In 2011 DC thought up a new marketing strategy to get people to buy more of their comics. At this point, Marvel Comics was kicking their butts when it came to sales, and DC needed something new and fresh. What they did was create something called “The New 52.” A lot of people were wondering if this would be similar to their event 52 in which DC released an issue of the event every week for 52 weeks. We were dead wrong. What they did choose to do was a complete overhaul of the universe combining certain universes and breaking a way new ones and essentially rebooting the entire DC Universe. Unfortunately this was very controversial and lead to many people dropping DC altogether, and bad mouthing them at any chance they could. However, unlike some comic fans I am a little more open minded and decided to actually give the new universe a chance.
It ‘s probably no surprise to anyone that I am a DC fan and that I prefer DC over Marvel. It wasn’t always like that though. I used to be only a Marvel Comics fan (even though I never really bought any Marvel comics, I only watched the movies). However, when I did start buying comics back in 2009, I noticed that I was buying more DC than Marvel. I couldn’t understand it, I used to bash DC on a daily basis. It was around this time that I got into Blackest Night, Brightest Day and the Flash series. Flash became my favorite hero and I began to follow any story he was in. When I heard he was going to be the main focus of the major DC event Flashpoint, I got excited.
Flashpoint was pretty much what happened when the Flash tried to go back in time to stop Professor Zoom from killing his mother. Flash was not as skilled as Zoom was with time travel and the Speed Force went haywire and caused the entire universe to change. This brought about a dark and dreary new timeline where Captain Cold is now a hero, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war tearing the earth apart and Thomas Wayne is avenging his son Bruce instead of vice versa. Only the Flash can remember the original timeline. In the end the Flash has go back in time to stop himself from stopping Professor Zoom and in turn combines multiple universes together and resetting the DC universe. The story was a lot of fun and had interesting ideas. Unfortunately, not many people were excited for the reboot.
Many complaints people had with the reboot were the facts that 70 years of continuity were just kind of wiped away. The first meeting of the Justice League is different, Barry Allen is the main Flash again instead of Wally West and the Justice Society have been moved to Earth-2. Another issue people had was the fact that the timeline was completely messed up, and…well…okay, people kind of have a point with this one. DC essentially said that most things in the past continuity has happened, but superheroes have only been around for 5 years at most, Batman may have been around a little longer. SO…how exactly does Batman already have five Robins and a son who is ten years old? This was a major complaint that I had, but still doesn’t affect my reading of the new books. One of my biggest problems, along with most people, is the fact that all the issues went back to number 1. Even the longest running comic book of all time: “Action Comics.” If it had gone for two or three more years it would have been the first comic book to ever reach number 1,000 which would have been awesome! Think of how much of a collectors item it would have been! The final issue that people have with this is the fact that fan favorite characters have not shown up in the new continuity such as Stephanie Brown and a personal favorite of mine, Wally West. I really wish they would at least acknowledge the existence of Wally West, it’s like he just ceased… And now I made myself upset (the Young Justice fandom knows why). However, I feel even with all of these negatives there are still some positive aspects of the New 52.
1. Let’s be honest guys, this is not the first time that DC has done a complete overhaul of their universe, and to think otherwise is you just being stubborn. Back in 1985, DC had one of the first big company wide crossover events known as Crisis on Infinite Earths this is everything that is great about DC wrapped into one EPIC story. It was fun, it was dramatic and it showcased the DC multiverse. The goal of this event was to simplify the 50 years of continuity that the universe had amassed and make it simpler for new readers. Huh, that sounds familiar doesn’t it? It destroyed the multiverse by combining them all into one place…Wow, this really is starting to sound familiar…It also brought about new stories that retold the origins of all of DC’s characters in order to update them for a modern audience. Well, there you have it, Flashpoint and “The New 52” are really no different than Crisis on Infinite Earths. While Crisis wasn’t a complete reboot, it was still used bring in new readers and make continuity simpler.
2. What I like about DC is they don’t really change things without an explanation. Flashpoint was used as a way to bring about the DC reboot. There is an actual story reason that all of this happened. DC could have been complete jerks and just rebooted the universe without giving us a real reason behind it. I think the fact that they used Flashpoint as a in-story reason to reboot the universe, shows that they know what they are doing. I also liked the fact that Flashpoint was marketed as something that would “change the DC Universe forever”. Normally, I hate that tagline in comic books because they are essentially a lie. They change things solely for the event, then after the event is over everything goes back to normal, nothing changes. However, DC actually followed through on that promise and gave us a brand new universe. I can’t really get mad at someone when they actually follow through with the exciting tagline.
3. While I do hate the fact that Action Comics will probably never reach 1000 issues in my lifetime, I can understand why they renumbered the way they did. People can get frightened by large numbers attached to a comic book. Why would a new reader want to pick up Action Comics number 900? They wouldn’t know who each character was or why they were fighting. There are plenty of people I personally know who feel the need to read an entire story from beginning to end; they feel it allows them to understand characters more and feel all of the character development they have gone through without having to resort to Wikipedia. This is understandable because Wikipedia can make a comic book story sound very convoluted and stupid if you don’t know the context in which the story is set. Believe me, I’ve tried it. So by resetting all of the issues to number one and rebooting the universe, it gives new readers confidence to pick up a book. Yes, it is inevitable that it will alienate older fans, however, if they are open-minded enough to give them a shot, the comics aren’t really that bad.
4. DC comics has never been this much fun. While I really enjoy dark and cerebral comic books that challenge me intellectually such as The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, I also really like just sitting down and reading a fun comic book with no annoying political message. While “The New 52” has its share of the dark and cerebral stories in Scott Snyder’s Batman, it also has its share of straight up fun to read material such and Francis Manipul’s Flash and Geoff Johns’ Justice League. It all really comes down to taste on this point, however. If you aren’t into some more of the goofy and out there type of comic book stories, intelligent gorillas attacking a city or clones that only live for a certain amount of time and replicate by cutting off limbs, then yeah, a good amount of “the New 52” (especially the Flash) might not be for you. However, if you just like entertaining stories with good characters that take you on a wild and crazy ride, this is definitely for you. But honestly, who goes into a comic book not wanting to have fun?
5. “The New 52” actually helped turn me on to books that I had never heard of or that I was never interested in before. Now, before you go all hipster on me, realize that this was the point of the reboot, to get more people to read different books and characters. I used to have no interest in Swamp Thing or Animal Man until the reboot, and I am glad I read them because they were awesome! The mythology of it all of very interesting and it was mystical without being too much, which I like. Hell, they even made Aquaman bad-ass again! I also picked up some new books like Justice League Dark and Talon, as well Earth-2. All of them are very interesting and tell some fun stories. There are more books on my pull list than ever before. I have almost totally immersed myself in the New 52. There are some books that I have no interest in or find terrible, but that’s because there is always going to be that one series that no one much cares about, but there is a fan base for it so they keep making them.
6. Many of the the creative teams are spectacular! I’ll just list off a few of the great writers “The New 52” has: Scott Snyder (Batman and Swamp Thing), Gail Simone (Batgirl), Francis Manipul and Brian Buccellato (The Flash), Jeff Lemire (Animal Man and Green Arrow), Geoff Johns (Aquaman, Justice League, Justice League of America and Green Lantern). All of these writers are great and bring something different to the table while writing their stories. They have a specific writing style and give their books personality. For instance, Scott Snyder is great at mythology and horror. We see elements of this in both Batman and Swamp Thing. He created the Court of Owls, which is probably one of the most brilliant ideas ever, and breathed new life into the Joker/Batman relationship that we have never seen before. In Swamp Thing, he reconnected Alec Holland to the Green and gave us deep and dark stories about a man trying to cope with being this “Swamp Thing.” Gail Simone (AKA: Queen of Twitter) put her trade mark snarkiness and sarcasm into her Batgirl book and made Barbara Gordon both a kickass and vulnerable character. Francis Manipul is probably my second favorite Flash writer (the first being Geoff Johns). He does the artwork for the book as well (which is amazing). I have been loving the book so far. And Geoff Johns is the master of the fun comic book that you can take seriously. I’m not even joking, any time I read one of his books I have fun, but it is never too goofy and over the top. Sure there are some cliches here and there, but he pulls them off so well it’s hard to notice.
Does “The New 52” have its problems? Yes. Are all the books great? No. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth a shot. If you stay open-minded about the books and don’t give up just because one issue you read sucked, you will come to love “The New 52.”