Saturday, May 21, 2016

The New 52's 10 Worst Titles per Newsarama

Newsarama has put together a list of the 10 Worst Titles of DC's NEW 52 / DC YOU Era.  Overall, it is a pretty fair list.  There were things in DC's New 52 that worked really well (Aquaman, Justice League Dark, the Court of Owls stuff in Batman) and then there was a lot of stuff that just didn't (Green Arrow, a lot of the stuff in the Superman and Green Lantern books, renaming Captain Marvel Shazam).  Some of the problems had to do with the condensed timeline, others had to do with really confusing stories and origins, and others stemmed from changes for the sake of changes.  There was also the problem of the New 52 being way too dark and gritty.

Comics had gone through what I called the Dark Age from about 1985 - 2005.  After 2005 things started to brighten up and become more hopeful, which I thought was a great thing.  This was the post Infinite Crisis, pre-Flashpoint era that seemed to point towards new and inspiring stories.  Well the New 52 was new but not all that inspiring.  A great example of this is Superman.  After IC his origin was re-imagined by Geoff Johns in Superman: Secret Origin.  This iteration of Superman was everything the character should be: inspiring, humble, and most importantly he was just a good person.  This Superman was fun and flawed and thought of himself as a human (and subsequently Clark Kent) first.  The New 52's take on the character was angry, at times very bitter, and thought of himself as an alien/Kryptonian first.  This was not the guy that made you want to be a better person simply because of his great example.  This guy was kind of a dick.  And as the standard barer of all things DC, Superman was a great example of what was wrong in the New 52.

One of the titles highlighted in Newsarama's piece was Hawk & Dove.  In a lot of ways, this title was doomed right from the start.  The story held onto elements from the Blackest Night and Brightest Day events, even though those events may or may not have happened (Blackest Night was referred to in an early issue of Green Lantern but only in passing).  Because of this, the coupling of Dove and Deadman made no sense.  Then there was the complete overhaul of the duo's origin.  Now instead of being the result of an experiment by a Lord of Order and Chaos that had fallen in love and wanted to prove that the sides could work together.  In the new continuity, Hawk and Dove are the literal avatars of war and peace.  Yeah, I didn't get it either.  The title got the ax after only eight issues and the characters have been lost ever since.  As a fan of the late '80s, early '90s Hawk & Dove comic, this series was a big disappointment.  I love these characters and think they hold a lot of promise and storytelling potential, especially in the framework of the greater DCU cosmology but this just didn't work.  Amazingly, Hawk & Dove wasn't the most egregious sin of the New 52, that distinction would go to the emerald archer.

Surprisingly Newsarama did not include Green Arrow in their list of the worst titles of the New 52 but they certainly should have.  Pre-Flashpoint, Green Arrow was a crusader for the oppressed who was flawed but driven by the best of intentions, quick-witted, earnest, and someone who took no crap.  After the reboot he was nothing more than a pompous rich d-bag with a bunch of toys and no driving moral compass.  Everything that was great about this character, going all the way back to the days of Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, was gone.  They tried to incorporate some elements from the excellent TV show Arrow but even that wasn't enough to save this sinking ship.  Now to be fair, I gave up on this title relatively early.  I'd read the first three story-lines mostly out of sheer hope that things would get better (heck I even hoped that the character would improve in the Justice League of America title but I was wrong).  So if things have gotten better I've missed it.

Two of DC's big crossover events that occurred during the New 52 era, Futures End and Convergence, were also included in Newsarama's list.  Both events were bold concepts that just didn't quite work in execution.  Futures End was so long and expansive that it was easy to get lost in the story (and not in a good way).  As hard as I tried, I couldn't get through it.  Convergence on the other hand had tons of potential and did a great job and bringing back past iterations of characters lost to reboots and retcons.  That alone made the series work for me.  It's biggest problem was its utterly anti-climatic conclusion that just happened.  Literally the world was about to end and a few panels later, the universe(s) was reborn.  Just like that.  It was a disappointing ending to an otherwise fun and satisfying story.

Now with the New 52 coming to an end, DC prepares for another reboot, or sorts, with Rebirth.  Based on the previewssneak-peeks, and reviews DC Universe Rebirth is sure to make some happy while angering others.  It's also sure to bring many much needed new eyes onto comic books.  With this new beginning we say goodbye to a continuity and an era that was bold with its intentions despite its missteps.  Here's to this new start with hopes for great stories that will engage and fascinate generations to come.      

1 comment:

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Green Arrow is the Worst TV Series