So, I finally read all of the first issues from DC's relaunch, all friggin' 52 issues. Let me start off by saying that I love superhero comics, always have, always will. Like most people my love of the genre goes back to when I was a kid, to the first time I picked up a comic (it was actually a three pack of Batman comics my mom bought me from K-mart in Billerica, MA). I found the characters in those books to be mysterious, confident, awe inspiring, a little wacky....but mostly I just thought they were cool.
While my interest in superheroes has waned over the years, I can still get just as much enjoyment out of a well-written capes and tights book as with anything else I read. Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. I was getting pretty excited in the weeks leading up to the relaunch. For the first time in my adult comic-reading life everything was going to be brand new and unsoiled in the DCU; we're starting fresh, fools!
After reading the books, my overall impression is that they were very.... 'meh. Some were great and others not so much, but they probably fell into the same ratio of "keepers" versus "no thank you's" that I had pre-relaunch. The top picks for me were: Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Action Comics, Wonder Woman, Batman, O.M.A.C, All-Star Western, Frankenstein. The ones I thought were good: Batwing, Static Shock, Batwoman, Demon Knights, Suicide Squad, Superboy, Supergirl, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, Aquaman, Flash, Justice League Dark. And all the rest I would put solidly in the 'meh pile.
One of the problems I had was the level of violence in the books. I don't need comics to be sterile and completely kid friendly, but if DC is targeting new readers the books should be "all ages." And that doesn't mean "for kids" nor does it mean "not for adults." All ages is for everyone. Some of the violent scenes I read in the relaunch were just unnecessary. Showing less and implying more is something that if written well it can be extremely effective. Unfortunately a lot of the relaunch writers decided to make the new DCU as gritty and adult oriented as possible and in the process it lost a lot of the joy and wonder the fictional land once contained for me.
Another concern of mine is that the stories still appear to be written for trades. Long arcs make it very hard for new readers to jump in. Most writers have it in mind that the issues will be collected and have a longer shelf life in that format, but then what is the point of single issues! The story, like what appears to be happening in Justice League, is too drawn out and slow to hold the interest of the average non-comic reader. If floppies are going to continue to be released, a shorter story arc is the best way for hooking new readers. Faster, tighter stories in 2 to 3 issue arcs will keep people reading rather than making them wait six months for a story that essentially equates to one television episode.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. I just love the superhero genre and wish The Big Two would find a better way to bring the joy and sense of wonder I find in comics to the young readers today. Oh well, only time will tell if the DC relaunch was successful or if it was just a last ditch effort to sell print copies (before the Digital-zilla destroyed the city). But I really do hope their experiment works because that would be, well....... cool. Go comics, ooh-rah!