It seems like only yesterday we were all sitting in nervous anticipation of what would become known as DC Comics’ New 52, a line-wide relaunch and semi-reboot of its superhero universe. But here we stand (we survived the madness!) one year later, and there’s a lot to reflect on.
There’s no doubt that the New 52 has suffered through some growing pains over the course of the last year – and trudged its way through some pretty ugly controversies – but by and large, things are finally starting to come together in a cohesive fashion. What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the New 52? Let’s kick it off on a happy note:
The real reason the New 52 happened in the first place: sales. Comic sales had been dwindling for quite some time, and DC had been playing second fiddle to Marvel for years. The New 52 closed that gap significantly, and even put DC on top for many months — including July 2012, which at the time of this writing, is the last round of sales numbers that has been revealed. More importantly, comic book sales as a whole have been up.
The competition between Marvel and DC has become much closer, which can only be a good thing for readers. These companies have to try and outdo each other, which means trying new things and attempting to push the envelope. Case in point: Marvel’s renewed focus on digital comics and their impending Marvel NOW! initiative.
A year in and sales are still going strong for DC with their post-reboot numbers still eclipsing plenty of the pre-reboot numbers. Batman and Justice League in particular are still regularly selling 110K+, an impressive chart-topping number in today’s market. The New 52 brought in plenty of mainstream attention and thus new people into comic shops, and that’s exactly what comics, as an industry, needs.
Part of DC’s plan to reinvigorate their line is to revamp classic characters in interesting ways or introduce wholly new ones. Thankfully, after a year living in this new DC Universe, we’ve been blessed with quite a few breakout characters. Some established favorites, like Aquaman and Animal Man, have been refreshed with exciting new takes, bringing them to the forefront of the DCU once more. And, in the case of Aquaman, that also brought some sales success. Who would’ve thought that Aquaman could outsell every Marvel book for a couple of months?
Perhaps more important is the introduction to some brand new characters that have quickly become favorites of readers. Starling of the Birds of Prey, Tig Rafelson of I, Vampire, the Court of Owls, and even the concepts of the Red and the Rot have won the hearts – and perhaps the fears – of the DCU faithful. Of course, there are plenty of throwaway villains that were created in this first year, but overall, the success of these new additions far outweigh any of the missteps.
Besides, there’s no such thing as a bad character – some of the weaker new elements of the New 52 could eventually turn out to be something great in the future.
Before the New 52, DC Comics had a select few titles that were day-and-date digital. Cut to today, where every single DCU title is released the same day as print, not to mention all the Vertigo titles and DC’s many digital-first series that hit every day of the week. Ponder that for one second – DC has comics releasing every single day, Monday through Friday. If I could time travel even a couple of years back and tell myself that there would be new comics all week, my past-self would just scoff and give me the finger.
As a result of DC’s initiative to be day-and-date also comes the improvement of other publisher’s digital comics services. Since DC’s commitment to digital, we’ve seen Marvel take DC’s combo-pack idea and improve it, offering a free digital download for their $3.99 titles to those who purchase a print copy. Even better, Marvel is now pushing the boundaries of the digital canvas itself with their Infinite Comics.
DC wasn’t the first comics publisher to go same-day digital, but the scale of their initiative helped to jumpstart the bevy of other publishers to take digital comics seriously. Only one year later, and it’s hard to find a publisher that isn’t day-and-date digital.
Just as the New 52 was focused on bringing new and different characters to the forefront, so too did it incorporate some fresh faces behind the scenes. Creators like Justin Jordan, James Tynion IV, Nathan Edmondson, Josh Fialkov, China Mieville, Amy Reeder, and Kyle Higgins have all participated in the reboot to varying degrees, bringing a fresh voice to the DC Universe in a more significant capacity than before. Not to mention other creators that were on the brink of mainstream comics superstardom – Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire spring to mind – and were pushed into the forefront of the superhero comics community with the New 52.
While the tried-and-true DC stable were of course instrumental in the formation of this new DCU, it was the willingness to try out new creators that showed DC was serious about progressing their product. Whether or not the experiment worked/will work is another story, but at least they gave them a shot.
Source : feeds[dot]ign[dot]com