Matter of Opinion Monday: What is wrong with DC comics (and what is the New 52 supposed to mean):

Superman Flash, Aquaman, and Sinestro on cover of DC Comics New 52 line intro
Johnny’s Matter of Opinion Monday (Week 1 of the mixed Mondays series).
Superman Flash, Aquaman, and Sinestro on cover of DC Comics New 52 line intro
The New 52 line of comics! Issue 1 summary cover

Where were you when it happened? The year was 2011, and the fans were saying, pardon my french, “ça me fait chier!” (We are not too happy).

DC comics had released a series of announcements that their entire line of comic books would enter a new age. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the every character in the DC Multiverse were being almost completely re-imagined.

This was an odd move. While certain aspects of the characters remained the same, all of the origin stories needed re-telling, all of the characters needed new artistic foils. Characters had new origin stories, new motives, even new temperaments, and this host of changes made readers call out in anger. I on the other hand was excited.

I grew up on Marvel comics and was unable to enjoy DC comics in all of it’s vastness. You see, as one reads these books, they slowly build up a knowledge of the fictional universe and get a bearing on what each guest hero is known for. For instance, you know that when Batman joins the book you are reading, you will most likely get the brooding detective we all know and love. Characters pop in and out of your series and villains share books ever once in a while. Certain threats span the entire line of Comic books, and this becomes burdensome to those who do not know all of these players.

The New 52 line was an in for those who did not know the DC Universe. Thanks to encouragement from my wife and the amazing Podcast that summarized all of the books that came out weekly (See the Distressed Citizen’s Radio Podcast), I learned the ins and outs of the DC universe and am now obsessed with this line!

As I went through the past few years of reading, i did notice a stifling fact, books were being cancelled. These terminations happened in the middle of a story arc, leaving the artists no room to wrap up their stories. I was particularly affected as I latch onto creative new ideas, not tropes that have been over-used.  The New 52 began with a wonderful mission, and slowly but surely showed a huge need for change.

Two weeks ago, we learned a lot more about those changes. DC comics opened the door for creators. Now that readers can go back and read this 4 year event, we have a universe to build on, but with the new line of DC comics being kicked off after the “Convergence” event this month. DC has promised not to cancel books prematurely, but to let each story play out as the creators want in hopes that the bound hardcover and softcover editions sell more.

The Fiction behind how the universe changing.
The cover of the FlashPoint Comic series which started the New 52
The cover of the FlashPoint Comic series which started the New 52

Yes, the New 52 had an origin in fiction. The DC writers created the FlashPoint series to provide context as to why things were different than before. Not unlike the “Infinite Crisis” story-line from the 80’s which cleaned up the 50 years of acquiring properties from other companies, Flash-point dealt with The Flash going back in time to save his mother from death. This change caused a mess of ripple effects to the world, and when Flash went to change them back, life was different.  They added a host of other pieces to this explanation such as the opening of a dimensional gate by a new character (Pandora). Needless to say, DC had an out for why the New 52 existed and their old universe disappeared.

The new creative licence is given by the idea that Superman’s villain Brainiac found the Multiverse and begins to bleed universes together. This story arc has been called University so far (written by Grant Morrison) and culminates in a special issue of all 52 comics this month dealing with this earth shattering story. The event will leave the New 52 world mostly in tact, but will allow creators to pull other worlds into their stories and even expand on concepts such as the world with a Russian superman.

Needless to say I am so happy writers will be given creative licence to do what they want. their need to stay “In-Continuity” will be lessened, and we will see a quality of book that has been missing sense the 80’s (at least a quality in the entire line). The New 52 was a great 4 years to get new readers ready, but the new books will hopefully be an exciting avenue to read.

So I encourage you to go out and buy some New 52 books, listen to the DCR Podcast, and get ready for the new line of DC Comics… Because they are going to be fantastic!

Johnny Savage: Content Enthusiast

Map of DC's Mulitiverse as seen in Grant Morrison's Multiversity Comic.
Map of DC’s Mulitiverse as seen in Grant Morrison’s Multiversity Comic.

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