Over the last month we saw the release of the 1st issues for DC comics new 52, the relaunch of their universe. It’s clear that it has been an initial success. Many titles are already in reprint, DC is dominating the sales chart and Marvel is already showing signs of their attempt to rip it off.
But was it any good?
I guess the final answer is…..sort of.
There are certainly individual books that are good. Originally I was not going to pick up Green Arrow or Swamp Thing on a regular basis, but both first issues were good enough to change my mind. Batwing and Justice League International were not as good, but good enough for me to give to want to read more. Aquaman I bought on the strength that it was being written by Geoff Johns, and it paid off. The Superman books and Wonder Woman were well written and I enjoyed them. The Batman and Green Lantern books were continuing stories from prior to the relaunch and still enjoyable. Resurrection Man also seems to be jumping off from the old series from a few years back, but its nature makes it flow well into the new continuity and was a good relaunch of the character.
I have heard good things about Animal Man, Blue Beetle and Demon Knights, but as of yet I have not picked those up.
On the negative side were Catwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Deathstroke. And each case it is an issue of bad or lazy writing. No second issues for these.
I’ve also heard bad buzz on Hawk and Dove, OMAC and Suicide Squad, but again I did not pick them up.
And on the meh side was the Flash, Justice League Dark. Both were passable individual stories, but didn’t fire me up. I’ll give them a few issues to see if they are worth keeping up with.
And then there is Justice League. The way it was written, I have no idea yet. I can’t help feel this one was paced for the trade edition. I’ll give it a few.
Overall I am happy with the books I am getting, but I see a major flaw developing. The source of this flaw is an issue with consistency of continuity.
When the relaunch happened you had some characters like Superman and Flash getting full on reboots. Others like Wonder Woman and Aquaman were more or less getting some retooling. Characters like Booster Gold and Resurrection Man are vague on what, if anything has been changed. And then you have Batman and the Green Lanterns, where they have not been changed and are in fact continuing their stories uninterrupted.
Add to that there we have some books taking place today, and others five years ago.
This leads to confusion as knowing how characters relate becomes muddled. The Kid Flash in teen titans, who if he? Barry Allen is not dating Iris West, so it is unlikely he is Wally West. Is he Bart Allen? Ok but again Barry and Iris are not together so saying he is their grandson from the future is still awkward at best. Is he option C, none of the above?
What about Superman? In Action comics, the book that takes place 5 years ago his costume is jeans, a t-shirt, and a cape that I suspect started life as a table cloth. In Superman which is set today his custom is some sort of Kryptonian armor. Ok fine, expect that Superman appears at the end of Justice League number 1. That issue was set five years ago and yet he was wearing the Kryptonian armor.
I’m sure the real answer was that the editors were not keeping up on what the creators were doing; this seems to be a problem at both DC and Marvel right now.
Once a few more issues are out I will probably start giving more in-depth opinions on the various titles.