I gave the New 52 a try

I gave the New 52 a try, but over the past two years I’ve dropped half the series I was collecting, and the others have been canceled. I’m down to one DCU series.

The New 52 DC universe no longer feels like the same DC universe I used to follow. The tone is off (though to be fair, it had been shifting ever since Identity Crisis), and it’s now just different enough to feel unfamiliar and off-putting, but not different enough to feel like another fictional world that I can enjoy on its own terms.

A few years back I came to the realization that a shared universe I knew well, like DC at the time, was a hook that would encourage me to try more comics set in that world, while one that I didn’t know so well, like Marvel, actually discouraged me from reading it. The Marvel books I read tend to be those that are either not the Marvel universe, or set off in a corner of it. Since the New 52, the same has been true of DC.

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I feel like the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths universe was a lot more open and creative than the New 52

I feel like the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths universe was a lot more open and creative than the New 52, which seems to be this weird combination of top-down heavy-handed editorial mandate and throw-things-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks. It felt like almost anything was possible.

Then again, I’m thinking of the first ~5 years or so after COIE (before it accumulated enough complexity that they started doing things like Zero Hour and all the gimmicks we now think of as exemplifying the 1990s), and we’re only 2 years into the New 52, and I do remember there being a bit of a shakedown period — and I’ve had 20 years to forget the stuff that didn’t work in the late 1980s in favor of what did. So I could be seeing it through nostalgia-colored glasses.

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The New 52 reboot *was* rushed compared to COIE.

The thing is, the New 52 reboot was rushed compared to COIE.

COIE was a 12-issue event created specifically to clean house and combine what they wanted to keep into a new reality.

Flashpoint was a stand-alone “fix the broken timeline” story that grew. Somewhere along the line, DC decided to use it as the springboard to launch the New 52. They added a double-page spread with some mumbo-jumbo about merging timelines, and drew the new costumes on Batman and Barry for the last two pages. (I can’t confirm this, but given the timeline of when Johns and Kubert started Flashpoint, when the reboot got greenlit, the story of Flashpoint itself, and all the stuff Johns talked about putting into his Flash run that didn’t make it, this makes the most sense.)

In my mind, Flashpoint and the New 52 are completely separate entities.

And speaking of things that are completely separate…

“Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are doing amazing work.”

Yes. Yes they are.

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I’ve never heard of a case where a physical comic store closed because of digital comics.

I’ve never heard of a case where a physical comic store closed because of digital comics. Everyone keeps predicting it based on the way things have gone with bookstores, video rental stores, and music stores, but it either isn’t happening or hasn’t happened yet (as far as I can see).

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Why Wonder Woman is in the DC Trinity

Interesting historical fact: In the 1940s, DC contracted out to a second publisher, All-American comics, to produce more comics under the DC brand. The top three characters at DC proper were Superman, Batman and Robin (starring in World’s Finest). The top three at All-American were Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern (starring in Comic Cavalcade). In the middle of the decade, DC bought All-American outright.

Those six characters are still the most recognizable from DC, but… Robin is always the second half of “Batman and…” Green Lantern and the Flash disappeared for several years before being completely reinvented in the late 1950s, and have never reached the level of mainstream recognition that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have.

That’s what I think matters here: the “trinity” are the three DC characters best known to the American public at large over the last 7 decades, not those who are most popular among today’s comic book readers: Those would be Batman, Batman, and Batman

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Amtrak to SDCC

I’ve done Amtrak from LA a couple of times, and it’s a nice way to cut down on the driving stress. Driving 2.5-3 hours twice daily is grueling, especially when it overlaps with rush hour. Plus you have time to read your new comics on the way home!

But it does lock down your schedule a bit on the days you take it, and the line to get on the last northbound train of the evening is…actually not too much worse than some other comic-con lines, now that I think about it.

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Background that’s important for this particular story and background that exists

I think one problem we tend to run into as fans is that we often can’t tell the difference between background that’s important for this particular story and background that exists, but maybe isn’t critical to know right now. That carries over into the writing style as fans turn pro and as writers target the fan audience.

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Good Time Travel Comics

“DC One Million” is a Justice League story that spans 800,000 years. It was a big event, but there’s a collection that features the main story and the key tie-ins.

“JLA: Rock of Ages” is another Justice League time travel story. Grant Morrison revisited some of the same ground later on with Final Crisis, but IMO Rock of Ages hangs together better. Edit: In Rock of Ages, several members of the League jump forward in time a decade or so and find that Darkseid has conquered Earth.

“Time Masters” from ~1990 is a good stand-alone story featuring Rip Hunter. (Not to be confused with Time Masters: Vanishing Point – I haven’t read that one, but as I understand it was built around Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne and Flashpoint.) It was reprinted a few years ago, so you should be able to find it. It’s a time travel conspiracy story with the modern team of time travelers trying to block Vandal Savage and the Illuminati in different periods of history.

I rather liked the short-lived series “Chronos,” about an industrial spy who stumbles into becoming a time traveler. It only lasted around 10 issues or so. Another short-lived series, Hourman, was about a time-traveling android and spun out of DC One Million.

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Biggest disappointment with the New 52

Actually, while I wrote “Wally” below, I think my biggest disappointment with the New 52 was that they didn’t go far enough.

They had a chance to completely reinvent the DC Universe to an extent that we haven’t seen since the dawn of the Silver Age. Instead, we have the same basic characters: Superman is still Clark Kent, Batman is still Bruce Wayne, Wonder Woman is still Diana, Flash is still Barry Allen, Green Lantern is still Hal Jordan (and John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner, and Guy Gardner), etc.

They could have tried to recapture the sheer creativity that made the Silver Age such a success. (What if instead of a guy with a magic ring, we make him a space cop? What if instead of a small guy who’s really strong, he actually shrinks to microscopic size?) Instead, they tried to recapture the success of the post-Crisis DCU. That’s still ambitious, but it has nowhere near the same level of potential, and I think that’s thrown a wet blanket over the past year.

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Comics aren’t missing from comic-con.

“Why should Comic Con be an exclusive comics-only club? What is wrong with welcoming all things geeky? For four days, the spotlight is on the things we love. Isn’t that a good thing?”

EXACTLY.

I do not understand why people who have traditionally been excluded from the cool kids’ hangout are so determined to turn around and exclude someone else.

I was looking at the program grid this weekend. Events are color-coded for comics, movies, TV, gaming, sci-fi/fantasy, and “everything else.” The majority of the events were comics-related. Comics aren’t missing from comic-con. They’re the nucleus around which everything else is built.

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I sort of see digital comics in their current form as renting indefinitely

I sort of see digital comics in their current form as renting indefinitely, not purchasing outright. But when I think about it, there are an awful lot of comics that I read once and then toss in a box never to be seen again. Under those circumstances, the risk of losing those digital comics to a combination of DRM and company whim and/or business failure doesn’t make much difference.

Sure, there’s no resale value when I’m done with those comics. But let’s face it: there’s very little resale value on most of the physical comics I’ve bought and read once.

I still buy most of my comics on paper, but there are a few series I’ve tried out digitally, and so far aside from the fact that ComiXology could really benefit from a usability expert overhauling their UI, it’s mostly worked out so far.

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Keeping your pull list sane

As others have mentioned, dropping stuff you don’t actually read is a good idea. I’ve got two books that I haven’t read in the last three months, though in one case I’ve been holding off so that I could read a whole arc at once.

I’ll go one farther: If you ever find that you don’t like a book much, and you’re only reading it for completeness’ sake, or because you feel like you have to in order to keep up with the publisher’s shared universe, drop it. I used to get every big DC event comic, but I didn’t actually like a lot of them, and they just took up space. So I made a decision that from now on, I won’t buy events just because they’re universe-spanning. I’ll only buy the events that look interesting to me.

One more thing I’ve found helps is to start with “what if I could only buy one comic?” Pick one. Then “What if I could only buy two?” Pick the second one. Keep going until you reach the number that fits your budget. It’s a ranked list, but taking it one item at a time really forces you to think about the top of the list.

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DC Fan on Marvel

I think there’s something to the big-universe effect.

I’ve read mainly DC since I was a kid, with more indie books mixed in over the last decade, and only the occasional Marvel book. What kept me coming back to DC was the familiar universe. What’s kept me away from Marvel, I think, is the unfamiliar universe.

I’m a lot more willing to pick up an indie book that takes place in its own self-contained world than a book in a big established world that’s likely to pull in the rest of the line. This has been true for Marvel, certainly, but also for WildStorm (when it was its own universe), Top Cow, etc. The books I’ve read from those publishers, Marvel included, tend to be creator-driven or take place in their own little corner of the shared universe.

TLDR: I think Marvel’s fine, but I’ve just never gotten into it.

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Flashpoint wasn’t originally going to be a reboot

It’s been stated that Flashpoint wasn’t originally going to be a reboot, and it’s been stated that Dan Didio has wanted to do a reboot as far back as Infinite Crisis. (I think that plan ended up morphing into “One Year Later” and 52.)

I have no idea whether Final Crisis was at some point planned to be a reboot or not, though.

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I remember when Geoff Johns wrote “Blitz” and “Ignition”

I remember when Geoff Johns wrote “Blitz” and “Ignition” in order to make the points that (a) heroes don’t need tragedy to make them great and (b) grim & gritty and decompression have their place, but aren’t the best fit for a character like the Flash.

Then a few years later he gave us Flash: Rebirth, Flashpoint, and the New 52.

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