October 3, 2011

My DC New 52 experience

I don't read many superhero comics. I abstain for the usual reasons. I like smaller, contained stories. Sometimes I'd rather read about everyday characters I can relate to. I like supporting creator owned comics and indie publishers. Finally, seeing an entire shelf filled with only Batman titles at my local comic book store is intimidating. I can't bring myself to jump into the lives of characters with decades of backstory. I feel like I would need to know everything to enjoy it even if that's not actually the case.

Only in the past few months have I felt a desire to pick up comics about superheroes like Thor (I'm reading Matt Fraction's The Mighty Thor) and Captain America (Ed Brubaker's most recent run). I picked those comics up as a direct result of the recent movies, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I find Thor to be entertaining, but Captain America? I have fallen in love with this character. This is the superhero who made me realize why it might be worth investing my time in the capes sides of comics.

Given my revelation and the fact it happened right before DC's New 52 launch, I felt I had to pick up some of the new issues. The New 52 is a ready made jumping on point for a reader like me - someone who doesn't know much about Batman, Wonder Woman, and can't name all the members of the Justice League. The past canon and continuity all still exist and it's not a complete reboot, but here are brand new stories I could walk right into. So I asked for recommendations from friends who know these characters, I picked a couple just because of the writers, and a few just showed up in front me. I read these 16 titles:

Animal Man #1
Action Comics #1
Aquaman #1
Batgirl #1
Batman #1
Batman Detective Comics #1
Batwoman #1
Birds of Prey #1
Demon Knights #1
Green Lantern #1
I, Vampire #1
Justice League #1
Justice League Dark #1
Justice League International #1
The Fury of Firestorm #1
Wonder Woman #1

Of that list, five titles made a strong impression on me. And by strong impression I mean the stories grabbed my attention beyond mild interest, gave me enough information about the characters so I wouldn't feel lost, and made me care enough to think about going back into past stories to learn more. The other 12 titles weren't necessarily bad or boring, they just didn't spark for me. Green Lantern left me utterly confused, and I couldn't make it through Justice League International. Action Comics was fun, but I didn't feel like there was anything for me to grab onto. Though I'll ditch some entirely, I'll stick around through issue two for about nine titles (total).

The five stories I really enjoyed? Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The reasons vary. I know a few people complained because there wasn't much action in Aquaman, but I got to know him as a person first instead of as a superhero and it gave me something to connect with. Animal Man thoroughly disturbed me, but in the best kind of way. Batgirl dealt with trauma recovery and heroics and a striking way. Wonder Woman and Batman both had me drooling over the art, and both those stories were paced in such a way that I couldn't read them fast enough. I actually read both of those twice.

As a result of picking up first issues for the New 52, the big two have actually dominated my last two purchases at the comic book store lately. That's not the norm, and I don't see it being a continuing trend. However, four months ago, I wouldn't have saw that happening at all. Superheroes aren't so bad. Who knew.

I realize I've only talked briefly about a few issues, but there's no shortage of sites that reviewed each issue of the new 52. You can find opinions from seasoned superhero comic readers to people who have never picked up a comic book. Personally, I've been following along with C.S. Daley's reviews and power rankings; he's a good source for short and solid reviews and insight. Plus, he's sticking around and reviewing at least through second issues.


  1. Hm. So did you avoid titles like Catwoman and Red Hood because of the issues with their characterizations, or were they not on your radar to begin with?

  2. They weren't on my radar. I had no idea what Red Hood was about and not much interest in Catwoman.

  3. You have to be pretty invested in Batman and the history of the Robins to know or care about Red Hood, usually. (Plus Jason Todd can be a bit of an acquired taste, by which I mean that he's kind of a dick.)

    I was absolutely blown away by Wonder Woman. Loved the art, and the way they dug down into the horror aspects of her origin story.

    I'm with you on falling in love with Captain America. Big earnest goob. *pats him*

  4. You've got two of my favorites! Aquaman and Wonder Woman were wonderful introductions for readers, old and new. Both of them played with our preconceived notions of the characters.

    I reviewed ::cough:: self plug, eleven of those titles over at my blog, http://sarahthisis.tumblr.com/post/10990368575/of-dcs-new-52-i-read-11-then-reviewed-em

  5. They seemed to have only rebooted the titles that suit them. Really popular stories, such as Green Lantern, require knowledge of the story prior to the reboot.

    I also have to say, I didn't know anything much about Aquaman, but the new comic gave me a newfound respect and interest in the character.

    Birds of Prey was another favourite for me. The Flash and Swamp Thing also rate super high on my list.

  6. You got two of my favorites in there! I'm totally new to superhero comics, and thought it would be a good time to jump in.

    I loved Batgirl and Aquaman for the same reasons, I think. Both of them let me really get into the skin of the character. I knew some about Batgirl ahead of time, but Aquaman I only really knew as a joke on Big Bang Theory.

    I ended up reading about 17 as well, with only a few I will completely toss out. I got on board with some new Marvel, too!

  7. Green Lantern really didn't get touched, it's still a continuation of the old run, and Batman is slightly different but also not a complete re-do. Heard Wonder Woman and Batgirl were great but they were sold out and haven't seen them to pick up yet, but lookin for them.

  8. "Superheroes aren't so bad. Who knew."

    Riiiiight ;)

    I was a marvel girl. So no familiar with the DC group. X-men and all the variant offshoots were what I read in my teens. Still love them.

  9. It's been interesting to me that some titles seem universally accepted and popular. I've heard very few bad things about Aquaman, for example.

  10. I completely agree with your favorites although I also loved Justice League Dark & Batwoman but I could under stand Batwoman being hard to jump into :)

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