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Five Things I Think I Know: The Out with the old DC, In with the DCNu" Edition

Written by ElijahSnowFan on Monday, September 05 2011 and posted in Columns

ElijahSnowFan returns to talk about the new DC Universe!


The Omega-and-Alpha Preamble

You know, Faithful Reader, sometimes it is difficult to walk the fine line between commentary and biased advocacy, between being someone who attempts to be fair in "5 Things" while reacting with emotion and passion on the boards as a fan.

When I write "5 Things," though, that's the goal: To look at this industry and its initiatives objectively, to entertain and promomot thought and perhaps even discussion. The Outhouse, to my mind, serves a significant role in giving readers an avenue to offer their thoughts, to dissent, on the issues of the day...it's important that this happens, is allowed to happen, because dissent is crucial for growth.

With that in mind, and after looking at my admittedly non-scientific snapshot polling of what people thought of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 - which obviously are the end of one era and the beginning of another -- it was interesting to note how, for the most part, the consensus appeared to agree on two points:

The DC Universe ended with a whimper, and the DCNuniverse began...on a positive note.

"5 Things" wonders if that might have deeper meaning than it looks.

Looking where the DC Universe was in its final days...well, Faithful Reader, I'll just say it: However it got to where it was, the DC Universe in its final days was, well, awful. Not every book, obviously, but as a shared universe...well, let me be the first to say "good riddance."

But let me also be the first to say that it didn't have to be this way. Because examining where the DC Universe was at its end...let's be blunt: Creators and editors need to own their mistakes.

Superman walking across the United States after renouncing his U.S. citizenship.

Wonder Woman abandoned by her writer...after he dropped her in an alternate reality/revamp that no one was quite sure was going to be the status quo or not.

Green Arrow hiding out in a forest, marriage ended as poorly as it began, his ward missing an arm and a kid. But no worries...he joined a team of villains led by Deathstroke that had the name of one of the company's easiest-to-recognize heroic brands.

Green Lantern...well, let's face it, boys and girls. When you've looped back to Krona and Sinestro, again, you're just not advancing.

Flash's relaunch was mind-numbingly...pedestrian. Exactly like the last two relaunches of the franchise.

Justice League a bizarre mix of characters that honestly could've been pulled out of a hat, for as much as anybody wanted to read about them as a grouping -- and for those who disagree with that, if Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc., aren't crucial to Justice League stories, then why are they almost always the centerpieces to the inevitable relaunch of the franchise after creators stock the roster with B- and C-List characters? This is the third relaunch of Justice League in 12 years. Each has had Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the cover of the first issue. If that type of roster is good enough for the first issue, then that should be good enough for the last issue, and the vast majority of issues in between.

I could go on, but here's where I'm going with this: At the end, and with few exceptions over the past decade, the mainstream DC Universe simply wasn't very much fun to read about. It was wheezing along and would have a few good days where a decent storyline would come out, but as a whole...it was done. No fun to be had.

The epitome of the DC Universe at the end was Flashpoint #5. I read just that series, just Flashpoint and no tie-ins, and wondered if you could truly read just the series and enjoy it, on its own.

You couldn't...for the reasons the DC Universe was dragged down to its end. Too much stuff happening in too many other places that all had to be in sync at the end -- the worst example was the page/panel where somehow, Gorilla Grodd's forces appeared out of nowhere, despite having absolutely nothing of consequence to do. Even in the series, it was never all that clear why Aquaman and Wonder Woman hated each other so much. You kinda knew that somebody had gotten killed, but even that crucial point about why two nations were ready to end the world...happened in another series.

It showed in the script, with the flimsy reveal that Barry Allen was the cause of the nightmare world, Professor Zoom being dispatched like an amateur because he couldn't be allowed to exist anymore after his power upgrade to begin with, to Barry Allen pulling what appeared to be a "close enough to count" resetting of reality as he knew it.

At the end of it, with an attempted touching moment with Batman and Flash striking me as bizarre when you consider that Flash caused a lot of pain and suffering...well, "5 Things" had been beaten into submission.

It was time for the DC Universe to go. Just...go away. No more excuses from creators about how difficult it was to labor under the weight of continuity and concepts they didn't create. No more excuses.

So, then. On to Justice League #1...which, as the snapshot poll indicated, readers found to be a little more palatable. I did, as well.

It's only one issue, so you have to take that into consideration. But I will say this: With it being an origin issue/storyline, it certainly appeared to be...looser. Free of the weight of what's gone before, but with just enough personality characteristics of the principal characters retained to be interesting.

To the way I think, the success of DC's revamp hinges on Superman - what will this character look like a year from now? The tougher, more confident/aggressive character we saw at the end of the issue, and in the preview of Action Comics? Or the sap who can fly all over the world but only wants to date one person at his job who doesn't want to date him?

It's too early to tell, but it does appear to be...promising. In talking to my LCS operator, he was cautiously optimistic that there would be enough new orders of books to carry DC for six months. He wasn't even worried about digital downloading - yet. But he said he had gotten enough orders on new books where he thought the risk was worth it.

Then? It's up to DC to make this work. Because now, the time for talk is over. DC has 51 more first issues coming out, starting this week, for the rest of the month. Now we'll see who has the ability to grab this relaunch by the throat and pull their concept to the front of the line.

I'm going to modify what I was going to do: I'm just going to read Justice League, for now. I'll wait for positive feedback on many of the others before I jump into this thing...and I will. Because out of 52 books, something's going to be good...and maybe, just maybe, readers won't be hearing creators complain about the constraints of continuity for a good, long while.

Written or Contributed by: ElijahSnowFan

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About the Author - Christian Hoffer


Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.

 


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