oPaP Hobby Hole: DC's New 52

Like every service that caters to the public, the comic industry has tried countless methods to attract new customers during its relatively short stint as a medium. With ploys like crossovers, relaunches, editorial events and character deaths/resurrections, publishers have repeatedly begged for new readers while stretching current fans’ wallets just a tad further in order to fill their coffers.

But none of these seemingly innocuous gambits hold a candle to the recent, ostensibly desperate, reboot of the DC Universe.

With a history stretching back more than 70 years and home to Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and a variety of more obscure characters, the DC Universe has generated millions of dollars in sales and spawned one of the most critically-acclaimed and successful superhero film franchises ever. As such, most believe the reboot, which has been appropriately referred to as “The New 52”—a reference to both the number of alternate realities contained within the fictional universe as well as the number of ongoing titles—was absolutely unnecessary.

I am not one of those people.

Point of fact: I have collected comics for more than 15 years, amassing a decently-sized collection. However, while my initial bounty of books provided by my father included titles published by DC Comics, my heart and my imagination leapt toward the publisher’s rival, Marvel Comics, and their books, particularly the X-Men. Until September 2010, aside from just a handful of notable titles, I only read, and only collected, Marvel’s books, almost completely ignoring the ongoing DC Universe.

That changed with the launch of The New 52. After taking a year-long break from comics (the associated costs and lack of editorial strength had finally caught up to me), it was precisely what I needed to jump back into the throes of weekly releases.

Starting with 15 books I carefully handpicked from the pack, I began to delve into the universe I had altogether ignored, fascinated and intrigued at the prospect of being there for the groundwork of what could potentially be a game-changer for years to come. And I hate to admit it, but the books, and the launch in general, have been a muddled effort.

The problem lies within their efforts to appeal to both ongoing fans and those, like myself, coming to the fold for the first time. While some titles are complete reboots, offering new character origins and adjusting long-lived relationships so heavily they’re virtually unknown, a vast majority continues as though nothing has changed at all. Books like Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Batman, Green Lantern and the like might may as well have never been renumbered, as they continue to build upon previously published storylines.

Yet coupled with the relaunch, the necessity of decidedly not undercutting past plot developments in order to maintain longtime readers has allowed creators to better contain and reel in the continuity issues that have plagued the DC Universe from its very beginning.

This streamlining of the continuity has created a perfect point to jump aboard, as the ongoing issues that kept people like me from every picking up a DC comic on a monthly basis (and resulted in editorial events designed specifically to address the problem) have been removed. And though I’ve dropped a handful of my original 15, I’ve picked up others, and, five issues in, will continue to do so. Because although I am not as deeply enmeshed in the DC Universe as some, at this point, thanks entirely to the reboot, I want to be.

Given that I’ve completely abandoned the Marvel Universe after more than 15 years of collecting, that’s certainly saying something.

Be sure to pick up the most recent New 52 books at a local comic shop near you.