I’ve tended to avoid comics from the two big comics companies for the last fifteen years. There have, of course been exceptions, like when a writer I like takes a turn at the helm, when a friend lends me a collected edition they think I might like or when I reacquaint myself with John Constantine in Hellblazer, put out by Vertigo, a DC imprint. But on the whole, between the never-ageing, never-maturing godlings in tights, the sprawling pantheons and the annual world events that span multiple titles of a publisher in a barely concealed marketing assault on headlines and wallets, I mostly opt out. The slavish factionalism displayed by the fans of both companies certainly doesn’t help either.
Recently, DC Comics have tried something new. Much to the coordinated disgust of their own fans, DC have decided to reboot their world and restart all their books from number #1 all over again. Furthermore, in an acknowledgement of how the world of media consumption has changed, they are also making their books available for sale digitally on the same day as the paper copies arrive at the dwindling number of comic book shops.
The new books started to go on sale last week with the release of only one book, the flagship Justice League and I decided to give it a read. The book is set in a modern world, rather than the more abstract one that these comics tended to use. The world they inhabit is not yet at ease with these aliens and vigilantes in the midst, so we have conflict. The eponymous league doesn’t exist yet and the book initially only deals with two of their eventual number, Batman and Green Lantern. Presumably they were chosen as they currently enjoy high name recognition amongst those on the fringes of comic books, those who have seen the movies and are keen to read the source material but are intimidated by the vast stores back stories they might have been expected to already know. Those people, after all, are the true target market of this relaunch.
The story is okay, limited as it is by it’s monthly 24 page format. It exists to introduce us to the two aforementioned characters, show us how unlikeable they are, and introduce them to Superman in the last pages, who manages to be more unlikeable still. Let me be clear here, the fact that I describe the characters as unlikeable is not a flaw, it’s another avenue for conflict. Conflict should not just exist between heroes and monsters. Over the arc of a story, characters can, and should, develop, and there is certainly plenty scope for them to do so. Only time will tell whether they will.
Tomorrow the next batch of ‘first’ issues will be released and I think I may pick a few of them up, I’m interested in seeing what DC do with the slightly blanked canvas. Something that is made easier for me by not having to travel far and wide to find a shop that may or may not have them in stock. I can view the new releases digitally on the day of release.