The Old 52

With the most recent announcement that 4 original DC titles are getting the ax (Superboy, Birds of Prey, Batwing, and All-Star Western) in August, the remains of the “New” 52 are all but gone. Of all the books DC publishes now, only 21 original titles remain. That’s less than half of the books that were launched. While their are exceptions (Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are getting relaunched, JLI was scrubbed for story purposes, etc) it is still rather alarming to think that the original New 52 has dwindled this far. While DC has added¬†solid replacements such as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn, those serve as the exceptions to DC’s line. The ongoing series’ and the once that have survived are the 21 I have noted above. Of all the books launched to replace books, very few of them exist. Of the Second Wave only Earth 2 survives, with Worlds Finest now joining Batman Inc, Dial H, The Ravagers, and GI Combat. Of the Third Wave, we Phantom Stranger is joining Talon, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7. The next few launched were JLA and Katana, also now gone.

While I will give DC credit for trying new things, with only 23 books on the shelf that have proved to be tried and true, a problem has emerged. Only time can tell if some of DC’s more recent gambits such as JLU, Infinity Man, Constantine, JL 300, and the Superman-Batman/Wonder Woman books will test as well as Earth 2 and Harley Quinn have thus far. To truly succeed and gain back market share, DC is going to need to be bold, but also smart. I posted previously how I felt Marvel’s Hawkeye strategy was effective, and should be emulated. DC needs some help adding titles that can survive in the long run. And with characters like Cyborg, Captain Marvel, and even Lex Luthor gaining increased popularity, DC has the characters to do it. Once again, I’m all for them trying new and bold things, but they need to balance that with books that can and will sell. I may not know exactly what those books look like, but I’m pretty sure all of us out there have many ideas that DC could utilize. For that we’ll have to wait and see what we get to replace these books come October.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What do you think DC has done right and how do you think they could improve for the future?

Until the next time, Rn

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Live and Let Die

Now that I’ve spent some time covering why all I got out of reading and blogging, lets discuss some current events. Today’s topic in particular are the announced titles being cancelled from DC and the impending launches to go with it.

We already knew that Teen Titans was getting scrubbed, yet there was more shocking news of cancellations to go along with that. The most shocking and perhaps most horrifying to comic fans is the cancellation of Nightwing. One of DC’s most consistent and better sold books, something is definitely going on with the character to drive the cancellation of his book. Either he’s changing face and name to try to protect himself after Forever Evil or he isn’t making it out of Forever Evil (but I’ll discuss more on that at a later date).

The other books were predictable. Both Stormwatch and Suicide Squad had been given new creative teams to avert looming cancellation. Unfortunately for them, the quality of each just wasn’t enough (even though the recent Suicide Squad has been sensational). Superman Unchained too seems to be getting ended all too soon.

What’s more important is the titles taking their place. Aquaman and the Others, Secret Origins, Sinestro, JLU, and Batman Eternal are not only staffed with great creative teams, but bring together some of the best concepts of the New 52. I will personally be giving all a shot, and titles like Batman Eternal and Sinestro are most likely getting added to my pull list permanently.

So that’s April. But what about May? Well, if you are clever (and I am) you can begin to project what May looks like. Most the aforementioned titles are coming in to replace books like Green Team, Vibe, Katana, and Dark Knight. Though the New 52 is not set on the “52”, they will need to launch at least a few new titles to get close to their normal 47-50. One of which is Future’s End, which inexplicably starts in the end of Stormwatch. Another title we can be sure to see is a relaunch of the Teen Titans. I’m positive DC will try to push a new team and title as soon as possible. Nightwing’s end would suggest that another Bat title isn’t far away either.

Looking at context clues from the last few months and April’s solicitations, two characters could be poised to take center stage. Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman. With Lex’s impending status as leader of the Justice League and his presence in the upcoming Superman arc, Luthor seems set to get his own title. It seemed likely long before April, and the recent round of solicits only indicate greater plans for the worlds super-man. Wonder Woman too will be all over the place. And while it is hard to believe that she’ll have a book outside of her own and Superman/Wonder Woman, it shouldn’t. Superman is the star of no less than 4 books a time, and Batman’s in pretty much everything. It would only make sense for her to have a greater presence in the DCU. With the world in shambles, Wonder Woman could be just the character needed to help rebuild the universe and inspire heroes, gods, and mortals alike. I could easily see Wonder Woman in a title focused on the Greek Pantheon or as the leader of her own team (I mean, Aquaman’s doing it).

And as always there is my normal wish list of DC books. Cyborg, Captain Marvel, Steel, Milestone, and relaunched Wildstorm book are all on my personal wishlist for various reasons.

So what’s next? Any bold new predictions for the future of the DC Universe?

Until the next time,

Rn

 

Evaluating an Event

In my return to the land of the living late last week, I discussed where I have been what helped get me back into the industry. One major aspects of my fall from monthly reading of comics were the continuous events going on. At the time my pull list consisted of multiple Marvel titles, including Uncanny X-Men, X-(Wo)Men, New Avengers, Avengers and others. Then Marvel launched Infinity. At the same time, they launched into Battle of the Atom. Both of those events consumed all the titles listed above, trying to keep track of where the story was in each title would have forced me to read other titles. Rather than do that, I found myself distancing myself from each of those titles. While I am normally not a stranger to events, I ignored both of these thanks in part to them taking place simultaneously. Not only that, the event Inhumanity launched almost immediately after that. The over saturation of events forced me to back away from some of my favorite titles.

Yet, the real reason I found myself dropping the books was due to the lack of consequences. We knew well before Infinity was over that it would lead right to Inhumanity. We didn’t have to worry about real consequences of a “cosmic” event like Infinity. Earth would survive and so would all of our heroes. The sense of drama was dramatically lost in the shuffle, and while Hickman is masterful at large frame plot lines, he couldn’t quite write in the stakes to this book. Additionally, having the aftermath and fallout of an event be another event seems like a terrible idea. Rather than do that, a title should go back to its roots and feature the individual character or characters of each of the books reeling from the drama.

While controversial, I will plug in Forever Evil. Much like Marvel, DC is no stranger to events. While Forever Evil is far reaching and more expansive then it needs to be, the core of the event feels like it has real stakes. We have no idea how the world will be saved, and in addition to that, we know that the world will have to be different. Dick Greyson has been outed as Nightwing, Cyborg lost most of the rest of his humanity, Captain Cold was made human again, and so much more. There are real consequences for characters of varying importance. I have had a chance to talk with numerous consumers who have said as much. Since I started work at my local comic book store, the event that has gotten the best reception has been Forever Evil. While we normally sell more DC books than Marvel, customers that pick up Marvel almost exclusively have begun to pick up Forever Evil.\

While I admit I am personally biased, a fact frequent readers know well, there is a clear problem with the saturation of events in the comic industry. Both Marvel and DC are guilty of perpetuating extremely long event series and forcing too many writers to sacrifice their stories so that they can tie in with an event. Hopefully we are at an end of it. Hopefully The All-New Marvel now will have the ability to grow on its own post Inhumanity and hopefully DC will truly explore the consequences of Forever Evil.

Now I ask you all, have you been finding modern event comics as uneventful as I have?

Until the next time,

Rn

Continuing the Evil

Hey there everyone! As I am still finishing up school, the past few weeks have been dominated by mid terms, papers, and other uspeakable academic related horrors. That being said, I am hopefully back on track to providing you daily commentary on all things nerdy.

The thing I have been meaning to discuss the most is the multiple spin off books that have come out of Forever Evil, as that is the comic event that is consuming most of my attention and money at the moment.

After a rather strong villains month in September, DC attempts to keep the pace with the rest of the Forever Evil brand in September, and so far it hasn’t been all that great. Forever Evil #2 was extremely well done, and I look forward to that more than any other book in the event. Arkham War #1 was nothing more than a long Bane monologue. We saw nothing significant happen, and featured very little of Arkham or of War. Though this is due to the nature of a set up issue, this issue still lacks much to be desired.

Additionally, Rogue’s Rebellion wasn’t sensational either. Though I enjoyed it much more so than Arkham War, this issue too felt more like staged rehashing than it did a new story. Majority of the issue is either nothing new, or nothing relevant. This issue did create a great dynamic between Captain Cold and the Mirror Master. I was shocked as to how well it was done, and glad to see at least two of the group were done arguing.

Justice League of America was also uninteresting. Though we see the fact that all of our heroes are trapped inside a sentient prison, nothing in the prison makes sense. We see Wonder Woman crying and ashamed, Superman attempting to reverse time, and Shazam destroying and murdering the city. All of this seemed like a far cry from the hereos we know best. And though the prison may be psychological it has yet to demonstrate why it can break our heroes so easily.

Perhaps the creme of the crop was Suicide Squad. The issue features two SS teams both believing to be hired by Waller, when one is actually working against her. This issue unites Deadshot, Harley, and Captain Boomerang and pits them against the combined forces of the Unknown Soldier, Steel, and Power Girl. The concept that these heroes and villains could potentially work together is enough to make any fan excited, but what was more exciting was the appearance of Steel. Steel is one of my favorite characters in DC’s arsenal, and has only shown up in three different series to date (this, Rotworld, and Action Comics). I am definitely excited to see where this goes in the future, and where Matt Kindt takes these characters.

Is there anything you particularly loved or hated out of the tie in books we’ve gotten thus far? If so, be sure to let me know.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Superman/Wonder Woman #1

So like many people, I was extremely skeptical about this series. Charles Soule (one of DC’s new go to guys) teased that it would have romance and wouldn’t be an entirely serious action book. At the time of the announcement only Tony S. Daniel’s art was appealing about the book. Since then however, it was revealed that Doomsday would be the first villain for the book, which implied that it would have quite a bit more action than initially stated. All in all, I couldn’t not give this book a shot, so here is what I liked about it.

1. Tony S. Daniel’s art is top of his game in this one. Whereas his previous work in Action Comics wasn’t as great as some of his previous works, the splash panels and pages in this are gorgeous. Truly something to see.
2. The opening of the book implies a second villain involved in the series, one with more brains than brawn.
3. There are some tender moments between the two, but for the most part we see the characters as individuals and not as an “item”.
4. Despite her second book being with her boyfriend, Wonder Woman is definitely the best part of the book. Her dialogue and actions are mostly spot on for her character, and affirm that she’s a bad ass.

Rating before reading: 5
Rating after reading: 7

I hate to say it, but this book was a rather pleasant read. There are problems, sure. But those issues have nothing to do with the relationship of the characters. Though Soule teased an abundance of affection, the title characters don’t even share a kiss within the pages of this issue. Instead we see a stirring parallel as Diana and Clark go about there days. Clark trying to deal with Cat (his business partner of sorts) and Diana doing what she does best (fighting).

It was this scene that sold me on the book, my enjoyment hinged almost solely on the characterization and presentation of Wonder Woman. And while the book had its share of missteps where she was concerned, as a whole the book was true to form. She is a warrior princess/god. Furthermore Superman’s gift to Diana was an alien flower. Diana’s gift to Clark was a magical blade that could cut Superman. She didn’t give the sword to him, instead she promised to teach him how to fight. If that isn’t Wonder Woman at her core, then I don’t know what is.

So while I was skeptical at first, I found myself not only enjoying the issue as a whole, but enjoying the characterization of Wonder Woman by herself.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Sinestro #1

While this is technically the second first issue Sinestro has within the New 52, I will not be complaining as what would Villains Month be without him? I’ll tell you what it would be, a sad and shameful place. But fortunately we don’t have to experience a reality without a Sinestro comic. This issue features numerous surprises including the narration of Lyssa Drak, a former member of the Sinestro Corps and keeper of its history. But before I get to far ahead of myself, here is what I liked about the issue.

1. Dale Eaglesham’s art was awesome. The way the bits of the past were framed with the ornate golden construct was not only unique, but well done.
2. His very first outing as a Green Lantern had him meet a Weaponer of Quard. Something that would obviously come into play later in his life.
3. Korugar survives! Well, kind of.

Rating before reading: 8
Rating after reading: 9

As expected this book was phenomenal, what I didn’t expect was how excellent the art was. The book felt like a Lantern book, vibrant and beautiful, the green and gold constructs seemed to come to life before my eyes. In addition to this, we get a different take on Sinestro’s origin. One not told from his perspective, but from someone on the outside. Her dialogue greatly contrasted the actions happening with the art, as she praised Sinestro even as he sunk to his lowest depths. However, even at his lowest point, Sinestro still proves himself a hero despite it all. The conflict between Hal and Sinestro almost convinced me that Hal was in the wrong, the dialogue was clever enough to make me believe Hal Jordan was the bad guy. This is not only based on my deep favoritism for the character, but Matt Kindt’s brilliant script as well.

I was pleased that this book was done so well. As it appears that Sinestro has a role to play within Forever Evil, I had hoped that this book would shed some light as to why. While it didn’t do that, it still managed to be not only an entertaining but compelling read.

Though you all knew I would love this issue, it was honestly better than I had expected.

Now that Villains Month is at a close I will take the time to outline the best books of the month, and I’m dying to know which books you liked the best.

Until the next time,

Rn

Ravingnerd Reviews: Doomsday #1

Greg Pak and Brett Booth unleash Doomsday upon the New 52 for the first time with this months issue. Also aptly staffed as Brett Booth will be stepping in for Jae Lee as regular series artist for Batman/Superman going into the future. Given the how vibrant his art is, Booth should do well on the book. Before I get to far ahead of myself, here is what I liked about the issue.

1. Brett Booth’s style is something that can’t ever be duplicated, his art gives every book a certain sense of action and vibrancy that most books can only dream of.
2. Holy crap, Lara is a bad ass! It’s so nice to see Lara have a sense of characterization. It’s been since Birthright after al.
3. Zod to the rescue…?

Rating before reading: 6
Rating after reading: 4

This book was dull and disappointing. Booth’s art was on spot as always, but it lacks any real substance. The book jumps around from topic to topic and seems to have little to do with Doomsday. Instead the book turns into another Zod story, as he not only stops Doomsday the first time, but is responsible for him in the Phantom Zone. Additionally, young Kara takes a focal point in this issue, as she can somehow communicate with the exiled General. How this is, isn’t quite explained, but apparently Zod is smart enough to create a device that allows himself to appear back on Krypton. Why this is, is also not explained, but we are supposed to be too caught up in the moment to realize. This book ends up telling us very little about Doomsday, the only real thing we get to see is the Death of Superman played out in a Gullivers Travel type story.

While the creators of this book are atop of their game, they try to cram way to much into one story. The result is a jumbled mess of a book that does very little to flesh out the title character of the book, and instead feels like an extension of the General Zod book from a few weeks ago. The Villains Month event was supposed to supply us with various different one shots featuring a different character. This book not only doesn’t do that, but unlike Secret Society, it isn’t a strong enough story on its own to make us as readers forget about this fact.

Until the next time,

Rn