I was prompted to write this by Gregory B. Gonzalez’s article, Superman Sucks!. Gonzalez talked about how he disagrees with what he considers to be DC Comics’ mistreatment of Superman, the most iconic character in all of comics, since their line-wide reboot known as the New 52, which took place last summer. I wanted to build upon this and add my point of view to it as someone who was not a big fan of DC before the reboot and as someone who has been disappointed.
As I said, I was not much of a fan of DC Comics before the New 52. I’ve always been a Marvel zombie, and I’m usually more interested in independent stuff from Image, IDW, and Dark Horse than DC. The only characters that I ever followed from DC were Batman and Superman. Unfortunately, DC never released a book that really interested me. I didn’t like what was going on in the Superman books. I detested Grant Morrison’s take on Batman, and that’s putting it lightly. I’ve had passing interests in other DC characters, but I was usually met with with tough to penetrate continuity (Green Lantern) or no current on-going or mini-series to test the waters with (Animal Man) when I attempted to pursue these interests. Adding all this together and that leaves me picking up only ONE single DC title: Detective Comics, written by Scott Snyder (current Batman writer) with amazing art by Jock and Francesco Francavilla.
Then, the reboot was announced. People were excited by this. Some called it a bold, game-changing move by DC. I myself found myself thinking that maybe now was the time to expand my DC Comics horizons. In a matter of weeks, after the New 52’s debut, I went from reading one DC title to 22. However, as soon as next month’s #2’s started coming out, I immediately began to notice cracks in many of many of the books’ quality and my enjoyment of them. I then went from 22 DC pulls to 7, which included: Batman, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Justice League, Action Comics, Animal Man, and the Flash. The problem remained, though, of faltering quality in the majority of these remaining titles that I was regularly spending money on. I also noticed other people beginning to question DC titles they were picking up.
Over the next few months, the praise that we all initially heard for the New 52 dwindled down to only praise for a handful of titles, which, if I’m not mistaken, was more or less the problem many people had before the reboot. It’s true that sales remain strong, and they still are, but I’ve seen what titles are the best-selling in DC, and I’m going to say that the majority of the books that are selling well are doing so not because of content, because then Animal Man would have a spot there (it doesn’t), but because of recognizably. Batman: The Dark Knight, from day one, has been UNIVERSALLY panned as a terrible strip, and yet, it has done better numbers than far better comics. In my opinion, Action Comics is an uninteresting, poorly-written (by Grant fucking Morrison), over-priced comic that hasn’t been able to keep a regular artist for since its first issue. It shouldn’t be in the top 10 on a list of best selling comics for the month. It has remained there since issue 1.
I’m not here to talk about sales, though. I’m concerned with content, and I’ve gotta say, it has plummeted. I’m only picking up three books from DC at the moment: Batman, Nightwing, and Animal Man. Every other title, in my opinion, has failed to live up to the initial hype. Some of these books of have been plagued with creative team issues like constant fill-in artists as well as permanent change in creators. Most have fallen to decline in story quality. I’m not sure what the reason is either. I have theories, such as perhaps DC’s commitment to shipping all their comics on time is putting a strain on creators that otherwise might put out better books. Me personally, I don’t care if a comic is a little late. I know how long it takes to finish work, unless you want to put out garbage that disrespects the readers who are spending hard earned money to read it.
The New 52 promised a fresh, new universe for new readers and innovation for old ones. It promised amazing stories and jaw dropping entertainment. I don’t believe DC has succeeded. They’re losing readers everyday, and they’re close to losing me. I feel bad for people like Gregory B. Gonzalez who feel as though their favorite characters are being disrespected and ill-used by DC. I feel bad for DC Comics, too, for not being able to utilize their impressive roster of talent and deliver on the promises they made before August of last summer on a line-wide scale rather than just on a limited number of comics. In a time where the future of the comics medium is called into question every single day, comics fans and the individuals who work hard to produce them for a living can’t afford to have a major company like DC falter like, in my opinion at least, they have after close to a year of the New 52.