Comic Books: “The New 52”

Benjamin Peterson

As of this month (June, 2015) “DC Comics” has ended their line-wide relaunch in favor of another new relaunch of their popular characters. No, everything isn’t starting over again and books won’t be reverting back to #1’s, but it is notable to recognize that a generation of comic storytelling is now at a close.

As briefly spoken on in a previous Post, in 2011, “The New 52” was ‘DC Comics” forgoing ‘most’ of their characters previous continuity in favor of starting it again from scratch. This was made in order to bring in new readers who may have been intimidated by the loads of stories that came with every character, with issue numbers reaching over ‘900.’

Convergence” was an event that relaunched the “DC Universe” this past May, essentially bringing back old continuity into the modern day one, thus spinning the world of heroes on its head once again. Confusing as it may be, this is a good thing- all new jumping-on points have presented themselves to new readers, allowing anyone to hop onto a new or old book without having to know any prerequisite knowledge.

With “The New 52” at an end, looking back, there were many amazing things about this relaunch- it brought about the largest resurgence of revenue and consumers to the market for over twenty years, and had a sales-pitch that was later used by other companies, such as “Marvel” and “Valiant.”

However, with everything, there are ups and downs. “The New 52” was no exception. Here are some of the great things the “52” brought to the fans and some of the worst.

The Good

More new fans than ever were brought into buying and collecting comics for the first time and casual buyers were inspired to become regulars. This initiation skyrocketed sales, which were extremely low during this period.

Characters were given amazing revamps, becoming some of the highest selling comics in the business. Heroes like “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman,” who had never had award-winning books, became “New York Times: Best Seller’s.”

Creative teams, such as “Geoff Johns” and “Jim Lee,” and “Scott Snyder” with “Greg Capullo” brought about some of the best comic storylines since the 80’s, producing books that were at the top of the charts for months.

The Bat Family was given an astounding amount of attention, focusing on new and relatable characters that drove not only “Batman,” “Batgirl,” and others, but the popularity of “The New 52” as a whole.

Diversity was definitely the most important thing “52” did. It was finally placed in comics in the way that it should- naturally. Characters of ethnic backgrounds- “Vibe,” “Katana,” and “Batwing” to name a few- were brought to the foreground, making the “DC Universe” more relatable to a broader audience. Homosexual characters were introduced in a way that didn’t seem like the writers were doing it just to be ‘PC,’ it felt simply natural, like it should be. “Green Lantern” (of ‘Earth 2’) was a homosexual male, and “Batwoman,” the first outright homosexual character to ever have their own starring title, proposed to her girlfriend.

The Bad

Many books didn’t last long in their run-time, lasting only a few issues if the sales for that book were low. Books like “Static Shock” and “Blue Beetle” were cancelled due to either poor ratings or underperforming (‘Static’ being poor and ‘Beetle’ being underrated, which is truly a shame.) This would be fine, if “DC” didn’t simply replace them with another book that undersold as well.

Weird Continuity ran amuck in the “DC Universe,” leaving fans to guess whether events, such as “Superman’s” death, were still canon, with some books stating that it was, while others did not.

Old fans lost their continuity all together, with their collections of old comic stories being made insignificant. This was a huge stressor for some comic collectors, causing “DC” to lose quite a bit of its loyal fan-base.

Release errors occurred frequently with many titles, causing some fans to wait months for the next issue of a book, such and the amazing “Superman: Unchained,” to be released.

Poor treatment of “Superman” may perhaps be “The New 52’s” greatest sin. Continuity errors existed in almost every one of his books, along with constantly changing creative teams due to strict editors not giving writers the freedom to do with the character what they wanted. The “Superman” line of books, including “Superboy” and “Supergirl” were pretty much all ignored, even with “DC” releasing amazing ‘event’ books, such as “Doomed,” and the previously mentioned “Unchained,” towards the end of “The New 52’s” lifetime. “Superman’s” darker and more naïve demeanor drew many people away from him as well. In fact, in 2013, “Superman” had killed three characters- two in the comics and one in the “Man of Steel” film. That’s not very “Superman-ey.”

All-in-all, “The New 52” brought comics back from the brink, and allowed new and old readers alike a fresh start in the “DC Universe.” And, even at its end, it has brought fans another jumping-on point, and another chance to get hooked.

Some recommended “52” reading

–       Batman

–       Action Comics

–       Green Lantern

–       Justice League

–       Wonder Woman

–       Aquaman

–       The Flash

–       Talon

–       Animal Man

–       Nightwing

–       Batwoman

–       All-Star Western  

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