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|03/09/12||Why I Still Don't Love the New 52||(Blog) (Forum)||DC Comics||(Back) (Next)|
I haven't liked the idea of the New 52 from the beginning, and waited until it had been rolling for 4 months, before picking up anything. I've picked up several #1's at this point, and I haven't been all that impressed. I liked Nightwing enough to add it to my list, but really, that's only because I collected the previous series. I'm interested to read the Huntress TPB, but that's only after reading about the mini-series on Comicvine. I've picked up first issues of favorite characters and teams, but haven't seen anything to stand up and cheer about. I'd like to see Blackhawks succeed, just because I've always wanted to see that concept reinvented enough to appeal to a new audience. I don't know if this book is going to do that or not, but I'm glad to see the attempt.
Overall though, I think DC is working against themselves. What works for the Big Two is that there is years and years of history to their characters, readers feel like they know them, and keep coming back to see and learn more about their favorite characters. What works against newer companies like Image, Dark Horse, and Dynamite (although they've been around awhile now, they are still newer than DC & Marvel) is the lack of history or cohesive universe. Even though some of their books are excellent, they suffer, because the companies have to manufacture "history," by introducing new characters that "have been around since World War II." If they cannot successfully make the average superhero reader buy into that, then those readers are left feeling like they are reading about someone they don't know, whose history feels fake.
DC has done that with this reboot. With COIE & Zero Hour, even though they reinvented the characters after both of those events, there was always some carryover, and a question of just how much had really changed. There's NO question with the New 52 - things have changed, and these are not the characters we knew. Superman - our "strange visitor from another planet" - is now just a "stranger visiting from another planet." Batman's history supposedly remains untouched, but there's already problems with that, because how old is he in relation to the rest of the JLA? If Dick is an adult, and still fought beside Batman as Robin, then was he still a Teen Titan? How does that work when Cyborg's history is being rewritten for him to have joined the JLA? If Dick was still a Teen Titan, then the rest of the original team are also adults, and that means their mentors should be older than them, and more established as heroes - not just now forming the Justice League, pretty much unknown to each other. There are already things that don't make sense here, and I don't think that's going to get better.
Imagine that someone close to you has been in an accident, and goes to the hospital. When you go to see them, they don't remember you at all, and they can't do anything about it except move forward. So now, all of your memories of them, while still important to you, are invalid as far as this person is concerned, because they are just not the same person. You might still love them, because they are the same person, but if the doctor told you that there was no hope this person was going to get their original memories back and be the person you knew, you would have to have the patience of a saint to stay with them, even though they are, for all intents and purposes, a new person. It's still possible though, because in real life, they really are the same person.
That's not so here, in the New 52. They did this in the 1960's, rebooting the characters from the name - reinventing everything. They changed the costumes, the histories, the locations, the supporting casts, everything. It wasn't until older fans started saying, "What about the original Superman/Flash/Green Lantern/etc," that DC introduced the Golden Age characters, via Earth 2. That's almost what they've done here, except they've kept the characters' looks (in most cases). It's that "keeping the look" that is going to work against them most, because no matter how much they change the story, and no matter how good the new story is, there will still be people saying, "But he still looks like Superman, so when is [missing story element x] coming back?"
From the first solicitations, I wasn't interested in the New 52. I thought the new concepts sounded boring. I was truly shocked to find that after thirty-five years of collecting, I had absolutely zero interest in this reboot. I finally gave them a chance, because well, that's what's here - may as well see if there's something I can like about it. The answer was yes, there is, but honestly, it's not with the same level of investment I had in the previous characters. It's hard to be vested in clones - they have the same look, the same name, but not the same history. The only way to do that is to enjoy them from here, and hope that they turn out to be interesting, like their namesakes were.
Especially when you don't know for sure if this is really going to be permanent. I mean, Marvel said Heroes Reborn was going to be permanent too, but flipped on that pretty quickly. Will DC do the same, and undo Flashpoint? Or will they try to find a way to meld the best elements of the old and new? At the moment, I remain unconvinced that this is permanent. Part of this change was certainly to create 52 new first issues, throwing these ideas against the wall of readers, and seeing what sticks. The stuff that didn't they scrape up off the sidewalk and cart away, and replace with another new idea for us to try. I don't think that makes for a sustainable new universe, and it kind of feels like babysitters trying to entertain a crying baby. "Look! Look! Deadman!... No? Okay, okay, look, Hawk & Dove!... No? Okay, Aquaman! Oh, you like Aquaman? Good, good, how 'bout Deathstroke? Aw, c'mon, don't cry. Look, look, Wonder Woman!..."
The biggest change by far is Superman, and that seems to have an awful lot to do with the fact that they have to change some of the original elements by 2013, due to the lawsuit that nobody wants to talk about and wishes would go away. I would venture a guess that whether or not the New 52 remains new canon or not depends largely on whether DC can finally convince the creators' families to give up their interests in the character, so they can go back to Superman's original roots. If not, then look for the changes in Superman and the rest of the New 52 to remain, and try to see if there's something you can like about it. For now, I don't feel completely convinced this is going to work, but as a fan of comics as a whole, I certainly remain willing to be wrong.