10 Good Things About the DC Relaunch (So Far)
With the recent reviews I've written of Justice League, Batgirl and Suicide Squad, some of our readers might have gotten the impression that I'm a crabby misanthrope who's dead set against the DC Reboot. Despite appearances, that's simply not true -- or at least, the second half of it isn't. As much as there are books spinning out of the relaunch that I haven't enjoyed, there's a lot of good stuff going on too. That's why today, ComicsAlliance Editor-in-Chief / Wise Earth Mother Laura Hudson has challenged me to balance things out a little by offering up Ten Good Things About the DC Reboot (So Far)!
#1. The Return of Obscure Characters
I'm not quite sure that I understand DC's irrational attachment to the number 52, but as we've said before, that's a lot of comics to launch at one time. As a result, even if they're putting out fourteen comics about Batman and his various illegitimate children, sidekicks and assorted hangers-on, there's still a lot of room left on the roster to shine a spotlight on the more obscure characters like Resurrection Man and Mr. Terrific. As much as they want to draw in readers who already like the big-name characters thanks to movies and video games, it's nice that they're trying to pull them into a bigger, deeper universe.
#2. Specifically, the Return of Shining Knight
I could go on and on about how much I love Sir Ystin, the Shining Knight of Seven Soldiers, but the short version is that she's a brilliant spin on an old character and one of the most underused ideas of the past decade. Seeing her pop back up in the pages of this week's Demon Knights with an ultra-confident, hard-drinking take was fantastic.
#3. Genre Mash-Ups A-Plenty
There's been a lot written about how mainstream comics have such a ridiculously narrow focus on super-heroics, and DC's relaunched universe has certainly entrenched itself pretty solidly in the All Super-Hero Everything camp. But at the same time, it feels like they're doing their best to make a unified super-hero universe that has room for a variety of takes on that theme. Of the books I've liked the most, there are a ton of genre mashups, including the high fantasy of the post-Arthurian Demon Knights, the brutal combat story in Men of War, and the return of classic horror in the pages of Swamp Thing. They're unmistakably super-hero stories (there's at least one dude with a cape in all three of those), but it's not the same cookie-cutter "new hero fights bad guys in a city" aspect that comics often lapse into.
#4. Same-Day Digital Distribution
There have been a lot of reports of the New 52 titles selling out from comic book stores, and for retailers, that's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, selling through an order means you're making money, but on the other, every person who comes in looking for a book you don't have isn't just a sale you've lost, but a potential new reader who might decide that comics aren't worth the trouble instead of coming back every month. That's the real killer -- that the readers who aren't there every Wednesday morning can't take the chance on something they're interested in.
With digital comics, though, anyone with an Internet connection can pop over to Comixology right now and check out the books they want. There are plenty of problems there -- I'm of the mind that the same-as-print prices are truly ridiculous, for example, and the ongoing war between digital and the direct market ain't fun for anybody -- but that accessibility is incredibly important when you're trying to build new readership. Plus, digital has the advantage of selling people on what actually matters about comics, the content, rather than the utterly false, medium-killing promise of a physical "collector's item." Seriously, anything that puts another nail into that coffin is all right by me.
#5. OMAC Suplexes a Factory
OMAC is awesome. That is all.
#6. New Takes on Old Ideas
With a lot of the relaunch titles that I haven't cared for, the problem was that for a new universe, they just weren't new enough. In other titles, though, creators are using the opportunity of a brand new universe to combine pieces of the old DC into something fresh and exciting. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. for instance, lives up to the title character by taking a handful of spare parts -- the Atom, the Creature Commandos, and even Frankenstein himself, a character who made his first appearance 193 years ago -- and manages to spin it into a new idea every three pages.
That's the kind of opportunity something like this provides, and seeing creators taking full advantage of it makes for a rewarding experience.
#7. No, Seriously: Father Time Has Rebooted Himself Into an Eight Year-Old Japanese Schoolgirl
Her codename is still "Father Time." This is great.
#8. The Smallville References Have Been Kept To a Minimum
With the news that Superman would be running around in a t-shirt and jeans in the pages of Action Comics, I was genuinely worried that the new DC would be basing itself quite a bit on the inexplicably successful Smallville, a show that I did not particularly enjoy. Fortunately, it looks like we're in the clear. Someone did shout "somebody save me!" in Action #1 and we've still got Superman #1 to get through, but as of right now, the dumb jacket count in Justice League stands at zero. The only thing that really shows the influence is Green Arrow, but since not reading Green Arrow is something I already have a lot of practice doing, it shouldn't be a problem.
#9. Detective Comics #1 Has Not Gained Sentience And Killed Someone
If you look hard enough, you can find something nice to say about everything.
#10. The Continued Existence of Rob Liefeld
I'll be honest with you guys: I'm not a big fan of Rob Liefeld's work. But at the same time, there's a part of me that kinda likes that he's still out there, doing comics in the exact same way that he's been doing them for the past 20 years. It's a tooth-gritting, rooftop-running, which-of-these-fingers-is-supposed-to-be-a-thumb consistency that I find comforting as I approach my twilight years.
After all, as long as he's out there doing his thing, guys like me will always have a job.