Comic Buying 4 months after the new DC
January 14, 2012

DC just announced that 6 of its titles are being replaced with 6 new ones.  Two of these, I had tried and dropped.  Partially because the story did not stick with me.  I like the characters enough, but I am also feeling the sting of needing to be frugal.  Due to money issues, I dropped all my comics a while back.  The “new 52″ at DC did what they had hoped.  It got me back in the store.  5 months later, I am still feeling my way through what I am buying.

When I decided which titles to try, I selected things that
1. I found the proposed story idea to be exciting.
2. Characters I wanted to read about that I had not in the past.
3. My old favorites.
4. Team books, which is what I started with 30 years ago.

I bought 12 titles.

Category 1: Stormwatch.

With Stormwatch, DC advertised this story well.  The Moon being alive and attacking the Earth.  The premise was classic old science fiction.  The characters are interesting – even though they do not wear costumes.  The story moves like a roller coaster.  I think it reminds me of Morrison’s JLA, where there were concepts which could have been entire mini-series which we only shown in a page.  Putting Martian Manhunter in here was a stroke of editorial genius.  It made people talk about the book and made JLA fans consider it.  I do wish the characters were a bit more instantly identifiable, and costumes would help, as sometimes I have trouble identifying who is who.  Four issues in, this is still my #1 comic.

Category 2:  Mr. Terrific, Static, Catwoman.

Mr. Terrific, I like the book, but it is not spectacular.  It feels weird to read him without his teammates in the JSA.  Maybe some heroes are not cut out to be solo characters.  I’ve often felt this way about the Martian Manhunter.  I think Mr Terrific’s fans would be better served with him in the Justice League (since the JSA is not around).

Static, the story is just boring.  There seems to be no good reason why he is in New York instead of Dakota.  Yes, there is a reason given in the book, but it is not compelling.  The villains are uninspiring.  DC seems to have forgotten why fans asked for Static to be added to the DCU.  So that he could be teamed with the other teen heroes.  Why is he not in Teen Titans?  Why not put him there to boost sales of his solo comic?

Catwoman, I dropped after issue 2, because the death of her friend was too graphic for me (the sex did not bother me).  I’ve known I should avoid the Bat universe for years.  But every once in a while DC puts out something that makes me try it anyway.  Nightwing.  Cassandra Cain Batgirl.  Batman Inc.  The Batman corner of DC is too death filled for my taste.  I did like the recent Stephanie Brown Batgirl book.

Category 3:  Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Flash, Firestorm.

Aquaman disturbs me because of the horror angle.  But I love Aquaman the character.  I think he needs the attention this book being written by Johns will give him.  I just read issue 4.  The wrap up of the story was good.  I was afraid it would be six issues and was pleasantly surprised that it was completed in 4.  On to the search for who sank Atlantis.

Blue Beetle suffers from feeling like a retread of a story I have already read.  It is too much like a rewrite of the former Blue Beetle book.  It needed more new material.

Firestorm I dropped because there were too many deaths in issue 1.  I understand that death is frequently part of a hero’s origin, but I don’t like to watch it happen in the current time.  While the idea of multiple Firestorms is interesting, the controlling organization and the bleakness of the world painted here is just not to my liking.  I dropped the book after 2 issues.

Flash is OK.  The story is interesting enough.  Having read Wally West as Flash for 25 years makes this feel weird, but I like some of the techniques.  I may actually go back and buy issue 4 and continue with this series.

Category 4:  Birds of Prey, Justice League, JL International, Teen Titans.

Birds of Prey is a book I want to like.  I loved Gail’s run on this book years ago.  Gail’s recent return just did not have the same feel.  The line up is different, but it looked worth picking up.  I do not like that Canary has a crime hanging over her head.  Not sure what her Justice League history is in the new DCU yet, but I prefer my heroes without murder charges.  This story point also feels like a retread of a recent story.  The other team members are a good selection of characters.  I miss Huntress, Oracle, and Lady Blackhawk, but the new team is interesting.  The problem is the story.  It is slow.  The villains goal is too vague.  And the story feels ‘fluffed’, without enough substance.

Justice League is awesome, but it has issues.  The character selection is very good.   As I wrote in a previous blog, the prior version just did not feel like the JLA.  This team, even as it is just forming, feels mostly like the right team.  The story is also engaging.  On the other side, it pains me that the extra pages I am paying for are filled with things I consider worthless.  The Wonder Woman text piece should have been done as one of those editorial pages, not as content.  Character sketches should be for trade edition extras.  The Atlantis book was the worst, adding nothing at all.  Even though I like the story, I actually feel ripped off every time I buy an issue.

JL International is an interesting case.  I like the idea.  The character choices are good.  Some expected, some original.  The story is going OK.  I hate the fact that the writers destroyed the Hall of Justice.  If this is ‘the new DCU’, and you do not want to use it, why just not show it at all?  I did like that the team was formed quickly and took off right away on a mission.

Teen Titans has interesting characters.  The story telling keeps shifting to give focus to the various characters, which I like.  But the overall story has the same problem which plagued the last several incarnations of Teen Titans.  They need to look back at what made the Wolman/Perez version great.  The stories seemed to flow organically out of the characters.  The team was formed in one issue.  In the first arc, they explored why Raven needed a team and Raven’s background.  Each story explored the background of another member of the cast while giving us an interesting story.  NOWHERE reminds me of the DEO Kids, a story told in the pages of the Titans which had nothing to do with our heroes, actually displacing them from their own book.  While the threat impacts our heroes, it is external to them and could be attacking anyone.

The overall themes I found were these:

A. For the long time reader, there is too much time spent on origins of the characters.  When I found comics, or started reading a new title, the origin was background material.  The current story is what mattered.  Was it exciting enough to make you come back for the next issue.  The origin was given in flash backs.  I understand they want new readers to feel like they are coming in at the beginning, but I would like the origin to be motivation, not the story itself.  The origins also feel too much like retreading old history.  The stories need to give long time readers more meat in the story.

B. The stories drag on too long.  This was an issue before we moved to the new 52, but comics used to be able to tell an origin in a single issue.  DC even published a comic called Secret Origins which would tell the basic background of characters and fit 2 or 3 of them in a single comic.  I remember reading the origins of Green Arrow, the Legion and the Huntress in one comic, DC SuperStars #17.  Geoff Johns seems to be the worst offender.  7 issues to tell us Hal Jordan’s origin?  Come on.  Sure, he introduced Atrocitus, but the story still could have been told in a few less issues.  We need to get back to more compact story telling.  More words, fewer full page and double page spreads with no text.  Justice League is currently plagued by this dragged out story syndrome.

C. The cost of comics is only going up.  $4 comics are going to become the norm.  Marvel has proven that fans will pay it.  Positioning JLA as a $4 book has proven that DC fans will pay it for the books they really want.  The problem is that I do not want to pay it.  This had made me hesitant to sign up for a subscription to any book at this point.  With the recent announcement that more books are going to 3.99 instead of the hoped for price drop I had hoped for on Justice League.

D. Death is ever present in the new DC.  Not so much for heroes as it had been, which is good, but for the common man.  I know its been there in Batman and Green Lantern.  But now Aquaman is a horror comic.  We have stories where hundreds have died before the heroes start to solve the big picture problem.  While saving the universe is important, I’d like to see them save everyone.  That is what heroes used to do.

There are two areas of the DCU I have not touched on here.  Superman and Green Lantern.  I’m not sure why, but I rarely buy Superman solo books unless there is an event going on I want to read.  Reign of the Supermen was one such story.  John’s recent re introduction of the Legion was another.  Green Lantern has been a big focus for a while.  Before I stopped buying comics earlier thsi year, I was buying both GL and GLC.  But when the time came to decide which books to pick up in the new 52, GL did not make the cut.  Part of it is that I just find the current Hal Jordan to be boring.  All the other lanterns, all the big stories, very good.  Without those, GL was just flat.  I was more interested in reading about other characters.

So, what am I going to continue to buy?  Its hard to say.  I am thinking of going back to team books only.  I am also thinking of just buying occasional trades.  Part of my situation is that I just don’t feel like spending the money any more.  I could buy older series that I skipped for $1 each at the local shop or on line.  Or I could re-read those hundreds (thousands?) of comics I already own.

My buy list for month 4 was only 5 titles.
Stormwatch, JLA, JLI, Teen Titans and Aquaman.  After writing this, I might go back and get Flash.

TAGS:
Erik "Superfriend" Skov
"Gathered together from the four corners of the universe." Oh, wait, that's the show, not me. Erik "SuperFriend" Skov never actually got to appear on the show, although he did watch it every week. Erik spent 6 years working for Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI before leaving for a job that paid more (Why else would a collector leave the company that was making Star Wars, Transformers, and while I was there Batman). I used to post all over the net. These days I tend to hang my hat at AFI.
Read other articles by Erik "Superfriend" Skov.

 

 

 

14 Comments »

  • Eric says:

    Read Blue Beetle #5! It’s totally new and the preview had so much emotion it. It’s new and has the Jaime we love. Check it out here!

    http://ifanboy.com/articles/exclusive-preview-blue-beetle-5/

  • j1h15233 says:

    I’m hoping that the upcoming JSA Earth 2 book is a more light hearted universe than the Earth 1 the New 52 has created. Less death and a friendlier world would be very refreshing. And hopefully they don’t go all crazy with costume changes for all of them either.

  • Shellhead says:

    Oh, come on. You KNOW they will.

    I, too, am only getting five books (Aquaman,Batgirl,Catwoman,Justice League, and Nightwing) now. I dropped Action Comics after two issues. Same for GL: New Guardians. I don’t mind the violence at all. I think it makes the books much more realistic.

    I do have a couple issues with my books though. Nightwing needs to get back into a blue costume. The red just doesn’t cut it. Catwoman needs to improve a bit more or it’s the next one to go. Each Justice League issue seems too short. If we are gonna pay $4, at least put a couple MORE pages in there.

    Aquaman and Batgirl are pretty much perfect, though.

    Now bring back Secret Six and we’ll be good to go!

  • demoncat says:

    sounds to me from what i read so far the new dc needs its own crisis and start over though i am liking gail on batgirl . plus also loving the new take on wonder woman. plus dc at least have kept batman from being changed too much to fit in the new dcu.

  • Joe Acevedo says:

    Before the new 52 reboot, I was reading 10 DC titles, and after I bumped it up to 17 titles. (Batgirl, Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Green Lantern, GL Corps, GL New Guardians, Justice League, Justice League International, Suicide Squad, Blackhawks, Action Comics, Superman, Supergirl, Captain Atom, Mister Terrific, Wonder Woman, Hawk and Dove)

    After 3 issues, I decided to drop 2 books, Captain Atom and Wonder Woman. I like the characters but not the new storylines. Wonder Woman is an OK book, but I just don’t want to read about her struggles with the Greek Pantheon of Gods.

    DC just recently cancelled 3 more of the titles that I read, Mister Terrific, Hawk and Dove, and Blackhawks. I was a fan of Checkmate, so I like the Blackhawks book. I like the Hawk and Dove characters but I do not like the Rob Liefeld artwork. Mr. Terrific book is boring and I’m only holding on to it because of Karen Starr (Power Girl).

    That said, I miss my JSA and Power Girl comics. I’m happy that DC has finally announced Earth 2 and World’s Finest. I will be adding those 2 to my list, which will bring me back up to 14 books.

  • Howard the Duck says:

    I’m still sworn off of DC books in the wake of the New 52. I simply stopped caring. However, I think I’ll be buying Dark Horse Comic’s new Star Wars book about the origins of the Jedi Order, Dawn of the Jedi. So, I am a hypocrite in that regard, at least. But as for DC Comics, they can go scratch.

    • BC says:

      I’m more upset about a $3.99 price tag than the new 52. That’s why I’ve sworn off of Marvel books.

      Rebooting and restarting comic stories happens all the time – I don’t know why folks get so upset about it. I just want to read good stories, I’m not uptight about what’s in continuity or not.

  • stewbacca says:

    I havent bought a new issue yet (at least at full cover price)– my store did have #1 reprints for .99 a piece- so I did pick up a few then– and half price books occasionally puts out the new ones for 1.50 a piece..

    And my view of this is still this– what was the point of the reboot– there are still way to many things you have to know about the characters– they werent #1 new issues– this could have been done as an Ultimate Universe or AOA type of storyline– still disappointed as a whole- and like stated- many of these feel like Im just rereading what I read before (like Blue Beetle)– with slight small changes- like Paco isnt going to school now..glad we had to restart the universe for that…

  • Norman says:

    I agree Dc comics are a little two high on death. I got a subcription throught DC which was cheaper than buying at my local store. I get 20 books in the mail. I swithed Swamp thing out for Teen Titans. Swamp Thing was too weird and horror like. Most of my DC books I have to keep from my kids. I let them read some from the 70′s – 80′s only. It kind of sad comics today are really for a mature audiance.

  • Thomas says:

    My problem with the reboot is that it is the ultime deus ex machina…titles weren’t selling, writers were stuck in a rut…so they just started the whole thing over and now can do anything they want without having to explain anything.

    Nothing has to make any sense whatsoever or fit any previous characterization or continuity. Any question asked can be answered with, ‘This is the new DC universe and that’s the way it is.’ Rather than enabling writers to be creative, it gave them the ultimate pass to be lazy.

    I did try a few of the new books that I thought might be least impacted by the reboot, wasn’t impressed, and have now dropped all of them except for the Legion…and not because it’s even that good, but because Superboy and the Legion of the Super-Heroes was the first comic I ever read, and I can’t imagine not following their adventures, no matter how boring.

    My biggest complaint though is that the books simply aren’t fun anymore. As Norman said, kids can no longer pick up a DC comic book and fall in love with the characters the way I did way back in 1974. There is too much sex and violence, and not enough fun and adventure. It’s a real shame.

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