The Death of the New 52, One Year Later — A Look Back

In 2016, DC’s Rebirth relaunch promised a return to the spirit of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe while keeping the New 52 universe. Rebirth has proven to be an unmitigated success, both critically and financially, and has clearly reinvigorated the company. But while it promised to keep the New 52 canon, this didn’t turn out to be the case, with series like Wonder Woman and Superman almost entirely doing away with New 52 canon. Although the New 52 branding itself was removed with the DC YOU initiative, DC Rebirth can be considered a much truer shunting of the ideas and themes of the New 52 era. Gone is the unnecessary darkening of characters, government paranoia and notion of continuity and history being obstacles and not tools so prevalent at DC for so long.

While there were some good elements here and there, the overall New 52 reboot fell flat on its face. And with DC Rebirth now a year old, incorporating many elements of Pre-Flashpoint elements that fans have been missing, I think it’s a good time to look back on the New 52. As it’s said, “I come here to bury Caesar, not honour him.” This will be a broad look at the problems with the New 52, and why it never quite worked for (the majority) of readers. So join me as I take a look back on the New 52, one year after its official death. Continue reading “The Death of the New 52, One Year Later — A Look Back”

My Future Comic Projects for Geoff Johns (Rantings)

I don’t think it’s out of line to say that Geoff Johns is one of DC’s biggest name creators. He, along with David S. Goyer, brought the Justice Society of America to a new generation of readers. He had a run on The Flash that many consider second only to the beloeved Mark Waid run. He reinvigorated and redefined the Green Lantern franchise. He updated Aquaman for modern audiences (though Peter David sort-of did that before him). But he also has blatant preference for the Silver Age. Infinite Crisis was, although an enjoyable story, a way for him to restore quite a few Silver Age things to canon. He made Legion of Super-Heroes lore confusing with the “Retroboot” Legion (basically the original Legion but with a timeskip). He sort-of ruined the Flash franchise with The Flash: Rebirth (it’s only slightly recovered with the return of Wally West). Then killed off beloved new characters with Blackest Night, an event that seemed to exist partly to kill off modern characters. Then he screwed up the entire DC Universe with Flashpoint… though that was editorially mandated, and he then proceeded to sort-of fix with DC Universe: Rebirth #1. So Johns has a shaky history, despite being DC’s “big gun”.

But he vanished for a while. After finishing his Justice League run (about half of which I haven’t read), Johns moved on. He was focusing more on TV shows and movies. It seemed like he came back just to fix what he was forced to break, and that would be the last we’d here from him… or not.

Yes, Geoff Johns is returning to comics. And while I’m cautiously optimistic about this, given the mixed results of his writing, I can’t say I’m not at least somewhat looking forward to Johns’ return. For all his faults (Silver Age boner, excessive violence, unsubtle leaning on the fourth wall), Johns loves superhero comics, big scope stories and using continuity in (mostly) respectful ways. He’s the kind of writer the DC Rebirth initiative is perfect for. And while I’m sure his comics work will in some way involve the Watchmen plotline from the Rebirth line, I have little doubt he will also be taking on another project. And here are what I hope or predict they will be. Continue reading “My Future Comic Projects for Geoff Johns (Rantings)”

Top 10 Comics of 2016

Everyone loves reading top 5/10 lists, right? Well, it’s a guilty pleasure, but it’s also nice to get others’ opinions and have your own validated. And since I already do annual video game lists, I figured it’d only be right to do one for comics as well. Also, this may be because I feel bad about not praising Grayson #12 enough last year, even though it was an absolutely amazing issue and I’ve praised it to anyone who would listen. But yeah, that’s what this is going to be: ranking the top 10 series of the year, with particular focus on a specific issue if it’s a standout (the covers don’t mean that particular issue was good; I just like certain covers or don’t want to reuse covers I’ve used before). My general rule is that the series has to have released at least one issue this year. Anyway, these are my top 10 arbitrarily ranked comic books of 2016.

Oh, and just assume all these series have amazing art unless I say otherwise.

Warning: Mild Spoilers.

Continue reading “Top 10 Comics of 2016”

Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2016, Q3)

So I’ve been planning to do a kind of “new reader” piece for a while now. In fact, I have been working on something for a while now focused on the history of a specific character and their significant stories and whatnot. But it’s taking tons of research and I can’t see it being that regular a thing. I’ll try my hardest, but it’s definitely not something I can do often.

But I really want to write a kind of guide to help people get into comics every now and then. As in ongoing series, not just older stories. And it’s also something that can be done regularly, what with the frequent relaunches Marvel and DC seem to love. And what better time than now, with DC’s Rebirth having had enough time to cook that a series’ quality can be determined (as long as they retain the same writers, and to a lesser degree artists, that is)? Of course, this will mostly be from what I read, but will also include series that I’ve heard are good from fans and friends. To make it perfectly clear, I’ll make sure to mention how I know the series is good. Since this will be focusing on new readers, I won’t be recommending the thicker reads like Black Panther, the stories that don’t hold your hand at all like Batman, or series with over a certain number of issues even though I enjoy them. I was going to just make one list, but it was huge, so I’m separating these by publisher. Anyway, here we go. This list is arranged in descending order (most recommended to least), and series I don’t read myself will always be at the bottom.

1

Wonder Woman
Currently on issue 6 + one special issue (Rebirth one-shot)

Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman is the comic that will make you like Wonder Woman. The story isn’t that important: Diana is trying to find Themyscira after finding out that her New 52 origin is a lie. What’s great about the series is that its characterisation of Diana as a compassionate, patient and loving person who’s still willing to fight when things call for it. The plot is interesting though; it introduces a decent villain, a cool subplot featuring Steve Trevor that ties into Diana’s quest, and makes great use of Cheetah. And all that is finished off with some great mythic elements that always elevate any Wonder Woman story.

At least that’s the plot of the odd numbered issues. The even numbered issues tell the “Year One” story, which is basically what Diana’s probably going to learn herself. It’s essentially a modernised version of her Post-Crisis origin, wherein pilot Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira, and Diana escorts him back to “Man’s World”. However, since there are foregone conclusions, Rucka doesn’t waste time detailing them, instead focusing on smaller emotional scenes that didn’t get much focus the first time around, before focusing on his own story. It ties in neatly with the odd numbered issues as well.

The art for both stories is phenomenal. Liam Sharpe’s thicker lines and strong eye-work given Diana a real sense of strength. Nicola Scott’s Wonder Woman looks younger and much more naive, with a dorky innocent smile across her face. Both artists nail backgrounds, posing and expression, and are honestly just great. And Rucka knows when to cut back and let the art tell the story, or just add layers to a scene.

If you want to get into Wonder Woman, now is the time. I cannot recommend the current Wonder Woman run enough. It’s easy to get into but still has depth.

Note: The Rebirth special is pretty irrelevant and kind of just outright not good. It’s just an issue long statement that Diana’s confused about her origins. You can safely skip it. Continue reading “Recommendations for the New Comic Reader – DC Comics (2016, Q3)”

The Flash (2016) #1 Review

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colourist: Ivan Plascenia

Joshua Williamson is a writer who really deserves more work. While I dropped off it, Birthright is very engaging and epic, while still being emotionally grounded and relatable. The short-lived Illuminati series managed to make all of its characters relatable, even if they were all bad guys. And now Williamson has the thankless task of writing a Barry Allen Flash ongoing after the return of Wally West, as well as needing to follow-up on Geoff Johns’ DC Universe: Rebirth #1, since Barry is a key player in the story. And this is Barry Allen we’re talking about, a character who still has no consistent personality traits. So with all this stacked against him, how does Williamson do? Pretty well! Continue reading “The Flash (2016) #1 Review”