As some of you know, I fell off the DC comp list with The New 52, and decided that was a sign from Zeus to start trade-waiting. And with the April solicits, I see decision time has arrived.

That is to say: Which trades or HCs will I buy? I'm certainly not going to pop for all 52, so I have to pick and choose. So let me ask you, Legionnaires:

  • Which titles are so intrinsic to New 52 continuity that they are musts?
  • Which titles are just so flaming good that they are musts?
  • Which titles lend themselves to collections the best?
  • Which titles can be "safely" skipped?
  • Which titles are YOU buying?


And so forth. Sound off, folks! Which New 52 titles would you choose for the Captain Comics bookshelf?

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I think that continuity matters to an extent. Do we have to know if Green Lantern still battled the Bottler or the Crumbler? Not really but what about Parallex? Final Night? His time as the Spectre? His rebirth? Yes to varying degrees in order to have some sense of character growth.

Having Action and Justice League take place five years ago may be an interesting way to reintroduce these iconic characters but then the question becomes "What happenned four years ago?" "Three?"

They did the same Post-Crisis with Man of Steel taking place years before the new Superman #1 in order to give him the depth of experience in the Post Crisis Earth, something the new Wonder Woman lacked.

When Justice League #7 comes out and it takes place in the present, the implication seems to be that no one besides the New Big 7 has joined in five years! Does that make sense?

To Clark: it makes my head hurt too because I just realized that with the new Green Arrow we have now, the O'Neill/Adams GL/GA never occured either. *sigh*

I think continuity matters ... but it shouldn't get in the way of allowing you to enjoy the story that's before your eyes at the moment. That's part of the reason I loved Mark Waid's Fantastic Four; I could read those stories without the slightest concern for the stories that preceeded them, good, bad, or indifferent. And I think that's part of why his Daredevil is so poplular.

 

To take the example of the Ultimates, it started by ignoring the Marvel Universe continuity, but created its own. And that's fine. And I really wish that's what DC had done here with an alleged line-wide reboot.

 

 

 I didn't start buying DC in large numbers until the late 1960s, and I didn't buy line-wide until 1970 or so 

Oh man, the mind boggles. That's like getting to the party in time to sweep up. There was certainly some good stuff then, but there wasn't much more of it to come. I salute you for coming back each month, sir! And if you were still buying line-wide by 1973, well, I feel your pain.

Continuity matters, because it creates a richer environment where the characters know *at least as much* at the reader. That doesn't seem like too much to ask. Sadly, more writers and even editors don't know as much as the readers. It's like athletic teams--we care way more if they win or lose than they do, because they get paid either way and will move on and play somewhere else. But we're stuck with the freaking Cubs all the time! But I digress.

The problem today is that continuity is so vastly complex, and some of it is contradictory or doesn't fit together, at best. So it's hard to know what's being kept and what isn't. DC hasn't helped that by picking and choosing what it intends to keep without telling us even when it totally revamped and started over!

I know fans who didn't buy Marvel comics because every issue mattered--and the chances of seeing every issue were pretty slim. With DC comics, each issue stood alone, so it wasn't important that I saw the last issue. There were two-part stories where I read the second part without even realizing I missed anything! The Legion's popularity comes from its complexity, but most of DC's comics didn't try that. So continuity even then could work both ways.

The biggest problem today is not with there being continuity--it's that nobody bothers to explain it. Jim Shooter famously says that each comic should be written as if it is someone's first issue. Today's comics are the Bizarro version of that. Each one is written as if we have read every other comic and offshoot and epic event and minor mini-series written in the past five years, so there's no reason to explain anything.

So not only isn't everything linear, as it was when Stan was writing a universe of eight comics, but nobody bothers to fill us in when they make some off-hand reference to some other event, or two people meet for the first time in a title. It's impenetrable. When's the last time an editor footnoted something to explain what was being talked about or who someone was?

I agree--DC needed to look at the New52 as the Ultimates and restore what they thought worked but start it all fresh. But they wanted to have their cake and eat it too, and readers are left wondering what's going on. Again.

-- MSA

Another thing that Marvel does well is the recap page at the beginning of the issue with a rundown of the important characters.  The comics edited by Steve Wacker and Ellie Pyle (Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man) have great, creative recap AND letters pages.



Mr. Silver Age said:

Oh man, the mind boggles. That's like getting to the party in time to sweep up. There was certainly some good stuff then, but there wasn't much more of it to come. I salute you for coming back each month, sir! And if you were still buying line-wide by 1973, well, I feel your pain.

 

 

 Don't feel too bad for me. I did read most or all of the DC line when my brother was collecting (1963-65, thereabouts) and traded duplicates with neighborhood kids and bought a lot of back issues and current issues at flea markets or had subscriptions through much of the 1960s. And I kept up with favorites throughout as money allowed, like Justice League and Green Lantern. But it was only the late 1960s and early 1970s that I felt motivated to collect more and more DCs until I was collecting the entire line, part of which reflected greater income, but part of which also was DC becoming more like Marvel. 

And I agree with most of the comments here about continuity -- I'm so indecisive on the subject that I usually agree most with whoever spoke last -- but I'll just add that I'd probably be buying, for example, the current Teen Titans if it simply acknowledged that there had once been another one. I wouldn't need to see the old one again, or have a crossover or an epic clash or anything, just that all of the history I spent 45 years collecting didn't just evaporate overnight. But since it did, I'm not in a particularly generous mood. And since there's no continuity or even nostalgia to give me positive vibes going in, I didn't give the new kids much of a chance: I read the first issue, didn't care for it, and that's that. 

Figs, I'll start with an apology - when you said you were pointing your finger at the content, I thought you meant the JLA title specifically (which you said you had not read, which confused me), and not the decompression approach by DC (and Marvel) in general.  Sorry about that.  And believe it or not, I'm on your side about that.  I think Marvel was much worse circa 2001 - 2003 than they are today, although decompression still is still a hallmark of too many writers.  Does anyone miss every single title having six part storylines?

And yeah, of course you're allowed to comment without reading it.  You're guessing you won't like it based on what you've read online, and your feelings on DC's storytelling style in general.  That's fair.  Honestly, I wasn't trying to pick a fight, just play devil's advocate to some of your points ... I hope it comes out that way.

One thing though, you and some other posters have said that sales are already back down to the pre-Nu52 levels ... what I've read on other sites indicates that several DC books are still doing much, much better than they were six months ago and a year ago.  Here's a link to an article on Comics Beat (Heidi MacDonald's site):

http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/01/27/dc-month-to-month-sales-decemb...

Comparisons to sales six months ago and one year ago are at the end of the article just before the comments.  JLA is doing 228.6% better than 6 months prior; 207.9% better than a year earlier.  In fact, 15 titles are doing at least 23% higher sales with a six month comparison, and 14 titles have seen at least a 20% increase under a one year comparison.  This alone has to make DC execs ecstatic.  And as I said before, all 10 spots in Diamond's Top Ten five months in ... the sky is hardly falling here.  Heck, we're living in a world where Aquaman - Aquaman! - outsold every Marvel title in January.  That is astounding.

Figserello said:

I don't mind reading it, but it's just paying to read it...

 

I was extrapolating from the lack of conversation about each issue of JLA, which a lot of people here seem to be reading, after all; from what I've read about the 1st issue; and from the preferred house style of DC comics these days; to guess that the individual comics are low on real incident and event and relevance to the real world.

 

No-one has offered a contradiction to that yet. Rather, the people who have defended JLA have said that they like it despite its widescreen, written for the trade, decompressed style. Even one of the creators apparently said he was deliberately making it in exactly the way I am criticising it for. I don’t have to read it! By definition, that style doesn’t allow for a lot of incident in each issue. It almost guarantees that you get not a lot of content spread over 6 issues.

 

I’m saying the widescreen, minimal panel per page decompressed etc is a major mis-step that both DC and Marvel are engaged in. Regular comics readers, those that are still buying mainstream comics, lap it up, but “regular comics readers, those that are still buying mainstream” are a shrinking pool. This was one of the reasons DC themselves gave for the whole Nu52 project.

 

I’m a longtime avid comics fan and this is the single biggest push comics have ever had into the mainstream in my lifetime. Justice League is the self-declared flagship of that, helmed by two of DC’s biggest names – 2 of the 3 Creative Whatsits, at that!

 

Justice League is the one to study to gauge what DC as a company think is the blueprint of what they are trying to do. Surely I’m allowed to comment on Justice League based on what seems like very sound deductions?

 

I’ll go off and read it if you insist, but I don’t see that really adding to the sum total of happiness in the world. Please don’t insist.  I've served my dues and paid for and read many horrible decompressed, house-style DC comics over the last 7 years.  Maybe this one is marvelously different, but I've yet to read anything to suggest this.

 

My point is that DC’s current house style will be perceived by non-fans curious about modern superhero comics as very poor value for money. All that cost, combined with 10 minute reading bites spread over 6 months will just seem like low value for money and low bang for their buck. (Not to mention the extremely low relevance to what goes on out here in the real world. Successful superhero comics have tended to find a way to work in a world recognisable to the readers.)

 

And DC are hurting themselves twice over with their current output. I’m a fanatic, Cap is a fanatic, there are quite a few fanatics on this board who have seriously reduced their comics buying habits concerning mainstream Marvel and DC superheroes. We’re their bread and butter, but they are driving us away, as well as ensuring their output isn’t very palatable to the casual tryer.

 

The top ten in January, 4 months after their unprecedentedly hyped reboot is great, yeah, but we are already seeing the numbers fall down to the pre Nu52 levels. What was it all for? That they can sell comics to their core audience is the one thing they can do well, but wasn’t that the problem before last September? How is still doing it, and no more, an improvement?

 

I think DC as a whole was in a downward spiral before the reboot, with only the GL and Bat franchises being successful.  The Superman books, Wonder Woman, Flash, and JLA - all a mess imo.

 

They gave themselves only 6 months to address the fact that they were hitting so many misses.  Apart from the one idea of the reboot, I'd have thought there would have been some thought given to the form they were producing the comics in, which as it turns out, dictates minimal content.

 

 

Keep in mind the figures being reported our retailers' purchases, not consumer purchases. Prior to the New52, retailers had a pretty good idea of who was buying what each month. When DC wiped the slate clean, they had to guess based on pull lists and past preferences. So right now, we're looking at retailer guesses versus past sales based on long experience.

As retailers start to get a handle on what customers are buying, and long-term collector interest starts to wane for later issues, and retailers stop buying a few extra for the rack, we'll get a better idea of how much sales are going to be up for the long haul.

I think Marvel could boost its numbers greatly if it started all of its titles over with #1 too. The question is: how well will DC be doing in one year? Nobody can say it failed at this point, but it's way too early to say DC achieved its goal of pulling up the numbers on its flagship titles (JLA, Superman/Action, Batman/Detective, Flash, GL, WW, etc.) for the long haul.

-- MSA

It may be too early to call it a success - but my gut tells me DC is pleased with how it is trending so far.  The sales figures for January - month 5 of the New 52 - are still pretty impressive, imo.  Sure, there's still some guesswork on retailers' parts, but that is geting smaller each month. 

I hit the Friends of the Library bookstore, which, wonderfully, has a large and extensive 50-cent bin, and acquired a bunch of The New 52 first issues -- all the ones that debuted on Sept. 14: Batman and Robin, Batwoman; Deathstroke; Demon KnightsFrankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.; Green Lantern, Grifter, Legion Lost; Mister TerrificRed LanternsResurrection ManSuicide SquadSuperboy.


I haven't read them all yet, but I'll offer my impressions after I have.

I read Superman #6 over the weekend and it was the first of any of the “New 52s” I have read that gave me a sense of “universe.” For one thing, it foreshadowed the first appearance of Superman’s costume (as opposed to the t-shirt and jeans look he’s been sporting so far in Action Comics) and places it in time. I had thought that, because the story currently running in Action Comics takes place “5 years ago” that perhaps the story running in Justice League takes place in the more recent past, but evidently the story behind Superman’s costume will be revealed in next month’s Action Comics. Also, actual footnotes reference recent events in both Supergirl as well as Superboy.

There’s also a one-page preview of next issue’s new creative team. Apparently Giffen will script and Jurgens will pencil. Presumably they’ll collaborate on the plot. I’m enjoying the new direction enough to at least give the new team a shot.



ClarkKent_DC said:

I hit the Friends of the Library bookstore, which, wonderfully, has a large and extensive 50-cent bin, and acquired a bunch of The New 52 first issues -- all the ones that debuted on Sept. 14: Batman and Robin, Batwoman; Deathstroke; Demon KnightsFrankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.; Green Lantern, Grifter, Legion Lost; Mister TerrificRed LanternsResurrection ManSuicide SquadSuperboy.


I haven't read them all yet, but I'll offer my impressions after I have.


Looking forward to it Clark.

The thing about first issues though, is that the creators usually have about 6 months to work on them, whereas later issues are churned out within a month. So there is usually a quality differential between 1st issues and subsequent issues.

I'm with you, Mark. I'm really enjoying this book more and more. I like the new characters as well.

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