A year-and-a-half ago I stopped reading comic books. I was in the middle of landing a new job in a new city. Reading comics fell by the way side. When, finally, I was comfortably situated in my new surroundings I dropped by my local comic book store only to discover that pretty much everything I used to read was either canceled or renumbered. They were also all refashioned with this queer “New 52” logo. I get the attention of one of the employees so I can ask what the f happened.
Flashpoint. Geoff Johns. Co-Publisher Dan Didio.
Being a DC Man, and Vertigo practically a husk of its former self, I dejectedly left the store empty-handed, cursing under my breath the dastardly shadow G-off Johns once again casted on my life.
Flash forward a year or so in the future. Its my day off and all of my favorite television shows have had their season wrap-ups. Sure I could work on all those writing/design project I keep meaning to finish but why the hell would I want to do that. On a whim I decide to head back to the comic book store. Once there I decide that I am going to buy the corporate spin and see this as an opportunity to start reading books that I would otherwise never read due to sprawling cumbersome mythology.
Wonder Woman. Check.
Anyone who has been paying attention to comic sales has doubtless seen countless reports on the performance of the New 52. And while DC’s ambitious relaunch has done a lot of good for their market share (with Justice League routinely topping the charts and four books selling over 100k copies per month), the sales for a number of their books started lower than they hoped and dropped fast to pre-relaunch levels. Cancellations were imminent, and today, DC made the announcement, naming six books that will be concluding with issue number eight.
Justice League #2, cover by Lee, Williams & Sinclair
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?
Note: This is the preliminary cover, not the final one.
Batwing is brought to us by legendary writer Judd Winick and artist Ben Oliver. And by “legendary,” I really mean “extremely hit-or-miss.” Winick is one of those guys that comes along and writes a very thought provoking story – the resurrection of Jason Todd and his new mission to cause as much grief as he possibly can to his old mentor – and then rides the waves of that story’s success for most of his career. I can’t really say that Red Hood: The Lost Days was particular awe inspiring, nor was his take on Grant Morrison’s take of the Red Hood in Batman and Robin #23-25 (he somehow managed to avoid everything that Morrison did to reinvent the Red Hood as a villain and brought him back to being a guy who trolls Batman). When asked about his Catwoman series for the New 52, he said “sexy” so many times I forgot what the story was about to begin with. So, Batwing did not look to be very inspiring.
What can I say about Flashpoint that hasn’t already been said before? It’s a lost series, a book that doesn’t know what it wants to be. It certainly isn’t an adventure story – every time a team is formed to deal with a problem, they collapse or fail immediately. Every attempt to become epic quickly backfires, every attempt to become post-apocalyptic is thwarted by the mundane. In service of a more fully realized story, this dedication to defying expectation might be noble; in Flashpoint, it just feels like padding to keep a simple story running for the proper number of trade-worthy issues.