Crimespree on Comics: DC COMICS THE NEW 52

Various writers and artists
DC Comics

Reviewing this as a book will be an interesting task. This is a collection of all 52 first issues of the DC re-launch from this past year. All 52 books in one hard cover that weighs close to eight pounds, 1216 color pages on top quality paper. DC calls it a massive hardcover on their website and they aren’t kidding. The real challenge here for me is that I’ve continued to read a lot of these books and since this only contains first issues I want to try and stick with that. We’ll see how I do.

When this project was first announced I was concerned as any fanboy might be. I’ve been reading comics and buying them with my own money since I was about 10, which is the early 70’s for those of you keeping track at home. What are they doing to my favorite characters? Will we be forgetting all of the past stories? Some going back over 70 years! Well as it turns out that my not so inner fanboy was worried for no reason.

There have been a number of relaunches or reboots over the years and while not all of them worked for me, in the long run they never really hurt the characters I love. And why would they? The people at DC love these characters too. And with the New 52 we see that really quickly.

The DC Universe is still what it was, mostly. There are some subtle and not so subtle changes, but what we have is a fresh start that seems to be unburdened by the continuity of the last 70 years. Some of the past is still there, some just isn’t mentioned and may be gone. What I’ve noticed with these first issues is that every single team working on the books feels excited to be doing it. I may not get every single book that has relaunched, but my pull list now has more DC titles than it had before. It’s exciting and most important to me as a longtime fan, it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.

Some of the standouts for me are obvious. I love the Bat books, the Justice League stuff is still great reading. Flash, while always a book I’ve enjoyed feels like it has a whole new excitement behind it. Wonder Woman has a new feel to it and I think it is going to be a huge hit. I’m also loving the Green Lantern books. They are coming off a couple strong years and they are actually taking their game up a notch or two. The Batgirl book was everything I was hoping it would be. (Thank you Gail Simone)

Some of the books of the books I was really pleasantly surprised by are Animal Man and Swamp Thing. These two former vertigo titles have always been among my favorites and the new books feel like they did when these books were at their very best. The teams on these books really do seem to love what they are doing. I’ve always had a soft spot for Aquaman, and over the years I have been let down more times than not as the character never really seemed to have any real cohesive direction as creative team after creative team kept making broad changes. The new book seems focused and the character feels like he’s being treated with respect, at least by the people working on the book, if not everyone in the book. I am also kind of surprised how much I like Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. It’s a great adventure driven book that looks like it is going to be loads of fun and the characters are terrific. I also really like the grittier Suicide Squad. It feels more like villains and while they are badguys they aren’t the supervillians of the 1980’s that are all flash and awe. The one book I was really looking forward to is Birds of Prey. I love Gail Simone and her run on this book was magic pure and simple. However bringing in Duane Swierczynski, one of my all time favorite crime writers was a great idea. Duane nailed it and I really would be happy if they could make it a weekly comic.

DC has done something really special here and as I am actually still reading a lot of these comics monthly as they come into issue 5 I can say that I think it works and works really well. So to the folks at DC Comics and all the creators involved I say thank you for keeping comics fun and making me want to keep reading every month. And to you who are reading this review I say Get Thee to a Comic Book Store!

Jon Jordan