Thursday, December 8, 2011

DCnU Weeks Three & Four

Over two months late so I almost left this post as yet another of the countless projects I started but never finished. But bits were already written so stray comments:

* The new DC makes so few changes or at least the big changes are almost in unimportant areas that all the Flashpoint stories will fade away faster than expected. They were already considered as Elseworlds books in all but name though at least Elseworlds books were expected to stand on their own - these seem like a temporary diversion. As pointless as, say, the House of M stories were at least they provided a rationale for the big change at the end. In this case we get merely a cosmic glitch (as best I understand it and honestly I haven't tried very hard).

* The Flash and Wonder Woman were better than I'd expected. I, Vampire got a lot of commentary but there's not much in the first issue. Batman has far too much padding - these are comics writers not philosophers. I've already started to forget most of the others though I'm sure they'll come back up when or if I get to the next issues. (And one thing from this vantage point is that following issues can make a difference - Stormwatch seemed misconceived in its first issue but the next two connect a real story and as a bonus includes a laugh-out-loud panel that casually explains a loose plot point.)

* There's been some praise for DC's genre mix but really that's hard to see since most are done if not like superhero books then as somehow connected. So a Western book gets moved back to an East Coast city (Gotham of course) and treated as more some kind of serial-killer procedural. The war books have superheroes flitting through and are more techno-thrill than any kind of war-is-hell story. And it's not like we were getting comedy or romance or even some kind of artsy book.

* Which of course now seems like the relaunch's biggest missed opportunity. Imagine if DC really had started an ongoing version of Bizarro or brought back Solo. Or even more plausibly brought in outside talent even if only for the launch. They already have an in with Stephen King - let him do Swamp Thing for a year. Or imagine Charles Stross or Jonathan Lethem or Quentin Tarantino just to pick writers who might actually do it. Heck why not even go after somebody like Joyce Carol Oates or Pynchon or John Banville.

* For books that are supposed to have a wider appeal there's sure an awful lot of extreme violence here. Green Lanterns sliced in half, a complete genocide, a room full of body parts, a man's face peeled off, an exploding baby. Did DC think the popularity of James Patterson or True Blood indicates a cultural shift in this direction? The problem isn't that the stories are violent but that they're unnecessarily so - we'd get the point even if the Lanterns had merely dropped down. And the body-part room doesn't convey any sense of the horrors of African politics but just comes across as almost comic in its excess. (The inherent lack of understanding in using superhero comics in relation to such real-world issues is a topic for another time.)

* And of course the sex stuff is already almost forgotten. The whole Catwoman thing was just a strange what-were-they-thinking moment. It's almost like instead of the real script somebody accidentally sent the artist a couple of pages of slash fiction and that's what we got. And while the writer's claim that Starfire's dialogue was meant as a kind of playful taunt is at least plausible we're still left wondering why none of the people who read the script or saw the drafted artwork realized that it didn't come off that way. It's stuff like this that sometimes makes me wish mainstream comics weren't written by comics fans.