Last month we saw an unprecedented marketing move from DC Comics. The company relaunched and renumbered all of its superhero lines at once, revamping and reconfiguring almost every title.
Many character were given new backgrounds or origin stories, some just got new costumes while others were picked up from long-ago cancellations.
The idea was to attract new readers, to create jumping on points for people who have never read comics before, or for people who haven’t read comics in a long time, like myself.
The “relaunchyness” fell along a spectrum however, with some titles being completely rebooted, and others having no change other than the new number.
52 titles is an overwhelming number of titles for new readers, however, and this guide, and its accompanying guide New 52 Round up: The Top – which was published last week, is here to help you figure out which are the best from the point of view of a new reader.
Thus, in alphabetical order are nine of the New 52 and why they aren’t so stellar for new readers.
Bruce Wayne is a successful businessman who is also is Batman. He’s got a few young men living under his roof, and lots of cool gadgets. In the first issue, he beats up some bad guys, then talks in front of an audience of the most influential people in Gotham, about his plans for the grand future of the city.
As will be the case for most of the titles on this list, there is just too much going on here. Batman has not been rebooted or relaunched or anything. His attitude has not even changed very much, and the book expects audiences to drop right into the story en route. It’s not as bad as some other books in the New 52, but it’s on this list because there is another Batman book that’s better. If you’re a new reader looking to read Batman stories, start with Detective Comics #1.
Batman: Dark Night
Bruce Wayne is a successful businessman who is also is Batman. He’s got a few young men living under his roof, and lots of cool gadgets. In the first issue, he beats up some bad guys, then talks in front of an audience of the most influential people in Gotham about his plans for the grand future of the city.
You probably noticed that the synopsis for this title is identical to the one for Batman. That’s not an accident. The stories are almost identical, despite being produced by different teams. The justification for new readers not to pick up the title is also the same.
Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster work for a secret monster hunting team which includes a too-many armed woman and a Japanese school-girl ninja, based in a microscopic floating capsule. Now there is a plague of monsters on the loose and only S.H.A.D.E. can stop them.
If you can’t tell from the synopsis, this story is just dumb. The artwork isn’t all that great either. This is one of the few titles in the New 52 that everyone should skip, not just new readers.
Sinestro has suddenly given up the Yellow, and wants to be Green again. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan, back to life after a crazy trip is trying to acclimate to being no Lantern at all. Won’t last long of course, as these things go.
Green Lantern is the epitome of the failings of the New 52. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit bitter from disappointment. Green Lantern has been one of my favorite comic books for a very long time, and after the announcement of the New 52, I thought that, finally, Green Lantern would get the full reboot it so desperately needs after the canon mix-ups of the last two decades. It did not. There is not one drop of relaunch in this title. The only thing that has changed is the number on the cover.
Green Lantern Corps
Green Lanterns in space. A new enemy has arisen in a distant sector, and the corps have to find a way to fight them. Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner is trying to find a way to have a normal life next to his Lantern life.
This is the sister title to Green Lantern, and suffers the same issues. There is nothing here for new readers.
Hawk & Dove
The personifications of birds are fighting each other over their powers. Not all of them can fly.
This is a DC line which should never have been merged with the main canon. Most stories in the DC Universe have a little bit of “How does this fit?”, but Hawk & Dove has a serious case. The characters are far too concerned with the bird thing, and behave as if it’s the only thing going on. Also, it’s not an very interesting tale to begin with, and most of the details would simply confuse new readers.
It’s a typical vampire story. There are some vampires, and I guess they’re doing vampirey things. Some of them are good vampires, and they have enemies.
DC is trying to be hip here, and cash in on the vamp craze. I’m not interested in a DC vampire super hero comic, and I think any new readers will quickly see this title for what it is.
I don’t know what’s going on here. I understand I’ve been out of comics for awhile, but I don’t know what to make of this one, even after two issues. There’s this blue robot guy with bad hair, and he destroys an office building for some reason, then he kills these other robot dudes, and then we see that he’s a human after all, and he turns into OMAC when he’s angry, so it’s like a really confusing Hulk story.
I can’t even tell if this title is a reboot or an intentional non-sequitor or what. It’s just really confusing, and I cringe to think of the 1% of new readers who happen to pick up this one first of the New 52, after hearing that they are good for new readers. That will be a reader lost forever to comics.
Shape-shifting alien is the title character, and uses its pretty girl shape to kill men in a strip club.
This one has received a lot of flak for its objectification of women, and deservedly so. Also, it doesn’t make much sense in the greater context of the DC universe.
Every barrel has a bottom. The New 52 is no exception, but not all of these titles are terrible. Keep in mind that I don’t think these are the “worst” of the new 52. Some of them, like both Batmans and the Green Lanterns are very well written and illustrated, they just don’t make sense for new readers, and if you are new to comics, and want to get into them, avoid these until you’ve got a few issues of some of the other titles under your belt for some perspective on the universe.
Perhaps you’ll even be tempted to go back and read previous issues to try and catch up, though I would recommend against it, if you’re a person who likes consistent canon.
All of DC’s New 52 titles can be picked up wherever you buy comics, including the comiXology store.