Whew! That was a lot of writing about one publisher’s comics. My New 52 Review Project turned out to be a success, as far as Eye on Comics is concerned. Traffic on the site rose, and I found the tight schedule to review all 52 first issues in the line in a timely manner to be an interesting exercise in writing. I was able to write a lot more about each comic book than I expected, and I think I refined my process as a writer — not just as a comics reviewer, but in writing in general. I pumped out almost 50,000 words between Aug. 31 and Oct. 3, and it’s made me realize provided the right motivation and circumstances, I could pen a book (not about comics) I’ve had on the backburner for some time.
I’ve had a number of readers urge me to write a retrospective piece, to comment on the New 52 line as a whole once I’d read it all. I certainly have some thoughts. The first thing that came to mind was the pleasant surprises. Had I not taken on this project, there are select titles I wouldn’t have read, and as a result, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of discovering some unexpectedly entertaining work. Among them were O.M.A.C., Batwing, Demon Knights and Superboy.
There’s no doubt the New 52 stunt has proven to be a huge success for DC, at least in the short term. All signs indicate DC will unseat Marvel’s dominance in the comics marketplace for September and into October. From a marketing perspective, DC has proven its critics wrong.
But from a creative perspective, has DC achieved all of its goals? Creatively, there were high points. I think the Paul Jenkins/Bernard Chang Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents was the best the New 52, though I think it went overlooked by too many. DC also showed it was willing to shake up some properties, allowing some creators to deviate significantly from the status quo. I applaud that willingness to experiment.
The question is, though: is the storytelling in DC’s super-hero line particularly stronger after the New 52 initiative than before? The answer is clear: no. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of fun comics to be found among the New 52. There were a number of poor efforts and too many examples of gratuitous sexuality in its line. But in retrospect, I don’t DC’s titles are particular better or poorer as a whole after such a massive undertaking.
That being said, I think it’s understandable. DC’s focus was clearly on the marketing side of the move. The editorial aspect of the New 52 had its problems but succeeded well in light of what was clearly a hurried effort in many instances. Dc’s new continuity is a mess, as it’s clear DC Editorial didn’t have a chance to hash out what carried over from the past and what was gone. I have no doubt there will be a number of stories forthcoming designed to address the disconnects in continuity. It happened back in the 1980s after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it’ll happen again.
I hope I don’t sound too negative. I think DC and its talent are to be applauded for this effort. The publisher has broadened its audience, has introduced its properties to new readers, brought lapsed comics fans back into the fold and — here’s the clincher — has reportedly improved the state of the industry for all publishers and creators. DC hasn’t just improved its own state of affairs… it’s provided a boost for retailers and other publishers. DC drove more people into comic shops, and that put more eyes on everything the industry has to offer.
The New 52 certainly proved to be of benefit to me as a comics critic, as I noted above. I don’t have DC to thank for that, though. I have to thank my sponsors. When I conceived the notion of writing in-depth reviews of each of DC’s 52 new titles, I knew I couldn’t give up so much of my spare time just to see if I could pull it off. I decided I needed to make it worth my while, and I was thrilled to find sponsors who were willing to support my endeavor. I’m incredibly appreciative of the financial and promotional support of my sponsors: AllNewComics.com, Happy Harbor Comics and Strange Adventures. If you enjoyed the New 52 Review Project on Eye on Comics and want to show support for my work, the best way to do so if by supporting them. And let them know who sent you.
I also have to thank the readers. The rise in traffic and comments, both on Eye on Comics and in the social-media sites where I promoted the reviews, were encouraging and validated my decision to take on such a project.
Most of all, though, I have to thank my wife, Emily. Before I decided take this project on, I talked with her, letting her know I’d be spending a lot more time at the keyboard, writing about comics. She didn’t hesitate in her support. She would’ve been justified to dissuade me from dedicating so much time to the site in a month. After all, our son Callum needs as much attention from his mom and dad as possible, and the fact I’ve been working nights recently in my regular job means I had even less time than usual to spend with my family. But she encouraged me… even read the reviews (and alerted me to a typo here and there). SO thanks honey, and thank you Callum. Love you both more than you can imagine.
I think I’ll end on that sappy note, and leave you with a handy list of links to all 52 reviews in the New 52 Review project, organized by week of release.
Week 2: Action Comics #1, Animal Man #1, Batgirl #1, Batwing #1, Detective Comics #1, Green Arrow #1, Hawk and Dove #1, Justice League International #1, Men of War #1, O.M.A.C. #1, Static Shock #1, Stormwatch #1, Swamp Thing #1
Week 3: Batman and Robin #1, Batwoman #1, Deathstroke #1, Demon Knights #1, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1, Green Lantern #1, Grifter #1, Legion Lost #1, Mister Terrific #1, Red Lanterns #1, Resurrection Man #1, Suicide Squad #1, Superboy #1
Week 4: Batman #1, Birds of Prey #1, Blue Beetle #1, Captain Atom #1, Catwoman #1, DC Universe Presents #1, Green Lantern Corps #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #1, Nightwing #1, Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, Supergirl #1, Wonder Woman #1
Week 5: All Star Western #1, Aquaman #1, Batman: The Dark Knight #1, Blackhawks #1, Flash #1, The Fury of Firestorms: The Nuclear Men #1, Green Lantern: New Guardians #1, I, Vampire #1, Justice League Dark #1, The Savage Hawkman #1, Superman #1, Teen Titans #1, Voodoo #1
Note: My picks for the top 10 titles in the first month of DC’s New 52 can be found in the comments thread below.
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