Thoughts on the “New 52”

For those of you who don’t follow comic books, you may or may not know that DC Comics (which is responsible for characters like Superman, Batman, etc) did a reboot of all their comics, starting everything over at #1. I don’t follow these things too closely, normally. I’ve gotten a little burnt out by their unending series of crossover events. But there was a lot of energy around this so I asked my local comic shop guy to hook me up with the new line of #1s so I could see what it was all about. I figured, at the very least, this would be a chance to read about some characters I don’t normally read about. Overall I’ve found it to be a bit incomprehensible.

If I’d only read the titles I normally followed, this might not be as discombobulating. But after four weeks of not checking my box, I arrived to find 30+ #1 comics waiting for me. (Yeah, I sort of thought they’d space them out better…) And reading through them, I felt like I was reading about completely different settings.

Some, like Green Arrow, Stormwatch, Superboy, and Justice League International, looked like pretty basic reboots. Familiar characters and groups re-imagined. Okay, sure. JLI admits that this is not the original Justice League and, with the inclusion of Guy Gardner, shows that there’s some sort of history with the Green Lanterns already.

Other titles seemed to have at least some of the old back story. In Batgirl, Barbara Gordon was still shot and and made a paraplegic by the Joker. But I don’t see any indicator of her background as Oracle still happening in her past, nor her work with the Birds of Prey or the most recent Batgirl (Stephanie Brown). Batman & Robin still has Damian Wayne (Bruce’s son) as Robin. Bruce is back in the cowl, but it is clear that Dick Grayson had been Batman recently. But I’m not sure if they changed the reasons. Batwoman is still the same, no apparent change.

All of the Green Lantern recent events still seem to be around. But since I didn’t read any of that mess, I’m left a little confused by Green Lantern and utterly baffled by Red Lanterns. At least with Green Lantern I could pick up what was going on since I was familiar with some of the characters. Sinestro has been recruited back by the Green Lantern Corp and Hal Jordan’s been fired? Sure. I can follow that much. But I have no idea who the Red Lanterns are and didn’t know what was going on. I had hoped #1 might be new-reader friendly, but it really wasn’t.

And then there’s Superman. In Action Comics, he’s reimagined as being more like the early Golden Age version: He can’t fly, he can just jump over tall buildings with a single bound. Tank shells can take him down. People don’t know who he is, Lex Luthor is debuting his attempt to kill this invading alien species. Okay. Sure.

Then Supes appears in Swamp Thing, which seems to continue the story of Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing, and he can fly and has a different costume. In Justice League, we don’t even see the modern Justice League. We get a flash back to “Five Years Earlier,” with Hal Jordan as Green Lantern running into (I think) Bruce Wayne as Batman. At the end we see Superman, and in this flashback he’s flying and wearing the costume from Swamp Thing. So what the hell is up with Action Comics? I’m guessing it could just be a flashback and they don’t tell you. But I don’t know. It’s a little frustrating.

Beyond that, I had some titles I’ve really liked. Men of War has been a fun modern reboot of Sgt. Rock. I didn’t like the art for Animal Man at first, but for the creepier parts of the story it works very well. Batwing is a fun riff on a superhero in Africa. Batwoman is just as awesome as I recall. Several of the other titles I was lackluster about, mainly because there was no actual story. There was just a lot of “Let us find some cute way to tell you what this particular superhero group is about.”

I still have two more weeks of these to read through, and I’m going to stick it out for at least a few issues with these titles. I want to see what happens with this.

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