In addition to showing the power of targeted tv ads, The New 52 did a great job of re-invigorating their most popular characters. Neither Wonder Woman nor Superman & Action Comics were selling well, pre-launch. Post-launch, Wonder Woman and Action Comics are very strong sellers, Superman a little less so. I think that book will pick up when Dan "I Killed Superman" Jurgens returns to the book in a couple issues. In addition, the Bat books are selling strong. After Justice League, Batman by Scott Snyder is our best seller by a country mile. Snyder's pre-New 52 run on Detective was AWESOME (check out the hardcover of The Black Mirror that just came out) so this isn't a surprise. In terms of returning their main heroes to critical and commercial acclaim, DC succeeded.
The surprise break-out hits have been the Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Demon Knights and (to my surprise) Deathstroke. They're well-written, well-drawn and have a lot of buzz behind them. If they had been launched by themselves at any point within the last 5 years, I don't think they would've lasted long.
Not all of the New 52 are successes, though. Captain Atom, Mister Terrific, Men at War and a couple others are struggling. I don't know that having Blackhawks and Men at War was really necessary. Two war-themed books was overkill in a market that hasn't successfully sold war-based comics in decades (outside of GI Joe). I'm not entirely certain that all of The New 52 will make it past the 9 issue mark. I'm hoping they've got some new books being prepared. A lot of Stephanie Brown fans really want her back as Batgirl, so I've got my fingers crossed for that.
Some of the books have gotten better, too. I wasn't enthralled with New Guardians #1, but the 2nd, 3rd and 4th issues were MUCH better. Stormwatch #2 & #3 were an improvement, as was Resurrection Man. That said, I still think an extra month preparing for The New 52 would've given some of the creators a bit more time to put everything together.
When I reviewed all of The New 52 in September, one of my conclusions was that the books were very, very dark. They still are, and I' still wish they'd gone with a bit more variety. I think letting some of the books find their own voice instead of being editorially driven, would've been a good idea. But they didn't ask me, the fools. :)
The other black mark I'm giving to DC is regarding pre-New 52 continuity. It's becoming more and more obvious that they have NO idea which stories from the last 50 years still count. A Facebook update on Dan Didio's page in October made the oblique comment that none of the Crises ever happened. Um, really? Going down that road already? I mean, I'm assuming Bane broke Batman's back, I'm hoping No Man's Land actually happened, and I'm praying that Gotham Central still counts for something. And if I find out that Starman by James Robinson didn't take place, I'm going to lose my mind.
On a smaller scale, DC isn't quite sure what to do with some of their other characters. I read an interview with JH Williams on Comic Book Resources, and found that DC doesn't know what they're doing with Renee Montoya, aka The Question. Given her popularity and prominence as one of the few lesbian super-heroes, you'd think that DC would know if her back-story still holds in The New 52. Apparently, noone's figured it out yet. That's pretty disappointing, if only because I could sell boatloads of a new Question series - especially if they got Greg Rucka to come back and write it.
So, continuity issues are a problem. The tone is still a little much for me. But I'm very impressed that all the trains are running on time. All of the New 52 have come out on time, except for Justice League #5, which is due to Jim Lee's wife having a baby over the holidays.
I'm not surprised that there's already been some creative changes. Ron Marz is off Voodoo, Gail Simone left Fury of Firestorm, George Perez is moving off of Superman, Ann Nocenti is taking over Green Arrow. and now it's been announced that Jim Lee won't be on Justice League #7 and #8. That's really disappointing. I mean, I'm happy Gene Ha is drawing #7, he's no slouch. But I honestly figured we'd get 9-12 issues from Jim Lee om Justice League. He may end up doing #9, but how many more will he get done after that? That's adowner
And yes, Voodoo is still my guilty pleasure. I'm still seething a bit at seeing my precious Wildstorm characters have their histories wiped away, but Voodoo is entertaining, so I'll live.
All in all, I think the New 52 has done a good job. There's a number of things they could've gone differently, but September was a success and created new customers. I can't complain about that.
As for the cancellation of Static Shock, Hawk & Dove, Blackhawks, Men at War, Mister Terrific & O.M.A.C... I'm disappointed, but not surprised. I think putting two war-themed books with the initial launch was a mistake. Mister Terrific was a good idea, but the first issue failed to execute properly. Hawk & Dove proved that Rob Liefeld still has fans, but not enough for an ongoing series to succeed. Losing Static Shock is a tremendous disappointment.
The replacements look stronger. An ongoing Earth 2 book by James Robinson harkens to his epic JSA 50's tale, The Golden Age. That, plus the Batman Inc series and World's Finest will more than make up for the loss of sales of the 6 cancelled books. As for Dial H, The Ravagers and G.I. Combat, I'm not sure how they're going to do. Another war book? Ehh... We'll see.
So what about Marvel? How did the Hulk and X-men re-launches do? How did Fear Itself end up? What's going on with X-Sanction, Avengers v. X-men & the Return of the Phoenix? Is the House of Ideas still cranking out greatness?
One word answer: Uhmmm... uhhh..
Okay, that was two.
To be continued tomorrow.