Forever Evil, DC’s massive post-summer event, improves on an awful first issue with a passable second one, but its problems still linger.
Like just about everyone else alive, I (for no discernible reason) am absolutely convinced that I know better than the myriad writers and editors at DC Comics, that my take on the New 52 would have been flawlessly executed, that all the mistakes they made – and I don’t think it’s any great revelation that massive, avoidable mistakes were made in the course of this enormous, ambitious project – could have been turned around if only they would have trusted me.
Which is stupid, of course. The comic marketplace is a vastly different place than it was even ten years ago, and outside of seriously stepping out of comic shops and back into supermarkets (with the resulting drop in price and increase in age-restricted content that implies) they were never going to get their comics into many new hands… and I’m pretty sure that isn’t a feasible goal anyway. No, they did a lot right, including the very necessary move to increase digital publication.
But one possible mistake they made that I think would be very fixable is in how they handled some of the relaunches. Angry fans can and will claim that DC never gave their favorite canceled title a shot – though the relative dearth of this sort of outcry thus far suggests that DC picked the right titles to cancel quickly, and I’d bet the next cancellations will be met with similar silence – but, realistically, they were treated exactly the same as the rest of the New 52, given promotion, in-house ads, equal shelf space, etc…. DC treated Men of War and Batman roughly the same – and that, in my opinion, is the problem.
In a complete reversal of what normally happens to me when a Geoff Johns comic comes out, I’ve actually taken flak from some readers for not bashing on Justice League enough. In fact, I’ve been fairly supportive of what he’s been trying to do, even if I see what he’s trying to do with the comic as being fairly flawed. Despite that, I still maintain that the first two issues of Justice League are solid, enjoyable reads, confidently introducing us to the world and to the characters while setting up a threat big enough to unite them all. Justice League #3 brings that threat very firmly to Earth, but loses the sense of characterization that drove the first two issues.
Geoff Johns has really impressed me with this relaunch. I know I’m in the minority, but I found Blackest Night and Flashpoint to be borderline incomprehensible messes, poorly paced and largely lacking in fun. I was beginning to worry that the guy who did such a fantastic job reinventing Wally West and his Rogues would never again produce something that I’d enjoy. But Justice League #1, Green Lantern #1, and Aquaman #1 were all enjoyable books, free from many of the problems that have turned me off his work lately. Though I decided against following Green Lantern (which seemed destined to continue to get involved in endless crossovers), I stuck by Aquaman and Justice League. Earlier this month, I called Justice League #2 an improvement over the opener, and while Aquaman is still enjoyable, it doesn’t improve over Johns relatively solid introduction in the same way.
When Justice League #1 was released (over six weeks ago), it was met by many comics fans with a resounding ‘meh’. Awkwardly paced and somewhat lacking in any sort of ‘league’, some particularly pessimistic fans were predicting failure for the relaunch based on its opening issue. And then the issue sold an insane number of copies, and the story became “this is a wildly successful start to the relaunch, sales-wise” rather than “this was a mildly successful start to the relaunch, creatively-speaking.” But still, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee has perhaps the biggest soap box in comicdom right now to prove that superheroes are viable in the mainstream, so how does their sophomore issue fare?
Looking into issue 50-54. Issue 50 is a collaboration between McKeever, Johns, Wolfman, and Dezago. This is also Johns’ last work on Teen Titans and after this issue, McKeever takes over by himself for a while.
I’ll be looking at the One Year Later stuff now with issues 34-49. And I’m going to say now that some of these issues have to be Johns’ worst in this series.