Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DC's New 52 & Flashpoint Mini-Series

Flashpoint has now ended and DC comics is mid-way through releasing the renumbered and (slightly) re-imagined monthly comics. In all there are 52 of these new comics, most of which are comics that had already been published on a monthly basis and are now being reset to issue #1. A few, however, are comics that feature characters that did not previously have a monthly book about them, or at least they have not had a monthly book in a long time, such as Animal Man and Grifter.

Without giving away the entire plot or conclusion of the Flashpoint miniseries, it ended on a fairly high note but the storyline felt incredibly rushed. The storyline made sense but the characters and motivations could have been fleshed out a lot more; in particular I wished that the role of Louis Lane and the rise of Aquaman and Wonder Woman could've been explained more. This is a typical problem for the big story arcs that companies like Marvel and DC have been producing. The book's story lines are well executed but are thin due to the constraints of working within 28 or so pages. Flashpoint would have been greatly improved upon by making each issue about 10 or 20 pages longer. The cost of the additional pages could have easily been found in cutting out the glossy covers and premier paper stocks. A second point here is that the conclusion of Flashpoint did not seamlessly flow into the newly numbered DC comics that were supposedly directly impacted by this event. Perhaps a stand alone epilogue issue would have helped, but overall I think a one or two page nod to the Flashpoint series would have been nice in some of the more major first issue titles like Justice League, Superman, or Batman.

The first week of DC releasing the renumbered titles involved the release of only one comic, Justice League. This title was written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee. Johns seems to be the DC equivalent of Marvel's Matt Fraction or Bendis who are responsible for writing and creating close to all the major events at Marvel. Johns is a highly skilled scribe and I best know him from his work on Green Lantern where he has produce ambitious and well executed story lines. Jim Lee is a legend in comic book art and I have found his art maturing over the past 5 to 10 years. His art has become increasingly detailed and his lines more focused (less frayed). The combination of these two talents, Johns and Lee, made Justice League worthwhile picking up without even considering what the story was about. However, the story proved to be fantastic as it explains how the Justice League came together during a time when superheroes were still mythical and not well understood by the general public. The story line takes place in the past while the other first issue books focus on what the characters are currently doing. This is a nice strategy as it uses Justice League to explain the new DC world while allowing the other books to explore that world. The issue is also great for it provides a sense of mystery and excitement in that the reader cannot readily guess how the story will come to a close. With the renumbering of the issues and declaration by DC that the new books will be a departure from the old, one cannot assume how the Justice League will be formed based on what has occurred previously in DC comics. In all this was a strong first foot forward for DC comics and definitely has me continuing to pick up Justice League!

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