Jyger’s Rant – Injustice 2 Story Mode Review (WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD)
…So, I don’t own this game. Just throwing this out now. Not available for any systems I own, don’t have the money to get a new one, and so here we are. That said, I really wanted to give my thoughts on the story in Injustice 2, especially since I DO own the original and have given my thoughts on it in the past. Luckily, plenty of people, like Maximilian Dood and Kwing, have posted playthroughs of the Story Mode, so I’m thus able to give it my own review. Just remember, though, that as I’m doing this review, I’m speaking strictly about the story, not the game in terms of how it plays and whatnot. Although, I will get this out of the way right now: So far, based on what I’ve seen, it looks like a really good game, haven’t heard much wrong with it from a technical perspective yet, and on a personal note, NetherRealm Studios seem to have HUGELY improved on their facial designs and animations with this game. In fact, over all, I think this is their best LOOKING game of all time. Whenever they wanna make Mortal Kombat XI, they need to take inspiration from this game when it comes to the graphics.
But yeah, the story. So, this takes place a few years after Injustice: Gods Among Us. Superman is in a red solar prison for taking over the world, and his former Regime buddies are either planning to break him out, working to make up for what they did under his rule, or joining Gorilla Grodd’s new group, the Society. However, pretty soon, it becomes clear that the Society are just pawns in a much bigger game, as Brainiac arrives to capture Superman, add a few Earth cities to his collection, and then blow the planet up. Eventually, the situation devolves so much that Batman and his allies have no choice but to release Superman and work with the Regime to try and stop Brainiac and the Society before they destroy the world.
So, right away, I have a bit of a complaint to make. If you didn’t play that game…well, there’re a few details that this game tends to completely either ignore or glance over. Specifically, the heroes of the mainstream DC Universe were brought over to the world primarily presented in these games and the comics to stop an evil Superman who had pretty much taken over with a new group made up of former heroes and villains called the Regime. And while this game takes place on that world, I think there’re maybe one or two passing references to the fact that Batman had help from good Superman and the Justice League in taking down Regime Superman (as in they did most of the work and he got all the credit), and the player is otherwise left to assume Batman was bad enough to bring down Superman all by himself. Also, no mention of the super pills they took last game, which are meant to explain how people like Batman, Harley, and other characters without superpowers can go toe-to-toe with superhumans, get tossed around in outer-fucking-space, and survive without so much as a scratch on them.
Another issue with the story is that it has a bit of a…complicated relationship with the tie-in comics. Nowhere is that more clear than in the first chapter of the story, which is actually set during an operation that Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg were pulling on Arkham Asylum. Basically, some events that happened in the comics are considered canon, others aren’t, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of pattern as to what is or isn’t, nor is it made 100% clear what all is and is not canon anymore. One thing we DO know about what’s been changed is that, while Damian did apparently still kill Nightwing by accident, it didn’t happen during the operation on Arkham. Instead, the thing that tears him and Batman apart is Damian killing Zsasz…who, in the comics, survived way longer than that, and was actually responsible for killing Alfred. So, right away, we’ve got a double retcon, and that’s not even taking into account certain details mentioned by Cyborg about the deaths of Starfire and Beast Boy.
Before I get to the two biggest things that bother me about the story, though, let’s talk about some positives. First, you know I’m a sucker for stories that involve a ton of characters, and this has a lot of different heroes and villains with a wide range of abilities, from Harley Quinn with her dynamite and mallet, to Doctor Fate, sorcerer supreme of the DC Universe. From Captain Cold, a former bank robber with a freeze gun, to Supergirl, the last hope of Krypton with almost God-like strength and powers. Even Dex-Starr, who is quite possibly the avatar of everything stupid-yet-awesome about comic books, plays a minor role in the story. Characters from all walks of life in the DC Universe have various parts to play in this crisis, and all prove their worthiness to be involved in such a tale. Sadly, the majority of them are taken down a few notches at best by the last two chapters, which I’ll get to, but it’s still awesome to see them all here. Even Joker makes a return via Scarecrow-induced hallucination, which leads to the awesome sight of Harley, in a somewhat close approximation of her classic costume, giving him a good ass kicking.
Another positive to the story is not quite something I suggested after playing through the first game’s Story Mode, but close and still appreciated. Several chapters of the game give you not one but two characters to play through with, and you choose which one to play as before each fight in that chapter. As such, you can mix and match who fights whom, or you can have your favourite of the two do all the ass kicking. It’s totally up to you. And I appreciate that. I personally suggested classic Marvel vs Capcom 2v2 style fights, but whatever. Still cool, and allows not only for different dialogue and scenes depending on who is involved in the fights, but for more characters to take center stage in each…at least until the end, but again, I’ll get to that.
So, now for something that annoys me to no end, and if you’ve played through the Story Mode and know me and the characters I like, you should be able to figure this out. Simply put, I am NOT a fan of how Superman, Wonder Woman, and Poison Ivy are written in this game’s story, especially the last two (although that could simply be that nothing Superman does could top what he did to Shazam last game, who is a CHILD). In particular, there is a scene where Poison Ivy uses her pheromones on Harley Quinn to turn her against her allies. Now, first off, I’d just like to point out that Harley is supposed to possess immunity to most poisons, toxins, etc., due to injections given to her BY Poison Ivy. But, let’s just ignore that for now, because that’s not what really aggravates me. Instead, after inhaling too much of Ivy’s pheromones, Harley starts going into shock, and Ivy’s reaction is to roll her eyes and show complete and utter apathy over her former lover lying on the ground dying five feet away from her… … …Linkara, I need you again!
Thank you!… … …Look, here’s the thing: I can see a situation where Harley and Ivy could be on opposing sides, sure, maybe even having to fight each other, but there is NO FUCKING WAY that Harley could be dying two feet away from Ivy, and Ivy would be on that level of not giving a shit. This is HARLEY we’re talking about. Regardless of if you subscribe to the idea of the two as a couple or not, the fact is that the second she saw her convulsing like that, she would have dropped EVERYTHING else and tried to help her, because be it in a romantic sense or not, Harley is one of the few people left that Ivy truly cares about. But she doesn’t. Why? Because Ivy is, in this story, irredeemably EVIL, as are Wonder Woman and Superman.
Now, I’ve brought this up in videos before, and they’ve brought up the defense that this is an alternate universe, so of course characters are gonna behave in ways we’re not used to. And yeah, as I said before, that was a thing in Injustice 1, and other than going to the extreme of Superman killing Billy Batson, I didn’t mind. So, why does it bother me here? Well, I thought about that, and I came to the following conclusion: It was easier to watch and deal with characters I knew and loved acting in such a manner in Injustice 1 because we had the versions we knew and loved going up against them. Hell, it actually made for interesting contrasts between them to see how they were so different, and yet had a starting point they could both be linked back to. Here, though, we don’t have that. We just have them acting like…well, MONSTERS. And, for that matter, why is it that we have characters who behave in a way that’s completely removed from the core of who they are, and then some who aren’t? Why are Barry and Hal able to realize the error of their ways in the previous game and try to redeem themselves, but Diana isn’t? You have to remain constant to the rules of how this alternate universe works, otherwise you’re inviting people to bring up these comments when stuff like this happens.
And then there’s my last issue: The end of the game, and if you don’t wanna know, then sorry, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. This is your only warning…Okay, so Superman and Batman go up to the Skull Ship to stop Brainiac, save Supergirl, and restore the stolen cities. Unlike in past chapters with multiple characters, the final two fights of this chapter have you fighting Brainiac twice, once with Superman and once with Batman. Personally, I would have changed it to where you choose which of them fights him the first time, and then Supergirl takes him on in the final battle. After all, not only does the Story Mode start with a flashback to her escape from Krypton after Brainiac invades, but we frequently see her side of the story as it unfolds even outside of her chapter, plus she gets a good shot in on Brainiac just before the last fight, AND she plays a big role in the ending of the game. So, clearly, the story largely centers around her, meaning it makes logical sense for her to be the one to take Brainiac down in the end. However, what’s a bigger issue is…that’s NOT the final chapter. The final chapter involves Superman and Batman, having successfully stopped Brainiac’s ship from crashing due to Superman interfacing with it, as well as managing to restore all of the Earth cities sans Metropolis and Coast City, coming to an argument over whether or not to kill Brainiac and take control of his Skull Ship, thus risking the remaining cities that haven’t been restored yet, or keep him alive long enough to restore the cities. And guess what? The story ends with them fighting AGAIN, leading to you choosing which one to play as in fighting the other and their allies. So the story ends with either Batman defeating Superman with a Kryptonite-enhanced armor and then banishing him to the Phantom Zone, then inviting Supergirl to take Clark’s place on a new Justice League, or Superman defeating Batman, bonding with Brainiac’s ship, imprisoning Supergirl in the red solar prison, and using Brainiac’s tech to turn Batman into his slave…Oh, and I’m assuming (don’t know this for a fact) that you get the special armor shown in the ending for the character you chose.
So, what’s my problem there? Well, it’s two-fold. The first reason I dislike it is because I would’ve personally ended the game with Brainiac’s defeat…then I would have had Superman DIE trying to use the ship’s systems to restore the Earth cities. Yes, I would have KILLED Superman. Barring that, I suppose he could’ve been left critically injured past the point of being able to recover quickly from solar rays, thus leaving him comatose or the like. Either way, I would have had the story end with him making that sacrifice, and then, as he lies on the floor, surrounded by friends and family, he looks back on how everything that went wrong stems from his decision to kill the Joker, and finally realizes his mistakes. It wouldn’t have magically taken away everything he did, but it would have at least let him go out saving the world and acknowledging that he did wrong. And then, from there, I guess you have Supergirl taking his place on the new League, the Regime all either surrender, go into hiding, or likewise realize their errors and join the new League, and so on. Oh, and I also would’ve added a teaser at the end for Darkseid deciding to try his hand at attacking Earth next, since…well, let’s be honest, that’s probably where they’re going.
The other reason I don’t care for the end of this game, either one, is because… … …Well, because I don’t care. I don’t care that Superman and Batman are fighting AGAIN. I’m too numb to it now. Why should I care that Superman and Batman are going to fight for the 11,311th time?…That’s one for every day since The Dark Knight Returns #4 came out, btw, and oh dear lord, I just now realized I’m two days removed from being exactly one year older than that comic. My God, I’m old. But the point still stands, I’ve just seen it too often, and I just don’t care to see it ever again. So ultimately, the ending doesn’t impress at all. It literally leaves me going “Oh yay, this again…”, and that’s not how a story should end. Like, it really says it all when, the first time they fight in the game during Chapter 1, all I can think during this scene that’s supposed to be really dramatic and sad is “Wow, I love the gold trim on Superman’s cape in this scene. Looks really good, and adds some much-needed colour balance between the red, blue, and yellow”.
So, as a result, for the ending leaving me so disappointed and for everything else that went wrong…I have to unfortunately give the story a thumbs down overall. There ARE moments I like and even love, like Harley beating down Joker, Hal Jordan fighting off the urge of the Red Lanterns’ rage, Cyborg vs Grid, the reveal that Batman kept the old round table for the Justice League, and so on. But it’s just overshadowed by a story that is infuriating at times and just unenthusing at others. Sorry, NetherRealm, but this is one story I just couldn’t give my approval to. Better luck next time, though.
Anyway, what did you think of the Story Mode? Let me know in the comments below, and let’s hope that Mr. Boon and DC listen to what we have to say next time. Ja né!
Superhero Adoptables I’ve Made On Deviant Art
…Yeah, I know this is lame, but whatever. I made some more DC superheroes and supervillains on Deviant Art using dress up games and the like. So, I thought I’d share a small collage of some of them, along with a link to the rest…
Also, if you wanna make your own, here’s a short list of links to where you can find the games I’ve been using…
…And, lastly, if you want me to create any other DC superheroes that I haven’t already, feel free to leave a comment here or on my Deviant Art account. Ja né!
The Biggest Plot Hole Involving BvS Batman Killing
Y’know, I’ve made it clear that I’m not a fan of Batman killing people. I just think that’s contrary to who the character is in the modern age. Batman should not kill people. However, let’s assume you’re whoever it was that decided Batman must be a killer in the current DC movies. Regardless of my own personal feelings on the matter, let’s go with that premise. However, beyond simply acclimating us to Batman killing people, as Confused Matthew recently pointed out in his own review of Batman v Superman, you need to make sure that there are no contradictory issues involving him killing people with his other actions and inactions. And, in the case of these movies, I think I may have found one.
Now, I know we all liked to think that the ending of Man of Steel, where Superman snaps Zod’s neck, would act as the catalyst for him deciding to never kill again, that being forced to do so and feeling so awful about it would, in turn, make Superman a better person. However, considering he kills at least two more times in BvS, I think it’s safe to say that was never the plan. Sorry, it just wasn’t. BUT, let’s give the benefit of the doubt and assume that, given Batman’s decision not to kill or brand Lex Luthor at the end of BvS, he’s decided to abandon his killing ways. That way, we can even craft character development around it, in that meeting Superman and Wonder Woman and saving Martha Kent’s life, something has changed inside of him, and he’s not going to kill anymore. That means that, whenever the situation comes up where he COULD kill someone and doesn’t, we know why and it makes at least some sort of sense. However, there’s still a problem that’s been nagging at me ever since the movie came out…and I think I finally figured out what it is. And ultimately, it comes down to three panels…
And that’s when I realized the biggest plot hole regarding Batman killing people: Given what we’ve seen and heard in these movies, we can infer that Batman started down this much darker road after Joker killed Jason Todd. And, as I’ve mentioned before, that actually makes sense when you consider what happened in the comics. The biggest difference between what happened there and what’s going on in the comics is that, apparently, in this universe, Tim Drake never stepped into Batman’s life, and he went down a route of killing his enemies. But, if all of that’s true, then why in the hell is the Joker still alive? Why wasn’t he the FIRST person Batman killed? And don’t give me any bull about how he hasn’t been able to catch him, because I refuse to believe that, in all of that time, he NEVER caught him. Hell, according to Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn was an accomplice in Robin’s murder. Why didn’t Batman kill HER when he fished her out of the bay? Honestly, I think the only reason he doesn’t kill Deadshot is because his daughter was there watching the whole thing go down. Now, admittedly, we don’t know EXACTLY when he caught both of these individuals, but I was under the assumption they were both just a little bit before BvS, since the Justice League trailers and the ending of BvS seems to indicate he immediately began putting all of his efforts into locating and bringing Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman into the fold. So even if he DID decide not to kill anymore by the end of that movie, these events would’ve happened BEFORE then. Harley and the Joker should both be dead as shit. It makes no logical sense, if Batman kills people, and they’re the ones who sent him down this dark path, that he wouldn’t kill them. So yeah, add this to the LONG list of ways that the makers of these movies have failed hard… … …Though it’s hardly the worst way.
Are there any other plot holes you can think of regarding Batman killing people? Lemme know in the comments below. Ja né!
Pammy In Green (Parody Song) #PoisonIvyLeague
Okay, I know this is not the first parody song I’ve ever posted, but just reminding everyone, I did not write the song this was based on, nor do I profit from this in any way. Also, this is meant to be read from Harley Quinn’s POV in observation of Poison Ivy. lol
I never seen ya lookin’ so lovely as ya did tonight
I never seen ya shine so bright
I never seen so many men help ya shut down some factory
They’re lookin’ for a little romance, just like me
I never seen that flower yer wearing
Or the flowers in yer hair that match yer eyes
I have been blind
Pammy in green is dancin’ with me, cheek to cheek
Mistah J’s not here, it’s just you and me, it’s where I wanna be
But I hardly know this redhead by my side
But I’ll never forget, the way ya look tonight
I never seen ya lookin’ so gorgeous as you did tonight
I never seen ya shine so bright, ya were amazin’
I’ve never seen so many people hypnotized to be by your side
And when ya turned to me and smiled, it made me wanna take ya an-Imeantookmybreathaway! Yeah, that’s it.. … …
I have never had such a feelin’, such a feelin’ of complete and utter love, as I do tonight
Pammy in green is dancin’ with me, cheek to cheek
The Bat and Birdboy ain’t here, it’s just you and me, it’s where I wanna be
And I really hope DC won’t retcon us
But I’ll never forget, the way ya look tonight
I never will forget, the way ya look tonight
Pammy in green
Pammy in green
Pammy in green
My Pammy in green
Injustice 2 – The Lines Are Redrawn Trailer
Welp, Injustice 2 is four months away, and we’ve got a new story-based trailer up, so let’s take a look, shall we?
So, with this trailer, we have confirmation of Robin, Poison Ivy, Brainiac, Bane, and Darkseid all either being playable or playing a role in the story. If they are all playable, then they join Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Blue Beetle, Atrocitus, Aquaman, Deadshot, The Flash, Gorilla Grodd, and Harley Quinn. Also, as I understand it, at least A Green Lantern (probably Hal Jordan) will be in the game, there’ll be skin/voice patches to include Reverse-Flash, John Stewart, and Power Girl, and we’ve had hints that Doctor Fate and Captain Cold will be in the game. All in all, a rather impressive roster so far.
As for the trailer, I could do without the call back to Lois and little Jon’s murders, since, as you all should know, that’s kind of a hot button issue with me. Wasn’t fond of it when it was first revealed, still don’t like it now. But, I understand that it was the event that kicked Injustice off in the first place, so it would be impossible to continue this story without it. It sucks, but what can you do?
Anyway, still plenty of spots open on the roster, and more to come via DLC, so who would you like to see announced? Lemme know in the comments below, and we’ll see what happens between now and May 16th. Ja né!
Still Making Expies On Deviant Art! Who’s Next?! Previews + Polls!
Yup, I’m still doing this. lol That said, compared to what I had up, I’ve made quite a few new Captain Ersatzes on Deviant Art, and I owe a lot of that to my readers who voted on who they’d like to see me make expies of. I’m still going through the list, but here’s a look at what I’ve posted since I started taking requests…
…BUT, as anyone who has been to my Twitter knows, I’ve still got maybe one or two left to go. Specifically, I decided to go ahead and make counterparts for the Justice League. And, because you guys went ahead and helped me out with this, here’s an early preview…with appropriate music. lol
Anyway, with that outta way, there’s another poll I’d like to present. Basically, now that I’ve done a few counterparts of Batman’s rogues gallery, I was wondering which group of villains I should do next. So, by all means, vote below on which rogues gallery you’d like to see expies of next, and we’ll see what happens in a week’s time. Ja né!
Jyger’s Favourite 5 – 5 Favourite LGBT DC Characters
…So, I mentioned this on my Facebook, but I figured I should bring this up on my blog. Yes, I know about the horrible shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Florida. I don’t know all the details. What I do know is this: Around 50 people were killed in this shooting, and about 50 more were injured. I’ve heard that, in the wake of this, some people have chosen to put their own projects on indefinite hold. However, I’ve instead opted not to. On the contrary, I feel it necessary to continue my work as a form of entertainment and escapism for anyone affected by this tragedy. In fact, because the LGBT community has been the target of a lot of hate as of late, culminating in this attack, I’ve decided to do some LGBT related articles, starting with this one. It’s no secret that I love lots of diversity in comics, and while DC has kinda failed from time to time to get it right, there ARE a number of gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and even asexual characters among their vast line-up. But who are my personal favourites? Well, let’s find out. Here are my 5 Favourite LGBT DC Characters.
I’ve actually heard that the staff of the Young Justice cartoon claimed that Jackson was “not straight”, and that’s where he made his first appearances, so no, DC Rebirth’s outing him isn’t necessarily a retcon…I think. I’m gonna get into this when I review DC Universe Rebirth #1, but the thing is, the implication some people are taking from his scene in the book is that he’s gay. However, I’m pretty sure the intent with him prior was that he was bi, not gay, so I’m hoping they stick with that. Regardless, I really like Aqualad. His position in the Aquaman stories is complex, but in a good way, he’s got a kickass power-set and a usually level-headed demeanor (at least in the show, I haven’t read much of his appearances in the comics), and I’m glad to see him making his return. I seem to recall hearing once that he was originally supposed to join the Teen Titans in the New 52, but it never came to be, and considering how the team did in that era, might be for the better that he didn’t. Still, this DOES make me wonder if he’ll either join the Titans in the Rebirth era, or perhaps be part of a new Young Justice team. And considering how many people would like to see a return of the Young Justice TV series, honestly, I’d go with the latter as a means to either push that idea or give the fans clamoring for it a consolation prize.
Honestly, is anyone REALLY shocked? And yes, for the record, Pamela’s bisexuality has been made canon. Granted, it’s in a book I don’t much care for, and the writers don’t always seem to get her all that well, but I appreciate the fact that they made clear what many of us assumed for a while now. I remember for years thinking it already WAS established canon, actually. But anyway, Poison Ivy is a character who has a lot of layers to her. She suffers from seasonal affective disorder, which can sometimes undermine her better judgment and brilliant mind, and she’s been known to…well, let’s call a spade a spade, she kills people. However, she really DOES care for the planet, as most of her criminal endeavors over the years have been to stop people from polluting or otherwise mistreating it, and to those who think she doesn’t care about human beings, she once protected a park full of orphaned children. No one told her to, she just did it because she identified with their trauma and because it was the right thing to do. She once gave up her powers because she was afraid it might be killing them. So yeah, she IS a good person deep down. Just…don’t ever piss her off, and in the words of Captain Planet, protect the environment, or she’ll fucking kill you. 😛
History’s a funny thing, isn’t it? The original Batwoman was created specifically to be Batman’s love interest as a means of disproving concerns that he was gay for Robin. 50 years later, the character was reintroduced as a lesbian, and is actually Bruce’s cousin. And frankly, all the better in my opinion, as she’s arguably the single most high-profile LGBT superhero in DC’s entire roster, and is currently Batman’s equal in his new boot camp in Detective Comics. Also, her existence provides more of something Batman is lacking: Family. While he’s brought in wards and made plenty of allies, we don’t see a lot of his surviving blood relatives. I think right now, off the top of my head, there’s Kate, her dad, her sister, and Bruce’s son, Damian, and alternate Earth daughter, Helena. That’s it. And while there’s more than a lot different about Bruce and Kate in their personalities and approaches to crime fighting, there’s also a lot that’s the same, which may be the real reason they haven’t always gotten along together that great as superheroes. Oh, and in Batman: Bad Blood, she used guns, and I’m not a big fan of that, but it at least makes sense with her military training, and she DID switch her live rounds for rubber bullets by the end, so I can tolerate it and still like her in that movie, unlike some other things in it, but let’s not go there…
…Okay, I’m gonna admit to something that people might find a bit strange to hear come out of my mouth, and I understand that. Frankly, it baffles me a bit, too. But, having thought about it for a while, and looking back over the character’s history, I’ve come to a conclusion: Scott Lobdell wrote Bunker best so far. He was optimistic, entertaining, and just outright FUN. I don’t know what they were trying to do with him in the new book, but he wasn’t what I’d necessarily call “fun”. In fact, he kinda had an attitude that rubbed me the wrong way, at least in comparison to how I knew him to be prior. I hope if he comes back in Rebirth, he more resembles his previous personality. Also, I gotta wonder about something: As I said before, Aqualad was originally rumoured to be joining the Teen Titans in the New 52. Now, we’ve met Bunker’s boyfriend, and he’s not Jackson, but I can’t help but wonder if the original intent was for Jackson to be Bunker’s boyfriend and be on the team? Food for thought is all I’m saying.
Again, like Ivy, Harley Quinn has been confirmed to be bisexual by the writers of her book, so she counts. And, like I said before, I honestly thought she already WAS confirmed to be a while ago, and I have no idea why it took anyone from DC so long to finally let that particular cat (or hyena, as it were) out of the bag. Now, maybe it was a concern that such might be controversial, but lemme ask you something: Which is the more controversial thing to do with a character? To have Harley be bisexual, or to have her be in a long-term abusive relationship with a killer clown, and have her get the shit kicked outta her multiple times, once or twice even in a cartoon show? And I’m not saying they shouldn’t have done that, as it was an intriguing look into abusive relationships and twisted psyches, while also serving as a cautionary tale. I’m just saying, once you’ve crossed that line, how is this any worse? Regardless, it’s out in the open now, with no going back, though I have my doubts they’ll reference that in DC Super Hero Girls. lol
Hmm, y’know, while I like this list, I feel like there are others I should at least mention… … …Ah, screw it, here’s a collage of some of my other favourite confirmed LGBT characters in DC Comics, so no Wonder Woman since DC’s never made it 100% clear about her. lol
Anyway, be sure to leave your own favourites in the comments, OR let me know if there’s anyone else you’d like to see officially come out at DC these days. Ja né!
How To Drop The Ball In Comics – The New 52
…Well, we’re finally here, folks. It’s been five years, but at last, the New 52/DC You is dead. Granted, a few of its titles are still finishing up their runs, and the new books still take place in this universe, but it’s a changed one, and, quite frankly, a VASTLY improved one in my opinion, but I’ll be going over how when I look at DC Universe Rebirth #1 (the reason I haven’t yet is because there was still some fallout from it that continues into the other Rebirth one-shots). Before that, though, I think it’s time to look back on exactly what happened with the New 52, where it went wrong, and some of the worst titles that I personally have ever read from this era. So, welcome once again to How To Drop The Ball In Comics as I, for one last time, let it all out about the New 52.
What Is It?: The New 52 was basically a way to bring in new readers who might be intimidated by 70+ years of history, likely as a means of competing more with Marvel by upping their numbers. Sound familiar? It should. It’s something that DC has tried to do a few times now. However, they never tried anything quite like this: Following the event Flashpoint, the DC Universe was rebooted to where most of the heroes of the world had only been active for about 5 years. Most of the history of the characters were either gone or changed, thus creating a blank slate to start over from scratch with new talent to tell their tales in a modern setting. Now, DC was no stranger to reboots and retcons. But, as I said, this went a bit above and beyond anything they’d ever done before. So, the question one has to ask themselves, as has been done since the beginning of this new comic universe, is the same singular word as it’s always been: Why?
How Did It Have Potential?: Really, when you get down to why DC felt the need to reboot everything, it usually leads to a common question: Are there really that many people who want to read comics but don’t because of so much continuity to go through? And the answer is…complicated. I’ve had this talk before, and as I said then, this generation is actually the luckiest when it comes to stuff like that. We have the internet, with which we can read up on all this information. Sure, we might not get EVERYTHING, but the most important details will be waiting for us. That said, there DO exist people who either don’t know where to get this information, or don’t feel obligated, for whatever reason, to read up on it, but would STILL like to get into comics. Now, personally speaking, nowadays, I’m more of a subscriber to the theory that the best way to get new readers isn’t to sweep everything under a rug, but instead to give just enough allusions to these old stories and make them sound super exciting and interesting, thus making the reader want to know more. If you wanna know where I figured THAT out, read JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative. Or, if you can’t find it, watch Linkara’s review of it. However, I’m not blind to the views of those who would implement this strategy to get more people reading.
On top of all of that, though, there is one thing people have to consider. And I know that there are people who have forgotten this, but…there ARE some heroes who kinda got screwed over LONG before the New 52 happened, and who have since gotten a new lease on life as a result. Want an example? Okay, VIBE. Vibe was considered the worst member of the Justice League EVER. His name was practically a punch line, and he likely either would’ve remained that way or completely faded from everyone’s memory, were it not for the reboot giving Geoff Johns a chance to do something new with him. And after seeing how he worked in the New 52, I gotta say, I really like Vibe. I would gladly have him on my Justice League team. I hope he comes back again. And, likely as a result of his being brought back in the New 52, the character was also adapted into The Flash’s TV show, which has another new interpretation of him that I really like. So, yes, the reboot had potential when it came to characters like him. Also, while I’m not necessarily a fan of how Donna Troy was brought back in the New 52, I will say that I’m glad it finally gave her a definitive origin that didn’t require a road map to understand…I think, anyway. Not sure exactly how her origin works in terms of how she could’ve been a member of the Titans, but whatever. Something I’ll get into another time.
Finally, though, we have to be honest: The New 52 had good books, many of which I listed before. Also, some of the books which were of actual good quality would not or could not have worked in the old continuity. Not without their own share of heavy changes, anyway. And some of these books were so good that, when the word got out about them, they brought in new readers. You know how I know that? BECAUSE I WAS ONE OF THEM! Yeah, I was one of those people who was on the fence about actually buying comics. Sure, I was a fan of many of the characters long before that, but that was mostly via their TV shows, movies, video games, stuff I learned through Atop The Fourth Wall, and just word of mouth. But when the reboot came, I saw it as an opportunity to get into comics, starting with Scott Snyder’s Batman, and I’ve been buying comics ever since. And a few characters DID eventually get put over as new stars. Harley Quinn is one of the top characters in DC right now, and has been outed as bisexual in her own book, meaning she is one of the most high-profile LGBT characters in comics. Speaking of, Batwoman got her own monthly title. Granted, she was already the star of Detective Comics for a while, but here, she had her own self-titled story. So, yes, we have to accept the fact that, in some ways, THE NEW 52 DID SEE SUCCESS… … … … …Now for the half-to-three-quarters empty.
How Did It Drop The Ball?: Well, before I get to that, I wanna show you something. Before writing this article, I went out on Twitter and asked a few people, if they could sum up exactly what went wrong with the New 52 in about 10 words or so, what those words would be. Let’s see what they had to say, shall we?
To be fair, though, one person I asked also had THIS to say…
…And yeah, that’s a legit concern to have, one that I’ll address when I get to DC Rebirth. Regardless, I can’t help but agree with the other responses, too. So, let’s start with the obvious one: What the loss of the past continuity cost us. Well, for starters, at the beginning of the New 52 (so the first 52 books printed), there was no Wally West, Donna Troy, Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, the VAST majority of the JSA, Aqualad (either of them), and several other legacy heroes. Dick Grayson was back to being Nightwing. Bart Allen was the only Kid Flash. Cassandra Sandsmark was the only Wonder Girl. Barbara Gordon was the only Batgirl, was only in a wheelchair for a couple of years (give or take), and was suggested to have never been Oracle. There was no Young Justice team. The Outsiders were forced underground and were ultimately forgotten for a time. Cyborg was never a Teen Titan, instead taking Martian Manhunter’s place as a founding member of the Justice League. Martian Manhunter was more or less made into a hero everyone had trust issues with and would freely mindwipe others at a whim. Aquaman and Mera weren’t married, although no one apparently thought to tell Geoff Johns that while he was writing. Also, the Teen Titans never existed before Tim Drake’s new team, but again, apparently no one told Scott Lobdell. Roy Harper never had Lian, nor did he ever become Red Arrow, and instead became an anti-hero working with Jason Todd. Batman never revealed his identity to Catwoman, and instead the two were just having sex on rooftops. No one knew where the frak Renée Montoya was. But probably the most damning of all, Clark Kent and Lois Lane were never married, nor in a relationship.
But even beyond stuff that no longer happened due to the loss of past continuity, there were other retcons passed around throughout the New 52 that either didn’t make sense, came outta nowhere, or just served to piss people off. I’ve already gone over stuff like what happened to Wonder Woman, Starfire, and Martian Manhunter, but it didn’t end there. The Phantom Stranger was made to be Judas Iscariot. The Question was… … …I have no idea what the hell the Question was supposed to be, honestly. Tim Drake didn’t find out Batman’s identity and become Robin out of a need to help him, but instead failed to figure out who he was and instead forced his hand by messing with Penguin and almost getting his parents killed. Supergirl’s dad became the New 52 Cyborg Superman, which apparently is still canon in Rebirth for some reason. Billy Batson was turned into a little asshole who never shuts his gob. Roy Harper got a STUPID trucker hat that he refused to take off for some reason. Jason Todd’s back-story was changed to where Joker apparently set up his life to turn out exactly as it did to where he was killed and brought back. Mr. Freeze was never married to Nora, but instead was obsessed with her because of stuff relating to the cold and his mother that just makes my skin crawl. Overall, though, most of these changes and several others served for a single purpose: To make the DC Universe darker, and the stories were more often than not reflective of this, oftentimes filled with lots of sex and violence.
More than all of that, though, where I think the New 52 fails most in terms of stories is just on a sheer conceptual level. You’ll recall that I said the reboot was meant to put everything back to a clean slate. Here’s the problem: Some events in the past continuity did still happen. Several moments in DC’s history were condensed down into a much smaller time frame that made less sense the more one thought about it. Supposedly, events like Hal Jordan becoming Parallax, Blackest Night, and Batman being sent through time and believed dead still happened, but several key people involved weren’t, and the exact details of how it happened were changed. All the male Robins still exist (though Tim Drake was apparently never Robin and instead was always Red Robin), all within the span of 5 (later changed to approximately 10) years. Barbara Gordon was still shot by the Joker. Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was still murdered and stuffed into a fridge (which, of all things to wipe away, why did THAT have to remain canon?! o.O). And, on top of all of this, some things happened, others didn’t, and not only was DC quiet about what did and didn’t happen, but they failed to give memos to the people WRITING THE STORIES about what was and wasn’t in canon. Like I said before, guys like Geoff Johns and Scott Lobdell, who were given high-profile books, weren’t informed of certain details. The first issues of Red Hood And The Outlaws and Teen Titans clearly made reference to past Titans teams, only to later learn that, supposedly, there were no previous Titans. I honestly have NO idea if Superman being killed by Doomsday is still canon or not. Heroes like Plastic Man and Miss Martian were referenced in the first issues of Justice League International and Teen Titans, only for it to be retconned that they never existed. George Pérez had to quit after six issues of Superman after repeated failures of being informed of details about Superman’s new status quo in this new universe. And I’m sure there are other instances of stuff like this that I’m not thinking of.
If you haven’t put it together by now, a major problem with the New 52 was mismanagement, and it wasn’t just a problem with the stories, either. Ask any of the talent that have left DC within the past five years, and you’ll probably get a similar story of broken promises and last-minute changes. Many left their stories unfinished as a result. In particular, Andy Diggle left the company before the first issue of his run on Action Comics ever even hit the stands. I think probably the one that still gets me is the controversy involving Batwoman, and I’ve gone over this before, but here’s as quick a summary of what happened as I can do. In September of 2013, J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman went public with the fact that they were leaving Batwoman, starting with issue 26. Why? Well, because of last-minute changes to stuff they had planned, specifically that they were told that Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer, who had just recently gotten engaged in the book, would never be allowed to get married. According to Dan DiDio, superheroes shouldn’t be married because being happy would undermine their angst and turmoil, and would compromise their commitment to being superheroes. Now, apparently, DiDio claims this is only to do specifically with the Bat-related characters, but if you’ll recall, neither Superman nor Aquaman were married, either. In fact, the only superhero seemingly still with a family was Animal Man. So while DiDio says it was only a Bat Family thing, I think it’s more likely that he doesn’t like the idea of superheroes being married, for one reason or another. This is evidenced further by notes of his going back as far as Infinite Crisis, where it’s clear he wanted to break up Clark Kent and Lois Lane for YEARS. But hey, I’m not in charge of DC Comics. I don’t have any say in what goes on. So maybe Dan DiDio DOES know better than me. But, if that’s the case, can I ask a simple question? And it’s one I’ve asked for years now and never gotten a good answer for: If Batwoman getting married was such a problem, then why was it ever given the green light to begin with? Why were they ever allowed to get engaged? You could’ve avoided all of this and the controversy that followed if you’d simply suggested against this move to begin with in a calm and rational tone, and instead worked out something different with Williams and Blackman.
Speaking of the controversy involving Batwoman, that leads me to another issue: The women of DC. And that’s not just the characters. That said, here’s a list of just SOME of the examples of violence and fridging towards women in the New 52 (though PLEASE be aware that these are horribly graphic in many cases, so read at your own discretion): Link. Beyond that, though, there was an overall lack of female creators working for DC at the beginning. I think the official figures were that the female creators at DC had dropped from 12% to 1%. And we’ve got more now, but it’s still a rather small number. And probably the most high-profile among those at the beginning was Gail Simone. Only, guess what? There’s controversy there, too, not only because Secret Six, a best seller at DC before the reboot, was cancelled, not only because the book she’d be working on, Batgirl, had Barbara Gordon taken out of the wheelchair and claimed to have never been Oracle, a move that ticked off a LOT of people, but because she was, in December of 2012, fired from Batgirl via e-mail (which was later suggested to be inaccurate or untrue, but who knows at this point), despite the fact that she’d made the book work and be a top-seller in the face of everything working against it. Granted, she was hired back 12 days later, but I honestly feel that’s only because her firing got SO public that DC was basically becoming a lightning rod of hate. But again, guess what? She eventually left the book AGAIN, and then went on to write a rebooted Secret Six, which is, again, getting cancelled. Maybe it’ll be back in Rebirth someday down the road, I don’t know, we’ll just have to wait and see.
And lastly, I was GOING to include a list of my 5 Least Favourite Books of the New 52. However, I’ve decided not to because, at this point, you should probably have a good idea as to which books I didn’t like and which ones outright pissed me off. Maybe I’ll go back and do it later if I REALLY feel the need to, but for now, here’s just a quick rundown of the books I didn’t like, hated, or just had problems with.
Batman The Dark Knight: A horrible and nonsensical opening arc, and then later, the AWFUL killing of Batman’s love interest at the time. Even excluding those, though, it just wasn’t good.
Action Comics/Superman: The character was just not as likable or inspiring as he could be, even with the reboot, and later became crossover event after crossover event.
The Fury of Firestorm: Sorry, Gail, but every great writer’s gotta have at least one bomb, and this was just terrible.
Detective Comics: The book started off with Joker getting his face cut off just to set the stage for a story written one year later in another book…Do I even need to SAY anything else after that? Even when it was good, it always felt like it was just the other Batman book.
Teen Titans: Even if Scott WASN’T a sub-par writer, the lack of communication with editorial over what was and wasn’t canon ruined it in the beginning. The second volume started off promising, but later delved into being just bad. Overall, both volumes have kinda ruined Tim Drake as a credible leader. Still, I really like Bunker and hope he returns in Rebirth.
Wonder Woman: Massive retcons to Wonder Woman’s origins and the Amazons, and was later given to the Finches, who frankly just do not get the character.
Justice League of America: Existed solely as lead-in to Trinity War, and was later scrapped and reworked into the superior Justice League United. There’s also a JLA book going on right now that involves the seven main members of the Justice League going up against Rao, but I haven’t been following, and apparently, the book has been outright plagued with delays and cancellations.
The Movement: …I DID mention that I really like Gail Simone, right? 😀 …Okay, to be fair, I actually really liked the characters, but the overall story structure seemed problematic. Maybe it was just me, though. I’d actually be fine with this title coming back someday, or maybe the characters making comebacks, especially Vengeance Moth and Virtue.
Superman/Wonder Woman: Would’ve been fine if it was just about the two teaming up to fight bad guys, except it was far more about the two’s relationship that many were sick of already, and later existed solely to further the crossover events involving the other Superman-related books.
Birds of Prey: Started off okay, and had a new fan favourite bisexual character in Starling and put Poison Ivy on her more heroically inclined path, but it quickly fell completely apart, particularly when both aforementioned characters had heel turns and left the group.
Nightwing: While I personally enjoyed the book, it had a problem that a lot of other books frequently involved in crossover events had, in that there was rarely if ever a status quo to become invested in.
Red Hood And The Outlaws: The only reason I can fathom as to why this book is being brought back for Rebirth is as a means to keep Scott Lobdell away from anything else. That said, at least it won’t involve Starfire and Roy Harper anymore, who are returning to the Titans books.
Earth 2/World’s End/Earth 2 Society: Earth 2 started off promising, but then Dan Wilson took over, and the ship was pretty much sunk in every conceivable way. Dan Abnett’s actually trying REALLY hard to make Earth 2 Society good, and you can tell he’s a good writer, but I just don’t know how or if you can save this outside of another reboot, and that’s what got us into this mess.
Harley Quinn: If this was a book that was just about Harley, that’d be one thing, but they include Poison Ivy and just do strange and stupid things with her at times (though they DID at least make it canon that these two are bisexual), and did an amnesia arc with Power Girl where the latter was utterly humiliated and degraded in more ways than one.
Futures End: Brought Terry McGinnis into the mainstream continuity just to kill him off and replace him with an alternate future version of Tim Drake. Also, was FULL of body horror, dark twists, and ultimately proved to be pointless as the future presented never happened. Still, it DID have some good tie-ins, like the Batgirl one that I’ve brought up before.
Martian Manhunter: If anyone can tell me just what in the hell happened in this book without giving me a headache, that would be much appreciated. lol
Catwoman: I don’t even. I just don’t even. The first issue has her having sex with Batman for no reason, and has gone through multiple writers and arcs, none of which seemed to be written all that well.
Black Canary: I wouldn’t call this BAD, it’s just weird seeing Dinah in a band. But, let’s be fair, that could just be a problem with me.
There’s almost certainly more I’m either not thinking of or didn’t read, but that’s enough for now. Honestly, at this point, I’m sick of ranting about the New 52. And really, this is why I decided to do this article: Just to get this all out one last time so I can move on. Because, if you’ll look back on my blog and read my DC-related articles, it’s clear that I need to move on. I can’t live in the past, especially THIS past. I need to look to the future, and while DC Rebirth has a few things I could pick out as problematic, I will say that it still looks like a VAST improvement over the New 52. In the end, all the New 52 was was just a poorly managed era of comics history, one that even those behind it have figured out was a failure, and one that I am more than happy to leave behind for brighter horizons.
So, that’s pretty much the New 52 in a nutshell. Got any stories about this era of comics or details I might’ve left out? Lemme know in the comments below, and come back later this month when I finally take a look at DC Universe Rebirth #1, and my overall thoughts on the new era going forward. Ja né!
DC Rebirth Reveal – Some Art And Quick Reactions
…SO, today was kinda nuts. Before I go in-depth on all of the big announcements, since I fully expect more news to come out soon enough, let’s instead take a look at some of the art revealed for the new books and a few quick notes I took for the different titles.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll go more in depth soon enough, though. Lemme know your own thoughts below, and we’ll see how things pan out from now to May 25th, 2016. Ja né!
Poison Ivy: Cycle Of Life And Death #2 Preview #PoisonIvyLeague
…Okay, why are some of the commentors bringing up her yoga pants like they’re a creation of the devil or something? lol Whatever, here’s the preview for Poison Ivy #2.
- Murder in the lab! As the police investigate the death of her mentor, Dr. Pamela Isley suspects poisoning! But by whom, and why? Before the cops suspect her alter ego, Poison Ivy, Pam needs to find the true murderer. Meanwhile, her DNA experiments are about to pay off!