Except for the hardcover collections this was a crap week of books. I enjoyed Cobra, Daredevil and Ultimates and I’m sure Mouse Guard will be good, but I was not motivated to read any comics. I saw the movie Descendants, which was excellent and the trailer for the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was so good I decided to buy and read the book before the movie hits. The first 30 pages were decent and it should be easy to wrap it up before the movie. So that leaves me with a column to write and almost no motivation to write about the actual week of books. So Instead I will devote this week to my mixed feeling regarding the DCnU.
There is some terrific stuff coming out of the DCnU, that starts with books like Batman and Swamp Thing because Scott Snyder is DC’s best writer right now and one of the best in the business already, easily the writer of the year for 2011. Both books are great and the Batman series is laying the groundwork for not just this story, but for the future of the series as time goes on. Swamp Thing has reset that series and so far is a fun read. Jeff Lemire’s books are also great with Animal Man and Frankenstein just being class books. I love Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, Action Comics and more. The reason I wanted to get out some praises for the DCnU is that I want to make sure that it is understood that DC has some great series; my issues are more with the entire concept.
Right now I have no real handle on the DCU. It is very unfamiliar, yet also has a level of familiarity that makes it a strange hybrid. Green Arrow is Ollie Queen and is fighting crime with a bow and arrow, but he is hi-tech and also part owner of a major corporation. It is not the Ollie Queen I know and I have no clue how or if he fits inside the new DCU. That is the crux of one of my problems with the DCU, I have no clue how book A fits with book B. Now I don’t really care for the most part because I’m okay with each book being its own thing, but when you pull the camera back and start looking at the wider world the focus gets blurry. Is Ollie part of the JL, did ho have a relationship with Roy Harper of Red Hood and the Outlaws? Did he ever have any relationship with the Black Canary? Who is the Black Canary, is she the daughter of the golden age Black Canary? Did the new DCU have Golden Age heroes? How was Batgirl connected to Birds of Prey? Was Babs ever Oracle? How can Bruce Wayne have had four Robins already and still be so obviously young? How could Dick Grayson have ever been Batman and be apparently in his early twenties? If Damian is Bruce’s son then was Bruce Batman when he and Talia got together? Is Ras As Ghul still around? Max Lord is in OMAC, who is he at this point? How can Bart Allen exist as Kid Flash if Barry is not married? Is Bart from the future or not? In reading each individual book these are not things that often bother me, but when the questions come up I realize that the history of the DCU has been destroyed like never before and nothing is exactly the same, except when it is the same. It is become too often the way comics are written and is more akin the original Ultimate Universe that Marvel did, especially Ultimate Spider-Man where you familiarity with stuff was played with so the surprise is that instead of Peter dating Mary Jane, they are best friends, instead of person “A” being a hero, they are a villain. Either you start it over or don’t, these halfway measures just create a sense of unfamiliarity with the familiar. It would be like dating an old girl friend ten years later, it is the same yet different and you never know if what happened before has any bearing on what you are doing today.
Another issue I have is that I’m in the middle of 40 stories, as I have dropped about 10 books. Not only I’m I trying to learn what is what in every book and we are jumping into things in the middle, but no story is completed. I’m used to long stories with monthly comics, but almost no series has hit any endpoint. There are exceptions like Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad, but the vast majority of the books have not completed any plot or major arc at this time. I like having some level of conclusions and wrapping up a fight against a villain or resolving some major plot point. We know we are on issue #4 this coming month for every series and that is the problem, every book is at similar points in the growth of each series. This will dissipate over time but at the moment it makes it hard for me to bond with that many series. My dropping 10 series and looking to drop another five to ten will help, but I think it is a failing of the line itself. No reason we could not have had some series do one and done issues to start, a few start off as origins, but the marching order was to start in the middle.
The final point is that the new DCU will take too long to come together and ultimately cause a major problem for DC. No new Universe has ever been a success in the comic book industry ever. I can make an argument that the Mignolverse has worked out, but Dark Horse Heroes line did not, the New Universe from Marvel folded, the Ultimate Universe has not work in any true fashion, the Valiant Universe failed, Malibu failed, Impact from DC failed. If the new DCU starts to disintegrate expect the mysterious woman to cause some crisis that hits the reset button. There are hints of weaknesses within the DCU already as the Shade mini-series I hear may get canned due to low sales. It makes sense, you just launched 52 new titles and another new title is going to be hard pressed to get any attention especially one month later. Plus Shade suffers from all the questions of where does he fit in as he was part of the Starman series, that now must have never happened since apparently no Golden Age heroes exist in the new DCU.
I can make a case the DC has 20 plus good series right now, but they do not have any cohesion of their universe and that is a serious problem as super hero books success seems to be based on the ability to have a shared universe. Also considering that I think DC had only Batman and maybe Green Lantern as the best stuff from before, they certainly have a stronger line of books then they did before. The question is can they pull it together enough to make this a long term change or will this line implode?
Next week’s list is back to normal with Action, Animal Man, Batwing, Detective, Green Arrow, Hellblazer Annual, Huntress, Izombie, Penguin, Red Lanterns, Stormwatch, Swamp Thing, Sweet Tooth, Defenders, Hulk, Moon Knight, Punisher, Breed, Chew, Chew Ominvore Vol 2, Strange Case of Luthor Strode, Last of the Greats, Cold War, and Vamperilla Annual.
That’s a wrap, see ya next week.