The New DC?

Outside of Bottom of the Pile (which is two weeks late, shut up I know), I don't really talk about comic books very much.   That's because the industry, unfortunately, rarely says or does anything that catches my attention.   Still, sometimes you get a feeling that you can't shake.   Like lately, DC has been making a ton of new announcements that make me think a lot of the mentality that lead to the words "New 52" becoming cringe-worthy is slowly fading away.

Writer: Tim Seeley (Hack-Slash), Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin (Justice League Dark) 
Relevant Interviews: Newsarama, Comic Book Resources 
Begins: Issue 1 is on stands now.  

It started with Grayson.  While Forever Evil seemed to drag on...well, forever, and was preceded by one of the most depressing theme months I've ever read in my life considering DC's supposed to publish superhero comics, the actual idea behind turning Dick Grayson from Nightwing into a secret agent...was actually not a bad idea.  First off, anything that gets him out of that abominable red costume already gains a few points in my book.  And the Spyral organization that was first mentioned last year in the tail end of Grant Morrison's Batman run was begging to be followed up on.   I mean, think about it: Batman was up against one of the biggest threats of his career, one that quite frankly shat all over the Court of Owls (Aw, you want control of a city?  We want control of the world.), and the bulk of it gets taken down by an organization nobody's ever heard of? 

The Nightwing book was decent enough, but Dick was mostly just spinning his wheels, hanging out in Chicago for seemingly no other reason than "it's not Gotham, and we don't want to bring back Bludhaven yet".   This book inserts some much needed variety into the DC Universe, allowing for some cool spy action in the vein of Checkmate, it's got some disgustingly gorgeous art courtesy of  penciller Mikel Janin, and it injects some fresh ideas into the DCU from a writer who doesn't normally do superhero work, Hack-Slash writer Tim Seeley.   Reviews have the book being pretty good, but I'm still waiting on my copy so I can't speak for myself yet.

Wonder Woman
Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: David Finch
Relevant Interviews: Comic Book Resources
Begins: Wonder Woman #36 in November

If I'm being honest, the Azzarello/Chiang run lost my interest some time around the fourth or fifth issue. Wonder Woman had somehow managed to not be the star in her own book, instead being supplanted by the Greek gods and a woman no one had ever heard of.  The Amazons had been made "realistic", a word that should be anathema to the lore of about 90+% of existing superheroes, and changed from being an enlightened society of scholars, scientists, and warriors that were generations ahead of normal society to becoming barbarians who first tossed their own male children into an ocean, then later sold them into fucking slavery.   Critical acclaim or not, that just wasn't a book for me.

The new run is meant to place Wonder Woman closer to where she should be in my eyes--establishing her place among both her Amazonian sisters and the superheroes.  And I'm definitely looking forward to that, and shaking that Greek god spectre from the book for a few months.  Of course, it's not a guaranteed slam dunk either.  After all, there was the line in that CBR interview David Finch said about Wonder Woman not necessarily being a feminist, which is pretty ignorant because she absolutely fucking should be.   Of course, he's not the writer; his wife is.  But his wife currently is basically known for writing cheesecake-y comics for indie publisher Zenescope.   So there's absolutely the chance for this to turn into a flaming, horrific train wreck of a comic book that figuratively breaks tumblr and all other SJW hotspots in half.

...But we're not to that point yet, and I'm an optimist, so I'll at least give it a try in a couple months. 

Green Arrow
Writer: Andrew Kreisberg (Green Arrow/Black Canary), Ben Sokolowski
Artist: Daniel Sampere (Pandora)
Relevant Interviews: Hero Culture
Begins: Green Arrow #35 in October

From what I understand, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino had created quite the memorable run on Green Arrow for the past couple years.  But being completely honest...Sorrentino's art was a massive turn-off to me when I read the first issue a couple years back.   The characters didn't seem to have eyes and it just felt really...creepy.   So I abandoned the book in the hopes that we'd get a better artist...only to find out everyone else thought it was "artsy" and "unique".   Opinions, I guess.

Anyway, this new book looks to bring Ollie back to the roots of his pre-new 52 character.  A super liberal fighting for the rights of the little man.  Personally, I would've preferred to keep the initial idea behind Oliver in the New 52, basically Steve Jobs if he were an archer, but nobody else liked that so it never stuck.  Knowing that, I'm okay with switching back to the Emerald Archer being basically Michael Moore with a quiver.

The writing pedigree on this is also not quite as solid, but the art's beautiful enough to have piqued my interest and give these two Arrow writers a chance.

Writer: Genevieve Valentine
Artist:Trevor McCarthy
Relevant Interviews: io9
Begins:  Catwoman #35 in October
Catwoman's kind of bounced around aimlessly since the New 52 started.  Classic Daredevil scribe Ann Nocenti has written the character for a few months now, but I never heard any kind of strong reasoning to make me read the book, be it interesting character work or a neat premise or hook to view Selina in a new light.

That's all about to change as novelist Genevieve Valentine takes over the character in October.  Apparently, apart of the fallout of Batman: Eternal will see Catwoman take a spot as one of the major influences in the crime world of Gotham.  The implication is that she's apart of the Falcone family, though don't quote me on that.  Either way?  That's a fucking hook that I can believe in.  And while Ms. Valentine doesn't have the same storied pedigree that Ms. Nocenti has, she's still an experienced writer, and again the new blood is something that's vital at DC, where at one point someone clearly thought it was a good idea to have nearly a fifth of their line being written by Scott Lobdell and Rob Liefeld. 

Writer: Cameron Stewart (Seaguy), Brenden Fletcher (Wednesday Comics)
Artist: Babs Tarr
Relevant Interviews: MTV
Begins: Batgirl #35 in October

I've been a Gail Simone fan since 2006 with One Year Later and her work on both Birds of Prey and later, Wonder Woman.   When it was announced that they were putting Barbara Gordon back in the suit and retconning her paralysis, it was off the strength of Gail Simone's prior work that I decided to try the book...only for the book to depress the hell out of me.  Relentlessly grim and seemingly designed mostly to see how many horrible situations they could put Barbara in without her going insane or becoming a villain much like the ones she fights, I bailed out about a year and a half ago.

So it's a good sign that the new creative team is acknowledging this and making a conscious effort to bring changes about in Babs' life.  I'm a sucker for creative teams that play up the pop art elements of superhero comics, and even moreso when they try to make existing superhero costumes fashionable, so I'm actually in love with the new costume.  It looks cool and "hip", and while logically it doesn't make sense that she'd "build" an outfit from department stores rather than just getting WayneTech to whip up something that looks identical but has far better protection, poking holes in comic book logic is kinda like doing the same in swiss cheese: it's redundant, and you're ruining everyone's good time putting your grubby hands everywhere.

Writer: Grant Morrison 
Artist: Various (Including Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and more)
Begins: Multiversity #1 in August 

Multiversity is the fruit of a seed planted nearly a decade prior in DC Comics' explosive hit weekly series, 52.   The promise of allowing fans to learn about the multitude of universes that were created in the aftermath of that book was initially meant to be paid off right after the book finished by all four writers.  However, Grant Morrison has been left as the lone 52 scribe to bring us tales of the many brave new worlds.   Now, Grant's a pretty polarizing guy--many claim he's just a hack who's a lot less clever than he thinks he is.  Others see him as a visionary genius who tosses more ideas and concepts at his readers in one arc than most do in their entire run. 

I'm in the second camp.  Multiversity has had me hyped from day one.  I'm expecting distinctly different, new worlds packed with brain-meltingly genius ideas that could inspire brand-new ongoings just from single one-shots.  I'm expecting to question the nature of superhero fiction itself as Grant so often tends to make me do.    And mostly I'm just happy to finally have the damn thing out so I can stop hearing people ask about it at cons.

The New 52 has been quite a bumpy ride so far.  Between the ultra-violence and glossy covers that convinced people DC was trying to revive the worst part of the 90's, to the idiotic editorial edicts that made it impossible for any hero to get married in a fruitless attempt to make all of them seem "young", to the sheer lack of available talent at launch that lead to a ton of books being staffed by the same people, they've had a tough time righting the ship.    But it's looking more and more like they're putting in the work to get it done and bring DC's comics up to where they should be, instead of letting the (in my own opinion) far superior Marvel NOW continue to stomp them into the pavement.  It'll be next year before we know for sure, but I'm more confident in DC now than I've been in years.  Now if they can just get their movies right...



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