State of Comics

supermanrebirth

Hey, all. For those of you who’ve been wondering where the weekly comics updates have been, let me just apologize for the lapse. As I’ve mentioned in my last handful of updates, DC switching to a twice-monthly schedule has buried me, and it’s too tricky for me to stay on top of it and to balance everything else going on in my writing life. I’m about a week behind right now, but I thought I’d take some time to do a post on where the big two are, and what I would like to see out of them in the new year.

Rebirth has been exactly that for DC. I don’t think I can name a single title that hasn’t benefited from the company returning to some of the statuses quo we saw before The New 52, and as a huge Superman fan, I couldn’t be happier. Supes had it rough in The New 52. While there were a couple decent arcs, none really stick in my mind as the character never really exceeded mediocrity. Since Rebirth, both Superman and Action Comics have been consistently good reads. While it feels like Action Comics focuses more on Clark’s family, it’s handled well. Lois and their son serve to flesh out Clark, but they aren’t treated as props. Also, the storyline with Lex Luthor is compelling, and it gives the title reason to delve back into the classic rivalry between Superman and Luthor that fans know and love.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman is one of the few highlights of The New 52. While I wasn’t happy with Jim Gordon as Batman, or much else about that final arc, overall, it was a terrific run. Even so, there’s something about the stories in Batman and Detective Comics that feels so much more grounded in Gotham City, and so much of what makes the character fun is rooted in that setting. While I miss Capullo’s art in the world of Gotham City, DC has done well to uphold a standard. They were never going to assign a B-team to the world of Batman, so even titles that didn’t necessarily need facelift are thriving under the soft reboot.

If I’ve found any weak point in the Rebirth titles, it would have to be the team books. That means Justice League and Suicide Squad, both of which I’ve dropped. It’s not that they’re bad, and to be fair, it’s been awhile now, so they may even have improved, but I found both of those titles to be flat. You could say those have felt familiar in a bad way, not as in going back to DC’s roots, but familiar as in having not enough to set them apart from other stories we’ve read in the past. Again, they may have gotten better by now, but with so many other solid books coming out of Rebirth, there’s no shortage of things worth your time and spending money.

As far as Marvel goes, I don’t have much good to report. I’ve dropped everything on my pull list there except Amazing Spider-man and Daredevil. I’m behind on both, but at present, Spidey and Daredevil are some of the only Marvel characters who are remotely recognizable. That’s much less a shot at swapping superhero identities than simply at the books not feeling like what we’re used to. Marvel is throwing one event after the next, throwing out every status quo, and giving me no way of finding my bearings in their universe. They’re making one foolish decision after another, and then doubling down on them. Frankly, it seems to me as though Marvel’s comics are being written by people who would rather be writing other things, and so they’re transforming what we know and love whether we like it or not. With all the heroes fighting heroes, what we need is a reason to smile. How bad is it? Well, a few months ago, I was reading Captain America: Sam Wilson and Captain America: Steve Rogers. Today, for the first time since I’ve had a pull file in my life, I’m not reading a Captain America title.

Marvel and DC are dealing with inverse situations. DC/WB is giving us awful, joyless films while publishing comics that capture everything people have loved for generations about their characters. Marvel’s film universe is a juggernaut that has yet to put out a true miss, but their comics are largely unreadable. The good news is if DC can right the ship, so can Marvel. If the MCU keeps raking in the money, maybe they won’t care about a dip in comics sales, but I’m hoping they’re better than that.

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