I want a rich life tapestry for them to draw on.  I want the conflict and discussion that comes when you have a group of people from different backgrounds forced to work together.  I want heroes with different personalities and aims.

Most of all, the stories just aren't very good.

I just don't feel like I'm getting that in the new DCU.

I have a theory about what happened in the DC offices.  I believe they got taken over by Warner Brothers a couple of years before this new 52 started.  I think that someone came in to investigate DC's creative output.  What was selling, why it was selling, who they could sell to, what was and wasn't working and what the potential for new sales is.  Basically to recommend an overhaul of the company so it could become viable.  We all know that the big 2 comics companies are in trouble, sales wise.

I think what happened was that Warner Brothers took over they told the top brass to raise their sales figures or get sacked.  I think the new 52 is a last ditch attempt by the parent company to squeeze some money out of the publishing arm and I think that if it doesn't succeed DC comics will be downsized and only the biggest sellers will continue being published - Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Justice League and anything else that ties into film and TV products.  I think anything that does continue being published will look radically different to what is being published now.

Maybe it will all be electronic.  Comixology has shown that the market is there for digital comics.  I'd be happy with that.

I am not willing to support titles I am not enjoying.  So I am going to cancel Superboy, Birds of Prey and Teen Titans.  Animal Man, Supergirl and Wonder Woman I will continue buying in hardcopy format and Green Arrow and Demon Knights I will buy ad-hoc digitally.  I will dip in and out of titles on the shelves but I will not make myself beholden to any one title. If Wonder Woman, Animal Man and Supergirl don't improve I will probably also drop those. I will replace my old DC floppies with trades.  I will sell the floppies on ebay (or to anyone who wants them) and buy the collections that I treasure, love and enjoy.

I shall try out some Marvel titles.  Because I think they are going to offer me what DC aren't - character depth, history, continuity and complex storytelling.

If you've got this far through, please can you recommend me non-DC titles you think I might enjoy.  As I told twitter, I like pretty art, good characterisation, good storytelling and dinosaurs.

*I also buy Ame-Comi girls and Smallville, but they are not new 52.  It is quite telling that these are my absolute favourite series currently being published.


Escaliers said...

I pretty much gave up on both DC and Marvel. Marvel is a bit better but after a while I find their content boring, recycled, and predictable. There are few Marvel titles I do still enjoy and for me DC are now something I read at the bookstore whenever I'm bored. I find I prefer titles that has a run and an end somewhere such as Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Avatar, and others.

SallyP said...

Thor and Hawkeye are excellent, over at Marvel. But yes i have to agree with you about the horrible loss of all that beautiful continuity and history...not to mention all those characters that have been dumped by the wayside...and for what?

It was an amusing experiment, but I am ready for it to be over.

Shelly said...

I'm enjoying a few DC comics these days, mainly Fairest (technically Vertigo), Nightwing and, oddly enough, Red Hood and the Outlaws. For non-DC, I'm enjoying The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Zorro, Saga, pretty much anything Ed Brubaker does (I just added Fatale to my pull list), and Jennifer Blood, though I'm rather behind in my reading.