Opinion: DC’s New 52 – One Year Later
No, DC isn’t doing the “One Year Later” thing again. But it has been almost a year since the New 52 launched, and to mark the occasion, they are publishing a “zero issue” of each ongoing title. With all that in mind, this seems like the perfect time for a retrospective, so let’s take a look back at what DC’s been up to for the past year.
I do have to make a couple points before we continue:
- All thoughts are my own and do not represent the opinions of the Comic Booked staff. Any anger, frustration, or praise in this assessment are my own (although I do not expect much of the latter).
- I am an avid collector. I picked up the first few issues of EVERY New 52 title, so I gave everything a chance. For some books, I only lasted only six issues; for others more.
When the New 52 launched, I was both excited and hesitant. I was not sure exactly how much DC would depart from their then-current status quo, but I could tell that it was going to be significant. When the books finally arrived, the extent of the changes ended up being quite a shock. We saw major revamps of several characters, some of which made sense and others… not so much. The fact that the whole point of the relaunch was to drive the creativity of the writers and introduce a world in which our heroes had only been around for five years wasn’t a problem, but I don’t think everything was fully thought out. Let’s look at the universe as a whole. More that anything else, the chronology needs to make sense. If superheroes only started to appear five years ago, that definitely creates some issues with the timeline, not least of which are the following:
- The entire Green Lantern universe. So Hal had a ring for only five years, and in that time something happened on Earth to create three other Green Lanterns? Really?
- One of the more glaring problems with the fie year timeline is the history of the Robins? If heroes have been around for such a short period, can we assume that Dick Grayson’s origin story is completely new (hopefully to be addressed in Nightwing #0), as five years to be orphaned, trained as Robin, and then graduate to Nightwing? What about Jason Todd’s past (to be answered in Red Hood and the Outlaws #0)? Was he ever Robin? And that’s without even touching the mess that seems to have been made of Tim Drake’s history, which leads to…
- The current Robin, Damian. Okay, so this is plausible… But really, it isn’t. Damian is the child of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, who was obsessed with Batman and felt the need to “claim” him in a way. Read that carefully: Talia was obsessed with Batman. Well if Damian is the product of that, and at most five years have passed, then shouldn’t Damian be starting kindergarten, not fighting crime at his father’s side? If I missed this explanation, please tell me, but this is a HUGE discrepancy.
- Just when did all this “other team” stuff introduced during the latest Aquaman story arc take place? Or is Arthur somehow exempt from the five year time frame?
These are definitely not the only timeline issues I have with the new DCU, but they do stand out as some of the most blatant.
So, those are some of my gripes (expect more on those in the near future). Now let’s look at the things they did right.
Justice League did something I was very happy about: It brought Cyborg to the top team. He’s been around a while and his skills were something deserving of a step up. The Titans was a top notch team, but the League is THE team. He definitely deserves his place as a founding member of this new Justice League, especially considering the lack of J’onn J’onzz. Instead of telepathy, he processes terabytes of data and comes to conclusions through logic and deduction instead of simply reading an enemy’s mind.
Additionally, the Night of Owls story arc in Batman was amazing. It was something new and more than that, something that worked. I think it was a little too drawn out, with virtually ever Bat-book tying into it, but the main story arc worked amazingly well. Apart from a few cheesy scenes (such as the old armor that Bruce donned for a bit in the cave), it was a story that worked remarkably well and did not overuse characters. There were a few points at which the arc was less cohesive than it could have been, but overall this was a great crossover. And the All-Star Western tie-in – which saw Jonah Hex come face to face with the Court in the past – was great a way to truly tie that book to the modern DCU.
Green Lantern: New Guardians has been a nice change from the typical Green Lantern stories. I like that Kyle is the lynchpin, giving the character the attention he deserves. With Green Lantern focused on Hal and Green Lantern Corps on Guy and John, Kyle still needed to be out there. His old mini-series The New Corps started him on the path of restoring the Corps, and this took me back to that journey for Kyle (one of my favorite Lanterns ever).
From that initial run, though, some books didn’t make the cut. All told, six books were cancelled after their first eight issues, and here are my thoughts on them:
- Mister Terrific – I just couldn’t get into it. I dropped it after four issues.
- Static Shock – Same as Mister Terrific – I just didn’t seem to grasp it. I think had Static been tied to the Teen Titans book this one may have grown in popularity, at least enough to avoid cancellation. I stuck with it until the end.
- Hawk and Dove – There were a number of reasons I couldn’t get into this, but to be honest I didn’t like the characters even before the relaunch. I dropped it after five issues.
- OMAC – I loved this book, as it was very Kirby-esque in both the story and artwork. I loved Kirby’s version of the book from the 70’s too, so this one resonated with me. I bought the entire run.
- Blackhawks – Again, I couldn’t get into it. I dropped it with the fourth issue.
- Men of War – I was on the fence, but ultimately preferred it’s successor, G.I. Combat. Got it til the end.
A few others have been cancelled since then, and I’ll give some of my thoughts on those over the coming weeks.
My next post will have my thoughts on pre-Flashpoint story arc whose status needs to be clarified. Did they still happen in this new universe? And if not, what impact does that have on DC’s current continuity? You can’t just explain it all away by blaming time travel, at least not without a big blue box nearby to handle the paradoxes…