When what came before wasn't much better.


So like a lot of people on the inter-ma-nets (if the inter-ma-nets are to be believed), I haven't been entirely happy with DC's whole New 52 initiative.  Don't get me wrong, some of it's quite good - Batman Incorporated picked up nicely where the previous series left off, the characterizations of (and camaraderie between) Power Girl and Huntress in Worlds' Finest have made that a fun "buddy" book, and what I've read of All Star Western has been compelling if weirdly lacking in the "Western" department.  What I do take issue with tends to fall into four categories:
  1. Change for change's sake alone;
  2. Writing that equates shock value with plot development;
  3. Incredibly ugly costume designs; and
  4. Padded storyline after family-of-titles-wide crossover after padded storyline after...
The latter has been a real problem for me, killing my interest in five books that I was a big supporter of right out of the gates: Batman, Aquaman, Animal Man, Supergirl, and Demon Knights.  I genuinely enjoyed each of those books, but the lack of momentum and/or reliance on huge crossover storytelling just killed my interest.  My pull list is now down to just two regular DC books: Batman Incorporated and Worlds' Finest. I'm getting three DC monthlies total once you figure in the continuity-free Legends of the Dark Knight.  I'm reading All Star Western in trades.

All that being said, as many problems as I have with the New 52, I don't know that I want the pre-Flashpoint DCU back, either.

From at least Identity Crisis (though maybe a little further back than that) onward through Flashpoint, the folks at DC did a damn fine job of breaking a lot of their best toys.  Batman makes a satellite and killer robots that go rogue; the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League characters are systematically dismantled, evilfied, or killed; Bronze age JLA stories are given one creepy retcon after another; Wonder Woman kills; Superman spends two years in real world publishing time pretty much not being Superman; the Marvel Family is sullied, evilfied, split, and given their superheroic pinkslips; Wally West takes a backseat to his kids and, later, his back-from-the-dead mentor... I could go on and on, but you get the point.

So when I heard about the reboot/relaunch/re-whatever, I was actually excited.  I welcomed it.  A chance to clear the table and start fresh wasn't just a good idea, but a necessary one.  And the fact that I don't like a lot what they did with that restart doesn't in any way change my opinion that it was needed.  Sure, I'd like to enjoy more of the new stuff, but I can take solace in 2 things.

First, a DC Universe that sadly lacks characters like the Dibnys is at least a DC Universe in which nothing bad has happened to them.

Second, just as before Flashpoint, there are still places to get a DC Universe that is closer to one I can enjoy, thanks to the various cartoons and, thankfully, that third DC book still on my pull list, Legends of the Dark Knight.  The list of creative talent is impressive, the stories are short, free from continuity, and most of the characters, situations, and designs that had gone away are back on the table.  It's fantastic.  Read it.

(I'm hoping to similarly enjoy Adventures of Superman, at least once they're past that Orson Scott Card material.  Bring on that Jeff Parker story!)

Long story short (WAY too late), change isn't always good, but sometimes it's still necessary, and we need to deal with that.

2 comments:

Chris Beckett said...

Very well put, sir.

-chris

Chris Beckett said...

Thoughtful and right on the mark. Very well put, sir.
I've been on a boycott of the "Big 2" for a while now, for myriad reasons. I would hope that something like Legends of the Dark Knight might be the proof of concept necessary to show the bigwigs that a book need not be beholden to strict continuity - with all the crossovers & events inherent with that publishing mandate - to be a success. But I doubt that will happen.

-chris