Thursday, March 04, 2010

Adventure Comics #8 – A Review and Commentary on the State of the DCU

This book was a lot of fun for a dyed in the wool Legion fan like me. Plus we got three stories instead of just one. What I like best about the whole set of stories is the Legion story is being moved forward and the Superman story line finally seems to be taking off.

The first story was all about the LOSH in the future and featured arguably the most important Legionnaire of all time Brainiac 5. It set up a disaster that is occurring in the 31st Century that has its origins in the 21st Century. It also explains why Brainiac 5 is named after his hated ancestor Brainiac.

The second story gives us some background on why a bunch of Legionnaires have been hanging out in the past and what they need Mon-el to do for them. Both stories lead into the Last Stand of New Krypton.

The last story is about a Kryptonian who has infiltrated General Lang’s operation. I love stories about undercover agent’s as often the sacrifices they make in order to sell themselves to the enemy or to blend in are the hardest for anyone to do. Eric Trautmann did a brilliant job writing this story and he seems to be a rising star at DC.

What this book did was give me a good overall feeling not only about this comic but about the DCU in general. The DCU has been essentially a sleeping giant for years. I truly believe that the catalog of characters they own are far superior to Marvel. I mean Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the most iconic four color characters, if nothing else from the age of the characters. Still Marvel has been squarely handing DC their a** when you look up the sales figures. Of course this is the direct market only, but still DC has been firmly number two. Marvel has flooded the market with product, but lately DC has been challenging Marvel consistently for the top spots with the books in the top ten. I think we are starting to see a turn of fortunes as DC seems to be slowly getting their act together and maybe poised for a renaissance in their line.

The way I see it is the Batman side of things is in good shape. You have Batman and Robin (which just hit a bump). Batman (okay but a second tier book now), Batgirl (off to a fine start), Red Robin (doing well), Gotham City Sirens (has an odd charm), Batman Streets of Gotham (solid street level adventures of Batman) and Batman Confidential (an arc by arc book) all solid books and usually month by month a more exciting place to be then it was two years ago. Add into the mix the “Return of Bruce Wayne” storyline and you have a great core of books that carry DC.

The Green Lantern stuff has just ruled and out of Blackest Night we have three GL titles and a Bi-Weekly book called Brightest Day. The writing group of Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi and Tony Bedard are great picks to continue this success from Blackest Night and keep this portion of the world going strong. It was important move to see the level of talent that is being used to continue this success and that each writer is a proven writer with super heroes. Add into that mix the JLA finally getting some direction, the launch of a new LOSH book, Rebels, Secret Six, a new Flash series, Birds of Prey coming back and the DCU looks even brighter.

What have been dragging the line down are Superman and Wonder Woman. After reading Adventure Comics, hearing about Superman The Last Stand of New Krypton and the War of Superman event for May and you finally see the Superman side of the DCU coming back to life. If out of the War of Superman DC produces a strong line up of writers to chart the Superman titles we could see a revival of that portion of the DCU. In my opinion the removal of Superman from his own books turned all of the titles into books that were focused on sub-plots and the “real” story has been treading water and waiting in the wings. It looks like the real story is here and having the event happen in one month is a great idea.

Wonder Woman is still a mystery to me. I’m about to drop this title and it is killing me. I love Gail Simone’s writing on Birds of Prey and have been amazed at her work on Secret Six, but Wonder Woman is a disaster. I have no clue if anyone can make this a book one I want to read, but Gail has tried and it ain’t working for me. Every issue I read I’m not sure I read the one before. Gail’s handling of the multiple plot lines has been disjointed and almost incoherent. A friend told me she can’t handle juggling multiple storylines and I disagreed, but agreed it was not working here. It is time to scrap this effort and look for plan “B”.

The rest of the DCU is still a work in progress as titles such as Doom Patrol and Booster Gold are only okay and I think in this market you need to be at least good to very good to survive. We have the JSA books and Jonah Hex are other really good books, but DC needs to develop a lot more second tier books to go along with what they have, but what they do have going is very good and I only see 2010 as getting better. I look at the Red Circle, First Wave, the Batman and Superman OGNs coming out and I see DC is taking steps that make a lot of sense in making their line of books the best of the best.

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