Responding to DC’s New 52 Survey
23/06/2012 6 Comments
I had a discussion yesterday with a friend of mine, noted member of the Twitterati Silas Meek, about the state of DC Comics, their New 52 line in particular, and what we might say to Dan Didio if given the chance. As it turns out, DC are currently conducting a Nielsen survey on exactly this subject. There’s really only on question that allows you to express your opinion in depth (“Based on what you know so far, what is your overall impression of DC Comics – The New 52?”) and here’s my reply (worth noting that I came up with this on the fly, so other things might occur to me later):
The New 52 was a good idea, though one which was unevenly, sometimes even poorly executed. For a “new” line, there’s a lot which hasn’t changed (except for on-time shipping, which is excellent). That said, I’m happy with the standout titles, and I’m very much enjoying Batman, Action Comics, Wonder Woman, Demon Knights, Frankenstein, Batwoman, The Flash, and Animal Man (though the latter took me a few issues to “get into”; word-of-mouth definitely helped me stick with it). I tend to follow writers more than titles and so I’ve wavered on, say, Stormwatch since Cornell began writing the excellent Saucer Country for Vertigo.
On the downside, there are far too many mediocre titles (think Firestorm and Hawkman), along with the eternal problem of weak issues spoiling runs or arcs. I’m also concerned when I hear about editorial conflicts forcing writers out (the cases of Static Shock and Superman, to give two examples) and the result which that is having on the books themselves. I feel like there’s a growing problem with weak villains too, such as in the case of Mister Terrific. I really like the character, and I look forward to him prospering in the pages of Earth 2, but his rogue’s gallery was very poor. I fear the same thing happening with Worlds’ Finest, but I guess we’ll see.
With regard to the second wave titles:
- First off, it’s brilliant to have Batman Inc. back.
- I also love parallel universes, so Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest are a welcome addition (though Earth 2 is clearly the stronger of the two). I like the inclusion of the flashbacks in Worlds’ Finest, and the dynamic between the protagonists, but – as I say – I find the first villain to be forgettable.
- Dial H is a strong, strong title. I will be buying more.
- GI Combat is dreadful. Terrible art, quite poor writing. I left it on the shelf.
- I have no opinion on The Ravagers (I haven’t been following the “Young Justice” titles from which it spun-off), only I would comment on the cover to issue #1. They’re supposed to be in Alaska, yes? Then why is Fairchild wearing a glorified bikini? Put some clothes on the girl, would you?
Overall though, I’m going to continue reading DC books but I would be very interested in seeing the following:
- More minority/female characters. Diversity is reality and comics help shape the imaginations and worldviews of the next generation. As one of the “Big Two” publishers, you have a moral responsibility in this department.
- Ditto on more minority/female artists and writers.
- Also make space for more new writers and artists.
- Stronger villains.
- More quality done-in-one issues (like Action Comics #9, which was terrific!). Perhaps they could be used as breathers or palate cleansers between more coherently-plotted arcs/stories?
- More titles in “The Dark” section of the New 52.
- More Science Fiction, please. It’s the 21st Century after all! You have already successfully reached out to writers like China Miéville; why not approach SF novelists such as Alastair Reynolds or TV writers such as Jane Espenson? Yes they’re busy people, and they may have no interest in writing comics, but it surely can’t hurt to ask. Equally, Nnedi Okorafor is an acclaimed SF novelist who recently contributed to Vertigo’s great Mystery in Space anthology. There’s plenty talent out there; you just have to let them into the clubhouse.
- Less fighting-for-the-sake-of-fighting. Don’t be afraid to produce smart comic books! An intellectual tussle can often be as – if not more – thrilling than a punch-up.
- Fewer back-up stories; why not give creators the full page-count to develop richer narratives? A back-up has never swayed me into buying a comic.
- Less of the buckles/straps/pockets/90s-nonsense on the art front. They’re so fussy!
- Less gratuitous T&A. You know what’s really attractive? Smart, strong characters.
- Denser storytelling (more like Superman #1, say, than Justice League #1). Art without a script is just pretty pictures after all, and a higher word-count in issues is a great way to give more bang for the same page count. Plus it gives titles considerably more re-read value.
- Please keep in mind that your customers’ money is limited and, as Mr Meek said to be yesterday (in relation to buying either the Mister Terrific TPB or Kieron Gillen’s Phonogram): “Why buy decent when you can buy outstanding?”
Thereafter, the survey follows with a great many questions about digital comics and about what books from DC’s competitors the respondent is purchasing. Lots of X-Men and Avengers titles on the set list, along with obvious contenders such as The Walking Dead and Saga. Worth noting that there was no facility to add titles here, so I couldn’t reiterate my love for, say, Saucer Country, gush about Daredevil or Journey into Mystery, or even mention that I’d just picked up the last volume of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century.
Anyway, be sure to take the survey yourself; this is your chance to communicate your opinions to The Powers That Be. Because griping about things online is one thing, but big companies like DC only ever respond to the kind of hard statistical data this survey is intended to gather.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- ‘Heroically celebrating the best the Human spirit has to offer’: my Irish Examiner review of Grant Morrison’s Supergods.
- My initial thoughts on DC’s New 52 initiative.