I’ve long been on record of being a fan of DC’s New 52 initiative. It provided a generational “jumping on” point for new readers of all ages. It also served to provide the industry with a shot in the arm as the public relations bonanza garnered cannot be underestimated. Its influence was so far-reaching that Marvel to this day continues to play catch up and trips over itself with one All-New debacle after another.
Many of the outspoken critics tended to be of a previous generation and railed against the changing of the status quo, to say nothing of their frustration at newly skewed continuity. Sales numbers were fantastic, regardless of rumored editorial interference and the above-mentioned push-back. Second printings were required for retailers who underestimated and then under-ordered the product. The success of the line wasn’t about low print runs, media frenzy or speculators. It was that the product was good and in some instances, it was great. That doesn’t happen by accident. DC’s greatest asset, utilized brilliantly, was the talent at its disposal. They used titans of the industry – writers such as Grant Morrison (Action Comics), Gail Simone (Batgirl, Firestorm), Geoff Johns (Aquaman, Justice League, Green Lantern), and Brian Azzarello (Wonder Woman), among others. Added to the mix were up-and-comers Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Frankenstein) and Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing). To this stable of writing talent, DC drew upon (no pun intended) Greg Capullo (Batman), Rob Liefeld (look, he’s still considered a “star”, I can’t control that), Jim Lee (Justice League), Ivan Reis, Rags Morales, Ardian Syaf, Tony Daniel, Patrick Gleason and J.H Williams III to name just a few of the top drawing talents in the industry – all working on New 52.
I did a quick comparison of some of the more popular characters in the DC universe.
Batman (flagship title for DC):
Scott Snyder (W) & Greg Capullo (A) became Tom King (W) & (primarily) David Finch (A) – Finch is known, but King is not yet. He IS very talented, however, and like Snyder this could very well be his launch pad.
Justice League (THE super team and topic of upcoming movie):
Geoff Johns (W) & Jim Lee (A) became Bryan Hitch (A/W) with support from Tony Daniel. This is easily the greatest disappointment of Rebirth. Hitch may well be loved as an artist based on his “Authority” days, but as an artist I find him mediocre at his best. As a writer, he leaves something to be desired, and by something, I mean everything.
Brian Azzarello (W) & Cliff Chiang (A) became Greg Rucka (W) & Nicola Scott/Liam Sharp (A). This could be viewed as even. My biggest reason for dumping the book was the way Rucka is telling his story. As the series is done bi-weekly, he is using this opportunity to tell two separate stories, using two separate artists. Some may enjoy that, but it doesn’t work for me. I also dislike the way Rucka blatantly erased all the work Azzarello had done re-envisioning the character.
Brian Buccelato (W), Francis Manapul (W/A) became Joshua Williamson (W) and Carmine DiGiandomenico (A). Again, this could be viewed as even – the New 52 team was somewhat unknown but quickly established themselves. Williamson is rated highly as an up and coming writer, but his artistic partner does not match the talents of his predecessors and keeps the pages far too frenetic and busy.
George Perez (W/A), Jesus Merino (A)/Grant Morrison (W), Rags Morales (A) became Peter J. Tomasi (W), Patrick Gleason & Doug Mahnke (A)/Dan Jurgens (W), Patrick Zircher and Tyler Kirkham (A). Going to Tomasi and especially Jurgens was a move backwards, while not having a single “star” on either of the two most historically important titles seems just arrogant.
While that is a small snapshot of the entire roll out, I think it establishes patterns. Primarily, DC went “safe” and recycled previously popular talent (Rucka, Ethan Van Scriver, Jurgens) while trumpeting the returns as though this was long desired by fans. It’s Williamson and King that could make this memorable for DC however. Both have critically acclaimed work in their past (albeit lesser known) and if Williamson can get some exposure beyond Flash, paired with an artist that doesn’t necessarily overpower his writing, I think he can really draw positive attention to the Rebirth line. Granted, my views aren’t consistent with the current sales numbers. What I can’t get my mind around is if the sales are despite the creative teams, the reduced price (2.99 from 3.99), the excitement of bi-monthly or a combination of all the above. I’d like to hear from you and get your thoughts on New 52 versus Rebirth.
‘Buzzin ‘Bout TV & Movies:
Once upon a time I was not to be disturbed Wednesday nights from 8pm to 9pm, it was known. Arrow was on, and I was in front of the telly. Then came Flash, Gotham, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. My PVR filled up while I tried to stay afloat. Legion, Preacher, Constantine, Powerless, Iron Fist, Luke Cage… So. Many. Shows. Nowadays my PVR sits unused, fat and lazy. It didn’t take long for my enthusiasm to wane. No longer was it satisfying to simply have access to these shows. I needed quality and depth – both of which seem to have disappeared. I know the shows remain wildly popular, but they just don’t do it for me anymore. Legion has promise, Preacher was excellent but seems a long way from Season 2. Powerless I enjoy but already episodes sit recorded and unwatched. Netflix Marvel still sits atop the heap in my eyes. I know Iron Fist was been destroyed in the media, but I enjoyed it. Yes, it was slow and probably could have been 10 episodes rather than 13, but that’s my biggest complaint. Don’t get me started on the “cultural appropriation” crap the kids are whining about. Luke Cage was the best comic-related television I’ve seen.
As for movies? At the time of writing this, DC had just released their Justice League movie trailer. It’s destined to be panned by both critics and fans alike, not surprising really since DC made the unfortunate error of hitching their entire shared universe to the disaster that is Zack Snyder. I find it shocking that these movies can be such messes considering the rich backstories and ready-made characters that the directors and writers can work with. Warner Brothers is throwing money away as they rush to play catch-up with Marvel. Why not slow down and do it properly, or is there someone that believes they are? That could well be the greatest indictment to this disaster. Worse yet for fans is that with each additional failure, Warner is less likely to move forward onto the next chapter, stopping rather than learning. Wonder Woman NEEDS to be a success so Warner can see that these films can work, but more importantly, so Warner can see a movie Snyder isn’t involved with can be a success. For the record, I LIKED Man of Steel and Batman Versus Superman (extended edition did serve it much better). I felt DC was doing alright by going darker in comparison to what Marvel had done. Hell, I didn’t even hate Suicide Squad, I felt there was enough positive in it that I could overlook the Enchantress and pretty much anything associated with her story-line. For those that avoid them, I do recommend the DC Animated movies. Both Killing Joke and Justice League Dark were excellent and only served to emphasize what Warner Brothers is capable of.
That’s it for me and the Pulpit this month, folks. If you’re reading this via my blog, thank you for taking the time. If you’ve been reading this via Comicbuzz, my thanks to you as well but especially to Shabbir for taking the time to break the larger piece into smaller weekly pieces and adding all the pictures. He does all the work that makes me look good.
As always, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s got a point to make or a bone to pick. A general shout out wouldn’t hurt either. Chris Risdon