52 Reasons Why I’m Having a Hard Time Loving DC’s “New 52” Line-Up
1. They shaved Deadshot’s mustache. That just ain’t right.
2. So a miraculous operation means Barbara Gordon is back in business as Batgirl. And hey, let’s just gloss over any explanation about why she’s no longer in a wheelchair or ably filling a much-needed role in the DCU and just marvel at the fact she’s now running around rooftops and saying “I’m not Batwoman” at least once an issue. That’s… great? I guess?
3. Speaking of the Bat-family: so in addition to a back-in-action Batgirl, we’ve also got the brand-new Batwing added to Nightwing and Robin and Red Robin and Batwoman and Batman. Oh, and they’re launching a new Batman Incorporated series this month. We get it: the order Chiroptera has been very generous to Time-Warner’s coffers. But seriously: enough with the bats!
4. So Joker’s face gets sliced off and mounted in a display case?
5. And then Harley steals it, spreads it over her tied-up captive’s face and talks to/makes out with it? Gross.
6. Red Hood and the Outlaws. One online reviewer said it “makes you want to punch the entire comic book industry.” Sounds about right.
7. Red Hood. Period.
8. Remember when the comics took occasional breaks from the relentless action and battle scenes?
9. Or showed team members just chillin’ between missions, even cracking a smile that wouldn’t be categorized as a “leer” or “grimace”?
10. Or showed characters living actual lives outside of whatever end-of-the-world superhero crisis they were dealing with at the moment?
11. Maybe even, God forbid, spent a few seconds checking in on what’s happening in the life of a supporting character? I miss those days.
12. “Well, yeah, of course we totally need a Suicide Squad book in the lineup. Hardened criminals in covert missions? That’s got ‘New 52’ all over it. Put Amanda Waller in charge? Definitely. Wouldn’t be the same without her. But make her skinny. Skinny and hot. No fat chicks allowed in the New 52.” Sigh…
13. For crying out loud, we can’t even have a decent Jonah Hex story (and it is a decent story, I will admit) without sending him off to Gotham City and having him meet Dr. Arkham and — oh look, someone just made a comment about how they pray Gotham will never need a masked hero to help keep the peace. WE GET IT.
14. Don’t get me wrong, I like characterization. I’m not suggesting we go back to the early days of the Justice League, when all the members might as well have been named Interchangeable Bland Dudes, but… come on, did they really have to make Hal Jordan such a dick in the Justice League book?
15. And while we’re on the subject: it’s pretty hard to take this whole “we’re starting everything over!” idea seriously when some of the titles — I’m looking your way, Green Lantern — are just continuing storylines from previous titles of the same name. Nice to know Geoff Johns has enough pull to keep telling his stories the way he wants to tell them, but it’s a little grating trying to figure out which books really are “all new” and which ones aren’t.
16. Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Red Lanterns. Methinks we’re padding to get up to 52.
17. Speaking of Red Lanterns, was anyone out there really writing to DC and begging for the continuing adventures of Atrocitus, Bleez and the blood-vomiting cat?
18. And is anyone else seriously creeped out by whatever the hell Atrocitus is doing with Krona’s corpse?
19. You know, for being such a smart guy with a hate-on for alien life forms, Luthor was just a little too easily conned by Brainiac, don’t you think?
20. O.M.A.C.: yet another reason why everyone should just stop trying to out-Kirby Kirby and accept the fact he went places the rest of us can’t (or shouldn’t) even dream about.
21. Suicide Squad, Checkmate, Cadmus, S.H.A.D.E., the Blackhawks, the Court of Owls, the Religion of Crime dudes in All-Star Western, the secret outfit that created the Resurrection Man… “I know! I’ll write a story about a mysterious organization operating in the shadows and manipulating the lives of our heroes! That’s never been done before!”
22. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally loving the return of the Creature Commandos and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is one of the more way-out-there ideas I’ve seen in a while. But a book about monsters recruited by a secret government agency to protect the world from other monsters? Been there, done that.
23. Speaking of monsters, you know what I haven’t seen in a good long time? Vampires. Specifically, tales about tortured-on-the-inside vampires with heroic natures living among us and protecting humans from the more villainous vampires out there. Thanks goodness I, Vampire is there to fill the void.
24. Remember when Deathstroke was a guest-starring villain who showed up every once in a while, and he was really good at what he did and no one thought he was overexposed, but then everything went “to the X-TREME!!!” in the ’90s and he was given his own title and guest-starred everywhere because he was the closest DC had to a badass anti-hero, and everyone talked about what a badass he was even when he wasn’t there, thus making him seem like less of a badass because it’s show-not-tell in the writing game? Well, let’s do that again!
25. Why is everyone screaming and gritting their teeth all the time? Look at these cover images from the first six issues of Blue Beetle. And in case you’re wondering, the other covers show him gritting his teeth in the heat of battle. Do you think the cover artists were told that the first one of them to draw a smile would get fired?
26. So Lord Poseidon is now a giant fish-monster with tentacles and a starfish crown? Really? Hera and Hermes get to stay more or less human and Poseidon gets stuck looking like someone who crossed Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid? I must have skipped that chapter in Bulfinch’s.
27. Etrigan doesn’t speak in rhyme? The hell? Putting out a book where Etrigan doesn’t speak in rhyme makes as much sense as putting Catwoman in a muumuu.
28. Godiva? The British chick from the Global Guardians? The one with the super-prehensile hair? She makes the JLI cut? I mean, I get they needed someone to play the role of the “I’m in over my head because my power is lame” team member, but (in my best Michael Bluth voice) her?
29. Speaking of Godiva…
New rule: No one ever makes any reference to Batman’s junk. Ever.
30. And while we’re talking about the JLI book: whoever decided to take away Booster Gold’s gig as the time-traveling “greatest hero you never heard of” and recast him as corporate-sponsored leader of the least convincing iteration of the Justice League since its days in Detroit should go clean out his or her desk.
31. Perhaps I should just say “his” desk, since women account for a whopping 1% of the creator lineup for the New 52 books, down from an underwhelming 12% prior to the relaunch. Now, I’m not the type of person who thinks every company’s workforce should match the demographics of the greater population, but you can’t help but wonder if there’s any correlation between the generic sameness of the plots, characters and artwork, and the relatively homogenous lineup of talent.
32. So in this new continuity, Green Lantern and Batman are essentially the same guys, Superman has changed a bit but he’s still the Clark Kent we all know and love, but Green Arrow is much younger, head of a billion-dollar tech company, surrounded by supporting cast members who feel like they were cut from the pilot of a crappy Human Target/Knight Rider-type TV show, and he’s a complete douche. Sign. Me. Up.
33. (Looking at the cover of Hawk and Dove #1) Oh. (opening the book) Oh, God. (flipping through pages) No. Make it stop! Well, at least they didn’t let Liefeld write and draw this book. (Seriously, though, he’s still getting work?)
34. So, Hawk and Dove’s big arch-nemesis doppelgängers are named Condor and Swan? (Snerk.) No doubt the evil machinations of Ptarmigan, Puffin, Cassowary, Titmouse and the Yellow-Bellied Sap-Sucker are coming right up… what, they cancelled the book already? That’s a pity.
35. Script for Supergirl #1: “Supergirl lands on Earth, Supergirl fights dudes in battlesuits, Superman shows up.” That is literally the entire comic. The worst Silver Age hack would have been embarrassed to turn in a script like that.
36. I like Catwoman as a character, and I liked Brubaker’s take on her, so I was a bit sad when that series ended. The first issue of the new series starts off all right by giving us a little plot, setting up the major players and ending with a cliffhanger to keep us coming back. Only one problem: the cliffhanger is Catwoman and Batman f**king. Now, I don’t like using that word casually, but there’s no other word that fits there: they meet, they strip, they hump. It’s like someone decided to take every stride Catwoman has made in the past 30 years to establish herself as a strong and independent character and said “Nuh-uh” before urinating over every one of them. It’s just a terrible idea all around.
37. Also terrible? An end-of-issue cliffhanger that sends Catwoman a half-mile straight up in the air, then shows her in the next issue saving herself by snagging a construction crane with her whip as she’s plummeting to the earth. I’m no physics major, but it seems that pulling off that kind of move would do a lot more damage than a dislocated shoulder.
38. “Sorry, Captain Atom, but Doctor Manhattan is filling that role quite ably at the moment. We’ll call you if another opening comes up.”
39. Harley Quinn in denim cutoffs and a tank top: yeah! Harley Quinn getting dunked in the same Joker bath as the Joker, suggesting that anyone can get “jokerized” with the right combination of chemicals and therefore diluting the uniqueness of the original article: Meh.
40. Fine, call me an old fart. But I do miss the red shorts. Just doesn’t look right, with that much blue on him.
The ironic part? This swimsuit covers pretty much the same amount of skin as the suit she wears in battle.
42. All right, so here’s the thing. I liked The Authority. I thought it was a book with a lot of interesting ideas, and it also functioned as a kind of meta-commentary on the more famous superheroes roaming around the Marvel and DC universes. So I’m not so sure if was such a good idea placing all those characters in the DC universe, and having them act as the real (and unheralded) defenders of Earth. For one thing, it makes the Justice League look like a bunch of morons for not realizing these guys are around, and that just ain’t cool. I dunno, maybe they’ll make it work and I just have to get over my ambivalence about having everyone put in the same universe. We’ll see.
43. Not even six months into this experiment and we’re already trotting out crossover storylines to force readers to buy more books? You suck, DC.
44. In this new series, The Ravagers, there’s a Beast Boy and he’s going to be red. C’est un sacrilège!
45. So, Mister Terrific. You know how they say it’s really hard to write convincing stories about really smart people? And if you’re not careful, you end up spewing technobabble that really doesn’t mean anything and you might as well have your characters say “a wizard did it” every time something happens? Yeah.
46. And seriously, dude — you tell us you’re the third-smartest person in the world and you somehow didn’t figure out before you named yourself “Mister Terrific” that people would end up calling you “Mister T”?
47. “The ‘guys’ are gone forever, sweetcheeks! Say hello to Fury.” Oh. Goody.
48. Hey, look! The Body Doubles have the same super-healing powers as every other bloodthirsty psychotic that’s come out in the past 30 years! That’s just super. Because nothing makes a story less boring than characters getting shot or blown to pieces repeatedly, only to rise up again and again to continue the carnage.
49. So, if the Blackhawks are supposed to be a super-secret counter-terrorism agency, why do they go into action with those big team logos all over their planes and jackets? It’s like the Men in Black going out in public with T-shirts saying “WE ARE TOTALLY NOT HERE TO ERASE ANY EVIDENCE OF ALIENS ON EARTH.”
50. The Legion of Super-Heroes has seen more reboots than a computer running Windows Me (and the four computer geeks reading this list start laughing uproariously), so it would have been perfectly natural for DC to do it again for the Legion’s New 52 title, especially with legendary Legion writer Paul Levitz returning to bring some of that old magic back to the franchise. Not so much, it seems, as “impenetrable” is the best work to describe the first few issues. Ah, well — at least Phantom Girl is showing off her rack like a proper super-heroine should.
51. “The Savage Hawkman.” That alone should be enough. It’s like the punchline to a joke that everyone knows, so there’s no point in setting up the joke. Just go straight to the punchline and cue laughter: “The Savage Hawkman.” Sure you are, buddy. Sure you are.
52. Here’s the thing: It’s been eight months, which should be long enough for these titles to work out the kinks, and I’m so bloody bored with all of these titles. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I’m getting more discriminating in my reading, maybe I don’t want to admit that comics have always targeted younger readers who like this kind of non-stop action stuff and I’m not ready to admit I’m not in that group anymore. But every single issue just feels the same: relentless action, everyone screaming their lines or pushing them through gritted teeth, every book ending on a “shocking” cliffhanger, everyone fighting or being part of a shadowy conspiracy, completely gratuitous acts of violence that make the heroes no better than the villains they’re fighting… It’s like we suffered the ’90s for nothing.