Looking Back At The Cancelled New 52: 2013
As December casts its shadow over us once more it seems that yet another year is drawing close to its end. Not only that but the “New 52” will be heading toward its “second phase” in the early half of 2014. As such it seems appropriate to once again draw up a list that brings up the names of some series that we have lost over the year, in the vein of one of my very first features
. These are titles that have/will come to a close by the end of this year (if they have not already) and are a mix of personal favorites and series that, despite large cult following, did not make a dent with the mainstream. It’s not all of the cancelled comics, but the ones who needed a bit more recognition. Ever company, especially those outside the “Big Two” has to deal with series that just don’t make it, and it’s a service to the fans to know that they will at least be remembered.
1. Justice League of America’s Vibe
This series has the dubious honor of being not only on my “What’s New for 2013” list, but also somewhat unfortunately on this one. One of the most pronounced sleeper hits, critically if not commercially, it was a series that took devoted readers by surprise. The combined efforts of several of DC Comics’ heavy hitters, Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow
), Geoff Johns (well, Geoff Johns
), and Sterling Gates (ARGUS
), took one of the most infamously terrible and unknown gimmick characters from DC’s vault and transformed him into a character with real appeal and pathos. From the badly thought out breakdancing origins to a status quo that was both relatable and exciting, old and yet very fresh. It was a testament to the skills of the writers involved that not only did they cast a new mold onto the character, but also respected what little of his previous mythology that they could, bringing fresh ideas to his old supporting cast.
Alas, not even the star power attached to his series, or the fact that this was originally touted as one of the two main companion books, along with Katana
, to the highly publicized JLA
was enough to save the series. It ends this December with its tenth issue. However fans and spectators of Vibe alike realize that the series now stands as a solid reminder of the importance of execution, and how even the bleakest of characters can be redeemed.
2. Dial H
For every time there was a complaint about how the “New 52” had brought creative expression and freedom to a standstill there was always a finger to point at Dial H
. A somewhat unlikely claim to fame it was nonetheless a very unlikely holder of one of the most enjoyable and consistently entertaining romp. An exercise in bringing back Silver Age aesthetics and mixing them in with a handy helpful of Vertigo
-esque mind trip sensibilities, China Mieville never failed to please with this series. Always creating vast and unique villains and heroes and drawing an altogether unforgettable world and mythology. What had seemed at first glance to be just another bland and generic “twisted fantasy” was blindingly colorful and mystifying. The attention to both character detail and an extensive knowledge of previous incarnations of the title also proved to be very welcomed by older readers. It even, before its conclusion, had some of the most warmly received single issues that there have been in a long while.
Unfortunately, the series was cancelled and received its final issue in October, stylized as “Dial E” as part of the “Villains Month” initiative. Wrapping up the final plot threads of the series Mieville bowed out gracefully and with due deference to the loyal, if small, readership. Dial H stands as an example, among many both unknown and well known, that being mature and complex does not negate the need to also be lighthearted and full of zany misadventures.
While not a personal favorite, and I must admit that I never quite acclimated to the series as such, the short-lived second companion series to Justice League of America
happened to strike a chord with readers of a certain kind right from the get-go. While not thoroughly expanded upon in the other series in which she was a central character, the other one being Bird of Prey
, Katana got due focus in her own series. A weird and actually quite interesting mix of Eastern Mythology and the Wuxia traditions – all from an unavoidably western eye – but a mix that proved irresistible to those who were already in the know for that exact combination. Much like Dial H
it was a series that had a definite sense of style and flair that for better or worse put it in the spotlight. Was it what everything that people expected it to be? No, it was a rather unpredictable series and therein lay its charm.
The series did have its unavoidable low points, and even the reinvention of The Creeper during “Villains Month” was not quite well received by fans. Yet, it had a very long streak of untapped potential that it is a shame that it hardly had the time to follow through on.
4. Legion of Super-Heroes (Honorable Mention)
I was actually very cautious about including this series on this list. As a series in the “New 52” itself, it has had nothing going for it besides the name recognition. The series had reached a point of stagnancy that even the most loyal of fans even began to admit that it was a far cry from its past glory. The series, which has existed in one way or another for the longest stretch of time, finally came to an unforeseeable hiatus this year. I finally decided to put it on this list but only as an honorable mention, simply because of its famed nature. The series was banal at best for the majority of the current incarnation and had a finale that was overall very rushed and even very vindictive and cloying.
The series is soon set to be replaced by the upcoming Justice League 3000
, but more on that in the inevitable “New for 2014” list. The series did have one very notable and actually intriguing development – and that was the long awaited return of Keith Giffen to the series, which while brief was an exciting and well done return. If only the series had been capable of such heights from the beginning.
As stated, this was not all the series that have been cancelled this year, but it is most, and so if there are any that you might feel is missing – or ones that you wish had been cancelled – please feel free to comment on such thoughts below. In any case the death of these series could, even if the chance is slight, lead to bigger and better stories. There is always that hope.