Sometimes I get identified on this site as being a Marvel guy as compared to Esther being all about DC and while I’d like to argue against it, my latest buying habits in the past year don’t back me up. I seem to skew more on the Marvel side with only a handful of DC stuff on my plate. It wasn’t always that way. I seem to remember that in the mid-00’s, I was either pretty even with it or maybe even more on DC’s side. Thinking back, things were actually pretty exciting during the lead-up and follow-up of Infinite Crisis. It was really Countdown to Final Crisis where the company started to slope downwards in my regard.
As of a month ago, the comics I was reading under the DC banner were as follows: Batman and Robin, Batman Inc., Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Booster Gold and Secret Six. And you know what? I didn’t even like Secret Six that much by the time it ended. I liked the promise more than what happened. There’d be a good one-shot story in there every once and a while, then it would go into six issues I didn’t care about. At least it gave us the happy-go-lucky characterization of King Shark. At the same time, I feel guilty reading that when I should have gotten off my ass and started reading some of the series that I kept hearing were good like the latest run of Detective Comics, Batgirl, Action Comics and Doom Patrol.
When I first heard about DC’s reboot/relauch I raised an eyebrow and initially had the same, “Can they do that?! HOW CAN THEY DO THAT?!” reaction as everyone else. I just used my inside voice. Then I looked back and decided that maybe this is for the best. Oh, sure, it can and may be a failure in the long run. That’s their problem and the problem of whichever readers got screwed over by the big change. Me? I was only reading six comics by them. 52 new comics are being thrown against the wall and if even seven are still there when gravity kicks in, who am I to hate? Yes, this could definitely work out for the best.
I think back to when we got One Year Later and how enjoyable it was, despite how a lot of it returned back to the status quo. While it did turn me onto a couple good comics I wouldn’t have otherwise read, it did also allow me to join in and laugh at some of the stupider moments with the masses, like everything in that first Nightwing comic. Hey, remember when Nightwing is fighting this guy and he kicks him and practically shits himself while going, “Y-you’re a *gasp* m-metahuman…” as if he had only heard of such a thing before and never met one? Ah, man, that was the dumbest thing. I think the balls-out drive behind this new initiative can lead to an interesting six months at the very least.
So since I’m genuinely interested in this editorial stunt and I owe my comic guy for always having me at his place for wrestling PPVs and never having me pay for the show or food, I decided that I’d go headfirst into the new 52. I’m reading every single one of those fuckers. Yes, even the Liefeld one. Every week, I’m going to give my thoughts on them and decide whether I’m going to stick or drop it. Since these are all supposed to last six issues at the least, I’m going to try and keep going throughout that time so we can see what I’m still reading by the end of February. Who knows, by then I might just be doing an update about what I thought about that week’s issue of Blue Beetle because it’s the only thing left I care about. Though in the beginning, I’m giving every #1 a fair shake. You have my attention, DC. Wow me.
Since I only have one #1 to talk about this week, I might as well go over the show that got us to the dance in the first place: Flashpoint. A couple people I know came up to me on Thursday to say, “So… Flashpoint sucked.” I’m… I’m not really so sure. It might not have been so great, but I can’t outright bury it so easily.
Flashpoint initially made me think of House of M, which for the most part was better. In terms of the idea, the big difference is that one was about everyone getting what they wanted while the other was about everyone ending up in a dystopia. The idea of heroes fighting their way out of their own Heaven instead of their own Hell had more potential and the comparative body count definitely has a hand in it. Most of the deaths in House of M came long after the fact when Christos Gage started doing minis about that reality (ie. House of M: Masters of Evil, which came out years later). With Flashpoint, Chris Eckert shows just how much slaughter DC’s given us.
Where Flashpoint is superior is the final issue. They both had the same ending of, “It was really that speedster guy who was behind it after all!” but Flashpoint proceeded to actually have an acceptable wrap-up. Flash fixed things, had a brief WTF moment of causing the reboot, had a bit of closure with Batman and we’re good to go. House of M ended with a bunch of downers and a cliffhanger for what amounted to a New Avengers arc and a new X-Men villain.
That Flash/Batman scene opened my eyes to what was really going on. Flashpoint is a sucky event because it isn’t written as an event. At least, the main miniseries isn’t. We had tie-ins to tell us what was going on, but Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and most others barely had any real panel time. Usually, an event series goes back and forth to make it seem like everyone does their part and has their say. These five issues were really about the adventures of Barry Allen and Thomas Wayne. When you look at it as merely that, it really isn’t so bad.
I like to believe that Flashpoint wasn’t meant to be a big event, but a story arc in Flash. Remove all the tie-ins and the idea of setting up a reboot and the whole thing can easily be Flash #13-17. DC probably looked at what Johns had planned, saw money in it and used it as a means to an end. Other than a couple stupid moments like the sudden Grodd appearance panel, Flashpoint the miniseries works pretty well as a self-contained story… albeit a story that Geoff Johns copied from himself when he wrote Booster Gold. No, really. Look at the story about Booster going back to save Ted Kord. It’s almost exact.
Any hate the event gets should really go to the tie-ins. On one hand, I do like that there’s a lot of flavor to the choices. Lord knows I got so sick of comics telling slightly different variations of the same story for eight months when tying in with Blackest Night and Secret Invasion. Quality aside, you get a lot of variety with Flashpoint and its tie-ins. It’s just that they’re pointless bloodbaths more often than not and a lot of them don’t have any real closure. I can understand people being pissy about the Atlantis/Amazon war not having a real winner, but I didn’t read the Emperor Aquaman or Wonder Woman and the Female Furies stories, so I only saw the war as a ticking time bomb that Flash had to outrun.
As for the reboot, I think it’s about time people stop overreacting to how this is the fourth reboot of DC. It’s an easy way to make fun of them and all, but come on. Do Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis REALLY count in that breath? Crisis on Infinite Earths was a big, sloppy wiping of the slate. The other two resulted in the JSA being in the present, the Legion being altered and Superman being in another origin story. Even the 52 universes from Infinite Crisis rings hollow for me, since it doesn’t exactly change how the characters are written. Yeah, some stuff changed, but it was nothing overly colossal. Just some editorial tweaking. This time they seem to actually be putting their ankle in it.
I think if there’s anything positive we can take away from Flashpoint and its handling of changing the landscape of DC Comics forever, it’s that we finally have a reboot story that can be explained to non-comic readers and new people. Guy goes back in time to save his mom and it causes history to glitch like crazy so he stops himself from saving her and it returns to normal, albeit altered. I can tell that to my mailman and not have him cross his eyes like he would if I had to explain the Monitor and Anti-Monitor. If we’re talking about accessibility, we’re off to a good start.
I still don’t care about Barry. In fact, I think it’s pretty weird that they brought back the wholesome hero who died saving the universe just so they can have him RUIN the universe and ultimately screw over his own loved ones. Then again, maybe that’ll come into play somewhere.
Now for the other book of the week, Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. I think of it similarly to how I categorize Flashpoint. In its own way, it’s good, but it doesn’t work in the way it’s supposed to. Considering they pulled back everything else for that week to only release two books, there should be more razzle-dazzle. The comic simply lacks impact of being the great new beginning.
Our story takes place five years into the past. Presumably, Green Lantern and Batman have had their share of adventures over the years already, but Batman is an urban legend and Green Lantern does his business in space, so the idea of superheroes is still pretty new to the public. Because of that, they’re feared and hunted. Also because of that, Hal Jordan is a loveable dick in a way that’s perfectly understandable. I’m sure I would have my head up my ass if I spent so long thinking that I was God Mode in human form. In his experiences, all his problems have been overcome with his ring and the only people who make him look small are other Green Lanterns. On Earth, he’s a big fish in a small pond and can take out any frustration he gets from whatever grief he gets from Kilowog and Sinestro. So far he hasn’t been tested.
His incredulous reaction to Batman is fantastic because it does feel so rare to see someone actually laugh at the idea of him being a normal human being in a costume standing among gods. It’s something I don’t think has ever really been explored all that well because every superhero has had to fellate Batman over how awesome he is. If someone ever brings up that he’s just a man, another superhero has to verbally bitchslap them over how amazing he really is… which is pretty similar to real life conversations now that I think about it. For once, he’s going to allow his own actions to define how much he deserves to be in the top tier.
The interaction between the hero of light and the hero of darkness is fun and I have to say refreshing. I like having their own differences speak for themselves instead of having to hear about how much Batman holds a grudge for the time Hal became Parallax for the 58th time. Hal is an optimist and is too high on his own power to care if anyone wants a piece of him while Batman wants to remain in a questionable existence and likes the power that comes with people hating and fearing you. Hal proceeds with flash and power while Batman actually pays attention.
A couple pages dedicated to Cyborg are thrown at us, which is probably for the best, since he’s the only one who isn’t going to be in his own book. In time, he should probably be taking more of a frontline role of the team and series. We’ll see how they handle his newfangled origin. At least I will, since I’m sticking with this book for now.
If anything, I do like the “again for the first time” possibilities that come with the Darkseid namedrop and the upcoming Superman vs. Batman fight. I like Geoff Johns and have faith enough in his work to say that he’s smart enough not to fuck this up.
Next week, the real games begin. Grant Morrison tries to reinvent Superman, Batgirl is running around and Booster Gold is suddenly Canadian. Bring it on.