Although I was not a fan of the concept of the DC "revamp" on principle, since I feel like they did it for financial reasons and it won't have any major commercial effect after about a year, I felt like I would at least give them a chance, since I am always looking for something good to pick up.
I am mostly a Marvel reader, and always have been, although I have always dabbled slightly in good DC stories I've heard about through the grapevine--mostly Batman stuff. I've enjoyed a variety of DC-based TV shows and movies. Plus I have gotten Tiny Titans, DC Superfriends, and Batman: Brave and the Bold for my kids. And I get a few from non-Marvel and non-DC companies here and there. But generally speaking, 75-80% of what I've read historically is Marvel.
Why am I mostly a Marvel reader and not a DC reader? No huge reason. When I first started reading comics, I was borrowing them from a friend, and his comics were mostly Marvel. So when I started buying my own, they were Marvel. And honestly it was just too expensive and too complicated for me at the time to invest in two separate universes. At the time (the 80s), the standard saying went that Marvel comics were character-driven and DC comics were plot-driven. I don't know if that was actually true at the time, but I suppose if it was, I would have preferred character-driven comics. I don't think that's particularly true today, and in fact the opposite may be true, with Marvel's increasing event storylines. Not that DC doesn't do a lot of events too. Although if we compare Fear Itself to Flashpoint (just the main comics of each) I'd say Flashpoint was more character-driven. The only DC comic I was reading right before the New 52 was Powergirl (and Flashpoint, just because I knew it would tie into the New 52), which was cancelled.
So I would say that in a sense I am DC's ideal customer for the New 52. I'm a comics reader who doesn't read DC but has nothing against DC--my only reason not to read them is that I am less invested in their characters because I haven't read as much of them. I'm always looking for new series, and usually try to jump on things at the start of a new story arc. So I decided to try out all the issues that appealed to me at all, in the hope that they would go all-out in their stories and art in this first month, putting their best foot forward in an attempt to pick up new readers.
What I got was Stormwatch, Mr. Terrific, Wonder Woman, Batman, Batgirl, Red Lanterns, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and All-Star Western.
I got Stormwatch because I've been interested in Martian Manhunter for some time. I thought the story and art were passable, but not great. It mostly seemed like a bunch of egotistical characters. I may check and see how much the Manhunter is in the next one, but overall it didn't peak my interest.
I got Mr. Terrific partly because he seems like a fairly unique character and I heard Karen Starr would be in it. I thought the writing was generally average, with some real low points (if Karen is just friends with him, why was she in his apartment with her pants off and his shirt off?), and fairly terrible art.
I basically got Wonder Woman because I liked the style of the art on the cover. I felt like the art inside was just as good, and enjoyed the writing too. I don't know if this is how they've treated the gods in WW before, or if that is part of the revamp, but I really liked that aspect of it. A very solid start.
Batman was one I didn't originally plan to get, but I saw some of the inside art on CV. I liked the art, and the writing was decent. And I've always liked Bats.
I picked up Batgirl because Yvonne Craig was awesome. And I figured I would see how she got out of the wheelchair, and I've been hearing a lot about a number of the other Batgirls for a while now. Actually, if the Stephanie version of Batgirl hadn't been cancelled, I probably would have been picking that one up too. The art was good, as was the story, but it didn't really suck me in on a personal level somehow. More like I could appreciate it in the abstract.
Red Lanterns I bought solely because Dex-Starr was in it, and I think he's hilarious. The art was good, and the story was fine, but it didn't make me care about what happened next.
Red Hood and the Outlaws I bought because of the Red Hood, who I think is an interesting character. I liked the art, and I thought the dialog between the guys was really good, but the Starfire thing was ridiculous.
I wasn't originally planning on buying All-Star Western, and even thought DC was crazy for doing all these non-superhero comics (the war comics, the vampire stuff, etc.), but again I saw the art on CV and was impressed. I really liked the art and the writing.
Out of all these, I will definitely pick up Batman, Wonder Woman, and All-Star Western for a second issue. I might consider a second issue of Stormwatch, Mr. Terrific, and Batgirl. I would guess, 4 or 5 months down the line, that I might be getting two or three of these total on a monthly basis.
One other thing: I was curious how they would deal with the issue of "simplifying" the comics, since an often-stated objective was to get rid of continuity to make it easier for new readers to onboard. (Although I consider this ridiculous in the abstract--comics being comics, they'll be so darn complicated with backstories and interconnections within a year that it will be like they never revamped them.) So when I read them, I was curious to see how much they held the reader's hand and explained everything. Out of the ones I read, I felt Stormwatch did the worst at this--it was too didactic in its explanations. Mr. Terrific and Red Lantern had classic origin story approaches, which both helped and hurt them, in the sense that it took up some pages that didn't advance the plot. Batgirl and Red Hood had some explanation, but I felt like they did a good job moving things along into a new story. This meant that all-new readers might be confused though. Batman didn't do much origin story stuff, but I think even non-comics readers know his basic story, so they didn't need it, and got right into the current story. All-Star Western and Wonder Woman did the best job of handling this, by skipping over the origin and just making a good story. I don't think new readers will care about their origins, or if they do, they will enjoy finding out about them as the storylines progress.
But when I look at all of them, I honestly don't think any of them are so "simple," or perhaps clear is a better word, that a new reader could understand what was going on in them any more easily than they could in any other first story in a new story arc in any comic. So I could see someone picking up the beginning of Spider Island or the first issue of Power Girl or the first issue of the new Daredevil (to give 3 different examples: a new story arc, a new comic under an existing character, and a revamped character in a new comic) just as easily as any of these, which makes me then wonder if they actually needed to do the revamp, or if they could have instead just had every comic start a new major story arc in the same month, and thus not lose all that continuity.
So how successful was the New DC for me, as someone who fits their target demographic pretty well? I was reading one DC comic regularly, and now I may be reading 2 or 3. So it's a slight commercial advantage over before, but not huge. And I'm someone who had very little learning curve in buying new issues: I don't read much DC directly, but I've read enough about them all to be able to jump in easily. And I have a high degree of motivation in finding new quality comics.
So if we look at the New DC in terms of commercial success in the long term, I don't know if it's really worth it to them. If we look at it from an artistic vantage point, it's harder for me to say, not having read too much of them before. One of my biggest questions to all of you is, how do this month's DC comics compare to last month's, or a year ago? So not just, are they good, but are they better than before? Is there an improvement in the comics' writing and art?
I would finally point out that of course I did not read all 52 comics, because I am not made out of time or money. But I read a decent percentage--as many or more than their target ideal of someone who normally doesn't read comics--and chose them based on a high level of knowledge of what I might like ahead of time. So chances are, I would not have been all that interested in the other books, based on my knowledge of those characters. The only one I meant to get, but didn't, was Blue Beetle. I just couldn't find a copy of it, and it didn't get a good review, so I didn't spend much extra time tracking it down. So I feel pretty solid in my opinion of what the New DC line is like for someone in my situation (an outsider, curious to see what they're offering): I feel like most non-DC-readers would be like me, in that they wouldn't pick up more than a few new books on a regular basis, based on the quality I saw (of course, everyone would choose different books, based on their taste). I did, to be honest, think they would be of a more consistent high quality, especially in art.
So anyway, I am still very unsure whether they needed to do this revamp the way they did it. I think they could have just started new story arcs instead of starting up the infinitely-confusing question of what continuity did they delete, and what did they keep? But I did pick up a few new comics that I think I will enjoy, so at least to that extent, it was a success for me. My question is, how did it work for other demographics: non-comics readers and longtime DC readers?