So perhaps I’m a little behind on this, about seven months behind to be precise. But it’s still worth my time to make at least a blanket statement for the New 52.
Originally I was against the idea, despite not being a regular comic reader. I was still following the Batman storylines, and liked where the characters were. I’d gotten attached to Catwoman mostly because I quite enjoyed her series, and I must confess myself to be something of a closet shipper. I enjoyed the relationship between Catwoman and Batman, even though it was clear that there would never be any resolution.
And then the New 52 came along and retconned it all to heck. Now, there are a lot of complaints about certain series in this new lineup, and a lot of complaints about the new universe in general. My opinion on some of the issues isn’t as strong as some, but I do have a beef with certain changes made to the storylines I was invested in.
Batman and Catwoman
The main issue I have here is that the continuity is completely shot. Catwoman no longer knows who Batman is, so I guess Hush never happened. But Damian is still Robin, and that didn’t happen until well after Hush. I guess my problem is that I’m confused about the dynamics of the whole Bat Family. Obviously certain events haven’t happened. But apparently there are things in the past that still count, but I have no idea which ones are still canon and which ones aren’t. The point of this was to give a point of entry for new fans, by removing the years of backstory. But instead all they did was remove some of the backstory and not tell existing fans which backstory still counts.
And of course there is the matter that after the first issue of Catwoman there’s no looking at this relationship without feeling icky. Sure they were sleeping together before the reboot, this was made very clear in some issues of Catwoman’s other series. Except those were much more tactful about it. The whole sex at the end of issue one of the New 52 just makes it feel much dirtier. Which might just be the point, because no one can say that Catwoman isn’t a compelling series. If nothing else, I can’t help but keep read it to see what happens next. The book stands well on its own, and while Selina is a bit more bat-rapey than I remember her, this portrayal of her is strong enough to hold its own book.
What Happens When!?
This is more a general complaint about comics in general, but I have no idea when the different series are happening relative to each other. I can buy that I’m supposed to take each series on its own merits, but in a world where crossovers happen, especially crossovers between books of the same general series (ie/ the Batman books), then it would be nice to be able to understand what story happens when in relation to the others. For example, in issue five of Batman we see Damian tell Gordon to leave the bat-signal on. Is this Damian before or after the events of the current storyline in Batman and Robin? And what about Catwoman’s one panel cameo? Is this before or after she has a falling out with Batman in issue six of Catwoman? I like to understand exactly what is going on, and that’s very hard when I don’t know what’s happening when.
Now the Good Stuff
Those are my only real complaints, or at least the major ones. Now let’s talk about what the New 52 does right. And, well, what they do right is the entire point of why they exist. The reason the entire universe was rebooted was to give new readers a place to start. And while existing fans can complain all they want about how removing the years of backstory isn’t the way to get new readers into comics, let me tell you something as a new reader of American comics.
You are one hundred percent wrong!
There, I said it, the fanboys were wrong. And it isn’t even an issue of the years of backstory. The problem is that it is impossible to go into a comic shop, and just pick up a random issue of a comic series. Am I picking up the beginning of a story, or the middle of one? Forget not knowing about the years that preceded, I won’t even understand the past few months. And even if I do buy that random issue, because I am so confused I stop reading future issues, even though I would eventually get to a new story.
The problem is that nobody wants to start in the middle of a series. You don’t start a new book series by reading the most recent book and hope you understand what happens from then on out. No, you start with the first book in the series and work your way up. The problem with comics is that while you don’t have to start at the very first Batman comic ever published, even when you manage to pick up the first issue in a new storyline, you’re still picking up issue #648. That just doesn’t feel right. You’re not starting at the beginning, you’re still starting at the end. That would be like me picking up a random Wheel of Time book. Sure I may be at the beginning of a new storyline, but what about all the stuff that came before!?
DC’s solution was surprisingly elegant. Rather than convince new readers to start at the very beginning, they employed a bit of psychology. All they needed to do was say, “We’re working with brand new rules” and put the numbering back to number one. And you know what? It worked. Sure I was peeved that what I had read in the past no longer counted, but I still started reading a big bunch of the new series. Mostly I followed the Batman series, but even now, seven months after the launch of the New 52, I’m catching up on other series, like Justice League. Sure I didn’t start reading that series from issue one, but you know what? Six back issues are a lot easier to work through than six hundred.
And when you take into consideration the online hype, mostly negative, but it got people talking about the new series, and this move got people more interested in DC than they’ve been in years. Sure people expected the new series to suck, but we read them anyway, and we were all pleasantly surprised at how many good series have come out of this.
|Rejoice Fanboys! They took her pants away!
So love it, hate it, but as far as I’m concerned, in a world where Marvel has all but driven DC out of the Summer Blockbuster competition, DC needs to do what it takes to stay afloat. While I love the Marvel movies, I have to admit I haven’t read any of their series in forever. DC on the other hand has my loyalty because they own Batman. And they own characters connected to him, which has me reading more and more, to the point where I’m keeping on top of quite a few series by now, none of which I ever would hav considered reading before. The New 52 worked, and while I want some of my old plot threads returned, I can’t help but admit that the reboot was one of the best ideas DC has had in a while.
PS: Where is Power Girl!? I know it may be too comic book nerdy to want the fanservice character with the big tits back, but I enjoyed the first twelve issues of her series dangit! It was fun and lighthearted! And Karen was a fun character to follow! I need my fun dammit!