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!
Who Should Be On The JLA Rebirth Team?
So, of the books that were revealed for Rebirth, one of them hasn’t had anything in the way of details revealed, and that’s JLA. I’m pretty sure it’s because they haven’t chosen a creative team yet, or it could be because of major game-changing events that’ll happen in the book that they don’t want put out there yet. Regardless of why, though, there’s no info, not even if it will continue to be a book about the primary seven members set in a non-specific point in time during their existence, or a brand new team altogether. If it’s the latter, though, I’m sure there are several at DC who are adding their two cents as to who could be on the team. With that said, because I am an opinionated blogger with a big mouth, here’s a list of heroes that I think would make for good members of the Justice League of America, should it prove to be a completely separate team. Please note that these suggestions are based around the individuals, not how they would operate as a team, and they don’t ALL have to be part of it (duh).
Honestly, though, any of the Earth-born Green Lanterns that don’t have their own books could work here. I just picked John because he’s my favourite. The thing is, though, that I could always justify his non-presence on a Justice League team nowadays because he was one of the main characters of the Green Lantern Corps books. However, now that book is being taken over by Hal Jordan, while Hal’s position on Earth is being given to Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. As such, it really doesn’t feel like there’s a heck of a lot for John to do, which is a real shame. So, I would personally advise putting him on the JLA, possibly even as the leader.
Well, you’re not doing anything else with him once the Legends of Tomorrow book ends, so why not? Especially now that casual viewers of the Flash TV show have been exposed to the character. It’d be a nice way to get more people to read. That said, I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with Jason in the LoT book, but I hope he isn’t being tossed aside completely.
I would imagine Steel will likely be part of Superman’s Super League, but no reason he can’t pull double duty, especially since that team isn’t getting its own book, at least not yet. Plus, since Superman is gonna be busy elsewhere, and Supergirl already has her own book, it’d be good to give the inheritor to the title of Man of Steel some more exposure by having him be the member of the Superman Family to represent them on this team.
Again, I suppose either Ted or Jaime could work in this situation. Really, the reason I went with Ted is because I figured, since we’re getting him back anyway, might as well make the most of him, right? Plus, since I think this team could stand to NOT have Batman on it, you need someone who is smart, adaptable, strategic, and tenacious, and Ted fills that role well while also being more light-hearted than the Dark Knight. That said, much as I like the two working together, might be a good idea to not pair him with Booster Gold and have him slacking off and making get-rich-quick plans.
Can someone please tell me why Mera is not an official member of the Justice League? How many times does she have to stand beside them and bail them out of trouble before she gets her own official membership? And that’s just in the New 52 alone. And to anyone who thinks her powers are lame, lemme spell this out for you: How much of the world is made up of water? Better yet, how much of the HUMAN BODY is made up of water? If you don’t know why that’s terrifying, watch the episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender that deals with Bloodbending. lol
Like Ronnie, this would be a good character to add to the book for the sake of getting the attention of those who were introduced to him via the Flash show. And frankly, I don’t understand why this character was benched after Forever Evil. I really liked the New 52 interpretation of Vibe. I actually held it up as an example of the reboot changing a hero up and doing it right. Vibe went from arguably the worst member of the Justice League to someone I would honestly want on my team at all times.
Seriously, after this whole thing with Mars invading Earth is over and J’onn can be free of whatever nonsense was keeping him away from the other heroes of the DCU, he needs to rejoin the League. He needs to reconnect with his fellow heroes. I’m honestly a little worried about him from a psychological standpoint of being away from them for so long. Also, what is up with DC wanting to give people arm blades nowadays? It’s just so odd an aesthetic alteration to make for both J’onn and Wonder Woman.
…Let’s be honest, there’ll be a Bat on this team. And do we REALLY want Batman on EVERY team? Meanwhile, we’ve got Luke Cage, who isn’t doing anything outside of being an ally/love interest of Batgirl’s, and I don’t even know that he’ll be keeping that position in Rebirth. So why not include him here? Plus, he was one of the best parts of the newest Batman animated movie, so it would make for a nice cross-promotional move to add him to the team. Lastly, though, if he gets on the team, we totally gotta see him working with Steel. Just sayin’. 😛
Anyway, those are a few suggestions DC could go with. Got any I didn’t mention? Leave them in the comments below, and we’ll see what happens with the book in the future. Ja né!
The Future of the Justice Leagues? What I’d Do With The Teams Following Forever Evil (WARNING – SPOILERS FOR TRINITY WAR)
So it’s been a while since I talked about what I’d do with the New 52 given certain situations, but this one just kinda hit me now. As most of us know, following Trinity War, there’ll be a massive event called Forever Evil. According to solicits for DC Comics in September and October, the Trinity War will end with the “deaths” of the Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark, along with nearly all of their members, with the Secret Society of Evil going on a rampage and taking over the world in the absence of the world’s greatest heroes. Now of course, we can kinda gather that this’ll likely turn out to be a ruse of some sort by the Justice Leagues to take down the villains all at once, or that they’re simply put out of commission temporarily and find a way to return to action. Still, it makes one wonder what exactly will be the shape of these three teams following the event.
My personal vote, if it had any meaning whatsoever? I’d say have the Leagues come together to be three distinct teams of a single Justice League. They would continue working as they have been, with the Justice League operating as the #1 response team to the biggest threats to the world, the JLA as the government controlled team, and the JLD as the response team to supernatural threats, but they would also be actively assisting each other wherever possible. Heck, they could even change-up certain members, even add a couple to their ranks, then form a sort of counsel of one or two members from each team to form a leadership role for the group on a whole.
So who would I move where? Well, for starters, I think I’d move Zatanna back to the JLD for the purpose of being its team leader (because I can’t frakking stand Constantine), possibly bring Element Woman with her, bring Amethyst back to the team, and if it turns out that Doctor Light is still alive, I’d move him there too. Also, if he isn’t already, I’d make Swamp Thing a full member. I’d probably swap Cyborg and Martian Manhunter between the teams, as well as Firestorm and The Atom (remember, The Atom is a spy from the JLA right now). Finally, provided she can get away from the DOA, I’d put Batwoman on the JLA, maybe bringing along Goldrush, and I’d finally bring back Hal Jordan to the Justice League, have Shazam stay on the team, and possibly bring Vixen to the team.
So, with all that said, the teams would look like this…
Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hal Jordan, The Flash, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Atom, Shazam, and Vixen
Justice League of America
Steve Trevor, Green Arrow, Katana, Hawkman, Catwoman, Vibe, Simon Baz, Cyborg, Stargirl, Firestorm, and Goldrush
Justice League Dark
Zatanna, Constantine, Frankenstein, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, Swamp Thing, Doctor Light, Element Woman, and Amethyst
…Anyway, that’s just my thoughts. Lemme know what you think below, and I will see y’all next time. Ja né!
- Justice League of America Issue 6 (nerdsynq.wordpress.com)
- It Was All Building To This: “Justice League #22” (Review) (popmatters.com)
- Sdcc ’13: Dc Wages Comic-con’s “Trinity War” (drhiphop85.com)
- SDCC: DC Wages Comic-Con’s “Trinity War” (comicbookresources.com)
- Review: Justice League of America #6 (erathonreviews.wordpress.com)
- Does “Justice League 3000” have a future? (robot6.comicbookresources.com)
- SDCC ’13: Stephanie Brown Almost Made New 52 Introduction In ‘FOREVER EVIL’ (comicbookmovie.com)
- SDCC 2013: DC Comics – The New 52 Panel (comicvine.com)
- ‘Justice League of America’s Geoff Johns: ‘Catwoman is unstoppable’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- DC Comics: Villain Month (Spoilers) (nerditis.com)
My 300th Blog Post! + Some of the Better Points of the New 52
Hey guys! Well, I thought I’d talk a little about IT’S MY 300th BLOG ENTRY!!!
Ahh, 300 entries in a little over 2 years on a blog that has brought new meaning to my life…
…Yeah, apparently that new meaning is to torture myself. But today, I feel like being a bit more positive minded, taking a far more optimistic stance on something I’ve ragged on a lot these days: The New 52. A lot of DC fans are STILL pissed off about the reboot that happened two years ago, myself included a lot of times. Decades of continuity gone in a flash(point), characters shoved aside, stories becoming unnecessarily darker in some cases, and almost everything to do with Wonder Woman. And with all of that going on, it’s hard to remember that a lot of good has come out of the New 52 as well, something that occurred to me on Twitter last night while talking to Spoony. So today, I’d like to talk about some of the finer points of the New 52, in no particular order or planned number.
Let’s face it, sometimes a character gets introduced who kinda bombs with the audience. However, the New 52 has presented a unique situation where these characters get another shot with a whole new audience and have their personas freshened up a bit to work better, and in no other case is this truer than with Vibe. Let’s be honest, when we all found out that Vibe was on the JLA, we were in horror of what was to come. When we found out Vibe was getting his own series, we wanted to call Arkham Asylum and have Geoff Johns committed. But, looking at how Vibe has turned out, he’s actually one of the better characters in JLA, and while his solo series isn’t my particular cup of tea, I will say that the quality of the stories is still good. So yeah, I’m considering Vibe’s reintroduction a successful one.
I kinda wanna put an asterisk over this one since I’m not sure that stuff like Court of Owls required the relaunch, or if Snyder had planned it all along regardless. Either way, though, this was easily the best frigging story of the early days of the New 52, and I still recommend it and Scott Snyder‘s Batman to anyone who wants a great story within the New 52. Likewise, all the really cool stuff that’s come as a result of this story, like James Tynion IV’s Talon, can be added to this list as well.
I know old school fans are gonna wanna kill me for saying this, but I gotta throw this out: I really like the revamped origins for Alan Scott and Jay Garrick, to the point where I actually prefer them to their Golden Age counterparts. Jay Garrick is FAR less selfish than he was originally, and I really like the method by which he becomes The Flash. Alan Scott can at times be kind of a jerk, but it’s usually done in ways that kinda make sense, and frankly, having him actually be on the train when it explodes and losing someone he loves in the process makes the situation far more personal for him, and you feel sadder for him too. James Robinson has been doing an excellent job writing these Golden Age heroes in a present day world, and while I won’t say it’s perfect (there have been small hiccups along the way), it’s still about as good as you can expect, and really, that’s all I can realistically ask for here.
Now, the last three on this list are kind of a trilogy, so I apologize if this gets repetitive really quickly. Basically, it’s three event comics that occurred that are no longer in canon with DC’s universe, and frankly, I’m kinda happy about that. If you need further examples of why, I have four words for you: Atop The Fourth Wall. They were all covered on that show, and better than I possibly could, and pretty much spell out every single reason why these event comics were TERRIBLE. With that said, let’s move on…
Yeah, sorry to disappoint, but no matter how bad the New 52 gets, at least we can say this with absolute certainty: COUNTDOWN NEVER HAPPENED. Y’know, that year-long event comic that only continuously sucked more and more the further it went along? Yeah, never happened. Seriously, you know an event comic is bad when the creators of it basically try to pretend that it never happened, and that was BEFORE they hit the universal reset button. And while we’re on the subject…
Yeah, I know, a lot of people really liked Identity Crisis, and admittedly there IS a good story in there…if you can dig past all the bullshit. I’m sorry, but frankly, I’m happy that in this new universe, Tim Drake‘s parents are alive, the Justice League never wiped Batman’s mind, and Doctor Light is NOT a psycho rapist! Although while we’re on the subject, I WILL say that this is a bizarre fucking universe in that Doctor Light is a good guy and a family man, and Superman is the man who apparently murdered him? By the way, I say apparently since it’s clear it wasn’t his fault, and I’m not 100% sold that Light’s really dead. But anyway, last on the list of event comics I’m glad never happened…
Okay, while I’m not exactly thrilled that Lian Harper doesn’t exist in this universe, I take comfort in knowing she can eventually be reborn within it and then NOT be horrifically murdered like she was in Cry For Justice! Also, to be perfectly fair, this book sucked plenty bad before and after the death scene, although it WAS the cherry on top. I would love to one day have a sit-down talk with James Robinson and just ask him what the thought process was with this book, especially since I feel like a lot of fans would just yell and scream at him for what happened. I mean, Robinson is NOT a bad writer, but this book was wretched, and I would just like to know what went wrong.
Anyway, that’s all from me. Leave your comments below, and hey, if there’s anything you really like about the reboot, lemme know. Ja né!
- SDCC 2013: Justice League Trinity War (comicvine.com)
- DC Histories: Alan Scott (Green Lantern I) (ifanboy.com)
- Is DC Comics Backing Away From ‘Identity Crisis’? (comicsalliance.com)
- Cunningham Explores the Mysteries of DC’s “Trinity War” (comicbookresources.com)
- EDITORIAL: 10 Must Haves For The JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie (comicbookmovie.com)
- SDCC ’13: Geoff Johns Shares His Thoughts On A Potential AQUAMAN Movie (comicbookmovie.com)
- Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Trinity War’ is testing the old ways (robot6.comicbookresources.com)
- The New 52 and me, then and now (comicdomwrecks.wordpress.com)
- SDCC LIVE: DC Comics – The New 52 (comicbookresources.com)
- DC Comics Solicitations for October, 2013 (comicbookresources.com)
What I Bought Today – Batman #20, Batman and Robin #20 (Batman and Red Hood), JLA #3 (WARNING – SPOILERS) + DC Universe Online Update + Changes to Comics I’ll Be Buying
So I got a LOT I need to cover today, so let’s just start off by looking at…
I bought three comics, one fun, one kinda depressing, and one…well, I’ll get to that. Let’s begin with the fun one, Batman #20.
I feel so bad for Clayface. Poor Karlo had this perfect frakking plan, and it all fell apart before his very eyes, though not for the reason I thought. Clayface’s plot was to become Bruce Wayne and cause crimes, which would get Batman’s attention in a hurry, and then he was going to make contact with Batman’s skin, thus becoming whoever Batman was under the cowl. Well, it seemingly works, and right in front of Gordon and his men, but it turns out Batman’s wearing a fibre mask under his cowl coated with the DNA of Bruce Wayne (which is actually his own, if yer following along) in order to sort of trick Clayface. Meanwhile, Clayface is now stuck in a light-screen panic room that can only be opened by the one man who Clayface doesn’t have the sufficient DNA to assume the form of: His own. Also, HOLY SHIT, Batman Beyond!
…Man, the writers for DC must REALLY love Batman Beyond, between this and Batwing, and I’ll explain that in a later post.
Batman and Red Hood, AKA the anger phase…Umm, Bruce is a serious asshole in this comic. I know that’s probably the intent, so points there, but he is a SERIOUS asshole to Carrie Kelley, who comes looking for Damian (turns out he was paying her for acting classes, likely after the thing with Alfred in Batman and Robin Annual #1). He then recruits Jason Todd to go hunting bounty hunters who had previously come looking to collect on Damian, during which Batman INTENTIONALLY CRIPPLES THEIR HANDS FOR LIFE. And from there, it gets even better, because then he takes Jason to the place where he’d died all those years ago, hoping it would jar his memory and help him learn the method for bringing Damian back…So his plan is to make Jason remember the worst day of his entire existence so he can learn to use a method that is probably highly unethical and dangerous as shit to raise the dead. Again, Bruce is an asshole, and Jason pretty much spells it out like it is and punches him out, leaving for Red Hood and the Outlaws #19 (LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!).
JLA #3…Yeah, I might be dropping this book in a month or two. There’s still some fun to be had with it, and I don’t blame a single person who wants to stick with it, but unless I’ve missed my guess, I can see where this book is going, and it’s not a happy place. Basically, Amanda Waller is forcing Stargirl to be their public face person and not allowing her to go on missions, Martian Manhunter appears downright diabolical or just needing serious emotional help sometimes, Simon Baz STILL has not shown up, and Green Arrow is pretty much bribing his way onto the Justice League of America by agreeing not to tell people Catwoman is on the team. Oh, about that? There was some confusion over the fact that the plot the JLA had in Catwoman #19 hinged on the Secret Society not knowing Catwoman was on the team, which made no sense since she was with them on their mission in this issue and the previous one. Thing is, though, apparently Vibe’s powers make it so that the robots occupying the location they went to couldn’t relay visuals of the team back to the Society, so yes, #19 of Catwoman actually DOES make sense…but it still sucks. lol
Anyway, that’s all for what I bought, but there’s something I gotta address. Like I said, I may be dropping JLA, but it won’t be the only book I drop. Obviously, one other book I’m for sure going to stop buying soon is Batman Incorporated, since the book is ending in July. However, in addition to that, I think I may be dropping Batwoman in favour of Supergirl. No offence to the character, but the story itself has gotten kinda iffy with me, and I just find Supergirl to be more solidly written with more interesting villains. I’ll still be following along with what happens, and if anything noteworthy pops up, I’ll let you guys know about it, but otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’m done with it. Also, don’t think I’ll be picking up Red Hood and the Outlaws again, though there is a MASSIVE improvement in the quality of the stories for anyone who would like to, and I’m thinking that when Batman Incorporated ends its run, I may decide to start buying Batwing.
As for DC Universe Online, I cannot play it. Why? Well, first off, the disc didn’t work right, which may or may not have to do with the fact that apparently Sony has been giving the game away to download for free…OY…On top of that, it seems that my graphics card and processor are both unable to handle the game. Good news is, if I ever get a new computer, I know where to find the game for free. So really, not a big loss.
So that’s all for today. Next week, we check in on Batgirl following the horrific events of last month, we see how Nightwing’s handling the change of scenery, and we find out how Supergirl is handling the whole her-own-base-is-trying-to-kill-her thing. Ja né!
What I Bought Today – Nightwing #18, JLA #2, Batwoman #18 (WARNING – SPOILERS)
Yep, ’tis Wednesday once again, and despite the snow storm (this IS the first day of Spring, right?), I went to the comic book store, so let’s check out…
Yep, not only did I get the comics I had intended to, but I bought a little something extra too. So with that said, let’s look at the extra comic I bought, Batwoman #18.
Before I get into the comic, I suppose I should cover some of Batwoman’s background for people who don’t know much about her and think of her as older Batgirl or female Batman. Katherine “Kate” Rebecca Kane’s parents have both had extensive military backgrounds, and Kate herself joined a military academy, but despite being the top of her class, she’s forced to leave when she refuses to lie about her lesbian relationship with another student. One night months later, Kate is attacked by a mugger that she manages to defeat with her military training, just as Batman arrives. After helping her off the ground, Batman leaves the scene and Kate finds herself fixated by the Bat-Signal. This eventually puts her on the path to becoming Batwoman. She’s since been a leading character in 52, she took over as the main character on Detective Comics for a time, and now has her own solo title in the New 52. She’s battled the likes of the Religion of Crime, her insane sister Beth (also known as Alice), the Weeping Woman, and even Medusa. Kate has also been romantically involved with quite a few women in the DC universe, including Renee Montoya and Mallory Kimball, she’s worked alongside Wonder Woman on occasion (suggesting she has a small crush on Diana), is close allies with Nightwing (who is attracted to her, unaware of her orientation), and is currently engaged to Maggie Sawyer. And at this time, Batwoman is being forced to work for the Department of Extranormal Operations, also teaming with Betty Kane, once Flamebird, now going under the alias of Hawkfire.
Anyway, regarding Batwoman #18, it’s okay. I know that sounds like an insult nowadays, but really, what can I say? Not much happens, or at least not as much as I was hoping for. We get a fight scene with Batwoman and Hawkfire battling Mister Freeze, but the two are held back due to Agent Chase and Batwoman’s father giving what I honestly believe to be unhelpful advice to Batwoman and Hawkfire respectively. They eventually manage to take him down, but an accident injures Freeze’s leg, possibly critically. Batman shows up after the fight, and there’s some tension between him and Batwoman, not helped by Chase wanting to keep Batman out of their affairs. Luckily, they manage to leave the situation without a fight, but it’s clear that the DEO plans to try to gain further control over Batwoman by any means necessary. Also, we see a little of Maggie, and have it confirmed that yes, she and Kate ARE engaged, but I’m honestly a bit bothered that we don’t see more of what her reaction was to finding out Kate was Batwoman RIGHT BEFORE Kate proposed. Oh well, I’m just glad that it DOES look as though we will be getting a wedding from those two. There just aren’t enough DC superheroes with families these days.
Nightwing #18 continues the Requiem month for most of the Bat titles, and thankfully, this one actually ties in a bit to what’s going on with Dick Grayson in this story. He’s now dealing with the loss of Haly’s Circus, the circus folk leaving him, his complicated relationship with Sonia, and the deaths of two of his friends from the circus AND his former partner and brother in arms. It’s a horrible situation he’s in right now, and we see how it affects him and how, in the end, it looks as though he’s all too eager to leave Gotham, as Sonia drops a bombshell on him: Tony Zucco, her father and the man who murdered Dick’s parents, is alive and operating out of Chicago.
JLA #2 was kind of odd, but in the way that I wanna see what happens next. We see that the Secret Society is looking to recruit Scarecrow (this was also alluded to at the end of Justice League #17 last month, btw), and that they have seemingly created duplicates of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The wide array of emotions and personalities is put on display as the members of the League interact. Catwoman seems to have a small attraction to Steve Trevor, which is expanded upon when she learns of his relationship with Wonder Woman and it makes her feel connected to him, due to her own history with Batman. Katana drops a sorta funny line when J’onn is trying to make small talk and she replies that she’s not here to make friends, but that she will not hesitate to cut the first person who tries to harm her team-mates. Stargirl seems the most excited to be there, and she honestly seems like the most fun character of the group (meaning she’ll probably be my favourite, lol), while Vibe seems a bit uncertain as to why he deserves to be there. Hawkman comes off as rather insane, honestly, walking in with someone else’s blood all over him. We see that there’s some frayed issues with Trevor and Green Arrow (told you he was alive), since Steve doesn’t want Ollie on the team, feeling he isn’t ready for that. We find out that J’onn used his mental powers to allow an agent of the Secret Society to get into the White House and almost kill President Obama before J’onn stepped in, thus ensuring the President would allow the JLA to exist, and am I the only person bothered by the fact that they’re using real people in this comic? But yeah, all things considered, this book still works despite some hiccups.
Anyway, that’s all for this week. Next week, we watch the fallout of Robin’s death kick into overdrive in Batman Incorporated, catch up with Calvin Rose in Talon, and hopefully I manage to get the books I missed last week, Batman #18 and Batman and Robin #18. Ja né!
My Thoughts On The New 52 JLA Roster
So, as every comic book fan nowadays should know by now, the New 52‘s version of the Justice League of America is starting up this month. Once again, I’m still confused by the fact that there’s a Justice League AND a Justice League of America, but whatever, I’m gonna try and ignore that. Instead, I thought I’d give my thoughts on each individual member of this new team, whether I like their presence here, and how I think the team should do overall. With that said, let’s start off with one member who, as I understand it, was considered by many to be the WORST member of ANY incarnation of the Justice League…
I’ll admit right now, I know very little about Vibe other than what I’ve heard. I will say that one thing I’ve heard quite often was that a lot of people REALLY hated this guy when he was in the League. Something about his bad Mexican accent, that he was created to cash in on the appeal of break-dancing at the time, and also because he was formerly the leader of a street gang called Los Lobos. Personally, I’m just glad it wasn’t Los Locos.
…Never play that again. Anyway, his power is that he can create shock waves strong enough to destroy concrete. I seem to recall him cameoing a few times in Justice League Unlimited, where he also had the ability to fly, but hey, that was a tv show. Oh, and apparently he’s noteworthy of having been the first member of the Justice League to actually be killed in the line of duty, which I’m willing to bet is because people didn’t like him.
Maybe it’s just because I never read the stories involving him, but no major concerns from me. Heck, if anything, this is one of the advantages of the New 52: Characters like Vibe that weren’t well-received can be reworked (his new costume already looks a lot better than his old one). They might be rolling the dice a bit much with the solo title that’ll be starting soon too, but hey, I guess it helps develop this new version.
Again, haven’t read anything that had Stargirl in it, minus her appearance in Bryan Q. Miller‘s Batgirl. I have seen her in several episodes of Justice League Unlimited though, where she started off kinda jealous of Supergirl but eventually mellowed out. Apparently she was in Smallville too, which I didn’t really watch. I have heard that in the comics she comes off as a sweet and positive person and a strong heroine. I also hear that she’s notable as being one of few superheroes in DC that wears braces. Her powers come from her equipment, the Cosmic Converter Belt enhancing her strength, speed, stamina, durability, and agility, and her Cosmic Staff giving her the power of flight and energy projection.
As I understand it, she’s “the only one really excited to be there” in this new JLA. Something tells me that she will serve as the heart of the team, the one that keeps them on the good side. And let’s face it, given that she’s covered in stars, definitely makes for a good person to have on the Justice League of AMERICA.
This is one of the weird picks for me. Catwoman has never once served as a member of any form of the Justice League, though she has aided them. She’s always represented the grey area between hero and villain, meaning putting her on the Justice League is problematic. In fact, as I understand it, her reasons for joining are either a means to an end on some matter or possibly blackmail. Also, while I’ve always liked the character, I will say that her solo title in the New 52 has been weird at best. Just in case someone reads that isn’t too familiar with her or needs a refresher, Catwoman has no powers, and instead is a gifted acrobat, was trained in Dragon Style Kung Fu, is a master of stealth and disguise, and usually comes equipped with sharp retractable claws, a bitchin’ motorcycle, and a 12 foot long bullwhip that you do NOT want to be on the opposite side of.
My guess is that she’s there to be their stealth fighter to help round out the team. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if she often-times acts as the long-range aide for the next of the roster…
If you haven’t been reading Birds of Prey lately, Katana recently left the team. Now it seems she’s to join the Justice League of America. Not really sure why, honestly. I like the idea that she too has her own solo title, but honestly, I would’ve just stuck with that instead of doing that AND putting her in another team book. Like Catwoman, Katana has no powers, instead being a master martial artist/swordsman, wielding a sword that she claims contains her husband’s soul inside, though no one knows whether this is true or if she’s just crazy…and honestly? I think it might be better if they kept that ambiguous for a while. It works better as a mystery.
Again, not completely sure why she’s on this team, but my guess is that her and Catwoman will act as the normies that’ll save the super-powered heroes’ asses where necessary…though I suppose that’s a roll for this next member…
Okay, here’s the part where I gotta confess to something: I don’t like Green Arrow. Admittedly, most of this is Cry For Justice and the books related to it colouring my judgement, and that story has been retconned in the New 52. Problem is, I found him to be a dick even before ‘Gay for Vengeance’, and I haven’t really seen much reason to check him out since. However, I would be an idiot if I didn’t note that he IS one of DC’s best heroes, and would function well on this new team. One odd thing about Green Arrow is that his classification of having powers or not has been left ambiguous on occasion, as he does have the strength to lift twice his body weight and has skill in archery that some would claim to be inhuman. It’s never really been proven one way or the other though, and much like with Katana, I think it works best if that question is never answered for certain.
It appears as though Green Arrow might actually serve as one of the higher ranked members of the team, as he is actually one of the two possibly behind its formation (as suggested in the backstory of an issue of Justice League), along with this man…
Okay, I gotta ask: Why so many non-powered members of this team? Is it just to make Vibe more useful by comparison? I dunno, but Steve Trevor is another odd pick. Other than being a liaison for the Justice League until recently, I don’t think he’s ever been an official member of a superhero team. Then again, I don’t really know for a fact that he IS a member, he could just be their back-up. Whatever the case, Steve is a skilled hand-to-hand fighter and an advanced marksman. This is my only real concern with him being on the team, though, as I don’t believe in superheroes using guns. Just my own personal preference on the matter.
Like I said, it was hinted that Steve and Green Arrow are actually going to be the ones putting together this team, and I would imagine they’ll be high-ranking members within it. However, if I had to pick out who I believe to be the leader, that’d be…
NOW we’re getting into some awesome heroes. The Martian Manhunter has had a kinda weird time in the New 52, what with his position as a founding member of the Justice League being given to Cyborg, having apparently been a member (or close to one) before a massive fight broke out between him and the other members (yes, all seven members were required to bring him down), and he joined a covert group called Stormwatch before he had to leave and erase his presence on the team from its other members. So yeah, glad to see him on this team. I’d list his powers, but they are SO numerous, I’m gonna do the lazy thing and instead opt to let you read his Wikipedia entry.
So yeah, expect him to either be the leader of the team or simply the most powerful of the group. Heck, there’s really only one other member that could touch him, if not for his weakness to fire…
Admittedly, I’m not sure how this is gonna connect to the Green Lantern comics, but I do like Simon Baz being on this team. For those that don’t know, Simon Baz is a Lebanese-American who suffered prejudice due to the events of September 11th and recently was put through a major misunderstanding where people thought he was a terrorist and was only saved from being killed by corrupt government agents when Hal Jordan and Sinestro’s malfunctioning Green Lantern Ring went to him, the ring believing that Hal and Sinestro were dead. Since then, he’s been training to master the ring’s powers while trying to clear his name. I’m guessing he does so since he joins the JLA. Anyway, his powers are typical of a Green Lantern: Indomitable will, flight, and able to create constructs of whatever he can imagine, which he’s actually picked up on pretty quick.
I expect Simon to be another of the heaviest hitters along with Martian Manhunter, and may also be one of the more interesting characters to read about. And that just leaves the final member…
This is kind of embarrassing, but I actually know more about HawkGIRL than HawkMAN. It’s made no better by the fact that there have apparently been several heroes that answered to the name Hawkman and that, following the reboot, Hawkman now answers to the name of TWO of those individuals. All I know is that he uses Thanagarian technology and armaments to fight crime with. I also know that he’s served with various incarnations of the Justice League before, so I’m sure he’ll be a welcome member here.
However, this brings me to something that I’ve been meaning to talk about. As I’ve mentioned before, it was originally slated that at some point, the Justice League would be expanded with the addition of The Atom, Deadman, Element Woman, Mera, Hawkman, Firestorm, Lady Luck, and Green Arrow. I had said at the end of my review of Justice League Origins that it hadn’t happened yet. I WAS going to suggest that DC had simply changed their minds, and it’s fortunate I didn’t because guess what happened at the end of Justice League #16?
So here’s where things get even MORE confusing, folks. Now, Shazam (AKA Mr. Don’t Call Me Captain Marvel) doesn’t surprise me. They’ve been building toward him joining at some point for a while now in the back stories for Justice League (that I absolutely HATE, btw). Also, Firestorm doesn’t surprise me either, Vixen and Black Lightning aren’t really doing anything right now, so it makes sense to add them, and Element Woman was already slated to join. But, AGAIN, Zatanna is already a member of Justice League Dark, Black Canary is with the Birds of Prey, Hawkman and Green Arrow are joining this new team, I still don’t see the others that were originally planned to join, and who in the hell is Goldrush? I think it’s hinted she’s a New 52 version of the Metal Men, but that’s all I have to go on. So how is this gonna work? Are they unofficial affiliates that join in when the main team is in over their heads? Is this a one-time thing? Is Geoff Johns even thinking about all this at all? I’m sorry if these questions are too numerous, but I only ask because I’m naturally curious and nitpicky and I have no idea what’s going on!
…Anyway, rant over. Bottom line, I think this team, while a bit odd and perhaps a little too stacked up on members, should work well enough to get a following from buyers. My nitpicking aside, I actually kinda like that a lot of these members aren’t necessarily A-Leaguers. Gives more of the smaller names a chance to get over. Will I buy it?…Well, I’ve been kinda flip-floppy on this, but considering it comes out on a week where there’s only one other comic I buy (Nightwing), I’m thinking I might just pick it up, so I’ll let’cha know how it goes in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, tomorrow is Wednesday, and you know what that means!
…See ya then. Ja ne!