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HEAVEN OR HELL! DC Comics win/loss tracker.

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I've been continuing my quixotic trek through The New 52. The real struggle with this is that I have been deliberately reading shorter series first, which means that I am sifting through a lot of failures right up front. Like DC had the (admirable, I think) goal of reviving some non-superhero comic genres, trying out War and Western and Fantasy books. However, they had this odd fascination with seeming to deliberately stack the deck against them from the start. They were all more expensive than most of the line, with a back-up story. I would think, if you are going to try something a little risky, you wouldn't want to make it more expensive than your regular offerings, to entice people to try the new thing out. Only one of those series made it past 10 issues. All-Star Western is a highlight, though, and one that I don't feel is well remembered. The first half is Jonah Hex hanging out in late 19th century Gotham, the second half has Jonah Hex time travel to the present and becomes a team-up book. The first half is better, but the whole thing is a lot of fun.
 
I remember liking All-Star Western until it time skipped.

To me, standouts from the N52 were:

Superman/Wonder Woman - Not necessarily awesome or anything, but it was actually really cool to explore this pairing. They did N52 Superman dirty, this deserved to be explored more.

Wonder Woman - Brian Azzarello's take on the character was pretty unique, and Cliff Chang's art was incredible. It was so well put together and realized, it was a shame that run had to end eventually.

Earth 2 - I really enjoyed this take on Earth 2, until editorial decided to figuratively and literally blow it up. There was a lot of nauseating events and imagery that just really was anti-fun. Like, no, I don't want to explore what if Darkseid destroyed the Earth and killed/enslaved all the heroes. I'm good. What was even worse, was that editorial shipped off two of my favorite heroes and exiled them on Earth 2. (Power Girl and Huntress) and they basically haven't recovered since.

Harley Quinn & Power Girl - Not necessarily amazing, but a fun book and a fun/unconventional combo.

Animal Man & Swamp Thing - Until both got derailed by editorial, but they were incredible books with S-tier illustrations. Both ultimately disappointing for not getting to properly end their respective runs, but give both a go. They're awesome.

World's Finest - A book of two of my favorite heroes teaming up with each other. Power Girl & Huntress, the Earth 2 refugee versions of both. Wasn't an great book by any stretch, but it was compelling to read a revamped origin story of both, and explore them trying to lay low on Earth Prime/not draw the attention of the local heroes, while trying to find a way back to their Earth. Then, they went home, the book was cancelled, and everything went to shit. Womp womp

Batman & Robin - Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason power pairing went from the stellar GLC book, to making Batman & Robin. Easily the best N52 series by a mile.

Batman Inc - Grant Morrison putting the finishing touches on all his Batman stories. Not a big fan of the N52 time compression making Damian a clone, but otherwise a good read.

Multiversity - Grant Morrison masterpiece if I ever read one.

Those were the standouts. If I wanted to write up a list of lowlights though, it would be like 5x as long. N52 had some decent stuff, but there was a whole lot of hot garbage. You're a trooper to push through it all Badger. It was hard reading them week to week while it was happening.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
At the time, I tried the first issue of each (the place I was getting my comics from had a deal). That was pretty quickly narrowed down to 12 or so, and it stuck there, as I moved series in and out.

I read that All-Star Western run at the time, but I'd mostly forgotten about it. The big surprise so far has been I, Vampire, which was pretty excellent until it lost its artist, and was good until it tried to cram an ending into the last few issues.

Of course, I, Vampire lost that artist to Green Arrow with Jeff Lemire, which I just read and is just great.

Also, I recognize this project is nothing but stupid and I am going to have to force myself to read a lot of bad comics for no reason.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Can't wait until you get to dregs like Omac, Hawk & Dove, and Future's End.

I've read Hawk & Dove (I'm doing a ranking because I have a sickness and right now it is at the bottom) and OMAC; I've actually read all the series that didn't make it past two years. I haven't decided when I will read the weeklies yet; I'm kind of looking forward to Batman Eternal and dreading the other 2.

I got to be honest, I've got OMAC far from the dregs. As far as series that did not pass the 2 year mark, I've got it above everything save I, Vampire and Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE. I won't defend any part of the book narratively, but Keith Giffen is doing a fun Kirby impression and brings enough energy that I found the 8 issues rather delightful, if not particularly coherent.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Hawk & Dove still hurts- I'm a fan of the original post Crisis mini-series, and this... wasn't even near close to it. Who was the genius who decided to let Liefeld write?

What sucks is that the first few issues had Sterling Gates as the writer, and most of his work is pretty solid. His Supergirl run before the N52 was excellent, and seems to have been at least partly used as the set up for the TV show. but on that book he seemed entirely overwhelmed by Liefeld.

Liefeld's inclusion in the New 52 is indicative of the whole project's reliance on 90's retreads that no one wanted. He got Hawk & Dove, ok. He's still a name and has a history with the characters. But that book utterly failed. So why did he then get handed another book to write and draw (Deathstroke) and 2 more to write (Grifter & Hawkman)? All three turned to crap, though only Deathstroke was any kind of not crap before.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
It's weird how haphazard the whole thing was. I was clearly a mandated effort to creative "accessibility" to the DC Universe's 80 year history, only to not trust many of the new teams, choose ones that were not exactly fresh story-telling voices (yes, there's lots of old pros who still spin amazing yarns but... why so MUCH faith in Lodbell?) and frankly a continuity that somehow became more impenetrable, especially time crunching a lot of shit (all of the Batman stories happened within 5 years or so?!). There's definitely good stuff in there but it seems despite all the editorial meddling foisted upon the enterprise. And weren't there lots of crossovers and shit, too?

Also, trying to make a Wonder Woman/Superman ship, which is not interesting for either character.
 
I got to be honest, I've got OMAC far from the dregs.
I'll take your word for it that it's probably better than I remember it being. I just remember it being unremarkable and going nowhere. Which is always particularly annoying/disappointing when they changed this OMAC to be an Asian hero. We don't get much going for us in DC comics, so when we get thrown measly bones like this it always feels more annoying and patronizing than anything else.

I'm kind of looking forward to Batman Eternal and dreading the other 2.
I remember Batman Eternal actually being pretty decent, but ultimately kind of disappointing. All these years later, I couldn't really even tell you what it was about, and that's a really bad sign - particularly from me. Names and dates slip off my brain like butter on a hot carburetor, but stories themselves, my brain is usually a steel trap for. All I remember Batman Eternal for was some mediocre Hush business, where the artist decided to draw him like Ronald Weasley for some reason, and for the first meaty exploration of Harper Row as a character since her introduction. And by 'meaty' I mean meat like desiccated beef jerky, because the comic didn't do a good job with what should have been an awesome character. I liked the ideas of the weekly comics, but they were almost always some of the most slapdash, ugly, low-effort comics coming out of the N52 at that time. Which I remember vividly remember being appalling on a far to frequent occasion.
CjWpwbM.jpg


I'm sure the original penciling of this looked better than the end product, but somewhere along the line, someone ran out of time or someone was put into a place they weren't ready for because woof.

Also, trying to make a Wonder Woman/Superman ship, which is not interesting for either character.
To each their own, but I liked it. The normal dynamic of Superman/Lois is Clark juggling his two identities for drama, and Lois being vulnerable and caught in the middle, causing consternation for both. Superman/Wonder Woman I really liked because it was almost Slice of Life in nature, where there wasn't really a lot of drama, and it was just kind of a rare, feel good book about a functional and happy relationship. And it was also kind of nice to see Clark and Diana have a relationship where the other person could really and truly understand what the other was going through. So much of DC comics in general, because of the nature of monthly single issues, have no time to really live in a moment, or have any kind of down-time or decompression in the plot. You've only got 18 pages to fit a month's worth of story into, so you've gotta make it count. So they're so often hyper-focused on forwarding the plot, or dedicated to action setpieces, that any time there's a reprieve where characters can just kind of live their lives or have downtime feels like a breath of fresh air to me. Which is probably why I really loved Batman & Robin in the N52.

There's a point in the comic where Damian dies, and there's a whole textless issue dedicated to Bruce's grieving. It's artful stuff. The very next issue, they have Bruce working through his grief by being extra mean to criminals and running himself ragged. At one point, Selena helps him out, and he gets reminded of why he became Batman to begin with. And I'll always love these panels because they are, to me, the quintessential essence of who Batman is:

5Ocja3E.jpg


hiw79aT.jpg
😙👌

How dare.
I really wanted to like Future's End. It has all of the stuff I should like in theory. But it just turned into a wet fart by the end. And it did all of my favorite characters extra dirty. Almost a decade later and I still can't get over this panel.
 

LBD_Nytetrayn

..and his little cat, too
(He/him)
I hear that.

Killing Terry was the bridge too far for me. They fixed that, eventually, but at the time, it really felt like they were taking him out to be replaced with one of the more "recognizable" potential successors, if you get my meaning.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Okay, I might have some controversial takes here. But now I'm working on the Justice League titles, including Forever Evil, as it is a Justice League event.

I'd almost forgotten there was a JLI with the New 52. There might as well not have been. It failing seems like it necessitated Justice League of America, which existed to give the main Justice League a government controlled team to fight in the lead up to Forever Evil. I kind of liked the JLA team, and wish they had actually had a book with stories about them.

Justice League, the flagship title, gets off on some terrible footing. I've said it before, and I've not changed my mind: Johns and Jim Lee are a terrible team. They seem to play into each others worst instincts. I feel like Johns is trying to write a combination of Morrison's epic JLA and Giffen/DeMatteis's sitcommy JLI, and it does not work. So I doubt it will come as a surprise when I say that Justice League gets monumentally better after its first year. Throne of Atlantis is fine. Trinity War's biggest problem is that it was billed as an event unto itself, when it was really just a prelude to Forever Evil. I genuinely like about 85% of The Darkseid War.

Forever Evil, which I feel has a bad reputation, is a pretty solid event book. I mean, the concept is just the Legion of Doom fights the Crime Syndicate. The motivation is just that scene from The Rocketeer where the gangsters refuse to help Nazis. I think there is a question of how seriously you take the book. The book does not wink; it presents itself as deadly serious. But it still gives you moments like this:

fe1.png


where Bizarro gives Luthor, in the middle of some self-important musings, a pretty flower. If you take the whole thing seriously, it is dark and unpleasant and humorless. I think the book expects you to laugh with it as it steers into being completely the darkest thing every. Idk, its grimly silly in a way that I mostly find pretty amusing.

Following Forever Evil, I think Justice League is strictly excellent. The Amazo Virus story hits a little different now, but I guess any story about an unstoppable virus rapidly infection everyone on the planet likely does.

I've just started on Justice League Dark. A realization has been building, and maybe I'm doing the guy a disservice when saying this after reading a lot of New 52 stuff, but I don't think I like Peter Milligan. I don't X-Statix. I didn't like his Stormwatch. I think his JL: Dark is simply confounding. Maybe if I'd read his Shade the Changing Man or Hellblazer stuff I'd get him, but I just don't. However, I am nearing the point of the book where Jeff Lemire takes over and his stuff I do like.

Finally, there is Justice League 3000. I remember being very excited for Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire doing a new Justice League book, then very disappointed when Maguire departed, replaced by Howard Porter (who does what I would call career best work on the book). I was so disappointed I didn't read it at the time. It is not "bwa ha ha" JL stuff, at least not to start; it is cynical, post-apocalyptic Giffen sci-fi. It does slowly morphs into 'bwa ha ha' as it goes, particularly after the first storyline finishes after issue 10. It mostly seems to be the creative team having fun with non-standard versions of big characters and a world and setting that no one cares if they blow it up.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I do to, but I feel like it gets eyerolls when mentioned. That's my anecdotal experience, and things seem to be a lot harder to gauge reactions when most of the places I would look to for comics reviews and opinions are either no longer around or no longer worth going to.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Aware this is a deep cut, but…

Does anyone remember the name of that DC anthology book, I want to say it was published in the late 90s, maybe 2000s that was all Elseworlds stories? They were pretty long issues, like 100 pages, and just cram packed with short stories.

I remember reading one that had a lovecrafty horror story about all the stretchy superheroes, a parody of Kingdom Come and The Beatles except it was all Supermans.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I've just started on Justice League Dark. A realization has been building, and maybe I'm doing the guy a disservice when saying this after reading a lot of New 52 stuff, but I don't think I like Peter Milligan. I don't X-Statix. I didn't like his Stormwatch. I think his JL: Dark is simply confounding. Maybe if I'd read his Shade the Changing Man or Hellblazer stuff I'd get him, but I just don't. However, I am nearing the point of the book where Jeff Lemire takes over and his stuff I do like.
I was someone who followed Milligan to an extent. I did like X-Statix quite a bit at the time but haven't revisited it and did not like that one-shot that was a build up to his new x-series. I liked Shade and some of his weird little minis and one shots for Vertigo, like The Eaters. But I find his WORST stuff tends to be when he writes for more mainstream books. It feels like he's less interested in whatever he's doing and even in his better works he has weaknesses as a writer I feel become much more apparent. He has ideas but they seem to come far before interesting characters and compelling narrative.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Been reading the Darkseid War arc of Justice League, and while the actual Darkseid War itself was kind of underwhelming (more of a boxing match between him and the Anti-Monitor), I loved that the fight was just a fakeout, and the real meat of the story is the Justice League suddenly becoming New Gods themselves and having to deal with all that malarkey

Also, I like the turn that Mr. Miracle doesn’t actually like either faction of New Gods (except Barda) since his dad literally threw him into Hell to make the devil stop bugging him, which didn’t work anyway
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
Anybody subscribe to DC Universe Infinite? How does it compare to Marvel Unlimited? It's slightly cheaper monthly but slightly more expensive yearly.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
Also, I like the turn that Mr. Miracle doesn’t actually like either faction of New Gods (except Barda) since his dad literally threw him into Hell to make the devil stop bugging him, which didn’t work anyway

I like the part where Barda shows up and starts bashing things and Mr. Miracle proudly declares "that's my wife."
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
It's pretty bonkers that Hell and Lucifer and angels are all canon within the DC Universe. Like, Hell is a place that you can just casually visit.

You'd think, given that, that our heroes would put more time into educating the world on the risks and dangers of eternal damnation, but it really doesn't come up at all.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Infinite is definitely better for browsing, But I prefer Unlimited for reading individual issues. The panel by panel zoom works a little better, and while this is more artist dependant there’s fewer mosaic and double page spreads with Marvel to muck things up if you’re reading full pages
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
It's pretty bonkers that Hell and Lucifer and angels are all canon within the DC Universe. Like, Hell is a place that you can just casually visit.

You'd think, given that, that our heroes would put more time into educating the world on the risks and dangers of eternal damnation, but it really doesn't come up at all.
My absolute favourite example of that is in Infinite Crisis where someone can’t believe that Mr. Terrific is an atheist when there’s a literal angel on the team, and Terrifics explanation was that the two of them weren’t ever on the team at the same time so they never met
 

LBD_Nytetrayn

..and his little cat, too
(He/him)
I'd almost forgotten there was a JLI with the New 52. There might as well not have been. It failing seems like it necessitated Justice League of America, which existed to give the main Justice League a government controlled team to fight in the lead up to Forever Evil. I kind of liked the JLA team, and wish they had actually had a book with stories about them.
I liked how the cartoon chose to discard the "of America" part, make the team more globally-oriented and expand upon that with Justice League Unlimited.

I wish the comics had followed suit.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I liked how the cartoon chose to discard the "of America" part, make the team more globally-oriented and expand upon that with Justice League Unlimited.

I wish the comics had followed suit.

I mean, the "Of America" book was cancelled and replaced with Justice League United, which kind of tried to do the Unlimited thing.

I've started nibbling around the Batman books now, and read Batgirl and Nightwing. Simone has written about how she was not allowed to lighten things up on Batgirl, and you feel it. Her run is perfectly fine, but it is also relentlessly grim. Nightwing has similar problems; it is a perfectly fine Batman-lite book that could use some levity. There was also an obviously editorially driven shake up on the Bat-line about a year into the New 52, when Simone was momentarily replaced on Batgirl and Nightwing literally blows up the status quo it had spent the last year setting up.

Now I've moved on to The Flash, which is adequate from a writing standpoint, but Francis Manapul's art is just fantastic.
 
Batgirl in the N52 starts out so bleak and upsetting, despite her getting a reset and getting use of her legs back. Simone is a great talent but you can tell she was just kind of like, stuck doing something she didn't want to be doing. Did you read the whole Burnside saga? It was fun, but it also should have probably been how the N52 started out, because it just feels ridiculously discordant with what Simone was doing.

Nightwing with a red outfit was so bizarre. What a weird editorial mandate. Agent Dick was funny but also kind of upsetting too. It was really weird to see Grayson elevated to playing the role of Batman just a few years earlier - and doing a really good job of it - and then have that pulled away from him, then have Nightwing pulled away from him too. It just felt like someone at editorial hated Dick and wouldn't allow good things for him for a while.

Manipul's artwork was wasted on those mediocre Flash books. Those books were drop dead gorgeous.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
For the most part I am stopping at Convergence, so I got the first six or so issues of Batgirl of Burnside. It's whiplash inducing, going from the dour Simone stuff to the bright, cartoony, more upbeat following run. I mean, Burnside might miss occasionally trying to be 'hip,' but it has energy and color.

I'm anxious to re-read Grayson, because that was the book where I discovered Tom King, and I haven't really looked at it since it was running.

I think it was Didio specifically that had it out for Dick, for about as long as he was at DC. Like he seemed to want to kill him in every crossover going back to Infinite Crisis. I read a 10 year retrospective where Didio was still complaining that Dick aged Batman too much and griping about people wanting the blue costume rather than the red. Like, he was griping about people focusing on the wrong details, but if it was really such an unimportant detail, why insist on the red when he makes it seem like everyone wanted to revert to blue? Personally, I think DC is better off when it remembers that "fun Batman' is a good character they should be happy to have around.

Having just finished the Manapul/Buccellato Flash run, I think the writing is better than mediocre. Especially if you grade on the sliding scale of artists taking on writing duties. I mean, its not great; its slightly above average superhero stuff elevated by truly excellent artwork. Which is really highlighted when Manapul is replaced by Brett Booth, whose art I simply detest. I guess its just possible I am just blinded by how great that art is.
 
I hate DiDio so much. I don't think it's a coincidence that Dick got to hook up with Babs again the second he departed DC. Grayson was a good book the more I remember what happened, it was just again, upsetting to see the character get jerked around like that via editorial mandate in a pretty directionless manner. Guy is my favorite Batfam character. I still can't get over the entire bullshit of Dick informing Babs about his marriage to Koriander. That was Super-Dickery levels of nonsense without any of the Silver Age whimsy.

I fell off of reading Batman stuff before Tom King came on. I like what I hear about his ideas for Batman, but I also took great pleasure in him jerking around impatient and myopic DC fans on a month-to-month basis. I basically began to fall off reading ALL OF THE THINGS with DC at Convergence. Convergence being this dumb reboot just a few years after their last dumb reboot was very off-putting. Especially when it went and messed with a lot of stuff I actually did like with the N52. And as an event it felt extremely sloppy and slapdash.

Bat-Fam is some of my favorite comicbook stuff, but I felt like most of the N52 Bat-fam stuff was rather lackluster and aimless. Batwing starts out just completely disconnected and mediocre. And then they just unceremoniously dump their black-Batman for a more recognizable face, but then didn't really do much to make him interesting either. Batman Inc was classic Morrison and a lot of fun in many respects, but I really got sick of it by the end with Talia's completely nonsensical heel-turn, as well as the dumb N52 retcon of Damian being a vat-baby. Batwoman was a work of art, and DiDio torpedoing JH Williams III's run on it should be considered a hate crime. I read several years worth of The Dark Knight and Detective Comics and I couldn't tell you a single thing about either of them due to how dull and pointlessly grimdark they were. I don't know if it was before or after convergence, but Gotham Academy was something very interesting and special for a few issues and I have no clue why it didn't get more support. Batman & Robin -- I promise I'll stop gushing about.

Personally, I think DC is better off when it remembers that "fun Batman' is a good character they should be happy to have around.
This is a big reason why I've been so attached to Batman: Wayne Family Adventures. As a comic it's creeping up on being a year old now, and my god is it just everything I've ever wanted in a Batman comic.
 
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