Monday, September 19, 2011

New 52 with not enough Reboot in it…

Everybody is talking about the DC Universe Reboot: The New 52.  Which is what they went to all this trouble for isn’t it?  To get us talking about DC comics and buying DC comics?  On those points, I think the New 52 Reboot has been very successful.  Everyone is talking and buying.

But how about on the Reboot part of this experiment?  How is that going?

DC claimed quite often and loudly that the New 52 would be the perfect place for new readers to jump on, because it was all “new” and there would not be a bunch of back story to explain and no pesky continuity issues that you already needed to know about to pick up the new books.

Having heard all that from DC, I kind of expected a real reboot—a starting over—a clean slate.  But I haven’t seen a lot of that yet, strangely enough.

Now, to be fair, I have only read a handful of the new books so far.  Justice League #1, Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #1, Green Arrow #1, and OMAC #1.  Some of the New 52 aren’t out yet, haven’t arrived in my mail box, or I have no intension of buying anyway.

We heard that this was going to be a world that was new to the whole “super powered people” concept.  Yet most of these books seemed to have started in the middle.  Batman has already been Batman for years.  Commissioner Gordon already has a Bat Signal on the roof.  Joker has been killing people for years.  Superman has been pissing off cops for quite a while already.  Green Arrow already has a whole support team stood up and battle tested.  The only book that really felt like I was there for the beginning of events was OMAC.  All the others felt like I was in at the middle and had to figure out who these people were and how they knew them already.  Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are already buddies.  Yes, Superman can’t fly (yet), but Lex Luthor already hates Superman and we don’t know why.

This was a reboot.  We were supposed to get to see some of this stuff happen on the page.  Not get hints that these important relationships and motivations had already happened and we missed them.  It’s not like we can blame it on the 352 issues of Action Comics we hadn’t read already.  This is Issue #1, by Bristol Board and all that is holy.  This was our chance to get to see why Lex starts to hate Superman, (or for reboot’s sake, maybe Lex and Superdude would be best friends this time around) but no.  That key stuff has already happened and we didn’t get to see it.

I understand that DC probably didn’t want to do 52 origin stories right out of the gate.  But they didn’t leave us with much mystery about what will be different this time around.  They seemed more worried about reassuring longtime readers that all their favorite people and stuff was going to still be in the mix.  Don’t worry, Batman still has a bat cave, a bat mobile, bat-a-rangs, his butler might be a computer program (so they get points for that), but batman is still a dick and is already obsessed with Joker (who already has a long career in serial killing).  No formative experiences need appear on these pages.  Don’t worry fan boys!  No chance of genuine difference here.  New Batman is just like old Batman.  It’s almost like Batman never rebooted.

With Green Arrow they tried a little harder.  They lost the Robin Hood goatee and went for a Tony Stark disheveled look.  Goggles are always nice.  And they moved away from the tycoon that lost all his money and now fights for the common man thing.  Instead they went for billionaire playboy who should be running his hugely successful companies, but instead spends his time and resources building crime-fighting gadgets and fighting crime with his gadgets, kind of like Tony Stark.  They did change Ollie up a bit, but again we don’t get to see any of the formative experiences that made him go into crime fighting.  He is already in the middle of it and we are left to catch up.  We missed the beginning of the movie even though we were in our seats when the curtain went up.

OMAC, is the exception to this pattern so far.  OMAC starts with people we don’t know, gives us enough interaction to tell us what their basic relationships are and sets a series of mysterious events in motion.  And it is different enough from the original OMAC that they probably could have called it something else entirely.  I do enjoy the Kirby-style art work.  And where the old OMAC had a giant Mohawk for no reason.  The new OMAC seems to be actually employing his head-fin as some kind of antennae or energy grid of some kind.  How did some guy who used to work in the office get turned into OMAC?  And who is controlling him?  We don’t know.  There is a bunch of stuff we don’t know.  But we feel like we got to the story just as it was starting.  So OMAC feels successfully rebooted to me.  And I am curious to see what happens next.

But these other titles, not so much.  If these weren’t going to be real reboots, why did DC go to all the trouble?  Oh yeah, all those extra copies they are selling.  I wonder how many of the extra copies are just going into plastic bags in the hopes of big resale values at some point in the future?  If the percentage of investment copies being sold is high, that means DC will have failed in their attempt to get new readers.  But we will see what happens.

I give the New 52 Reboot (So Far) a C.

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