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Why DC Has Lost Me or: How I've Begun to Worship the Indie Comic

Learn why long-time DC fan Zechs is fed up with DC's new rehaul of their books, and has decided to go for the greener pastures of Indy Comics.


So we hardened comic fans know the news for September: DC Comics will relaunch its books that month in an attempt to gain new fans. Being a very hardened DC fan, I will not be buying a single book of theirs that month. Why am I a hardened fan? I've stuck with them through thick and thin, all to read fun comics. Currently, DC trumps my Marvel side with eight books (Red Robin, Batgirl, Detective Comics, Birds of Prey, Green Lantern Corps, Gates of Gotham, Zatanna, and Secret Six) to Marvel's three (X-23, Thunderbolts, and Captain America). But alas, come September it'll be none. Yes I know it's the perfect jumping on point for readers, but I really don't care. Quite simply, DC has driven me away as a fan; not because of any money issues, but with the complete direction they've gone in, both with the usage and handling of their characters.

Someone once compared Dan Didio to a used car salesman, and right now this seems to be the sad truth of DC as well. They're trying to shell out a product that seems "new and fresh;" but reading the solicitations and looking at the writers behind it, I can tell you that this model is really four years old and as such as worn out its warranty. Every idea pushed seems like one we've seen before, or at least a variation of it. DC is throwing out the new refreshing status quos, and for the first time in a long time the old "notable" guard reign supreme (save for Hal Jordan's fate in the present DCU but for how long is only a question). Say bye bye to Dick as Batman, or Stephanie Brown's all-too-brief career as Batgirl. We're getting yet another Superman origin story (I think putting Superman: Secret Origins to bed this quickly must be a record). Personally, I'd rather just have its writer, Grant Morrison, give us what he did in All Star Superman. What more do we really need to about his past than we do already? His hidden secret beyond the subtext relationship with Lex Luthor? A new version of General Zod?  Do we still call it "Krypton" now or another new name so DC can avoid paying the relatives of Siegel and Shuster? Oh right.. I almost forgot.  Now he and Batman can have a contest on who can scream louder, "My parents are dead!" to one another since they're sending John and Martha for a dirt-nap.

For such bold "new" changes, a lot of current characters with some very engaging goings-on are being "benched" - DC's term for not inactive characters in this new era. Young Justice is completely gone, along with great characters such as Tim Drake, Bart Allen, Conner Kent, Cassie Sandmark. Let me pause for a moment to let that thought sink in for those who enjoyed that series-- especially you, VinnyPic. Other fantastic characters like Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Connor Hawke, Captain Marvel and his entire cast, Wally West, Donna Troy, the entire JSA (though after the horrific writings they've endured, they do need a break), Rose Wilson, Steel, Miss Martian, Kid Devil (really he could have easily come back thanks to this revamp-- thanks DC), Catman, Scandal, Ragdoll, the Question II, and countless others are nowhere to be seen. Fans are left wondering how this new revamp is going to push minority characters when most of the ones above, the ones that are being cut, fit that description.

Yes, change is good, but too much change or too much retraction can scare the average comic book fan. Dare I even bring up Spider-Man, which even years after making major changes still hasn't recovered the number of readers it once had. Then again, what comic in this day and age hasn't lost its following? All that aside, DC is doing way too much retraction for my part. Dick Grayson was a fantastic Batman, seeing him deal with criminals in different ways was awesome and the partnership he had with Damian Wayne was actually a great dynamic. Now he's back as Nightwing (we don't know why yet).

The better example is Stephanie Brown.  I still can't believe DC has let history repeat itself in how they handle the name Batgirl. One would think after mismanaging Steph's predecessor, Cassandra Cain, they would have learned from their mistakes. Nope, come September - one month after Steph's series ends - Barbara Gordon is back in the role. Some are ecstatic for the move, I am not. I could go on about how wrong it is for Barbara to be back in this role, but other people have said their piece on the matter better than I ever could. So instead I'm just going to say that dumping Stephanie Brown is a mistake, and I really think it's going to cost DC readers - given how stupidly they've divided and pitted the fan-bases of these three Batgirls against each other. Steph had a whole lot of mileage left in that tank, and much like her career as Robin it seems it was all for nothing. Much like her predecessor, Steph is out just when this book was reaching new heights of glory. This pattern of giving "legacies" a chance and fans a treat, then taking it all away like the process was a failed experiment, is outright trickery. In Steph's case the experiment didn't fail, and why DC keeps thinking it did boggles my mind.  Hopefully, Steph avoids the horrific fate that befell Cass... but given this is DC, I almost half-heartedly expect her to return as Damian's arch-nemesis in the next Batman & Robin arc.

All this talk of Batgirl leads me to the other reason why I've given up on almost all this DCNU hype: this isn't the first time they've pulled a huge stunt like this. Like others, I cannot help but be reminded of One Year Later. Though it didn't cleanse the DCU as this current relaunch does, all the same wording they used is here again. "New jumping-on points!" "New creative teams!" "A variety of genres!" "New teams!" "Characters you wanted are back!" So did OYL actually deliver? Yes, in heaps of utter tripe and bad storytelling.

One could say that Brad Meltzer's JLA run was excellent, but for me it was more average/easily forgettable run than good. The real bright spot of the entire event was Superman: Up, Up, and Away (ironically the last Superman-centric story that was actually good). I could say Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns, but then I remember how delayed those issues were. Yes, it was glorious seeing the return of the Cyborg Superman and the Lost Lanterns (aka Hal's GL victims from when he was Parallax), but really that's just me. By the time the arc had finished it was already September, and the four-part story began in May. So yeah, a lot of big stories that OYL told were already done by then, save for Allan Heinberg's Wonder Woman which ended much later than that. Really the only other series that benefited in OYL was Teen Titans with their three new members, or Birds of Prey with Lady Shiva joining the team.

Still, what most remember were the awful stories. For all the good those stories above did, the horrific ones were more numerous, particularly those in the Batman side with Face to Face and the side books: Robin and Nightwing. There was a lot more awful to go around, but for me it always comes down to what happened in these bits of stories. Nothing really burns in your mind quite like seeing an experienced, veteran hero like Dick Grayson gasping at the sight of a super-villain, or Jason Todd turning into a blob monster and eating someone. Why did writing this article make me have to remember that?

The stories stunk and the readers pulled out faster than fast. Many of the heralded DC books that were brought in, then gone in a year. Thus the great OYL failed in its objective. Now history seems to be repeating itself with DCNU. Given that most of the same writers and big shots who approved One Year Later are involved in the DC Revamp, I have to ask why bother reliving this horror again? Especially when DC is only giving six issues before cutting ties to the book if it doesn't sell?

After some hard thinking, I've decided to not even put the Kyle Rayner-led Green Lantern: New Guardians on my pull list. Given that I really enjoy the character and with many of my other favorites culled, why did I choose against collecting this title? Shouldn't I latch on and buy it? Because once again, I have learned my lesson with OYL.  Rayner got a relaunched series during that event in a new ongoing called Ion. Except it became a new maxi-series instead of an ongoing, lasting only twelve issues and leading to the mega event Sinestro Corps War. So what if this run lasts longer than the previous ones? Evidence continues to refute that hope like Guy Gardner's spotlighted series, GL: Emerald Warriors, which was also done in at the twelve issue mark. What reason do I have to buy this book when history shows this product won't last a full year?

I find myself at a the same crossroads regarding DC where I stood in 2000. I wasn't impressed at all with the future and decided to stop buying their books. Of course, I returned in 2003. Who knows, maybe I will again. But at the moment DC just isn't producing the quality of storytelling I want, so I probably will only be going after a single max-series of theirs (Shade) and maybe once in awhile indulge in some Tiny Titans (that October all-Batgirls issue is so going to be MINE). The problem is both of these are short-term limited options. I'm not obsessed about the numbers an issue runs or having them all, what I want is good stories about these characters. Alas, it seems that's too much to ask when it comes to DC.

How will I counter this deep hole that now is in my pull list and new income flooding me? I've decided to once again venture out into the independent comic territory. I remember I did the same in 2000 and I will probably enjoy it again. I already have a slew of books to choose: G.I. Joe, TMNT (which just so happens to be starting up at the same time of this DCNU), Invincible, Moriarty, Incorruptible, and who knows what else that can catch my attention. The future does look so much brighter with stories I can latch onto, stories that have actual endings that aren't rushed, and ones where characters won't get pushed away because the editor-in-chief has a freaky fetish for old ones. I also could go to Marvel, but I'm kind of happy where I'm at with them. I am thinking of buying some Spider-Island stuff, but that'll be just a short time fling.

If you're in the same boat as me, these could be nice alternatives until you know DC will revamp their system again. It's a proven fact: going back to the car salesman ensures they'll just drop the price or reveal a nice shiny mini or hood ornament for that rusted car of theirs. The question is: Will you continue to fall for their cheap tricks, or be finally done with it?

For me, the answer is good-bye for now DC. Hopefully I can come back sooner this time than last, but you really seemed to screw yourself this time with me. Of course it was much easier to ignore you with no internet. It's going to be such a pain to ignore you now that I'm a part of the Outhouse. I am going to try my best to avoid you unless of course, you finally curry to my demands and give me a new Cassandra Cain, Tim Drake, or Stephanie Brown ongoing or Punchy's greatest nightmare realized and given form in... Larfleeze: the Ongoing Series. Suffice to say, I highly doubt I'll be seeing any of these happening now. If I do, I might bite for an issue or two and if it's an ongoing around them, congratulations DC! You suckered me again to buy that stupid worn car. At this moment, I'll look forward to what is currently out and enjoy this ride of my favorite characters for this and one more month to come. One without DC in the driver's seat.


The opinions of Zechs do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Outhouse, comics fans, or, y'know, rational people.  This has been your official disclaimer.

Written or Contributed by: Zechs

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About the Author - Zechs


Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.

 


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