I have been reading comic books since I was a child. I think the first comic I bought was when I was seven or eight, so that would be around 1977. That means, with the exception of a break in the early 90s, I have been reading comics for 37 years now. Most people I talk about comic book with aren't even 37 years old. Anyway, that means that I have a lot of built up knowledge about comics - from reading them when they came out.
I say that for a couple of reasons.
First, it is a response to people who keep saying I don't know anything about comics. I had a disagreement with a 20-year-old guy on Facebook and he thought that he knew more about the comic book world that existed a decade before he was born than someone who was actually alive to read comics during that time. It is frustrating, but you can't argue with a know it all.
Second, I want to talk this week about the DC New 52.
The biggest complaint when the DC New 52 started was about how DC Comics rebooting everything was ruining all the years of continuity and that whatever they came up with couldn't be as good as what was there before. I was there when the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline rebooted the entire DC Comics universe. That happened in 1985 and almost everything was ret-conned and changed – just like the DC New 52.
Exactly like the DC New 52.
There used to be superheroes in the Golden Age of comics like Green Lantern, Atom, Superman, Batman and more. Then, in the Silver Age, everything in DC Comics rebooted. In 1956, a new Flash appeared in Barry Allen. Hal Jordan became the new Green Lantern. Everything that came before was gone (until they re-introduced a number of the characters later). Only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman remained close to the same, and even they had new powers and tweaks to their origin stories.
Look at the timeline. That was 1956. It was 29 years later when DC Comics published the Crisis on Infinite Earths and changed everything again. The secret identities of most characters stayed the same this time, but their origins changed. Aspects of Batman's origin changed with Frank Miller's Year One. Aspects of Superman's origin changed with Man of Steel. Aspects of Wonder Woman's past changed with Gods and Mortals. In a bit of meta, when Grant Morrison wrote Animal Man, he actually talked a lot about the Crisis that changed everything as well as the changed characters. Animal Man saw the character that he used to be and even met Mr. Freeze, who was no longer in existence anymore (at that time). Wally West became Flash. Jonah Hex was sent to the future. The Green Lantern corps changed. Lex Luthor's origin was significantly changed.
It was a huge reboot of everything in DC Comics, and if the Internet existed back then, I am sure there would have been a similar uproar as there was with the DC New 52. By the way, the New 52 started up after the events of Flashpoint, 26 years after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is the third reboot of the DC Comics universe, and each reboot happened over 25 years after the previous one, almost a kicking off point for new fans.
I don't hate the rebooting of origins – if they are replaced with something interesting – because I have lived through it once before and people soon loved the post-Crisis DC Comics better than what came before. With that in mind, I want to look at three things I love about the DC New 52 – a way to be positive for a column.
Top 5 Positives from the New DC 52
I have read a lot of comments by confused people online who thought that Constantine was being "added" to the DC Comics universe with the DC New 52, but the truth is that he has been there for a long time. He was in the DC Comics universe from the beginning, debuting in Swamp Thing. It wasn't until DC created the Vertigo imprint in 1993 that he moved to that world. However, he was not kept completely out of the DC Comics universe and popped up here and there.
However, I was concerned that, when they cancelled Hellblazer and rebooted John Constantine in a title in the DC Comics world, the company would neuter Constantine. I had no reason for concern. The DC New 52 kept Constantine just as arrogant and outside the norm as he was before and it ended up being just as fun as before. I think it is actually a nice change because he now has people like Batman, Zatanna and others watching him, making sure he doesn't overstep his bounds. Plus, he has super villains in this world that are outside his realm of magic, giving him challenges he hadn't faced to this time.
4. Aquaman is a Bad Ass
I have always been a fan of Aquaman, even when the rest of the comic book world made him a punch line and made fun of him for just "talking to fish." However, I always saw him as much more than that – a man who was King of an underwater kingdom he barely knew but swearing to protect the world that never really understood him.
When the DC New 52 re-launched the entire universe, Geoff Johns took it upon himself to resurrect another lost hero. He had already done fantastic work with Green Lantern and Flash, and he did just as great of a job with Aquaman. He took him and played into the public's perception of him, and it worked perfectly. It made Aquaman more heroic and powerful than ever, while also adding humor by the reactions to land walkers around him. Plus, Johns added some fantastic moments where Aquaman struggled with the aspects of being a King to a community that doesn't completely accept him in Atlantis.
However, even better was his use as a member of the Justice League.
3. The Justice League
I love just about everything about the Justice League in the DC New 52. I don't mind them adding Cyborg instead of Martian Manhunter either because I think Cyborg makes them an even better team. With the main comics titles starting five years after the heroes first showed up on Earth, I also loved how Justice League (and Action Comics) both started in the past, showing how they originated.
There is only one thing I didn't like about how the Justice League started – Green Lantern was WAY too arrogant for my taste. He is supposed to be a Super Cop and he acted like an arrogant kid, making him a character I wasn't that interested in at the start. Other than that, I loved how Green Lantern and Flash were friends from the past and how, whether they met or not, all the heroes had heard of each other. There is something about the storytelling that lets us know there is a past but keeps things a nice mystery.
I also liked how they won over the trust of the people, but still had the governments of the world that didn't completely trust them. I absolutely loved the second trade paperback of the series where the man who helped turn them into heroes for the world decided that heroes would always disappoint the people who trusted them.
I also love the relationships between the characters. The friendship between Barry and Hal, the very close and trusted relationship that built between Superman and Batman, Aquaman and Batman's constant quipping about how the team should be run, and the fantastic development of Cyborg as he questioned whether he was a man or a machine. I read a lot of comments complaining about the DC New 52, but I thought the storytelling here developing the team was great.
2. Animal Man
The best rebooted comic book idea of the entire DC New 52 was Animal Man. I'm not saying it was the best comic book, although I think it might be, but I am saying that the best thing about the New 52 was taking a character that no one cared about anymore and making him one of the most interesting characters in the entire DC Comics universe. Jeff Lemire did that when he took a character that hasn't been interesting since Grant Morrison wrote him and created a fantastic story (with some of the best artwork I have ever seen thanks to Travel Foreman).
The book did something that most books today don't. It wasn't as worried about a villain of the month as it was about creating a family and letting the relationships between Buddy and his wife and kids drive this story throughout its run (Blue Beetle did the same thing and was awesome as well). The series only lasted 29 issues but the story it told of Buddy discovering the source of his powers, and The Red, was just an amazing tale. Seriously, superhero comics don't get much better than this.
1. Scott Snyder's Batman Work
Scott Snyder proved to be one of the best comic book writers on the planet thanks to his American Vampire comics. Snyder actually started writing Detective Comics with issue #871 and then wrote some of the best Batman comics in a long time with the DC New 52. His biggest creation might be the Court of Owls, a fantastic organized crime society that is becoming one of the best things about the New 52.
He also wrote the Death of the Family storyline, which I really liked as well. While it sounds like Death in the Family, it was really just a play on words and told a great story about Joker working to destroy the entire Batman family to bring the edge back for Batman. It really brought Joker to the New 52 in an interesting way and showcased the entire dynamic of Batman and his family. Snyder did such a fantastic job on Batman, that he got Swamp Thing and is writing the best stories surrounding that character since Alan Moore.
What were your favorite moments of the DC New 52? Talk about any positives you brought out of the rebooted DC Comics universe in the comments.