Sunday, October 2, 2011

DC Universe Relaunch - Month 1 Reviewed

I have fallen quite behind on my first blog post as I expected to review each week of the DC relaunch. Since the first month has now come and gone, I will select a few of my favourite, and least favourite of the bunch. I will pick (in my opinion) the best and worst book of each week, totalling 8 reviews this post. Before I get into that, I will evaluate the reboot as a whole.

As we all know by now, DC Comics relaunched their entire Universe with 52 #1 issues, beginning with Justice League #1. The issue was below average. Far below average. It is a story set five years before the new continuity began, but you wouldn't know that as a reader unless you were following message boards, sitting in on Panels at San Diego Comic Con, or Geoff Johns and Jim Lee themselves. At no point in the issue do they setup any type of timeline.

This plot fail is a trend followed in many of the books that followed. Action Comics, for example, takes place ten years before the new continuity and again you are not warned this is the case. Many characters are thrown at you in rapid succession with no explanation of who they are or where they came from.

The point of this relaunch was to make all 52 books accessible to new readers. Only a select few of the books seemed to subscribe to this promise. If I was new to Justice League, given the characterisation of Green Lantern, I would have assumed he was a 12 year old boy in the body of a 20 year old. Superboy reintroduces Caitlyn Fairchild, a character from Gen 13, as a regular character. Why is she significant? A new reader would have no idea. In the DCnU, she has no powers and looks like an ordinary woman. Before the relaunch, she was a ridiculously enhanced powerhouse. New readers would totally miss this plot point.

The aforementioned usage of Fairchild is a neat homage to the readers who may be coming back to comics after taking some time off, but again new readers are left in the cold. Red Lanterns was one of the most 90's-esque "XTREME" books, but it was also one that had a lot of backstory and insight to the characters. I found that strange that one of the most accessible books could be one of the most disappointing.

I found myself asking why the books meant for new readers were so lackluster. Are the writer's that bad? Are the established creative teams that bad at building a story from scratch? Or was this whole project done haphazardly? Could it be that DC at one point was going to be smart and launch with say 20 books instead of 52?

Some of these books seem to have had a lot more development time than others. It makes me wonder how many books were cobbled together within weeks of the deadline to get these things out. I can't imagine DC has high hopes that even 50% of these titles will survive. The problem is, only like 30% of the books are good. The crazier part is, most of the good books are second and third tier titles.

Resurrection Man was good, whereas Detective Comics (DC's flagship title) was pretty bad. Ressurection Man was a brief miniseries in the 90's that was brought back for the relaunch for reasons only DC knows. Detective Comics has been published monthly since the 1930's. Why was the latter title allowed to be so bad?

As of now, DC has earned a C- on the relaunch. I would drop them to a D, but the titles I have enjoyed, I enjoyed a great deal. I believe if they had maybe started with 10 books and expanded slowly, rather than saturate the market, they would have hit more home runs. I already plan to drop a great deal of the books of which I purchased this month. I've been planning on adding a bunch of indy stuff to my pull list and a lot of these DC titles are going to get burnt to make room.

Since this ran a bit long, I will do a separate update later this week on the individual book reviews. I will also be commenting on the Ultimate relaunch as well as Top Cow's impending relaunch after their universe gets rebooted in Artifacts.

Stay awesome out there!

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