Saturday, June 11, 2011


A little over a week ago, DC Comics announced that they'll be relaunching their entire line of comic books with 52 number one issues. For those of you who don't follow the funny pages, this is kind of a big deal.

It's not so much a big deal as far as storylines go. I mean, we pretty much see a new origin of Superman or Batman every few years. Not necessarily in comics, though that happens too. But since 1986, there have been about a dozen retellings of Superman's beginnings. There have been several origin stories in the comics, there was Lois & Clark, Smallville, Superman Returns, and even an animated series at some point in the 90s.

The big deal here the renumbering of titles that have been ongoing for decades. Action Comics, the longest running comic book to date is starting over, after recently crossing its 900th issue. Detective Comics, which introduced the world to Batman and the reason National Comics became DC Comics, won't get a chance to see number 900, thought it would've only been about a year or so away from that number.

Okay, it's the story too. While not everything about this relaunch or reboot or whatever DC wants to call it has been revealed, it sure looks like a lot of the things that have been built for the last few decades is being thrown out the window so they can start all over with a big publicity stunt. And at this point, I kind of want to file this decision under "What Were They Thinking?" We can put it right next to the folder marked "NBC Moves Leno to 10PM."

I'm gonna split this up. The following will be the most recognizable of the old/new titles that DC will be putting out come September. I'll give my thoughts and decide whether it's something I want to see. For the ones I"ll keep getting regularly, I'll call it monthly. For the ones I'll give a shot initially, I'll say first issue. For any I'm not interested in I'll just say not interested.

The thing is, for years I've said that I would keep on buying these things until Action Comics reached issue 1,000. That would have been another 10 years away, roughly. With this relaunch at #1, it's now another 83 years away. I won't make it that long. But I'm in too deep to just quit now because I don't like this decision from the initial announcement. So I'll give it a shot. However, I may have to consider this the beginning of the end for me and comic books. Maybe it's time.

So let's start with the big guns. Superman and all his related titles. Really, DC Comics' original super-hero doesn't have many related titles. When we get to Batman's books, it becomes kind of clear that he's a little more popular. At least, a little more favored in the publishers' eyes. Anyway, here we have Action Comics number one. It isn't a picture of a strong man picking up a car like on the classic number one. It's a picture of a guy in a Superman t-shirt and jeans. Kind of looks like he's just picking up a big rock. Oh, and his eyes are glowing red. I'm not so sure I'm digging the everyman look. But I'm giving it a shot. It's written by Grant Morrison, who is pretty good at this comic book writing thing.
Verdict: Monthly - I mean, it's still Action Comics. They'd have to really tick me off for me to stop getting this one.

This brings us to Superman #1. Kind of looks like Superman destroyed the Daily Planet. I really hope that's not the case. I mean, where will Clark Kent work? There's a rumor that they're dissolving the Clark Kent/Lois Lane marriage in this reboot. I definitely don't like that development. If that's true, my hope is that the relationship is still there in some form. And the outfit is different here than on the cover of Action. What's up with that? Are we dealing with two different Supermen? Are these two different time periods? I'm confused. And I guess I won't be getting any answers until September.
Verdict: Monthly - Again, it's still Superman.
Ah, Superman's cousin, making her 73rd first appearance in Supergirl #1. The solicit describes her as an unpredictable teenager who has all the same powers as Superman. It also says she doesn't have Superman's concern for humanity. Kinda makes it sound like she's dangerous to even have around.
Verdict: Monthly - Again, it's still Supergirl.
Before all this reboot nonsense, Superboy was a clone created by combining Superman's DNA with Lex Luthor's. He's a character that has evolved from an obnoxious kid that showed up after Superman was killed by Doomsday into an actually interesting character who struggles with the good vs. evil that seems to battle inside his genetic code. The description we get for Superboy #1 claims he's still a clone, but the picture makes him look more like a cyborg. I think that possibility concerns me a little more than Supergirl's distaste for the people of earth.
Verdict: Monthly - You know, I'll keep getting all these Super titles as long as I'm still collecting. Superman was the reason I got into comics in the first place. When I quit Superman and his family, it'll be because I quit comics for good.

Welcome to the Batman family of books, beginning with Detective Comics, followed by about a hundred other titles. There has been an awful lot going on in the world of Batman in the last few years. For a while it looked like Batman (Bruce Wayne) had been killed. He came back to a world where Dick Grayson (the original Robin) had taken over as Batman. And then Bruce became Batman again. And he set up a Batman Incorporated, which took on the mission of having a number of Batman operatives all around the world. Now they're bringing it all back to just having one Batman. All that build up. And then a fizzle.
Verdict: Not Interested - It's not that I'm not interested in Batman. It's just that Detective lost my interest a long time ago. Of the Bat titles, it wasn't exactly the most exciting. And there was a time when I had to start cutting things for budgetary reasons. This one didn't make the cut. I don't see any reason to change that.

Batman #1 shows us a pretty tough looking Batman. The green question mark shaved into that guy's head makes it look like the Riddler has a new look. The cover also shows Two-Face and Killer Croc, along with a couple other unidentified bad guys. Guess the Batman in the new DC Universe has no problem taking down multiple super-villains at one time.
Verdict: Monthly - This one I'll keep getting. At least for a while.

Batman and Robin #1 features the one and only Batman teamed up with the fifth Robin (in the continuity as we know it). Who is this fifth Robin? I'm glad you asked. His name is Damien Wayne. He's the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul (the daughter of Ra's al Ghul). He came along a few years ago and had a rough start with the third Robin (Tim Drake). And you thought your family was complicated.
Verdict: Monthly - This one has been pretty consistently good in the past. I'll keep it going. At least for a while.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 is a title that explores some of the supernatural elements in Gotham. It's a title that just started earlier this year and is already getting relaunched with another number one. Two #1s in the same year. Seems a bit excessive.
Verdict: Not Interested - It didn't do much for me when it started at the beginning of the year and I don't see that opinion changing.

Batwoman #1 brings us to the extended Bat-family of titles. This is a character that was introduced to the world a few years ago during DC's year-long weekly title 52. She's proven to be pretty popular thanks to some great story telling. Her solo title has been long-promised and postponed, and now we know why. DC was just waiting for September so they could publish number one along with all the others.
Verdict: First Issue - Like I said, the stories that she's been featured in have been great. So I'll be interested to see what else happens. At least at first.

Here's one that has proven to be really controversial. Batgirl #1 features Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. Some of you may not be aware that Barbara Gordon hasn't been Batgirl in over 20 years. If your only exposure to Commissioner Gordon's daughter was the old 60s Batman TV series, it might surprise you to find out that Babs was shot in the spine by the Joker and has been in a wheelchair since the late 80s. Since then, Ms. Gordon has grown into this awesome character known as Oracle. Basically, she's the cybernetic eyes and ears of the super-hero community. And now, suddenly, she's back in the cape and cowl. I really want to know how they're going to take back the last 20 years. Another problem I have here is that there have been two other Batgirls since Barbara. Cassandra Cain, who's been pretty absent of late, but recently resurfaced, and Stephanie Brown, who has been headlining her own Batgirl series, which was pretty fantastic. And now, these two Batgirls seem to just be gone. Not cool DCU.
Verdict: Monthly - It's written by Gail Simone, a writer who got into comics because of her love of Barbara Gordon. This is the writer who has written much of Oracle's stories in Birds of Prey for the last decade or so. I'm gonna treat this the same way I'm treating Batman.

Who wouldn't have a crush on Catwoman? I mean, I don't think I would be into the whole dominatrix thing. But there's something kind of hot about a chick in a skin-tight cat suit with a whip. Could I possibly sound any more sexist? Good. Moving on. She's the closest thing to a steady girlfriend that Batman is ever gonna have. So Selina Kyle is the kind of character that interests me. But if Batman's lady friend can have her own title, why can't Superman's? Where is the Lois Lane comic book? Just sayin'.
Verdict: Monthly - She's the bad girl with a heart of gold. I think it's worth checking out for a while anyway.

Nightwing is, in reality, Dick Grayson. Dick Grayson, as you may know, was Batman's first sidekick, Robin. Most recently he's been running around Gotham as a second Batman. But now it looks like he's going back to his original grown-up alter ego. Not sure if they're going to explain why.
Verdict: Monthly - I liked this title before it was canceled a few years ago. Now that it's back, I'll give it the same shot I'm giving Batman and Catwoman.

Red Hood and the Outlaws features Jason Todd as the Red Hood. Jason was Batman's second Robin, who was killed. But as is pretty typical in the comic book world, he got better. He returned from the grave with a pretty bad attitude. He's the kind of vigilante who has no real problem killing bad guys in order to instill fear into the criminal element. It looks like he's got a team made up of Arsenal (or Red Arrow), Green Arrow's former sidekick, and Starfire, an alien princess who used to be Dick Grayson's teammate on the Teen Titans.
Verdict: First Issue - I'll give it a shot, but I'm not sure that it'll keep my interest.

Batwing features a character that was recently introduced in the pages of Batman, Incorporated. I don't know much about him, but he's apparently the Batman of the African continent. Doesn't seem fair to me. I mean, Africa is a lot of ground to cover. Batman just has to deal with Gotham City. And Gotham doesn't just have Batman. Apparently there's a Robin, a Nightwing, a Batwoman and Batgirl all running around helping out.
Verdict: Not Interested - If I'm cutting titles during this relaunch, is it a good idea to start getting involved in the stories of a new character?

Birds of Prey is a series that's been around for a while. In the past, it mostly featured Oracle (formerly Barbara Gordon), Black Canary, and the Huntress. From the cover, it looks like only Black Canary is sticking around. Sure, she's bringing a lady called Katana and someone who looks a lot like the Bat-villain Poison Ivy. But this time around, the series isn't written by Gail Simone, who's done a great job with the team in the past.
Verdict: Not Interested - If Simone was writing it, I'd be on board. Not this time.

So yeah, those are the Superman and Batman related titles. Quite a bit more in the world of Batman than Superman. Did anyone else notice that? I can discuss the other titles later on. If this post didn't bore everyone to death, that is.

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