The newest DC event is Brightest Day. The preview issue came out last week. It looks good. I’d like to see DC actually follow through with this basic idea. Its been way too dark and gloomy at DC for a long time.
Seven or so years ago, Dan Didio came on board at DC Comics. Mr. Didio stated in an early interview that he wanted to change the nature of the DC Universe. At the time, Didio felt that if a superhero walked into a bar in costume that people would welcome them with open arms and buy them a round of drinks. Instead, Didio felt that people should respond in fear, for the only reason a hero would show up in costume is that trouble was about to hit the fan. I agree this is more realistic, but I like the other idea better, kind of like a bunch of buddies going out after a long day of work to celebrate.
Even before this, the DCU was getting darker. Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was killed and stuffed into a refrigerator for him to find later. (I had dropped GL at this point, and only read this years after it was published). I still find it shocking.
Over the years we’ve seen deaths a plenty. In addition to two character deaths, "Graduation Day" ended the light hearted "Young Justice" comic. "No room for that in the new DC." Donna Troy is one of the victims. In an odd twist, there are rumors that the end of the story was changed at the last minute so Donna Troy was only dead in the main DC Universe, but alive in another.
The deaths continued. In "Identity Crisis", one of the heroes wives is murdered. "Identity Crisis" also gave us the first rape I’d ever seen in 30+ years of reading comics. It was not something I had been waiting for. I did not think it was needed. I did not like it when they showed a rape on Battlestar Galactica, and I did not like it here. I still do not. If there is one comic story I wish had been rethought and rewritten without a scene, this is it.
Event followed event. While I expect deaths with events, the speed at which they were happening was too fast. Death in comics is usually done as self sacrifice to save others. But many of these deaths were outright murders. Villains killing heroes. The list of these has gotten very long.
Civilians were targeted too. When I was growing up, heroes saved hostages. Now they seem to only solve murders. There was an interview a while back where a writer said it was about time there were civilian casualties for all these world shattering events. There was a JLA story a few years back where the Key killed a million people before the heroes caught him. The current Justice Society comic started with a story where relatives of members were killed en mass. The issue above, JSA 3, was mentioned in an interview as "difficult for the artist to draw because it was so upsetting." Let’s just say that comment was enough for me to not buy the series beyond issue 1. I think I even returned issue 1 to the store for credit.
Some of the deaths over the years have been very lame. Martian Manhunter was killed by a lame Z level villain no one had ever heard of, using fire which a recent JLA story, "The Burning", had shown was not the weakness we had been led to believe. At this point we knew DC was building toward Blackest Night, but it still felt forced. While deaths in Blackest Night were expected, having Donna Troy fight and destroy her own son in Blackest Night Titans was definitely one of the creepiest parts.
Most recently, we had "Cry for Justice" where the villain killed several Z-rate heroes for no apparent reason. The only one I can think of for this in story telling reasons is to demonstrate how dangerous he is. (Strangely enough, in the story where the JLA first encounters him, Prometheus establishes his credibility by incapacitating 1/2 of the JLA. One by one, Prometheus stops Steel, Martian Manhunter, Huntress, Zauriel, Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Impressed me.) I dropped this series after issue 3 above. I know it gets worse, but, despite being a life long JLA fan, I refuse to read the rest of it.
Part of it is that in all of these cases, the heroes failed. Their job is to save lives. That is why they put on the costumes and risk their own lives. Every time a villain kills someone, the heroes have failed. Why DC thinks we want to read stories where the heroes fail, I do not know.
Now. Brightest Day.
Now we are at the beginning of a new era. It is my hope DC will move in a brighter direction and leave some of these darker themes behind. Looking forward to the series and hoping for a truly Brighter Day. With issue 0 out last week, I think the series is off to a good start.
Cover of Brightest Day Issue #0.
Brightest Day Advertisement.
(most pictures credit to Comic Book Database