Monday, November 07, 2011

Green Lantern Week Part 1: The New 52

I've been a little quiet around here lately. Okay, let's not lie; I've been completely silent for several weeks. I've been working on my own projects, dealing with crises at work, going to New York Comic-Con, having power outages, and altogether having way too many excuses not to do anything more complex than tweet and post unscripted video logs. To attempt to make up for this, I'm launching off a week dedicated to posts about the new status quo of the Green Lantern universe. I've looked at 5 different comic titles related to Green Lantern in the past ten weeks: Justice League, Green Lantern, Red Lanterns, Green Lantern Corps, and Green Lantern: New Guardians. Last Friday I posted my look at the last #2 issue I'll be talking about, as part of my vlog series "52 Weeks of Green Lantern".

 Today, I'm talking about the 5 #1's that featured the Corps and the emotional spectrum, while I spend the rest of the week talking about the direction that the four Lantern books and related media are going. What do I have to say about the figureheads of this "DCnU", or DC new universe, the "new 52", a title which harkens back to one of recent years' most popular series? From a strictly literary standpoint, the new 52 was a colossal failure. Series failed to introduce characters, at times preferring to stick to long-established arcs that new readers picking up a #1 are clueless about, such as in Green Lantern, or by trying to accomplish too much to accomplish anything, like in Justice League. While I'm not dwelling on comics that I didn't read, the well-known transformation of Starfire from a caring lover and friend to an anonymous-sex demanding bimbo in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 or the rape/gratuitous sex scene that ended Catwoman #1 are some more blatant examples of the fact that the new 52 was a poorly coordinated collection of stories. Justice League #1 was largely a farce. While Darkseid was hinted at, the book largely existed to hold the well-known "superpowers vs Batman" debate that has been going on since people realized that Superman and Batman comics both existed. Any and every story that it told was secondary to this comedic routine, leaving me with a desire not to bother picking up this book again.

  Green Lantern #1 was more driven by the story, as well as having a large focus on characters. The problem here, though, is that a #1 issue generally gives you some sort of insight as to what's going on, or at least you have an indication that it is coming in the future. GL #1, on the other hand, gave you more of a mind to read the previous storyline, which in turn requires you to have read several storylines previous. In short, while it may have been a decent issue of Green Lantern, this is impossible to tell for readers who were, in fact, looking for Green Lantern #1. Almost a polar opposite in terms of the reaction it's received, Red Lanterns #1 has been criticized almost for being too well wrapped up; while many people claimed it was among their least favorite #1s, by far the largest reason I've seen is that it gives no indication as to how it can last as a long-running series. This issue set up a protagonist, a conflict, and motivations, but it failed to strike people at the emotional level that readers of a comic about the avatars of rage would expect.

  Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: New Guardians struck me as two of the best first issues to come out of this. There was nothing here like Green Lantern Corps: Recharge in terms of really digging readers in, which to me is a failure for the purposes of a massive, high-publicity relaunch intended to bring in a ton of new readers, but it does the purpose of a number one. The characters are introduced, the concept and story arc are introduced, and you're not forced to research the last four years of comics to understand what it is that you're reading.

 That's about it for today, and my first look at what the new 52 brought us for DC comics. I said that these first issues were a strictly literary failure; many of these are stunningly drawn and they've been selling like hotcakes. Over the next few days I'll take a look at each series and tell you why first impressions aren't everything.


Michael Offutt said...

I didn't like the movie adaptation that came out this summer. The only good thing about it was Ryan Reynolds almost naked.

The Man in Black said...

I'm ignoring the movie for now; I'm liable to do so until definitive proof of a sequel comes out. For now, it harms nothing other than itself.