Thursday, September 15, 2011

More New DC

Well, against my better judgment, I ended up looking at more of the nu-52, and I can't say I'm impressed. Maybe it's because I've been reading a lot of really good DC Comics from the seventies lately, but I just generally can't stand the way comics are right now. Remember when DC Comics got way too grim and gritty? They're beyond grim and gritty now. They're into sadism, and into this weird idea that not giving a shit about violence is slick and cool. Oh, and attitude. Everyone has a smug 'tude. It's like DC went back to the 90s, previously the worst period in comics, and decided to keep the smugness and forced cool and up the violence. Apparently it's anathema right now at DC to think that comics should be fun, or even readable.


Here's what I've attempted to wrap my brain around so far.

THE GOOD:

Ummmmmmm.

Okay, I sort of liked Swamp Thing #1. It's nice that DC remembered that Swamp Thing is supposed to be a horror comic. What I didn't like was the pacing. Mostly what happens is that Alec Holland just talks to us in narration about being turned into Swamp Thing--once again, relying on our previous knowledge of the character instead of reintroducing him in, say, a reboot fashion--and has a conversation with Superman, and then has a nightmare about Swamp Thing. That's it. Something that Neil Gaiman could probably have handled in four pages now takes an entire issue. That's part of the problem with nu-52; the pacing of every book is incredibly slow because they're basically just setting up issue number 5. It's all set-up, no story. Story went into the same bin as fun.

Also, this:

No one is ever going to be able to draw Superman's military dress uniform in a way that's appealing to me at all. It's just not going to happen. And, honestly, I resent Superman's appearance in this issue. DC is way too concerned with drawing up a continuity and forcing you to remember that this is all taking place in the same universe but in one of three or so possible time periods. Already, the continuity-obsessed cracks are showing.

I might read a second issue, just because the character and premise have always had such potential, but if it's going to keep forcing us into the heart of the DC nu-niverse, I'm going to get bored fast. There is no story being told in this issue whatsoever. Just tell me a freaking story!

Also, I kinda sorta almost liked Batwing #1. It's potentially interesting, but the execution is pretty boring. Once again, they're taking the long way 'round the barn as far as introducing a character and telling a story. There was a time when a single issue of a comic could do both. That time is a faded memory at DC.

THE BAD:

The Adam Hughes cover of Batgirl #1 was the only thing I liked about this comic. And if you know how little regard I hold Adam Hughes in, you know that's saying something. Otherwise, it's a complete disappointment. It doesn't justify taking Barbara out of the wheelchair, and it's surprisingly hacky and apologetic for something written by Gail Simone.

Green Arrow #1 was virtually unreadable. They just make Green Arrow into a douche and take the costume from Smallville and applaud themselves: reboot done.

I didn't like Men at War #1 a whole hell of a lot, either; I'm willing to accept a Sgt. Rock who's the grandson of the original Sgt. Rock, and I like the idea that we're seeing how the military has to change in a world with superheroes, but the whole thing reads like James Cameron fan fiction. Garth Ennis could write the hell out of this book. Larry Hama could've done an excellent job with it. As it stands, it's not worth the time.

I think a major part of the problem here is that DC wants to pretend it's having this bold new beginning, but none of the writers feel like they can make this big, universe-shaking splash with their characters. Everything feels tentative and held back, like no one knows what it's okay to try and do yet.

Also, the much-lauded Animal Man #1 did nothing for me. Interesting shot on the last page, but I didn't care one whit about the character. I do think it's nice that at least someone in the nu-niverse got to remain married and have a family, but I just wasn't interested enough to read a second issue.

THE UGLY:

They should just change the name of Detective Comics to Sadism Comics right now. I didn't expect much from this comic with Tony Daniel writing and drawing--he's terrible at both--but I saw a lot less detecting than I did sick violence. This book sucks, big time. There's nothing redeeming about it. And there's nothing new about it. This is the same Batman as ever, with the same hokey, stupid, testosterone-infused lines: "I own the night," "I am Gotham." Boring.

You know, I just don't care about Batman anymore. This character's done. There's nothing new you can do with him. It's the same story every time, only we're back to Batman wasting time fighting cops because, you know, the only way to preserve law and order is to break the law at every opportunity. Don't give me this crap about justice, because Batman's not interested in anything but punishing the world for killing his parents. He's just a criminal who gets off on punching people. Same old, same old.

After years of tapdancing around it, they've gone and made the Joker into a total sadist. He's not a criminal anymore, he's just some psychopath who goes around stabbing people repeatedly. Boring. Boring and tedious and disgusting. And this little waltz is a pointless read, because it's the same pattern as always. What a waste of a book.

Oh, but Jim Gordon's hair is red now. Reboot!

Also, Static Shock #1 was so bad that I couldn't even finish reading it. Not only was Static's attitude just over-the-top smarmy, but I could barely even tell what was going on. Badly-written, badly-laid out. Just a terrible comic.

THE UNREAD:

I didn't bother with Stormwatch because I never liked those guys in the first place and they don't really make sense as part of the DCU when you've already got the Justice League hanging around (and hey, don't hold your breath waiting for Apollo and the Midnighter to come out, you'll hurt yourself). I didn't bother with Justice League International, either, because I have good memories of the Keith Giffen-era that I don't want tainted with this slick bullshit version of the DCU. My love for Giffen, however, did not compel me to read OMAC, because I just finished reading Jack Kirby's OMAC and loved it, and don't feel the need to see the character as part of the DC nu-niverse. If it ain't Kirby, I don't care.

Oh, and Hawk and Dove? Life is way too fucking short to subject my eyes to anymore of Rob Liefeld's poor excuse for art. I'd rather read a comic drawn by forgery conman extraordinaire Rob Granito.

AND THE JUSTICE LEAGUE:

Well. Here we are.

I didn't think it was as bad as everyone said it was. Oh, it was bad, and poorly written, but it wasn't the affront that a lot of people felt it was. Was it good? Not by any stretch. Again, we're getting the whole thing dragged out, and every character is annoyingly too-cool-for-school (with, of course, the "I love him because he's just an ordinary guy" Batman placed as the coolest of them all, because somehow his being a guy with no powers makes him able to take off Green Lantern's ring without him realizing it, because being a guy with no powers and a superior physique and a limitless supply of money embezzled from your own corporation also gives you magic). Writers like Geoff Johns make it hard to believe that there was once a time in comic books when someone could write a whole Marvel Team-Up without needing two issues to introduce Spider-Man and his guest star before getting to the damn story.

Also, you're just never going to convince me that Jim Lee is a great artist.

Never bought that one for a second. I mean, sure, if you consider a lot of extraneous line detail great art, I can see why he'd do it for you, but I've just never seen what's so great about the guy.

Anyway, I'll probably read the first storyline, just because I am curious to see how they introduce Wonder Woman and the Flash and Aquaman to the gang. But I'm not seeing an epic here. This is nothing monumental. As an introduction to a rebooted comic book universe--a universe where none of the characters know each other yet and none of the old stories count because none of them ever happened--it's not really very exciting. It doesn't grab hold of you the way you want it to. It's just there, and it's fairly enjoyable as a third-rate JL story (which is the best we can hope for from DC these days).

Frankly, I've never been a huge fan of the Justice League as an ongoing series. It doesn't make sense to me. There aren't enough epic threats to the planet to justify it, which is why they always have to add a bunch of side characters to make us believe that, when Batman and Superman are busy, Vibe and Vixen and Steel and Zauriel are really the best heroes the planet has to offer. It seems more like you'd want to save it up and do a Justice League miniseries or prestige one-shot or something, to make it really big and special. It should be an event when these guys all team up, not just another Wednesday.

And honestly? I miss Plastic Man. I know Plastic Man isn't cool or dark or sadistic, but I love him. He's the kind of fun you can count on not being a part of this whole reboot enterprise.

Meh. Like I said, I'll probably read through the first storyline. And I'll probably read the second issues of Swamp Thing and Batwing, but I'm not excited for them. I'm not excited by any of this. It's more of a desperate attempt to make DC Comics relevant again and save a sinking line than it is a reboot.

I'm more convinced than ever that DC Comics are over.

Guess I'll see what this week brings...

4 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Funny we can all have different opinions on things. I actually liked the Justice League issue.

I do get what you are saying about set up, set up, set up. No more are there self-contained issues, you know? It's always part of something else. Maybe that's part of what makes it hard to get new readers in.

The old days, you could pick up any comic and enjoy a good read and move on. Now, you have to commit.

But, I am staying positive. Still jazzed for this reboot. :)

Drake said...

I am so sad and angry how DC has just taken the life out my favorite characters of all time. Like you said Batman is dead now, Superman is just crap now. I've never been a MArvel fan except for Iron Man and Daredevil and ok Spidey was cool once but they screwed them up big time and seems DC has to follow this course.

Lee said...

Like Joe I also enjoyed JL and I'm glad they'll take their time introducing everyone. I am okay with the set up but I think they should do a lot more one shots (probably even outside the monthly). Marvel does the same thing just as poorly - only look at Fantastic Four for that illustrated.

The continuity pushing they're doing falls down a lot, I don't think that it makes a lot of sense especially when the Bat books get thrown into the mix.

I also liked Animal Man though - found it interesting. Ressurection Man was the winner for me this week.

John Seven said...

Frankenstein was hands down my favorite. The only one I truly liked. I also enjoyed Demon Knights. And actually did enjoy Stormwatch - totally unfamiliar with the characters. And Grifter had potential. But mostly these are poorly written books.