The New 52, Corrected: Final Thoughts
I'm writing this ahead of time because I have been inspired. By the time you read this, I will have finished The New 52, Corrected project and will have moved on to working on Alpha Squad. You'll hear more about that later, I hope. Right now I'm several days behind and kinda yelling at myself for spending more time with my friends than I have working on my craft. My apologies for that.
I digress. The point of New 52, Corrected (from henceforth known as N52C) was to jettison some of the ideas I feel haven't worked as well as either I (or DC in some cases) wanted. A kind of "fantasy football" where I turned the clock back on the DC Universe to a time period where I was excited every week to read their comics. But on some level, maybe that's the problem: the idea of turning the clock back. It's physically possible to do so, but in reality it does nothing: All you did was make a clock that can't tell time, which is basically just a shitty clock. Metaphorically, this is somewhat what DC has done for itself. Full of unnecessary costume changes and "EXTREME" characters, they've turned the clock back to the 90's in so many ways. Though unfortunately it is *not* the 90's where comics like Starman, Chuck Dixon's Robin, Grant Morrison's JLA, and other amazing comics resided.
In a way, N52C was my way of doing the same thing: I wanted to turn the clock back, just not as much. I wanted to turn the clock back to the 2004-2009 era. The era of plot-driven, "planned" comics. Where both DC AND Marvel always had a vast plan that seemed to include any and every comic that didn't have either strong enough sales or a strong creative vision that the fans and editors alike didn't care to de-rail. (And sometimes even those ended up involved.) I enjoyed that era because everything seemed to be "going" somewhere, and I was always trying to figure out what the next big plan was for DC.
But as I sit here, having just read a wonderful set of character biographies from the so-talented-I'm-actually-jealous Kieron Gillen for his new book Young Avengers, I wonder if I'm going about things the wrong way. It's not 2004-2009 anymore. And as I said, while you can physically turn a clock back, time hasn't actually returned to what you set it to, you just made a shitty clock. And DC has attempted to go back to the 90's but in reality they've just made a lot of comics that simply don't touch base with people anymore. It's a new time, and a new era. As I sit here enjoying far more Marvel NOW comics than I do DC, I realize most of them don't have a giant plan (except Hickman's excellent Avengers/New Avengers books), they're just focusing on telling the best stories that can around the characters they have. And that's what reality is now: strong, character-based stories. Waid's Daredevil. Gillen's Iron Man. Fraction's Hawkeye. Bucellato/Manapul's Flash. (Look, I found a DC Comic like this! Amazing!) These are the superhero comics that rival some of the much-lauded independent books that are on comic stands today.
And DC, to some extent, is trying to move in that direction as well. The problem is, there's no "voice" to so many of their comics. They all read the same, and despite their universal relaunch over sixteen months ago, I know way too little about far too many of their characters. There's no real excuse for this--you can say it's got to do with mass media branding or whatever, but the reality is Marvel has finished their first lap with the launch of Avengers and are working on their second this year with Iron Man 3, while DC acts like the gun just went off with Superman: Man of Steel. Sure Warner Bros' owns DC, but Disney owns Marvel and in my opinion their comics have only gotten better. No matter how you look at it, this is down to editorial leadership and fiat. The writers aren't writing the stories, they're just fleshing out outlines that were created by higher-ups. Instead of strong, character-based stories we get gimmicks like Zero Month and WTF Gatefold Covers. (What's sad is DC did things like this not too long ago, but it worked out better then. Origins and Omens was much cooler than Zero Month.)
I look forward to the day that the creative pendulum swings back in DC's favor, and they produce the strong storylines I know they are capable of, drawing me back into their entire universe. I know I'm not the only person with the problem, and until then I can only offer this one bit of advice: Read what you like.