A Skitch in Time: Was DC Comics Wrong to Relaunch?

So, anyone who has been reading my articles and reviews for the last few months knows that DC Relaunch was a big part of what brought me back into reading comics. I had stopped reading pretty much just after Civil War. DC and Marvel had both gotten so event driven, and comics just weren’t fun for me to read anymore.

Also, most of the nearby comic shops had closed down, and it really didn’t feel worth the effort to keep going out of my way to buy comics that I wasn’t really enjoying. I still basically followed what was going on, and I would read a few series that friends suggested (like Sinestro Corps War) or that caught my eye (like Locke & Key), but for the most part, I just didn’t care about comics the last few years.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved these characters.  I follow any cartoon based on comics, and my wife and I go to see any superhero comic movie. With three kids, we never get to the movies anymore, but we saw Green Lantern, Thor, Captain America, and First Class last year. I think the only non-comic movies we saw were Hop and Sherlock Holmes. It was just the comics themselves that held no real appeal to me.

DC Relaunch was an ideal way for me to get back into comics. Relaunch promised a huge push for digital publication, a new starting point for a lot of characters, and a big push towards diversity and unique storytelling opportunities. I was especially impressed by The Dark and The Edge lines.

And four months into Relaunch, DC has continued to impress me. Right now, I am buying around 40 of DC’s 52 new titles.

Since I’ve been enjoying DC’s current books so much, I have been interested in seeing how all those crossovers panned out the last few years. To be honest, it actually started out because I was looking to see some of Batwoman’s early appears in 52, and that got me curious to read Infinite Crisis and a bunch of DC’s other big stories from the last few years to see how it all tied together.  All of these big crossover stories which ended up chasing me away from comics in the first place.

To be honest, reading those stories from a much less jaded perspective, for the most part, they have all been really good. At the very least, DC had huge visions and were taking some massive chances, turning their line inside out. But,  it did leave me with a big question…Was Relaunch really a good idea?

One of the most controversial aspects of Relaunch was that a lot of DC’s history seems to be rewritten. With a lot of the major events of the last few years, it’s still not clear how much of them happened. Was there every a massive Injustice Society led by Lex Luthor, for example?  Does this mean Secret Six never happened?  BOO!

While the Batman and Green Lantern lines seem to have undergone very little tweaks, there are huge portions of the DC Universe that seem to have vanished entirely. Where is Wally West? Where is JSA? How could Batman have had three or four different Robins if he was actively only the last ten years or so?

Characters like Green Arrow seem to have lost all of their old stories. Does this mean there is no Conner Hawke? What is his relationship with Black Canary?

The one that really weirds me out is that DC seems to have told a lot of lies in the months leading into Flashpoint and Relaunch.  It is safe to assume that DC knew they were heading towards this massive relaunch in advance. So it seems a little odd for them to promise to follow up on Justice League: Generation Lost with a new Justice League International series. The Justice League International series we have doesn’t really follow Generation Lost at all.

Same goes with all the build up in Brightest Day to find a new White Lantern.   What was the point of following this series this long to have it all wiped out.

So, that brings me back to the question in the title, Should DC have relaunched? Looking at the sales figures and all the positive feedback from readers and retailers from the last few months, it’s clear that Relaunch was a good idea and has worked.  And the quality of the books has been pretty top notch.  I can’t remember even enjoying this many books this much.

But, I can’t help but wonder if it couldn’t have been done a little differently. With some small tweaks, there is no reason this had to be a completely new DC Universe. Start all the series over at one, keep references to older stories to a minimum (or at least make every effort to make them easy for a new reader to relate to), and bring in Vertigo and Wildstorm ideas into the DC Universe.

Is there any reason that Teen Titans and Superboy needed to have a huge continuity wipe? Probably not. The current Teen Titans series has been excellent, and probably could have worked without the massive overhaul. And if you look at the sales numbers, quite a few of the top selling DC books are Batman-related and Green Lantern, which are the books that had the least amount of changes.  It does suggest to me that maybe DC went a little too far with their changes.

That said, I love Relaunch. Just about all the series have been excellent, and DC really has done a great job making the industry exciting again. I am only bringing this up to start a conversation, not to rip into DC.

So what do you guys think?  Now that we are a few months in to it, how could Relaunch have been done a little differently?


What did Skitch read this week?

Animal Man #5 – BOOK OF THE WEEK, See my review

Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes #4 Click for Full Review

Stormwatch #5The artifact room was awesome! I have been enjoying Stormwatch since issue one, but the last two issues have really upped the game considerably. I especially liked that in this issue, the Shadow Cabinet gave use some insight into each member of the team and why they could not lead. I am definitely curious about Martian Manhunter’s secret, and the fight between Midnight and the Eminence of Blades was awesome!

Swamp Thing #5 – We get to see some hints of Swamp Thing’s powers in this one. The battle against the army of animal corpses was just plain creepy, and I loved seeing Abby and Alec trying to feel each other out. I was also really curious about the opening scene where the Green seems to have been infected by the Rot. I thought this tied into Animal Man’s surprises this week really well.

Static Shock #4 – I am really torn on Static Shock. I wanna keep supporting this book. I love Milestone, and I love the character. And this book has some great moments when Virgil is outside the costume and anything with his “sisters” (and that quote is necessary). But the in-costume stuff just feels like it’s going nowhere…and taking forever to get there. I am not quite ready to give up on this book, but a lot of my enthusiasm about the earlier issues is starting to wear off.

OMAC #4 – FRANKENSTEIN IS COMING NEXT MONTH! Though I guess since most people don’t read a month behind like I do, they have already seen how that goes. We got to see some of the limits of Brother Eye’s control over Kevin and OMAC this issue, and the fight against the massive sewer gators was odd and fun. Max Lord is back!! OH CRAP!! I wonder how much of Max Lord’s story remains in tact in Relaunch…

Justice League International #4 – Justice League International continues to have really good character moments each issue, but it just feels like the main story is taking forever to develop. I also think the main villain sort of reminds me of something out of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Let’s destroy Earth for it’s resources. That’s story has been done, many, many times. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy this comic a lot, I just think that this first arc has dragged on a little too long now, and that the story just doesn’t have enough meat to it to carry on this long.

Hawk and Dove #4 – Finally starting to get some real answers here. This issue really slowed the action down some and did a great job helping the reader understand some of what was going on here. Hawk and Dove was a book I had high expectations for, and Gates and Liefeld have met and exceeded them issue after issue. I am going to miss Gates when he leaves, but Liefeld seems to have a good handle on this book by himself.

Batwing #4 – This issue tells us Batwing’s origin story. I actually think I kind of would have liked them to finish the Kingdom story before interrupting with this story, but it was an excellent comic and gave a lot of insight into what makes Batwing tick. Crisscross was a great choice for the fill in artist here, I always like his work.

Action Comics #4 – Last issue, I had basically committed to dropping this book entirely, but Grey’s review of issue 5 kind of made me hold off (I am a sucker for Legion). Like I said last month, there is really nothing wrong with this comic, but “it’s good enough” isn’t enough to get me to regularly follow a Superman book. I feel like the Dread Pirate Roberts, “Good night, Action Comics. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning” but it keeps hanging tight.

Secret Six (2006) 1-6, Birds of Prey 104-109, Secret six (2008) 1-9 – As part of my efforts to catch up on some of the DC books I’ve missed over the last few years, I’ve been catching up on Secret Six. Villains United was awesome, and I was really curious how the story went from there. This actually is the most I’ve read by Gail Simone, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Reminds me a lot of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad. You’re never sure who’s going to survive from issue to issue, or in what shape they will be in. I just read the Battle For The Cowl issue with Ragdoll, Bane, and Catman, and it is one of the best comics I’ve ever read.

One thing that annoys me is that Deadshot seems to have screwed Catman (and the team) over a few times now, and Catman seems to just be understanding about it. It seems like a stretch to accept that he’d still be part of this team.

Day of Vengeance: Infinite Crisis Special – I missed this comic entirely last week. I actually had said in my capsule reviews last week that there was no such thing, but a friend pointed out I’m a moron. This issue features tons of cameos by DC’s magic users in an extended battle against the Seven Deadly Sins. My only complaint is that there were so many characters it was hard to get a handle on them, and I would have loved more Detective Chimp, but all that said, this was a really good epilouge to Day of Vengeance.

Justice League: Generation Lost 3-24 – There was some weird things in this series (I still don’t know why everyone seems to have forgotten Wonder Woman…and Wiki doesn’t seem able to explain it), and I definitely have some regrets that they didn’t give it a proper follow up (see my rant to start this column).

That said, Generation Lost was excellent. DC really seemed to have learned from the mistakes of 52 and Countdown. The result was that Brightest Day and Generation Lost were much better comics. I loved all the unexpected cameos (Creature commandos!), as well as the great insight into these characters, including Ice’s origin story and Captain Atom. If they can maintain this type of quality, I think DC should do more bi-weekly series!

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