By: Chandler Windham
Spoiler Alert: Geek speak ahead!
In 2011 DC comics, famous for creating such iconic characters as, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and their respective team book, the JLA took a big gamble with it’s new 52 campaign. DC comics basically reset a large portion of their universe back to the beginning while simultaneously leaving other parts intact. In other words, the one word that causes fear and anxiety among heroes and villains, fans and retailers alike was spoken…”Reboot.”
Barbara Gordon AKA Oracle, AKA Batgirl, out of her wheelchair and back in tights! Superman in jeans? Rob Liefeld drawing a thousand books… WTF? DC comics decided that they would reboot all of their books and start over with 52 brand new #1 titles. Some things would remain the same while others would change.What this move has ultimately done to a long time reader like myself is leave me feeling alienated, confused and in many instances uninterested.
Although this is not DC’s first rodeo ride with continuity altering events, Crisis On Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis and Zero Hour much? this new 52 idea somehow seemed a little riskier. So far since the inaugural issues at least 10 of the 52 books have been canceled, while more I can assure you are slated for the chopping block. Reading this blog thus far one may have gotten the impression that I do not like the DC Universe. Quite the contrary, I love those characters and the universe in which they inhibit very much. This is why it pains me to say that I believe DC has dropped the ball.
Before the implementation of the new 52 I was reading Nightwing, Robin, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, JLA, Green Lantern, Green Lantern corps along with the occasional random tie-in and pickup book. Since the Reboot that list has dwindled down to just Teen Titans…and I’m about to be done with that book in a minute. Before I get labeled as not giving it a chance…I did! What I subsequently found was a universe full of characters that I no longer recognized. In one title of Superman, he’s a kid in jeans being hunted by the police and in the other he’s a grown man sporting alien armor. Other characters have been changed in even more dramatic and ridiculous ways that have baffled and outraged fans and critics alike. Let me give you an example.
In pre 52 DC continuity Barbara Gorden was the computer wiz that ran the Birds Of Prey and provided intel to the rest of the DC heroes.
Barbara was the original Batgirl who was forced to hang up her mask when she was shot and crippled by the Joker. In a bold move DC revitalized the character and she became known as the enigmatic super hacker Oracle. Since then DC replaced Barbara as Batgirl with the mute expert fighter and assassin, Cassandra Cain. Cassandra is Asian, which is significant because it brought ethnic diversity to the Batman mythos. Of course DC botched Batgirl again by turning Cassandra back into a Villain ( I think ) but Barbara remained a key figure in the DC universe as Oracle. When the New DC 52 rumors began floating that Barbara would not only walk again but would once again don the cowl and cape, I was disgusted. I mean think of it from this perspective. Let’s say your a person that is bound to a wheelchair and you read comics. We all know that that includes probably several thousand people at least.
Why in the world would DC comics magically grant her the ability to walk again? In my opinion this just seems insensitive and downright disrespectful to those bound to wheelchairs. Barbara went from a super depression to a super wheelchair swaging, butt kicking, cyber queen, whose intel and operatives were in high demand. I loved Birds of Prey and the book was just picking up steam again, when the powers that be basically sneezed away all of the progress she made as a so called disabled person. What makes this even more of a slap in the face is the fact that DC had already introduced a new Bat Woman, whose red tresses and black costume should have satisfied that particular pulp fetish. Why would you disrespect those that may have drawn inspiration from the characters circumstances?
“But Marvel did it with Professor Xavier in the X-men books, why can’t we?
What DC comics has done in my eyes is, “Throw the baby out with the bath water.” They just basically said, “Look man, F@#$ all that back story and B.S y’all been reading for the last ______ years. We’re gonna reboot all that old @#$T and change big chunks of reality and continuity. Don’t worry about any attachments you may have formed over your many years of loyal readership. What difference does it make if we change the sexual orientation, color or universe of your favorite character. DC comics could have instituted dramatic changes without deconstructing large portions of their universe.
I could go further into detail about what I don’t like ( Slutty Starfire, Green Arrow looking like Red Arrow in a green costume, weak writing on solo African American books etc ). What I would like to focus on instead is the lane where I feel DC is doing a great job… for the most part, television and movies.
YJ over TT
One of the things that points out how bad the New 52 books are is when specific comic book titles get lapped by their animated counterparts. Case in point, “Young Justice.”
The DC animated series “Young Justice” is a amalgamation of two comic series “Teen Titans” and “Young Justice”. The cartoon takes the best of both titles, mashes them up within specific black-ops missions role, coupled with great animation, thoughtful writing, kick ass action sequences and you have got the absolute, hands down best super hero cartoon in the history of television. The new 52 needs to rethink where it’s going and reboot the reboot of Teen Titans to be a little more like Young Justice. I’m going to hang on for a few more issues and see how they handle this next arc. If you have not yet checked out YJ trust me and give it a try. Season one is good, Season two is great!
DC is also “Kirby-Dotting” all over the competition with it’s Animated Direct to DVD releases, which are targeted and marketed directly at comic book fans. Among the best is Batman: Under The Red Hood, Justice League: Doom, Superman/Batman Public Enemies, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Wonder Woman. ( Feel free to ask me what I thought of other titles before you buy if unsure ). DC is currently in post production, I believe on the upcoming, long awaited, “The Dark Knight Returns,” which is arguably one of the greatest comic book yarns of all time. I’m soooooo hoping they get it right.
DC and it’s parent company WB has a somewhat mixed history when it comes to film projects.
Director Christopher Nolan singlehandedly saved the DC universes film division. Batman Begins should appear whenever you google “perfect reboot”, only too be knocked off of it’s perch by the equally brilliant sequel The Dark Knight. If he can pull off the elusive hat-trick this July with the third installment in the series, Christopher Nolan will find himself immortalized in the hearts of geeks forever. With that being said, DC has not been so fortunate with it’s other film properties.
Just recently ( I’m trying to forget ) DC/WB barfed up the turd of a movie Green Lantern. GL should have been a hit. That corner of the DC universe is just waiting to be given the proper director and spun into a truly grand space epic to Dwarf Star Wars. Green Lantern should have been box office-crack. Instead we got an unwatchable, embarrassment that still makes me cringe. I brought my children to see that B@#$%^it MaaaANnnn!!! …But I digress. Superman Returns, the rebooted Superman movie from 2006 was supposed to reignite the franchise.
Instead what we got was a dead-beat dad, peeping tom that never throws a punch throughout the entire movie….wtf? All they did was basically rehash the plot from 1979’s Superman ( which is way better ). The non super powered Lex Luther worked just fine back then. The original was pure greatness and followed up by an arguably better sequel. In Superman 2 we get too see Supes battle it out with beings as powerful as himself. Had they gone the non-powered villain rout again for the sequel it would have sucked! Why in the name of bee-vomit would you go back to the days of no super powered villain?…..Choke! DC/WB will have a chance to redeem the Superman Franchise once again come next year. Let’s hope they take a cue from Marvel’s, “The Avengers” and make it action packed.
And speaking of the uber- blockbuster, record breaking Avengers film, with it’s success you can be 100% sure that the long rumored Batman/Superman film will be fast-tracked followed by a Justice League of America 300+ million dollar full length feature film.
So what do I think of the current state of Marvel’s comics and cartoons and which ones am I reading and watching now? All that and what do I consider to be the best Comic books on the market today?
Chandler Windham is a contributor to Geek Mode and this article as well as his other postings can be found on his blog site “The People’s Mic”