Friday, November 18, 2011

DCnU Progress Report

We are now a few issues into the company wide reboot of DC Comics.  Here are my thoughts of it so far. First, let me say I have not read (or plan to read) all 52 titles.  I just have no interest in some of the fringe series they are publishing, like VooDoo or Demon Knights.  For what its worth, I picked up several of the first issues, but by issue 2, I cut it down to a handful.
First, the Superman franchise. I actually kind of like what they are doing. They've gone back to the original 1938 stories.  Like those original stories, Superman is much less powerful, but the longer he is exposed to Earth's yellow sun, over time, the more powerful he grows. No more is Superman the classic big blue boyscout we've all come to take for granted.  This Superman is... well, kind of like Batman with superpowers.  He's tough, a brooding loner, and isn't above bending the law or threatening crooks.  The new Clark Kent is... well, kind of like Peter Parker. He's a nerd, a brooding loner, and an outcast, but he uses his status as a reporter to fight for the underdog, kind of like those old time crusading reporters in old black and white film noir movies.  As with the original comics, he starts out as a reporter for the Daily Star under editor George Taylor, while Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen work at the Daily Planet for Perry White. Soon, Clark lands a job at the Planet, while Lois gets promoted to being a TV news producer at GBS. Clark's only friend seems to be Jimmy Olsen, who does double duty as both a still photographer for the Planet and a video photographer for GBS (both are owned by Morgan Edge's Galaxy Communications).  And forget about Lois and Clark. In this new continuity, there is no relationship or even chemistry... at least not yet. Luthor's role, at this point, seems to be as a scientist/inventor who works with the U.S. military.

Perhaps the worst part of this reboot is the costume. His first costume is an S-emblem t-shirt, with blue jeans, work boots, and a baby blanket cape.  Yeah.  Kind of dumb.  He soon replaces it with a Kryptonian suit that has a lot of piping and armor, with a turtle neck, but no trunks.  The classic costume is still much better with out a doubt.

But this new take on Superman comes at a price for Batman fans.  Batman is mellowed out in the new continuity.  With Superman as the dark and brooding hero, Batman is made to be more of a leader and uniter.  In Justice League, it is Batman who plays the peace maker between the other heroes, a role the old continuity Superman played, while Superman acts more like Batman used to in the old continuity.
The Batman franchise fares much worse. Unlike most of the other characters, the decision was made (and, according to some reports, at the last minute) not to reboot Batman from the beginning. But the Batman franchise was one that needed rebooting as much as Superman. So, there still is an expanded Batman family, with a number of redundant characters.  There is still an overloaded history, and even the most recent "Batman Inc.", where Bruce Wayne actually franchises the concept of Batman to other countries.  The original and legendary Robin, Dick Grayson, is still saddled with being Nightwing, a bargain basement version of Batman based on a second rate Silver Age Superman character. While Superman was simplified and went back to his roots, Batman remains a muddled incoherent mess.  It would have been so nice to go back to the classic Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson Batman and Robin team, back to the moody, nocturnal roots, and revive a classic logo.

Wonder Woman appears to be on track to become DC's version of Thor. In her traditional origin, she is created when the Queen of Paradise Island molds a baby out of clay, and brings it to life. In the new reboot, Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus.  It is unclear if this reboot will be better or worse, because Wonder Woman is a character that, while iconic, is very hard to make interesting in any long term fashion.  It appears Green Lantern's personality has been changed to reflect Ryan Reynold's performance in the recent movie dud.

The new version of Captain Marvel will debut in a couple months in Justice League #5.  You can bet I will have a lot of opinions and commentary on that. Stay tuned.

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