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HEAVEN OR HELL! DC Comics win/loss tracker.

Technically DC comics -- I found my old stash of Star Trek comics from when I was a kid:


Man these comics were so dope. They don't make 'em like they used to.
Hey! They predicted JJ Abrams back in Oct '93!
😂 I was personally entertained by Sulu looking like a bored ape nft.

Man there are some wild stories in here. I’ve got an issue where Kirk & Co are in command of the USS Excelsior instead of the Enterprise-A, Spock is still dead, and Lt Saavik is in Spock’s place. I’ve got a story where David came back from the dead and now he’s a commander all of a sudden. I’ve got a story about Scotty being depressed because his wife/the love of his life died while the crew were in exile on Vulcan for a year, and now he’s teething to pick up the pieces of his life while going down memory lane. I’ve got a book with a forward written by Nicholas Meyer where he both condemns Star Trek as a racist Republican fever dream, and likens his relationship with the franchise to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s relationship with Sherlock Holmes. This stuff is awesome.


Power is fleeting, love is eternal
I've heard that they got into some narrative trouble when they began making comics set after Star Trek III, getting a new Enterpise and having Spock growing as a person, only to later be informed that Star Trek IV would begin very shortly after the last movie ended, so they had to make a story where all the development in the comic was reversed, their Enterpise taken away from them, and Spock getting a blow on the head or something to turn him back into the freshly resurrected, slightly wobbly version from the end of III.

Octopus Prime

Been re-reading Injustice (the first series) and, I forgot how grim and four year 1 is, and how abruptly that turns around for Year 2, where it suddenly becomes the most fun and interesting take on “But What if… Good Guys Were Bad?!?” DC has ever had.

Art also got a lot more consistent in year 2, which is good as Year 1 had someone new handling each issue and they were rarely great and sometimes horrible.

Could stand to turn down the horny on Harleys design by, say, 90%, granted. I get they’re trying to match her in game design but it was bad there too.
lol I enjoy injustice a whole lot, but its entire premise rests upon the idea that this one horrible thing would be enough to have Superman break bad, and it was just never actually all that persuasive of an argument. Even Zack Snyder found he had to tweak the idea for his movie to make it more believable. (Have the triggering event make Superman prone to being swayed by the Anti-Life Equation vs just sad-to-genocide-heel-turn)

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
I've recently moved onto to reading the Green Lantern N52 books. I'm through the first dozen or so issues of each series, reading them in conjunction because year 2 is basically the year of the crossover.

Red Lanterns is an achievement. Just an amazing book. Its first 12 issues are mostly space monsters standing around vomiting laser blood and talking about how angry they are. They don't really do anything except pose and shout. At one point Atrocitus (A+ villain name) makes another Red Lantern more than just an incoherent rage machine, giving himself a second in command. He immediately starts to believe she is plotting against him. Who is this book for?

New Guardians is . . . fine. Just an adequate comic. It definitely got a lower tier set of artists, and Tony Bedard has carved out a career writing adequate comics. Maybe people who are a lot more investing in Kyle as a character would get more out of this book. I like him fine, but I'm not reading books just to get more of him.

If my memories of how much I liked the comics is true, I am going to echo the following sentiment when I get to the Batman books, but as much as I like Johns' Green Lantern run -- and I think it is quite good, especially when Mahnke is on art -- I think I prefer Peter Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps. It is nominally the #2 book in the line, but I like Guy and John's adventures with the whole team. Not that I don't enjoy Hal and Sinestro's dick measuring contest, but there are more interesting characters in GLC.

Also, these books don't even pretend to part of a reboot. Issue 1 might as well be issue 68 of the last series. Same thing with GLC. Honestly, it might be their best feature.
Red Lanters was complete nonsense. It actually does get more interesting/has direction later on once the other Red Lanterns begin getting personalities. But mostly, it's just a disappointing book, and the Green Lantern cartoon exemplifies how great the Red Lanterns could have been if there had been real thought and planning put into them. (Which, btw becomes a shame when they later try to move Razor back into the comics but then it kind of falls flat.) You haven't even gotten to the point where it gets truly bonkers, where Guy Gardner and Supergirl become Red Lanterns and even then it never quite lives up to its promise.

New Guardians IIRC pissed a lot of Kyle fans off. Because his book was dull and it felt like editorial didn't know what to do with the character, and this book was just them throwing a bone to them that wasn't even a good wishbone or femur to knaw on. It gets even worse later IIRC as Kyle ill advisedly hooked up with Carol Ferris, gets stuck in the Source Wall, and becomes a White Lantern, only for it all to be unceremoniously undone.

GLC is always better than GL. But GL picks up momentum towards the end of John's run, and the way he closes out his run on that book was truly a magical moment in comics.

But of course, DC can't ever leave anything good alone. The guy they had take over for GL after Johns was just tragically awful. The guy seemed to take delight in just destroying everything about GL that Johns had built up, including blowing up OA, wiping the Blue Lanterns out, and then making the emotional power the power rings run off of a finite resource that is quickly being depleted by the various Lanterns and now the universe is going to experience heat death way earlier than planned, and Baz and Jessica Cruz quickly get sidelined into obscurity/meaningless. I hate it. I with a passion. I couldn't tell you what happens in anything GL ever since because by golly the wound is too deep for me to even ever peek back and see if they've possibly righted the ship or not. It's honestly impressive how Johns took Green Lantern from a B-Lister into one of DC's most prosperous and interesting properties in the 2000s and a proper A-Lister, and then immediately took a gigantic shit all over it at the first chance they had.

Octopus Prime

I think the most succinct, least spoiler heavy description for Refrigerator Full of Heads is “What if the Coen Brothers made an adaption of the early chapters of JoJos Bozarre Adventure”

It… is bananas.

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
Okay, so I've finished with the Green Lantern books, and I think they may have broke me.

Red Lanterns get Charles Soule for its second half and is much better. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it good, but its enjoyable. Maybe I just like Guy. Things happen, the book (and team) has purpose. Its fine.

Other than the ill-advised relationship between Carol Ferris and Kyle, I think GL: New Guardians improves in the back half. I like Brad Walker's art. The book doesn't really do anything with the concept of Kyle being a white lantern, but he has some pretty decent space adventures. I kind of wish they hadn't dumped all the other New Guardians other than Kyle and Carol, but still.

As for Green Lantern. Ooof. Ooof magoof. Venditti took over The Flash after Manapul/Buccellato left and I thought the book took a turn for the worse. But I attributed a lot of that to Brett Booth's art. I think Venditti might just be a comic writer. Is it really hitting a sour note when all the notes are sour? So they start with crossover that introduces a terrible new idea, that Green Lantern light is a finite resource and the GLs are killing the universe by using it. Then they don't really follow up on the idea other than to make everyone hate GL's because they are destroying the universe. Hal just kind of becomes even more of a 'generic hero guy' and then it culminates with the just unsatisfying Godhead crossover, which made me (ME!) dislike Kirby concepts. Or at least things purporting to be Kirby concepts. I guess "what if New Genesis were fascists, too" is a story idea that could work, but it doesn't here.

GLC fares slightly better. The whole Fatality plot is just insulting. I did like the return of the Corpse, even if I think 'the Corpse' is strictly a bad idea. But once Venditti is not co-plotting, it starts to build into something. And John is at least recognizable as the John of the last 15 or so years. Still, it spends a lot of time crossing over with GL and kind of fails to establish its new Lanterns.

Also the Sinestro book is fine. It feels the most like a Johns/Tomasi era GL book. Plus, Soranik Natu is a favorite. Of course, the portion I read spends half of its run in the Godhead crossover.

Finally, they let Giffen and DeMatteis do a Larfleeze book. It is very much in the vein of their JLI work. Scott Kolins provides the art. Does Larfleeze spend the whole book picking fights with space Gods while trying to steal their stuff? of course. Does nothing of consequence actually happen? of course. Does Larfleeze team up with G'Nort? you betcha. I don't know that I can recommend it, but I enjoyed it.

To wash the taste out of my mouth, I read Multiversity. Its pretty much a Morrison Greatest Hits album, but thems some damn good hits.

Yep. That Venditti run on GL basically killed me reading monthlies. Incredibly wretched. Every now and then I peek my head into DC to see what's been going on lately. And every time I peek into GL it always makes me sad, but also vindicates my break. Last time I looked into things, Soranik Natu had become a card carrying, goose-stepping Yellow Lantern, and I just about threw my desktop out the window as a result.

Multiversity is a god damned work of art.

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
New 52 Batwoman is a book very like The Flash: gorgeous art; fine story work. I think, overall, The Flash has better artwork (JH Williams III is untouchable, but he only does about 1/3 of the issues of his run), but Batwoman is a better written book. It sucks DC killed that run after 2 years. I had completely forgotten about the moronic "no married heroes" edict. Andreyko's follow up is okay. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but it feels like Andreyko has been dining out on his Manhunter run for a long time without producing much worth remembering.

I also read Batwing. What a weird book. What if Batman was Iron Man? It is one of the few books that seems to remember that the Batman, Inc. stuff is still going one, then has the hero it just spent a year establishing just quit and replaced with Lucius Fox's heretofore unmentioned MMA fighter son. The first version of Batwing struggles to establish itself, the second one gets bogged down in family stuff near the end, but starts out strong and I like the artist as far as generic superhero art goes.

Now I've moved on to The Phantom Stranger, which poses that eternal question: why?

Johnny Unusual

It's weird, Say what you will on writing quality I feel like Dan DiDio the writer (based on the few works I read from him) kind of likes to have fun and playing with C-D list characters but Dan DiDio the guy telling writers what to do is... not that.

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
Oh yeah, Didio was always eager to write Metal Men or [insert obscure Kirby concept here]. But I don't know what his directives from WB were while he was EIC/Publisher, but he was constantly pushing some kind of big shake up that only rarely made any sense.

I think the perfect summation of Didio is that he approved doing 52, which was great but Didio hated it. He then spearheaded Countdown and called it 52 done right. And it was Countdown.
Batwing isn't the only comic that remembers Batman Inc. Batman & Robin deals with the fallout of Batman Inc pretty well. Definitely read that before you move onto Batman & Robin.

DiDio played editor like he constantly had bean counters breathing down his neck. Which to me always just seemed like brain-worms. You're owned by a gigantic media conglomerate, that is actively mining comic books for story ideas for its multi-billion dollar blockbuster film franchises. The cost of their entire comics operations for a whole year would be like, the cost of one or two superbowl commercials. Just take the L on the comics side so you can actually harvest some good stories for your actually profitable, mass/pop media empire, instead of adapting the most vanilla/boring Justice League story you could have possibly done from the first year's worth of N52 JL run.

RB, you ever read the N52 Animal Man & Swamp Thing before/yet?

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
I read them both at the time (all the way through on Animal Man, I don't recall if I stuck with Swamp Thing after the crossover). I recall greatly enjoying Animal Man, other than one particular choice near the end that I hated and I hope has since been retconned.

I've been deliberately avoiding the main Batman titles, but all the Batman adjacent titles (Nightwing, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Batwoman other than like the first issue) seem to avoid mentioning that Batman Inc is/was a thing.

I've cleared out most of the shorter titles; I'm down to about 30 series left to read. 5.5 Batmans, 3 Supermans, 1.5 Wonder Womans and 2 Aquamans, 3 weeklies, Harley Quinn, and various other odds and ends.

So far, I found it to be pretty rough. Though as I've said elsewhere, I forced myself through the unappetizing stuff first. I wanted to say I made myself eat my vegetables before getting dessert, but its more like I gorged on rancid potato salad, and now I am free to enjoy my vegetables and dessert.
52 ongoing titles is just... a lot
I honestly think it's about right. That's 13 different comics each week. If you're a big comic fan, you can go to your LCS, and be almost guaranteed to find one or two books a week that'll be worth your time. The problem isn't inherently volume IMO, but the lack of institutional support for that volume. It's the same problem that the anime industry faces in Japan, where there's a massive output of media but they don't want to invest in the workers who produce the stuff/pay them like shit. The lack of decent pay and worker burnout leads to a subpar product. And the subpar product itself limits the growth and success of these things more than anything else.


Post Reader
It's more if you have books publishing more than monthly, but I guess they were doing less of that at the time

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
The real problem was they had like 4 different versions of how much of a reboot the New 52 was, and an insistence on trying to appeal to new readers with old talent. They largely used a house style (of art and writing) designed to appeal to existing fans, and retread 90's Marvel people.

But I'm building a list of great titles/runs. Even in their darkest times DC manages to produce some great stuff despite themselves.
Brought a shortbox filled with 90s Batmans from my parents recently.

When I was a kid I loved the Grant/Breyfogle run and now I find it pretty Saturday Morning- Batman is out there scolding taggers and stuff, not too interesting. I think Breyfogle is a great artist but his style doesn't do much for me at this time. The Aparo issues running in parallel though... well, he def still had it, they look great even if the stories aren't too hot.

I didn't really like the Moench/Jones run as a kid though, but I was surprised to find I really liked them this time around. After Knightfall they really tried something totally different- on one hand, it's a petty imitation of Spawn.. but on the other hand, the benefit of professional editorial and QC puts it head and shoulders above the actual Spawn comics (which were never good). They're so weird and ugly! I love them.

Octopus Prime

One Star Squadron just appeared in Infinite, and I fell in love before I even got to the title card; it’s about Red Tornado starting a job placement agency for forgotten superheroes who need to work in the gig-economy. It’s from the same creative team as that Flintstones and Snaggletooth comics a while back, and Fractions Jimmy Olsen (not Fraction himself, just the artist).
Man... RIP Tim Sale..
Indeed. Tim Sale was my favorite penciler / illustrator. The Long Halloween and his Batman work is great.

My personal favorite work of his is Spider-Man Blue.

The thing I like most about Tim Sale is his work, to me, felt more like illustrations from a children or fantasy book. With so many artists chasing the realistic anatomy in super hero books, I felt like his work stood out. Way more stylish and expressive than most comic book illustrators. I think he stated that fashion illustration was a big influence on his work.

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
Okay, my New 52 odyssey is still going. I've recently read Worlds' Finest and Earth 2. I liked Worlds' Finest quite a bit (even if I wasn't crazy about how Levitz wrote Power Girl) but then it shunts PG and Huntress back to Earth 2 and becomes a book about filling in Earth 2 backstory for its last half year or so.

I didn't like Earth 2 much when it was being released. I am a big JSA fan, and it felt like it was teasing me by giving me something not quite what I wanted it to be. It holds up better now, at least the first half. I still think Robinson loses focus on the characters by spreading everything too thin around the world of Earth 2, but he was clearly setting up something very big and ambitious. And while its Alan Scott and Jay Garrick weren't the characters I was familiar with, they were interesting characters in their own right. The second half, leading up to the World's End weekly series, is just too much. Basically from the moment that
not-Superman kills Steppenwolf
it becomes a completely different book. I like a lot of what comes after as far as filling in some more superheroes in this world. Its Aquawoman is great, and Val-Zod is great. But the telling the story of a whole world feels even more unwieldy and it seems to frequently be dark for the sake of being dark. I guess I'll see how this Earth 2 saga ends in the weekly.
Loved World's Finest. It was never the prettiest book, but it was nice to have a DC Comic that could pass the Bechdel Test about heroine camaraderie. Doesn't hurt either that I adore both characters. The idea of a grown up Supergirl and the daughter of Batman & Catwoman from a future where the DC Universe was allowed to age is a compelling one to me. It's always cool when DC allows for that, just wish it wasn't always relegated to elseworld stuff. It was also fun to see them struggle with fitting in with Earth Prime and trying to keep a low profile since the N52 Earth featured relatively young and immature sets of heroes that wouldn't quite handle multiverse things or new Kryptonians appearing on the scene very well. I was extremely bummed out when they canned the book in favor of exiling Supergirl & Huntress to Earth 2. Especially when it felt like they were trying to replace the characters ASAP with a new Powergirl (who didn't stick) and the boring version of Huntress.

I really liked Earth 2 initially. It really felt like it was building up to something interesting and fun. I don't have a lot of attachment to the JSA, but I get why people wouldn't latch onto the book. But for the first year or so of the N52, Earth 2 was probably my favorite book. And it really chaffed my balls that they decided to blow up whatever plan they were working towards, and then just nuke Earth 2 just so they could do their entire Convergence storyline which also fucking sucked. World's End can eat my entire asshole. I was open minded to it because certain things about it were pretty cool. Val-Zod is an awesome character, as is most of the Earth 2 cast. And bringing in Powergirl and Huntress in to play very prominent roles here softened the blow a little. But I think I was Officially Over this when not!Superman lasers the Kents and then they victimize Huntress with some grotesque body horror like out of a sick doujin-hentai book just to make Powergirl sad. Like hey, I like these characters here, please stop abusing them for shock value. This isn't what I signed up for. I kept reading Earth 2 for a while out of morbid curiosity, but decided to just drop it all together when post-Convergence, it was still a completely miserable book to read what with PG and Val-Zod beefing for literally no reason. Ick. Seems like DC Editorial gave up on it not long after too. I'll never forgive Earth 2 or DiDio for marooning PG in limbo like this.