Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DC Comics New 52

On another note, I'm big into comic books now.  Actually I just got into them over the last year or so.  I'm a DC guy, and a few things got me in serious:
  • The recent span of very to excellent superhero movies
  • The need of some recreational activities that I can do solo
  • The new 52 DC reboot
That's it.  For those who don't know, the New 52 is a reboot of the DC Comics Universe timeline that started in 2011 after the conclusion of Flashpoint, then the latest cataclysmic event that resulted in a reshuffling of the deck for all the relevant characters. Cataclysmic comic events usually fall into one of two categories: those that stay within the timeline but kill off/resurrect/banish certain characters, and those that completely change the reality itself.  Flashpoint was the latter; in the resolution of the plot the entire reality of the DC universe was shuffled and re-dealt.  Long standing relationships were altered, existing characters were disappeared, and origins were completely re-imagined.  The result was a new beginning, dubbed the new 52 (52 is a numerologist symbol in DC comics).  All the existing series were cancelled and most were restarted with a new number one issue.  The new continuity kicked off five years after superheroes began to appear among people, and the characters were all started off at younger ages Bruce Wayne, usually forever living between the age of 35 and 45, starts off around the age of 30.  Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen, long depicted with a full beard that suggested middle age, is now a clean shaven, obviously 20 something.  So for once, 'EVERYTHING CHANGES!' was not an empty selling point to get people to part with their money, it was a real thing.  Which some people liked and others didn't.

The main beefs, from my estimation are/were with the following:
  • The renumbering of each series with a new number one issue - this comes from collectors; number one issues are major pieces in any collection, and every time you start over it devalues the other number ones
  • The younger characters - turns out a lot of people were very attached to Oliver Queen's full beard
  • Relationship changes - any and all marriages from the pre-new 52 universe were forgotten.  No more Superman and Lois Lane, Green Arrow and Black Canary, or Barry Allen (the Flash) and Iris West.
  • Major character changes - Old school heroes like Jay Garrick (the original Flash) and Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern) were shipped off to Earth 2 instead of being the prior versions of their super heroes namesake.
  • The absence of several characters who developed their own loyal constituencies - no Wally West, Ted Kord, Stephanie Brown, for example.  If you don't know who those people are, don't worry.  I didn't either until recently.
As a fan of the new 52, I find most of these to be hogwash.  I do sympathize with the collectors upset with the re-numbering because real collectors put so much time and money into the process but that's it.  By the time 2011 rolled around, they'd done everything there was to do from a storyline standpoint.  Major characters had been killed off and resurrected, long standing romances had become marriages, and the same villains had been fought, defeated, and fought again in just about every different way.  Universes had been consolidated, and split up again.  The Justice League grew to include damn near everyone in the DC Universe.  And every minor character with any kind of fanbase had been given chances at a higher profile role in a series.  If there was a time to start over, that was it.  Change isn't always good but it is often necessary, and this was one of those times.  It also gave people like me a chance to get in on the action without feeling like we were 20 years behind.

And let's be here; everything about the old continuity was not good.  Does anyone really want to make that argument?  Hello.......Bane and Bruce Wayne becoming best buds and hanging out because Bane thought they were related?  Yeah, that actually happened.  Go back and read the print version of the 'iconic' X-Men story Days of Future Past, if you can finish it without laughing at it.  We tend to overrate things we liked from our childhood and overlook the obvious shortcomings.  A lot of the New 52 critics have never even read any New 52 comics; they 'heard that it sucks so they didn't bother'.  Yeah, they actually say things like that.  These are the people who hate every comic book movie because of changes made from the source material, even things that obviously can't or don't translate to a feature film.  Go read some of the dialogue from anything before the late 90s and try not to laugh at the cheesiness that often made it to the page.  Go look at some early portrayals of say, Wonder Woman, and compare them to today.  The new stuff is better and it's not even close.  Is every story in every series great?  Of course not.  But let's not act like that was ever the case.

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