Admittedly, I am a completest. I typically need to start at the start, and do things in order. I won’t skip things, even if they aren’t so great. I still haven’t seen any of The Walking Dead because I want to read all the comics/graphic novels AND start at episode one of the show. So, all that being said, after DC Comics started out on their New 52, I was ready to start with #1 (or #0, I guess) and read ALL of it. Naturally, it took awhile, as I have neither the money or interest to buy every issue, and needed to resort to library availability, but I’m enough through Volume 1 at this point to make a judgement (the only ones I haven’t read are Voodoo, Captain Atom, and The Shade miniseries). Before I do that, here’s my breakdown of the titles.
The Best – Titles I really liked
Batman and Robin
Green Lantern: New Guardians
DC Universe Presents
The Good – Titles I liked, but not as much
Batman: The Dark Knight
Green Lantern Corps
Men of War
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Birds of Prey
The OK – Titles that have some good things, but are mostly nothing special.
Justice League International
The Savage Hawkman
Hawk and Dove
Justice League Dark
The Fury of Firestorm
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice (miniseries)
Legion: Secret Origin (miniseries)
The Ugly – Avoid at all costs
Red Hood and the Outlaws
Legion of Superheroes
The New 52 was DC’s big plan to revitalize their universe, it came along with a new logo and everything. And at some level, it was a good idea. A massive ret-con chance to line things up and make them smoother. But as I was reading through all of volume one, things were generally stale.
Aside from “the best” and some of “the good,” they told the same old story. New villain, need to fight, the hero learns something new about himself, etc. It was boring. The books that broke that mold were the ones that were the best, but they also had previously established supporting casts to use (Green Lantern: New Guardians and Batman for example). Aquaman was really the only character that came “out of the blue” to have a great story. The Batman, Action Comics and Green Lantern titles leaned heavily on past history, and DC Universe Presents did as well, with a great expansion of Deadman’s story, and a fun new origin to the Challengers of the Unknown.
The really sad thing here is the awful comics. DC has virtually no clue how to write a strong female character. If Barbara Gordon was around (Batgirl, Birds of Prey) it was alright, everything else was bad, bad, bad. Wonder Woman was boring, stupid, and uninteresting, Catwoman was completely devoid of everything that made Ed Brubaker and Will Pfeifer’s run on the character so great: a Selina Kyle that was not one dimensional, that was struggling with her conscience, with protecting her friends and her child, and with starting a new life. OMAC, Static Shock, and Mr. Terrific tried really hard, but were just boring attempts at sci-fi. The Flash and All Star Western promised much, but delivered recycled plots and thin characterization, and Legion of Superheroes threw literally, a legion of characters at you and expected you to know all of them. I was lost, and I don’t get lost easily.
At the end of the day, even with a new idea like this, things do stay pretty much the same. There are good stories, there are bad stories. Once they get out from under the “reboot” umbrella, which they are already starting to do, things will be better. We won’t have the need for new introductions to characters we may already know, and we’ll get some freedom to see some new things (I just finished the new Dial H volume, part of Wave 2 of the New 52, and it was great). But for the first wave, stick to the classics and you’ll be rewarded. DC will get back on track, and even though I’m a Marvel guy, I’m excited to see what folks like Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison have in store.