Getting up to speed

DCE2013AWhile I’m normally a sucker for “comic characters reading comics” covers (see?), I feel kind of bad for the Justice League on the cover of the recent DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013. It doesn’t really seem to me that they’re having fun reading these comics, but studying them to get up to speed on their own increasingly-convoluted continuity…

This recently-released catalog is (per the back cover copy) “an expansive look at our rich backlist collection created by the best writers and illustrators in the industry. This catalog can be use as an important resource for new fans seeking a starting point, as well [as] a look back at our impressive backlist for the most fervent DCE enthusiasts.” I know I’ve been hard on DC about their “New 52” initiative (both in this blog and in face-to-face conversations), but it seems like they’ve thrown out their own history for the short-term sales boost it’s given them. For all the talk of their “rich backlist collection,” that impression is definitely reinforced with this catalog.

Of the 147 titles spotlighted in the essential/DC Comics categories, only five feature material originally published prior to 1986, with just one of those dating from before the Silver Age. They entirely ignored the Jack Kirby & Will Eisner collections, their extensive Archive series and Showcase reprints collecting well-regarded work from the majority of their history. Shazam! went entirely unrepresented. Legion of Super-Heroes were only mentioned in a rundown of all New 52 titles. Wonder Woman merited a grand total of three entries on a “Women of DC Comics” spread, featuring her rich history dating clear back to… 2010. (As a caveat, these characters were given somewhat better representation in the ISBN listings at the back of the catalog).

As a starting point for new fans, it didn’t fare much better: Continue reading “Getting up to speed”

DC’s New 52 … and comics I actually liked!

DC Comics: the new 52Okay, that’s an intentionally provocative title, because I did like some of them. While I may not be that enamored with a lot of DC‘s decisions regarding their (partial) relaunch– more on that to later– their promotional comic from last July did give me a good feel for what they’re attempting, and actually encouraged me to give a few more of their new titles a try. I’ve bought and read three (well, 3 1/2) issues from DC’s new direction; not a whole lot, granted, but more than I was regularly following prior to that. With the first round of new #1s out, I thought I’d join the discussion about them.

Of course, I wanted to see how they were starting this relaunch, so I gave the final issue of Flashpoint (#5, written by Geoff Johns, art by Andy Kubert, et al.) a try. While I’ve enjoyed work by both of these creators in the past, it seemed rather noisy and furious (to paraphrase Shakespeare), with little substance to the characters, and lots of excuses for spreads of heroes posing dramatically. All in all, I don’t think they honored their past– something DC used to do well– as they segued into the future as nicely as was done in the recent Star Trek reboot, but it accomplished what they were after. Plus, it does give DC editorial an out if this new direction doesn’t bring in the expected sustained readership: [SPOILER ALERT] “Flash, run backwards!”[END SPOILER]. I was glad I bought it and read it, but I added it to my sell/donate pile as soon as I was done. Continue reading “DC’s New 52 … and comics I actually liked!”