The New 52 Has Failed by Jesse Berberich

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 RobinNightwing, 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.


  1. says

    Jesse- thank you for the high praise and for your article! It was AMAZING! I’m glad that I inspired you to write this because there are a lot of folks who HATE the new 52 and haven’t been able to voice their opinions. The only way we will get our DCU back is by making it clear: WE HATE THE REBOOT!!!!

  2. Gary says

    Excellent commentary as to why the new DC Comics sucks.I’ve been a DC Comics fan since 1977,and I’ve NEVER seen it so bad.I read Green Lantern,Detective Comics,Nightwing,and Batman.The rest ? Garbage….and I desperately wanted to like The Flash…but let’s face it,Wally West is more interesting.If something is not done soon it’s going to get a lot worse sales wise..

    • Jesse says

      I agree with you about Wally West being the better Flash. As I said in my article, there are a lot of people like you and I who are not happy with the New 52. I think there will be more and more people as the interest and freshness of the reboot wears off even more.

  3. says

    I’d find this article a lot more credible if you were to address some of the specific problems. “poorly written” can mean a lot of things. What are the specific issues that you have with the way the stories are constructed?

    Respect the opinion, but it needs fleshing out to have real strength to it.

    • Jesse says

      I will try to do more with future articles, especially opinion pieces. Thank you for your criticism. In fact, I’m now outlining a follow-up to this article where I’ll tackle some of the issues I have with the writing of specific New 52 titles, prompted by your suggestions.

  4. WDH says

    I used to write a comic book once upon in the early to mid 90′s and I can tell you that things like these reboots and the complete nonsense and lack of respect for the fanbase are the reasons I stopped writing and even having anything to do with the comic book industry.
    Here’s something to ponder…the majority of writers in the comic book industry, epsecially currently, are either failed or aspiring writers in other genres, e.g. mark waid when I wrote was coming off some shite sci fi show and I specifically recall him saying something to the effect of at least comic book writing pays the bills.
    Most of these people have little to no respect for the characters or their rich history, a history that generations have connected with and use to connect with one another. It’s almost as though these writers have disdain that they’ve been (at least in their perception) relegated to writing comic books. On top of that, they view the writers who do have respect and love for the characters as idiotic or idealistic/simple and not having ambition.
    How many times have you seen these reboots and retcons where the characters are just treated as vehicles for some political or social commentary by the writer? Or think about this…if you were just reading a script without being able to see the characters names and minus the catchphrases, would you, as a reader, be able to tell the characters apart? Doesn’t that insult your intelligence? Doesn’t that do a great disservice to both the character and the reader? That this person, paid to work in an industry and on a character that you might LOVE, is not even given the god damn common courtesy of acting in the way he/she is supposed to?
    Comics have always worked best in terms of stories that were consistent with a characters archetypal behavior pattern. Where you could tell that Batman was Batman and you knew where he stood on things, for example, we all know that Superman is a good man, he doesn’t feel alienated, why would he? He was raised as an American, by Americans, and by good hearted people. There is zero chance that Superman would behave like he does in the reboot, because it doesn’t make any sense that he would. DC is laughing at you right now, they do it all the time. These editors, writers, and companies only want your money. These properties are nothing more than licensing vehicles for movies,games, toys, and other shit to slap a logo on. They don’t mean anything anymore outside of movies because at least there they get some respect, because the general viewing audience would reject anything that was as idiotic and out of touch as the comic book medium is. And it’s been that way for the last twenty years. Now I’m not saying that there haven’t been good stories or entertaining books, of course there are, but these succeed in spite of themselves and have to be viewed as the exception and not the rule. My kids and nieces love superheroes, but they have no desire to collect comic books, because anytime they’ve picked up a comic book, it insults their intelligence, because the characters aren’t behaving in character and the storylines are convoluted messes.
    The way to solve the whole mess is very simple. Just don’t buy their books anymore. Send a letter to the editor telling them why you don’t buy their books. Organize into groups and spread that message. Support smaller books with artists and writers who actually give a damn about their audience, because it should be abundantly clear by now that none of the big industry giants care about anything other than selling things, and they know, for a fact, that if they slap Number One on an issue with a well known character that people will buy it…..unless they don’t…..

    • says

      Based on some quick research, I think I’ve probably figured out who you are.

      That said, do you not think, as archetypes, that these characters do need to be refreshed every couple of generations to ensure that they remain relevant to the people reading them?

      I’ve been wondering lately whether or not Captain America will continue to have the same clout among comic book fans when the first generation that never spoke to a WWII vet in person begins their time as comic readers.

  5. phil says

    did you even read aquaman or swampthing or wonderwomen ??? those are the 3 best books right now in the new 52 including the ones you listed

  6. Anthony says

    i absolutely agree. most of the new 52 titles are going to the toilet and is failing. Of all the reboots, this is THE by far, the most alienating. most disrespectful reboot i have ever seen. It is messed up in too many ways, it’s not even funny. i hope when this new 52 would go down so damn bad, they would have no choice but to find someway, somehow, to bring back the real DC heroes. I don’t care what other’s say, the DC universe isn’t the DC comics without the real heroes.
    At this point, I actually miss them.

    And for those who feel the same way, come and join us here in this group

  7. Terry Webster says

    I am and always will be a follower of “comics, graphic novels etc ” or whatever they are called, just depends on what is trendy at the time. To me they are comics plain and simple. Growing up they were a release from normal day things – an escape to magical places ( how corny I know ) but as a child that is what they were to me. I remember the innocence of those days when the world was or so it seems simpler and throwing on a bright gaudy costume was heroic as you went of to fight the bad guys with a punch on the nose WHAMM! BIFF!. Its a different world now where my heroes shoot, maim and in disturbingly realistic ways destroy the baddies. I no longer have my Golden Age characters and familiar Silver age heroes – my Legion is gone and so is my Black Canary – The Trinity of Batman Superman & Wonder Woman are unrecognisable and Earth 2 has transformed into strangers. It’s not as if I am not used to change as the world of DC seems to change at an alarming rate REBOOT here REBOOT there every where a REBOOT but for me I missed my childhood friends and know I wont see them again R.I.P.

  8. naes says

    It is sad but true but comic books just aren’t fun anymore. I’ve read a lot of the new 52 Batman and Batman Family titles and they are just a slog to read through. The art is good but is all either Jim Lee or a Jim Lee clone. The stories are all so mean-spirited and cynically violent. I’m not a prude but I’m sick of seeing half-skinned dead bodies or joker’s cut-off face or whatever “edgy” thing they can come up this month. Batman himself is written as a jerk to his friends and allies. We’ve already seen jerkwad Batman in Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Bruce Wayne: Murderer and other storylines I’m sure I’m missing. I’m sick of this. It’s a replacement for real character development. BTAS and the Nolan films easily have better characterization than the comics. None of the good guys are particularly likeable or interesting.
    The comic book industry is in terminal decline and the new 52 does nothing to address the overall problems with the industry. Don’t believe me? Study the sales charts over the past several years. Here’s my list of some of the issues this industry needs to address but NEVER will out of stupidity or pride:
    1 less bang for our buck. Comic prices have far outstripped inflation. A $3 or $4 price point is a lot to ask especially when you’re not even giving me much story content.
    2 Comics are now written for 40 year old men and not for kids/young teens. Kids buy millions of pokemon cards and junk like that but why aren’t kids buying comics? Answer: They make comics as hostile to younger people as possible. Then when kids don’t buy comics they focus on selling 10 variant covers to the 40 year old fan boy. Instead of growing their audience, it shrinks a little every year and you can look at sales figures to confirm this. They don’t have to be written for babies but find a happy-medium between the 2 extremes.
    3 Writers writing for the trade. Stories are so diffused that it is possible to buy a comic book like Batman #1 where literally nothing happens. Comics are serialized storytelling or are supposed to be. If you want to write a TPB then write one but don’t waste my time with your setting up chapter one of your trade. Compare Batman #1 from 1940 (where you get your 10 cents worth) to Batman #1 of the new 52 (nothing happens).
    4 Too many titles results in consumer confusion. Just what is the difference between Batman and Batman: the Dark Knight and Detective comics? Market Studies have shown when consumers are given too many options for a product they end up not buying any. I imagine the same thing is going on when there are so many volumes of Captain America no new reader would know where to start. It is kind of absurd of fanboys to expect “outsiders” to have to do a bunch of research just to get started. God forbid the hobby expands to new audiences.
    5 Keep your politics out your comics. I guess I’m more sensitive than other readers since I’m a Republican (OMG I must be evil or stupid!!!!). It makes no sense to go out of your way to alienate half of your audience. Apparently the new Green Lantern is falsely accused of terrorism.
    DC WRITERS MEETING: “Don’t you see the important social commentary?! Anyone? Post-9/11 anti-Arab hysteria? See what we’re doing? It’s relevant! Patriot Act! Hey, why does the 2nd issue have a 60% drop in sales? Oh man we got cancelled after 10 issues. Probably because society is not ready for the truth we’re giving them! Bunch of Bigots!” GROAN. I could point to 100 examples but all I’m saying to comic book writers is if you don’t want my evil blood money then keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll take my money elsewhere. Same reason I don’t go to Sean Penn movies.
    6 The new 52 has been good as far as getting books out on time. That’s a good thing. Getting books out on time kills story momentum. A lot of times it’s because these companies get some “celebrity” writer or artist who isn’t accountable for his/her work product. (cough paging Kevin Smith, JMS?, Frank Miller?) Hopefully, DC can continue this.
    7 Mega-super-uber-universe shattering events!!! Nothing is ever going to be the same again! Marvel is the WORST at this. Civil War, Secret Invasion, AVX- give me a break. The new 52 has kept these mega events to a minimum but it’s still early (Court of Owls didn’t make the DC universe drop everything- just the Bat titles. So it was more mildly annoying as opposed to really annoying) These events have actually gotten bigger in terms of # of issues involved since the crash of the industry in the 90s and companies rely on these as revenue generators more than ever.
    8 Piracy. Not their fault but crippling longterm.
    9 Failure to leverage movie success into comic book sales. We just got done with the most lucrative comic book summer ever at the movies and it won’t translate into any measurable increase in comic sales. How is this possible? Maybe the 8 points above are a hint.

    It is obvious they don’t make comics for me anymore but the real question is how do they sustain an industry with a steadily deteriorating audience?

  9. KIndoalkun says

    Though the opinions in the article are well-stated, I have to point out this: SOMEBODY is paying lots of money for TONS of copies of at least more than half of the 52’s…which leads me to conclude that a great number of people actually really like em. And compared to the quagmire of years of overlapping storylines and a refusal to “reboot” that has made most Marvel stuff unenjoyable (Tony Stark was REALLY in Vietnam?!? Or the FF launched their ship during the 60’s Space Race….riiiiiiight)….the 52’s are at the very least a stab at being fresh and devoid of “staleness.”

  10. Sandra says

    Hey, I agree with you on a lot of this and I also know this was written a few months back, but have you checked out Batwoman? It’s actually my favorite line from the New 52 and I think it’s going pretty strong. I was hesitant to read it at first because I just thought I didn’t need to be reading another bat title, but it has in my opinion, a strong story and the best art I’ve seen so far for anything from the New 52.

  11. Anthony says

    Slowly, but surely, they are getting the message!
    Yeah, I agree, this new 52 is failing a lot!
    and it has ruined and alienated my favorite DC characters, even my wonder woman, batman and superman, no thanks to Dan Didio, who is an asshole and has no respect for the characters and does not care about the fans and because of all that, I will never forgive him for it, let alone taking away of what I held dear to my heart since I was growing up and inspired by, before that schmuck came along and decided to turn the DCU into something it ISN’T. Out of all the “reboots”, i have never seen anything more disrespecting in my life.
    It’s messed up in so many damn ways, it’s not even damn funny. At this point, i actually mis the real DCU. I WANT BACK MY REAL DC HEROES!!!!

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