Monday, August 22, 2011

Shuffling Through the New 52

Well, it's a bold move and I'm all for boldness. My biggest concern about the new DC Universe about to be born is that it seems tailored to appeal to the audiences which already exist, rather than being its own new and innovative thing. When Superman first appeared, it was not known that the audience for him existed. When Stan Lee started creating the Marvel universe, he was not trying to match what was seen as having popular appeal, in fact he went against that, and it worked, obviously extremely well. Looking through the materials for the new 52, what I see is an attempt to match current tastes, rather than something which is new and surprising and different. Heck, as much as I don't like Watchmen, I'll admit that when it came out, it was not much like anything that had ever been seen but it created its own audience. I tend to feel something that is deliberately made to appeal to trends is doomed, and it is perhaps especially fatal in the comic industry because theoretically one wishes to create a continuity to last at least 20 years, and if the designs are so obviously matched to current tastes, it means updates will be needed in a few years.

Maybe that's where comics are heading. I hear Marvel's Ultimate line is restarting, so it could be that the future of comics is in kickstarting a new continuity every few years. Basically like doing a remake of a movie once a decade. I suppose there is no real reason that these things can't be done just because they haven't been. I'm fairly certain that Superman and Batman, and probably at least some of the rest, will be around in some form in 200 years, and likely they will look different and have undergone some significant changes. Just as I am sure that the myths and legends that survive from previous civilizations did not first appear as we know them.

I personally have decided to give most of the more iconic books a pass, and will concentrate on some of the interesting looking other books. While I love the big guns, I am also a fan of DC's history of offbeat characters as well as their horror comics. My pull list as it stands is:

Batgirl - I have always liked the Barbara Gordon Batgirl, and am now interested in what will be done with her returning to the costume. While it is controversial that she is back, I always felt her original injury itself was a bit of a cheap move, ie the shock value of having something from a prestige one-shot have lasting consequences in the main universe.

Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE - I'm a fan of Creature Commandos, its original run in Weird War Tales, and this looks like it could be that kind of fun.

Demon Knights - I realize Medieval superheroics might sound like the essence of corny to some, the concept appeals to me and I love Etrigan and his original series.

DC Universe Presents - This one looks like a sampler, so it might give me some idea about the rest of the stuff without me taking the plunge on a lot of other books.

I, Vampire - I'm a fan of the old House of Mystery series, which was certainly ahead of its time and foreshadowed characters like Angel. This actually looks like it could be a prime example of what I'm talking about, in the sense of pandering to current tastes, but I'm going to give it a try. For some reason this paragraph will not de-italicize, my apologies.

Justice League Dark - While the name could not be more distressingly on the nose, and I normally hate "dark" superheroes, I like the idea of a team of super supernatural people, which has been done before to a lesser or greater degree, but this group of characters is intriguing. It just might be there's a kernel of originality in among all the typicalness of it. We shall see.

So that's probably it, it's possible I might end up feeling like I missed the boat on something, but I've also gotten a bit tired of the task of getting rid of comics I decide I don't need to keep around for rereading. These ones I'm getting will at least be unique and if they're cancelled early, I can fit them in my section of quirky misfires like Brother Power the Geek. For the ones I'm not getting, I look forward to reading the thoughts of other bloggers.

It's not to say I don't have the highest hopes for the relaunch, and wish DC well. I love comics and would like them to last for eternity. I'm probably a bit jaded but this is just not the first reboot I've been around for, as it won't be for most of you, and it's made me a bit sad to see how in the last ten years, since the phenomenon of more exposure through films, comics have become increasingly obsessed with the "cool" factor, rather than being fascinating for those indefinable but joyous reasons they were in the past. But time marches on. Anyway, it's not the first time DC has changed according to its audience's perceived needs.