The new Justice League receives four out of five stars from me but nearly only had three. Call it a B- (for those who remember having real grades). The art was dynamic, the first glimpse into this new word intriguing, what characterization there was was enjoyable, but the pacing stinks. It was way too deconstructed. Five pages, six tops, worth of story spread out over an issue. I'm still excited about the new DCU but this wasn't a great start.

 

(copies from my Facebook profile)

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I'm slowly dropping titles that were on probation. Mr. Terrific is getting one more issue out of me, since the story (or this antagonist, at least) is wrapping up in issue 3. JL Dark had grabbed me (to my surprise) with issue 1, but completely dropped the ball with issue 2, so that's gone. Firestorm is teetering on the edge, and I don't know if Batwing will last past this initial storyline. I'm not 100% sold on Aquaman, either -- I wanted the plot to move forward a little further than issue 2 pushed it. Men of War I'm enjoying, but maybe not quite enough. Static Shock, I've already dropped, and Grifter was just an impulse buy that didn't pan out. Superman fascinates me more than interests me, if that makes any sense. I'm reading it as much to see the craft of how they're rebuilding the book as I am interest in the story at hand.

 

But other books have really surprised me. Omac, Demon Knights, Resurrection Man, I, Vampire, Frankenstein-- out of those three I really only expected to be continuing with Demon Knights. But instead I love 'em all.

 

And then there are the books that are no surprise at all: Wonder Woman, Flash, Legion (all four(!) books), Shade, Action, Batwoman, Batman, All-Star Western and Swamp Thing. Plus Batgirl and Birds of Prey are both holding my interest.  

The first casuality for me with the new 52 is Red Lanterns. Issue 1 was intriguing, issue 2 was pretty good, issue 3 was a bore. I like the Red Lanterns but want to see them doing stuff around the galaxy. The storyline is leading up to a schism of sorts. Not for me.

 

Animal Man and Detective Comics remain great creepy reads.

 

Action Comics is still pretty interesting, though the art in issue 3 didn't look too good. There was times that Clark's face looking like it was melting. I know he was supposed to look beat up but it didn't appear that way.

Expanding on ClarkKent's short post on the chopping block thread:

 

As to Wonder Woman, there's a lot I like about it, especially the depiction of Wonder Woman herself, and Chiang's art.  I have a lot of respect for Azerello's writing, but the modern style of producing comics is letting the project down.  If there was more panels per page and more incident per comic, it would follow that we would have a larger supporting cast, better fleshed out.  There is a fine supporting cast building up, but with only 3-4 real scenes per issue, they still aren't much more than cyphers after 2 issues. 

 

I recently reread Azerello's 12-page Batman story for Wednesday Comics.  Azerello crammed a lot of incident and character scenes into those dozen (admittedly large) pages.  Further, the restrictions of space meant that he pushed the story forward with some daring jumps forward in time and scene between pages/chapters which implied even more incident and character development than was actually on the page, but didn't require an impossible leap on the part of the readers. We had to do a little bit of work, but we were left with a very substantial 12-page story.

 

Much more happened in those 12 pages (certainly we visited more different locales and saw more confrontations/meetings between different sets of people) than happened in the first two issues of Wonder Woman.

 

If Azerello told his Wonder Woman story in Wednesday Comics mode, with the first 6 issues worth of story in the first two issues, it would top the charts.

 

Of course, as Rich has said elsewhere recently, what I'm complaining about is also called 'writing for the trade', with its soporific pacing. 

 

During a recession, when the costs of comics are going up, and the number of pages in each issue are going down, I absolutely cannot understand why the focus isn't on 'bang for your buck' and value for money.  I’m sure the internet is full of comments to the effect of ‘pretty pictures, maybe an interesting story once they get around to telling it, but I can’t afford to spend this much money on this much story on an ongoing basis’.  It's as if the people who bring us these comics live in a completely different world to the rest of us, as if they were producing comics for a completely different market than the one that currently exists.

 

Surely no-one at DC is unaware of the desperate situation the whole DCnU thing was cooked up to address, or how desperate this last throw of the dice is?  Why are they continuing with the creative model that got them into that desperate situation in the first place?  Isn’t the definition of insanity that you do the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different result next time?

 

I came back from the comicshop with a clutch of DCnU titles during the week, and I'm afraid there was a good deal in them that struck me as the product of equally daft thinking on DC's part.  Hopefully I'll get the time to post later.

And the thing is, when you "write for the trade" that way, even the trades aren't that interesting. I switched to trades a few years back, and I'm seriously looking at not buying them anymore after the current Vertigo series I'm following end in the next few months. There were already things I've come to read only via the library (The Walking Dead and The Unwritten, to name two). Why not read practically everything that way? The trades read much too quickly for what they cost, and I'm not sure how likely I am to reread them.

Tintin volumes are satisfying reads; they have 62 pages, but they're a larger size than a US comic's and they often have many small panels.

Indeed, Mark, there's not a lot of 'stuff' in them.  Unwritten is fairly dense for a modern comic, but I haven't read too many recent Vertigo series.  It would be terrible if they are as thin and content-lite as the superhero comics.

 

I gave up on Fraction's Iron Man exactly because of the writing for the trade factor.  It's so obvious when you are reading a chapter that the pace is dictated by the external consideration of the 6-issue trade than a good pace within the story.

 

And if something is really meant to be a 6-issue collected trade paperback, that devalues the monthly issue in your hand.  What good is a chapter of a novel between two covers when you can have a proper story in one volume?  Or read the whole story at a sitting? 

 

The trades read much too quickly for what they cost, and I'm not sure how likely I am to reread them.

 

That's exactly it.  Strange to think that Vertigo, and a good deal of the Nu52 are sprung in one way or another from the Sandman and Moore's Swamp Thing.  Those series were built on (although not restricted to) single issues telling whole stories between two covers. 

 

And then there was the density of the stories in both those series.  Lots of panels and lots of verbiage doesn't just mean that it takes longer than 10 minutes to read an issue.  It means that each story can have depth and ambiguities, cultural and historical references and relationships with other parts of the wider narrative.  (ie rereadability)  Not to mention moments removed from the main story where the characters just come alive for a little bit.  Chester the hippy didn't have much to do with the spine of many of Moore's Swamp Thing comics, but those moments where he discussed his failings and doubts told us that the crazy things were happening in a world of real people.  Chester also grounded the series in a certain time of 80s disillusionment after the 60s idealism.

 

There isn't much room for characters like Chester in comics which have an average of 4-5 panels per page.  So we are back to Clark's comment about the supporting cast.

 

Tintin volumes are satisfying reads; they have 62 pages, but they're a larger size than a US comic's and they often have many small panels.

 

Because Herge's art style isn't painted or 'illustrative' each panel can be crammed with detail, so that's value for money when placed against a heavily rendered page that has just been planned with the aim of producing a momentary 'wow!' in a fanboy trained to respond to just that kind of image.

 

Tintin began in the 30's and I'm looking forward to reading his stories to my children 8 decades on from their creation.  Asterix too, is capable of being enjoyed by anyone how knows how to read and wants a decent story.  The type of comics I'm complaining about show zero interest in being as accessible or as value for money as those two examples.

 

I am heartened to see European artists producing some of the Nu52 books, and their work is refreshing, but they seem to be tailoring their art to the DC house style.

I wouldn't say that recent Vertigo series are as thin as the superhero ones I've read. But they do suffer from the same tendency to structure nearly everything in 5 or 6 issue arcs. It's predictable, and I think stories inevitably get stretched out because of it. I agree with your observation about Chester: there's a richness in the character that has nothing to do with the amount of dialog per page. There was space for that kind of character development in Swamp Thing, which is a big part of why it has been so influential, and rewards rereading.

Figserello said:

Indeed, Mark, there's not a lot of 'stuff' in them.  Unwritten is fairly dense for a modern comic, but I haven't read too many recent Vertigo series.  It would be terrible if they are as thin and content-lite as the superhero comics...

And then there was the density of the stories in both those series.  Lots of panels and lots of verbiage doesn't just mean that it takes longer than 10 minutes to read an issue.  It means that each story can have depth and ambiguities, cultural and historical references and relationships with other parts of the wider narrative.  (ie rereadability)  Not to mention moments removed from the main story where the characters just come alive for a little bit.  Chester the hippy didn't have much to do with the spine of many of Moore's Swamp Thing comics, but those moments where he discussed his failings and doubts told us that the crazy things were happening in a world of real people.  Chester also grounded the series in a certain time of 80s disillusionment after the 60s idealism.

 

Brian Wood's Northlanders didn't write for the trade. It had stories of varying lengths, alternating longer stories with one- or two-issue wonders. The writing was top-notch, the subject matter interesting, and different artists were assigned to different stories according to their strengths.

 

Got canceled anyway. So there you go.

Well, imagine if they had applied those production values to globally recognised colourful heroic characters, rather than a bunch of theiving murderous scumbags, especially with this current big push behind it.

So have I got a valid point in the posts above, Cap? I feel they are giving us more of what drove everyone from comics in the past few years. Particularly at the nuts and bolts storytelling level.

The month 3 is now behind us. I'm still enjoying the new DCU but a few books are getting the axe by me.

Red Lanterns- I'm just not interested in a power struggle between mindless rage monsters.

Green Lantern New Guardians- 3 issues in and I still have no idea what's going on. It's not bad but I'm not sticking with it in the long run.

Justice League Dark- Great art and interesting characters but 3 issues and the team isn't formed yet. At least with Justice League all the team members had at least met each other by issue 3.

And the most controversial drop:

Wonder Woman- I tried to like this. It's not bad but I don't think it's for me. I like the portrayal of the main character but the rest of the story I just don't care. I missing the point of what it's about. Are people just mad that Zeus got someone else pregnant? Where's the purple guy from issue 1, who was he even? It has good art though.

 

But some postive:

The Batman books are really good. I read Batman & Robin, Batman, Detective Comics and Nightwing. Nightwing may be my favorite. Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are both great too. Flash is starting to become a favorite as well.  Demon Knights, Frankenstein, Deathstroke, Justice League, Aquaman, Action Comics, DC Presents and Animal Man are all solid as well.

So far my two favorites are Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.  andAll-Star Western.

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