10 Things We Don't Like (So Far) About DC's THE NEW 52

<i>By <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p>A nympho-amnesiatic Starfire... four Robins in five years... a Superman not yet qualified for DCU sainthood ... cat/bat inter-species relations... <P>Those are some of the more common points of criticism and controversy amongst readers and the media of DC's first two months of <i>The New 52</i>. <p><a href=www.newsarama.com/comics/10-things-we-like-dc-new-52-111027.html>As we detailed Thursday</a>, following this week's release of the final crop of #2 issues, Newsarama asked 10 of our contributors (including staff and freelancers) to detail one thing they like so far about <i>The New 52</i>, and one thing they're not liking so much. First, we counted down our likes. Today we turn the page and give some focus to the things that aren't sitting with us quite as well. <p>Again, we asked each participant to write his or her entries without sharing them with each another, so what follows is a raw, pure look at the DCnU's misses (so far) as interpreted by our writers and editors. <p>Do any of them match the events mentioned in the first paragraph? Click on the countdown to find out. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>

HARD OR SOFT?

<i>By Chris Arrant, Contributing Writer</i> <p>With DC's inability to decide if <i>The New 52</i> is in fact a full-scale reboot or just a dramatically revised take on the comics that came before, fans are left wondering what did (and didn't) happen with their favorite stories. <p>Adding to the confusion is the fact that different titles appear to be more or less revised depending on how successful they were in the previous era, with the Batman and Green Lantern family titles effectively carrying on like nothing had happened while other titles seem unrecognizable to their previous incarnations. The publisher is trying to both distance themselves from the weight of continuity while also using it to make these titles sell, effectively trying to have their cake and eat it too leaving fans hungry for answers.

IT TOOK GUTS, AND IT'S GOT GUTS

<i>By Jill Pantozzi, columnist, Hey, That's My Cape</i> <p>Is it just me, or would anyone else like to see less bowels in their comic books? I mean...wow. The relaunch was billed as exciting and all-new but never in any of the advertisements or interviews did anyone say the <i>New 52</i> would be ultra-violent. <p>It began with the now-infamous Joker-face page in <i>Detective Comics #1</i> and spiraled from there. I'm not opposed to violence in comics, that's part of these heroes' stories, but the decapitations, dismemberments and guts are at an all-time high. In <i>Batwing</i> we had an entire room full of body parts; in <i>Wonder Woman</i> horses being ripped apart. And don't get me started on <i>Animal Man</i>. I was eating lunch while reading that one and had to stop. <p>Like I said, I'm not entirely opposed to this sort of thing but what gets me about the gore is, It seems to be there strictly for the sensational factor. Sure, it's part of the story but it's way over the top, veering into horror movie territory in some areas. You don't need to shock us with a severed arm, shock us with an awesome story.

WHERE'S THE 'NEW' IN THE NEW 52?

<i>By Zack Smith, Contributing Writer</i> <p>The biggest problem with the <i>New 52</i> is that... well, it's not actually new. It's 52 rebooted versions of existing concepts if you have a new title like <i>Demon Knights</i>, it's still starring existing characters like Etrigan the Demon. It's just a series of concepts that have been renamed, rebranded, and in some cases had their existing continuity swept away. <p>Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, and in some cases it's a very good thing. But there's something inherently depressing in the idea that the market is in such sorry shape that you can't actually have brand-new, ground-up ideas that don't recycle in some way pre-existing names, characters, concepts or titles from decades before. <p>I understand the importance in recognizability in branding a product, and the potential revenue that can be brought in by revitalizing some older idea in a way that makes it viable as a film, TV series or video game. But the times when DC really succeeded, when they leapfrogged over Marvel and made that company follow their lead, was when they threw new ideas out into the wind willy-nilly. <p>Jonah Hex. The Warlord. Jack Kirby's Fourth World. If you want a legacy like those books boast creative and/or sales success that people are still trying to emulate decades later show that you're willing to take on something completely out there from your most talented creators. <p>Hell, one of the first post-Crisis titles was <i>Booster Gold</i>. Who'd have thought he'd still be around 25 years later?

CLARITY STARTS AT HOME

<i>By Alan Kistler, columnist, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E.</i> <p>Some of the titles are taking a little too long to establish their new status in the DCU. When a single issue of <i>Superman</i> is able to contain the kind of full story that a few other titles take three issues to deliver, the problem stands out. <p>Should all the writers completely change their style and condense larger stories? No, but maybe just note that at $2.99 (in some cases, $3.99) for each issue, fans might want just a little more bang for their buck or a clearer idea of just how much a character has changed. <p>Why was Justice League International introduced before we got a clear idea of what the main League's role is in this new world? That would've helped distinguish the two groups. When Hawkman says he's retiring in his first issue, just how long has he been at the superhero game? Three years? Five months? Even just telling us that much wouldn't dismiss all the sense of mystery. A stronger opening would make sure readers stick around for issue #3. <p>Along with this, there's already starting to be a consistency question. Fans were told that some form of the Teen Titans in the past, and remarks made in one comic seemed to confirm this, but it was later announced that the new Teen Titans team is actually the first one historically in the DC Universe. <p>Remarks made by Dan DiDio and in the first issue of <i>Hawk & Dove</i> reveal that the original Crisis story happened still, in some fashion, but Barry Allen has clearly never been married to Iris West and, based on his remarks, it's possible he never died and returned, which is pretty much the stronger story element of the original Crisis. <p>The first issue introducing Superboy seem to imply that he was created by Cadmus and only later captured by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. but another issue has someone remark that a N.O.W.H.E.R.E. scientist actually created him. <p>If you want to change things, fine, that's the nature of fiction and comics, but it might be time for DC to start making certain things clear and not repeat the "you'll see" mantra for everything. Something like a simple timeline could help some readers who don't read every single online interview or attend conventions (especially the new ones still unfamiliar with comic book news sites): <p><i>"9 years ago, Bruce Wayne becomes Batman but most people think he's a myth. 7 years ago, Hal becomes a Green Lantern. 6 years ago, Clark moves to Metropolis and debuts as Superman. 5 years ago, other superheroes become known to the public and the Justice League is formed. 4 years ago, the First Crisis. 3 years ago, Barbara Gordon becomes Oracle. 2 years ago, Superboy is created after Superman is nearly killed by a big damn monster called Doomsday. 1 year ago, Final Crisis."</i> <p>See what I mean? Still a lot of room for mystery.

BRIGHTEN UP

<i>By Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</i> <p>For years, the DC Universe seemed like a pretty gloomy place to live. Events like <i>Identity Crisis</i> and <i>Infinite Crisis</i>, though well-executed, were full of pretty huge bummers murders, rapes, and masks being smooshed through people's faces and out the back of their head. Even the series titled <i>Brightest Day</i> opened with Black Manta committing mass murder. <p>So if there was ever a chance to add a little levity, it would be during a line-wide relaunch, right? Instead we've got ultra-violence (the Joker's face being ripped off in <i>Detective Comics #1</i>) and, by mainstream comic book standards, fairly graphic sex (the, ahem, climax of <i>Catwoman #1</i>). Even <i>Justice League International</i>, a title with a history of being basically a superhero sitcom, has maintained a pretty straight face. Most titles read like a badass action movie, and a series like the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI or the Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos run on <i>Impulse</i> would feel thoroughly out of place in this environment, and that's a shame. <p>Though darker elements certainly have value, and some series have definitely brought a sense of fun from the off-kilter antics of <i>O.M.A.C.</i> to the self-awareness of <i>Aquaman</i> the overall atmosphere of DC in The New 52 is still fairly grim (an entire section of their publishing line is called "The Dark," after all), and it probably wouldn't hurt to lighten things up a bit on a few key titles. (Ah, got through that whole write-up without a "Why so serious?" reference. Wait...)

TONAL RECALL

<i>By Vaneta Rogers, Contributing Writer</i> <p>While there are a nice variety of genres in the total offering for the DCnU, most of the superhero-focused comics feel like they have the same tone. With very few exceptions, if there are spandex-clad heroes on the front of a DC book, then that comic is going to be a little upbeat and even funny at times. While we understand there are "dark" and "edge" categories for those who desire something different, the fact is that most readers are going to flock to the heroes they recognize. And among the selection of better-known heroes, the first couple issues of just about every book have felt very similar in tone across the superhero board. <p>As one comic creator told us, "I set down my iPad when I was halfway through a DC comic, and when I came back later, I forgot which comic it was. I couldn't tell, because they all feel the same." <p>Perhaps it will take time for each title's personality to emerge, but we hope it comes soon.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX, BA-BY

<i>By David Pepose, Host of Best Shots Reviews</i> <p>In fact, let's talk about it a lot. All the time, in fact. Let's talk about Starfire jumping from Outlaw to Outlaw "she has no life," one of her lovers says. Or Catwoman and Batman basking in the afterglow under a conveniently-draped cape. Or Nightwing joining the Mile High Club by Issue #2, or Clark Kent walking into Lois Lane's apartment only to find her boyfriend Jonathan shirtless they were just "celebrating." How about Voodoo's striptease-turned-crime-scene? Or Barry Allen's brain turning on at super-speed as he gazes at the two romantic interests in his life? Aquaman and Mera getting it on? Or just Wonder Girl, telling readers that her eyes are up here, and yes, they are real. <p>On their own, none of these would raise an eyebrow, but collectively, it's way too much. Not that sex should be excluded from the DCU but it can be done with some subtlety. This feels like a weird one-upsmanship, as if to say, "yes, reading comics isn't synonymous with 40-year-old virgins our characters are getting it on all the time!" Unfortunately, that trend can be off-putting for women readers and young readers, and feels more than a little off to this male reader, as well. If we want to get people to look at superheroes seriously, we need to look at topics like sex with a little more maturity.

RESHAPE-SHIFTERS

<i>By Michael Doran, Founder & Senior Editor</i> <p>In <a href=www.newsarama.com/comics/10-things-we-like-dc-new-52-111027.html>part one of our little two-month DCnU progress report</a>, I praised the publisher for having the fortitude to do <i>The New 52</i> in the first place, arguing it was a <i>much</i> needed shot in the arm to what had become a very drowsy comic book industry. I give DC all the credit in the world for doing it. I can't help but feel, however, that maybe they could have done more. <p>I understand I may be indulging in a little impatience here, we're just 60 days into this thing, and my more just may come later. But with news cycles and market trends now often having half-lives that can be measured by the battery life of an iPhone, it now seems like a <i>very</i> long time that I've been waiting for that sound of another <i>New 52</i> shoe dropping. <p>DC did a masterful job stoking the curiosity of fans of every conceivable position on the reboot from June through September, but now with the books out and that curiosity largely sated, what about this all changes the game in the long term... when The New 52 just becomes the 52? <p>Digital distribution (for example) was very highly-touted in the earliest <i>New 52</i>announcements and interviews and continued to be promoted as a major factor of the initiative throughout the launch of <i>Justice League #1</i>, at which point DC became suddenly and mostly mum on the topic. <p>Did the reboot + full day-and-date-distribution change or at least plant the seeds of a seismic change of how comic books are sold? We don't know, because DC isn't talking, and lately has mostly ceded the topic in the public arena to Marvel and their digital ambitions. <p>I took DC at their word when they said <i>The New 52</i> was an initiative to build and reshape an industry we all love, and I still do. I like the build part. Higher sales and more cash in the pockets of retailers are certainly legitimate raw building tools. <p>But reshape? That's the part I'm still waiting for...

RETRO REBOOT

<i>By Graeme McMillan, Blogger</i> <p>It's tempting to go for the obvious thing and say that the thing I really don't like about the New 52 is the sexism on show in certain books, but... Well, sadly, I don't think that's necessarily something that came about with the<i> New 52</i>, and it's also not a line-wide phenomenon (Go, look at <i>Wonder Woman</i> or <i>Birds of Prey</i> or <i>Batwoman</i>, if you think that DC is all-sexist all-the-time). No, what I really don't like about the <i>New 52</i> is how retro so much of it is. <p>I understand the idea of getting back to the core concepts of characters and series, especially when you're trying to attract a new or lapsed readership into the fold; you don't want to be the ones saying "Hey, remember Supergirl? Well, turns out <i>this</i> is the new Supergirl who <i>looks</i> like the old Supergirl but is really the spirit of an angel in the body of a dead teenage girl and... Hey, where're you going?" after all. But in the process, it's not surprising that longtime readers may have more than a slight sense of disappointing d&#233;j&#224; vu: <p>Bruce Wayne is the only Batman again, cutting short a new direction for the franchise that seemed to be working for fans and critics alike. The Justice League is the old familiar faces again, fighting Darkled again, and despite the fun character bits from Geoff Johns and dynamic art by Jim Lee, it's tough to shake the feeling that maybe we've seen it all before. Even <i>Swamp Thing</i> and <i>Animal Man</i> feel like they're retreading ground we've visited before. <p>It doesn't have to be this way, and books like <i>Wonder Woman</i> or even <i>Green Lantern</i> demonstrate this, starting from familiar places but going somewhere new. If only that sense of exploration and feeling that this really <i>is</i> a new start, instead of just a do-over, had spread across every book in the line.

THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE

<i>By Lucas Siegel, Newsarama Site Editor</i> <p>Now, when you start off a massive relaunch, yes, you need to make some changes. But some of these changes, particularly to the middle generations of characters in the DC Pantheon, seem to have come just for the sake of saying "Look, this is new!" <p>The biggest example of this, so far, is two-thirds of the original <i>Young Justice</i> crew. Superboy has a new look, an altered origin, a completely different group of associates; and in fact his look doesn't even hold across the two books he's in, with completely different styles on the covers of the first issues of <b>Superboy</b> and <b>Teen Titans</b>. Rather than a distilled and simplified version of the Conner we knew and loved, we have a confusing (and he himself is confused) character. Granted this could mean we get to meet him for the first time all over again, but for longtime fans that may not be the ideal. <p>Likewise, Tim Drake, the third Robin and current Red Robin, got a massive redesign. The new look takes him considerably further away from his roots with Batman, which may be intentional. The original Red Robin costume came from the <i>Kingdom Come</i> universe, and gave Tim a strong connection to the legacy of the Bat while also allowing him to strike out on his own. The new look has no connection to his old identity, and without his brief guest star turn in <i>Batman #1</i>, it would be hard for any new readers to know he has a link to Batman at all. As an incredible detective who has lost both parents and has to work at being a strong fighter, Tim Drake has had the most in common with Bruce Wayne of any of his acolytes; the apparent loss of that in the New 52 is disappointing. <p>As the title of this post implies, I understand the only thing constant is change, but let the change be driven by story reasons, and let it <i>mean</i> something. Perhaps these changes will pay off eventually, but at least at the start, it's rubbing me the wrong way. And don't even get me started on the loss of Wally West...

10 Things We Don't Like (So Far) About DC's THE NEW 52

Date: 28 October 2011 Time: 08:57 PM ET