The New DCU and Its Travails
It seems obvious now that I’m writing it down, and I can just see the words in front of me, but the essential problem with DC and their 52-new issue reboot/relaunch/reinvention is that it was really just a huge publicity stunt.
By which I mean: they didn’t actually change their *product* in any meaningful way; they just tried to generate a lot of hype and notice for their work, and then just continued to do the same basic thing that they’ve been doing for fifty years.
There are exceptions, of course — Animal Man, maybe Demon Knights, maybe Justice League Dark will turn out to be crazy — but the fundamental problem that DC’s comics had wasn’t that no one KNEW about them, it was that no one CARED about them. And that’s because DC is bascially the bottled water or the Mexican food of comics.
“So, what’s Justice League about?”
“Well, it’s this team of heroes that fights aliens and monsters and supercriminals.”
“Okay, well, what about Justice League International?”
“Well…it’s this team of heroes that fights aliens and monsters and supercriminals.”
“So, what about Red Hood and the Outlaws?”
“…team of heroes that fights aliens and monsters and supercrminals.”
“Like the other guys, only younger.”
The problem is that they relaunched something like Deathstroke, but they did it under the assumption that the reason that no one was reading Deathstroke was that it was too complicated to figure out. But actually the problem is that no one cared about it. So they reboot all of these titles, and now, great, no one has to worry about continuity, BUT DEATHSTROKE STILL ISN’T VERY INTERESTING.
Even some of the other stuff — like, look at Supergirl. The solicits for Supergirl talk about how she has Superman’s powers, but doesn’t have his compassion for humans because she’s more alien. So right away, even though you don’t need to know about a half a century of comics continuity to be interested in Supergirl, the premise still relies very heavily on you having a working knowledge of Superman, his character, and his place in the universe. That’s because she’s still the same character, and she’s still doing the same things — all they did was say, “Listen, don’t worry about continuity now.”
“What’s Mister Terrific about?”
“He’s a billionaire inventor who fights crime.”
“So he’s like Batman.”
“Well, yes. Except he’s black and is better at math.”
“What about Green Arrow?”
“He’s…a billionaire inventor who fights crime. AND! He has a bow and arrow and wears green.”
“What’s Nightwing about?”
“Batman if he lived in a circus.”
“Batman if he lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“Batman if he was a girl.”
“Look, shut up, okay? It’s all the same fucking thing, just pick one and read it.”
“What if I don’t like Batman?”
“Are you serious? Who doesn’t like Batman? Here, uh, we’ve got this comic here about some vampires. Teenagers like vampires, right? Or cowboys. We’ve got a cowboy comic! Read those.”