The Year-old 52

September is swiftly approaching, and with it comes the one-year anniversary of DC Comics’ The New 52. The reboot to the publisher’s fictional universe left some characters basically the same (Green Lantern) others completely different (Wonder Woman) and many somewhere in between (Red Hood and the Outlaws, anyone?). The goal of the reboot was to start fresh for new and old readers alike, excising years of continuity and allowing creators to blaze new trails free of encumbrances – and ultimately, increase sales.

So, how’s that working out?

Well, it’s certainly goosed sales, which I would imagine is the primary concern at the DC and parent company Warner Bros. offices. Other writers can offer a clearer sales picture than I can, but The New 52 has undeniably given DC and perhaps the comic book industry as a whole a shot in the arm, and that’s a good thing.

Here at Matinee Culture, however, we’re less concerned with the bottom line and more concerned with the pop culture outcomes. And, for me at least, I’m happy to report that The New 52 has worked out just fine.

Er… maybe even a little too fine. When the reboot hit, I was down to buying two monthly books: Detective Comics and Batman Inc. Now, I’m buying seven: Action Comics, Animal Man, Batman, Batman Inc., Green Lantern, The Shade and Swamp Thing. I’ve also read much of the runs of a few other books. For a guy on a tight entertainment budget, DC is putting out too much good material!

However, my report has been far from the universal response. A few creators have left over alleged editorial meddling, and many longtime fans have sworn off the company, claiming that a dearth of creativity and a disowning of classic stories or characters made the reboot a perfect “jumping off” point.

What gives?

I honestly don’t know. DC is running a big ship right now, and what many people don’t realize is that a lot of the crew members and passengers have different perspectives on how that ship is doing. To many people, DC is either a great place to work or an awful one, a new bastion of amazing stories or the betrayer of Wally West.

I don’t know what’s going on behind the corporate curtain, so I can’t comment there other than to say that it certainly appears that writers like Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison and Brian Azzarello are being given pretty free reign to write the stories they’re passionate about – stories that perhaps would have been impossible or not allowed 12 months ago.

In terms of what readers see, however, the obsessively pro or con sides need to realize that people read comics for different reasons and get enjoyment out of different things. The New 52 was a gamble to increase sales and attract readers. If it didn’t do that for you, I’m sorry. If it did, great! That doesn’t invalidate the disappointment of others. They were buying DC’s comics for a different reason than you were.

All I know for sure is that for this guy, DC’s initiative gave me a place to start buying several comics runs, and I am enjoying myself. It’s not perfect (there’s been some decompression issues I’m not 100 percent happy with), but I think it’s pretty dang good. In fact, though I was planning on putting a little less pressure on my wallet by not replacing The Shade when it ends next month, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist the allure of Talon. I’m hooked, friends.

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2 thoughts on “The Year-old 52

  1. Animal Man is the best New 52 series (along with Blue Beetle).
    What makes Animal Man so special is the way Lemire deconstructs the superhero mythology. For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.

  2. Pingback: How do you solve a problem like Green Arrow? « Capers!

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