Turn off the Lights

Unexpect The Expected: The New 52 In 2013

It’s the start of a brand new year and so while there are things that are have come to a close there is also the beginning of many others. For DC Comics, and the "New 52" in particular, this is especially true. News has come out over the final few months of 2012 that has both excited and distraught a great many of DC readers. The "New 52" is heading into a new phase with these titles – as things have become more settled – and hopefully this means that the line has found a new groove. I think it best to kick off the year with a summary of the things that are to come with a personal, and in some cases observed, opinion on what they will bring. Remember to share your own thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Justice League of America

At the forefront of the "New 52" in the coming year is Geoff John’s new title – Justice League of America. Featuring a bizarre cast that ranges from JSA’s Stargirl to Catwoman (with even z-lister Vibe thrown in), it is set to be the counterpart to Johns’ already well-known Justice League. This is a forthcoming book that has inspired equal amounts of excitement and distress. For the former it allows readers to see the re-introduction of a few fan favorites (ie. Stargirl) back into the main DC Universe. For the latter, however, it also displays quite a few characteristics that many are wary of. The main announcement reveals that this is to be a more “dangerous” version of the League and thus readers who have liked previous iterations of Martian Manhunter (who could have been described as Zen) or Stargirl, and are worried about their portrayal. It has also been the quality of writing in Johns’ main Justice League stories that back up their assertion, or rather the lack thereof. So there is some concern that this will possibly become “Justice League Redux”.

Another worry, though some find it a sign of hope, is that Geoff Johns has been known to play “favorites” with characters himself, some of which have found their place onto this team. While some might think this would preclude him from writing these characters to the best of his abilities, there are those, such as myself, who think that that is when Johns shines in his writing. The amount of energy he puts in when he truly “digs” a character is impressive and early runs on The Flash, Green Lantern, and JSA attest to that. The fact that the stack is loaded with Justice League of America makes it likely that this will carry over, escpecially since it also features Steve Trevor who was the only decently written character in Johns’ JL. A main concern of mine, and others, is David Finch’s artwork. Artwork which has been lauded as being one of the worst in “Big Two” today and might drag down a book that shows promise, however little. Justice League of America hits shelves February 6th. 

  • Justice League of America’s Vibe and Katana

With the launching of Geoff Johns’ Justice League of America there also came the another surprising announcement – the release of two interconnected spin-offs: Katana and Vibe!

There has been quites a bit of backlash against these two titles for one particular reason – that it seems rather ridiculous that either has gotten an ongoing title before any of the other, more worthy, characters. Or worst of all, that worthier characters are losing their own books to make room for these two. When I described Vibe as being a “z-lister” that was no exaggeration. The character truly is the deifinition of being a footnote of a footnote, but now it seems that he has become yet another pet project of Geoff Johns, who oversaw his reinvention.

Katana is at least in better standing than Vibe, but is still turning heads by the sudden push. Without the old continuity to back her up this is just out of the blue. The only thing keeping older readers from completely writing off these characters, albeit begrudgingly, is the things that have been said about their concepts and the teams behind them. For Vibe what has been detailed has become quickly known as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer… but with Boom Tubes” as it seems to be going for the teenage superhero/vigilante tone but, similarly to Buffy’s Hellmouth, has enemies coming forth from Boom Tubes. The writer Andrew Kresiberg (CW’s Arrow) has also stated that the book is going for “fun, emotional, and heartfelt” instead of the “edgy/dark” that permeates the universe.

In Katana’s case it has a strong creative team behind it – mainly being Ann Nocenti, who has done good work with similar characters in the past. While she has fallen out of favor for some due to her work within the "New 52", It’s all about playing to one’s strengths and Katana seems to provide such a playing field. Nocenti promises a very character-driven series that doesn’t skimp on the “visual” thrills. There’s not much expectations for either, so the ball is in their court to surprise us and as with all things I hope they do. Katana hits shelves February 13 with Vibe to follow on February 20th.

  • Constantine

One of the most recent controversies surround DC at the moment is the decision to launch a new John Constantine-centered "New 52" book. Though it not that announcement itself that is drawing ire from readers, but the implications of massive bad taste that it should come hand in hand with the reveal that the long running (longest, really) Vertigo title Hellblazer had been cancelled. While no direct correlation between the two events was stated the pathway is clear, and, of course, legions of fans are riled up. While there are those among the fandom who do believe that Hellblazer has been in a slump for a while the thought that DC would get rid of it just to push forward their own version is enough to get them back the title’s defense.

Another matter of consternation is exatly the character in question, not the old John Constantine that many are familiar with, but the "New 52" John Constantine. This "New 52" John Constantine, whose main exploits have been mostly covered within the pages of Justice League Dark, has drawn nothing much except for disappointment from long time fans of the character. The long streak of mediocre writing, even from greats like Peter Milligan and Jeff Lemire, has done nothing to bring a fresh life into this iteration of the character. To get rid of a character with decades of backstory and characterization does understandably seem like a big downgrade from what came before. Speaking of writing, however, a big point that detractors of this decision have with this new title is that it is coming from an American writer, X-O Manowar’s Robert Venditti, whom they believe will miss the energy behind the character. To their credit American writers have written Hellblazer before, such as Brian Azzarello, to low result. The whole thing did not gain any support with the resignation of Vertigo’s Karen Berger and the whole thing is just mired with ill-will. While the end result might actually be a decent product it will have to be something spectacular to contend with those who have already written it off. Constantine is due out on March 13th 
  • Threshold

Now if there is one title that has the majority of good will and true enthusiasm behind it than it has to be Keith Giffen’s upcoming Threshold. What Giffen plans to do with these series is basically what he did with Marvel’s Annihilation – revitalize the cosmic side of the DC Universe. For years the only cosmic title, and barely one at that, to gain any sort of leverage with DC has been Green Lantern. Green Lantern this, Green Lantern that… all Green Lantern. With Threshold, however, things that have been pushed to the wayside due to years of non-exposure are now set to re-appear. The goodwill also comes from not just that, but also the assurance that that the book will be under the guidance of a proven hand.

Keith Giffen has been able to spawn many fan favorites while revisiting and reintroducing old characters with hardly a disappointed reader in sight, so when word came down on just what characters he was planning to use fans found excuse to rejoice. Already it was evident that he would use Jaime Reyes’ Blue Beetle, a character whom Giffen was partially responsible for making popular, but that he would be pulling no punches on how cosmic he would get was exciting news. Tommy Tomorrow, Star Hawkins, and even Space Cabbie! Giffen knows his cosmic and the series is showing a fun side that is, once again, somewhat lost these days.

The series is even showing a nod toward the tongue-in-cheek with the reveal that long time silver age ghetto resident Captain Carrot is going to play a part, but reinvented as Captain K’rot – a “psychotic, booze-swilling rabbit”. If that isn’t tongue-in-cheek then I don’t know what is. Threshold is set for launch January 16th.

That’s all for what DC Comics is starting off 2013 with – the good, the bad, and the ugly as it were. As with most things from the “Big Two” there are some developments to be excited about and some to be wary of. Which do you place into what classification? As stated above, please give us your opinion in the comments section. As for other developments that are to hit the DC Universe within the coming year, check back for my next feature which will go in-depth on the mystery of the upcoming linewide event - Trinity War.


Meet the Author

Follow Us