We’re a few months into DC Comics’ New 52 Relaunch Initiative and we thought it was the opportune time to take a look five really great moments and five pretty lame moments from the past year. The new editorial direction has made the DC Universe feel more cohesive, but there have definitely been some missteps along the way.
After yesterday’s top 5 moments, here is our top 5 lamest moments of the new 52…
5. The Joker Goes Under The Knife
While The Joker is arguably the most popular Batman villain of all time, his inclusion in a story doesn’t automatically mean success. At the close of the first issue of Detective Comics in September, Tony S. Daniel showed us that he can make a hell of a cliffhanger ending, but his general storytelling skills are lacking. He’ll spark your interest and then ignore the problem for an entire issue and keep coming up with so many new twists and turns that everything bleeds into a horrible mess. This image once conjured excitement within us.
4. The Sexualizing of Catwoman
Is realism in comics a good thing? It can be. As people, we’re aware that these characters have sexual organs under their costumes, but we don’t need it shoved in our faces. The first image of Catwoman in her book is framed around her breasts, which are cradled in a bright, attention grabbing bra. Her face is not completely visible and is obviously an afterthought that was not meant to be the main focus. There are arguments for why this was a good stylistic decision, but the fact that nobody realized how this would come across is disappointing. And of course, much has been said about the last sequence of the first issue – the infamous sex scene with Batman. There’s a reason why we refrain from sexualizing our iconic heroes. Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor is a lot less honorable when we picture Robin Hood plowing Maid Marion and Batman’s war on crime in Gotham seems less courageous when we find out he occasionally stops by Catwoman’s for a booty call.
3. Nightwing Joins the Mile High Club
The past few years were very eventful for Dick Grayson: he not only stepped up and accepted the role of Batman after Bruce’s disappearance, but he also acted as mentor and surrogate father for Damian, Bruce’s son. Watching the character take a step down to become Nightwing again was kind of disappointing after all of that growth, but we remained optimistic. However, a sequence in issue #2 was enough to drive us away for good. It’s not just that Dick has sex with a woman mere hours after re-connecting with her (they grew up in the circus together), it’s that he so happens to be doing it on a private jet. Talk about alienating your readership! I’ve never been on a private jet, and I don’t think I’ll ever utilize one in THAT particular way, which is something that goes for most comic readers, I think. Why did we need that sex scene? It added nothing to the plot and was completely unnecessary.
2. Deathstroke Kills Everybody
Slade Wilson is a terrible character and the ending of the first issue of his new series is the perfect illustration. After running a mission with some fresh, young recruits, Deathstroke mows them all down in a hail of bullets for no other reason than to show us how cool the character is. The Marvel character Deadpool started out as a parody of Deathstroke. (The similar name Wade Wilson is illustrative of this.) But it’s Deadpool who will be lovingly remembered, not Deathstroke. Slade has none of the humor, none of the genre commentary; he’s just a tough guy who does ridiculous things with the sole purpose of appearing more and more bad-ass. While we appreciate it in Aquaman, when a character has the word “Death” in his title, belaboring the point that he’s tough feels like you’re just beating a dead horse.
1. Green Arrow Rips off Smallville
A lot of times, the comics will take cues from the way the characters appear in other media. Take, for instance, the way the X-Men in the comics briefly adopted black leather costumes after the movies came out. The new Green Arrow’s appearance begs the question: was he really that popular on Smallville? Whereas the older GA felt like a modern day Robin Hood, a long vigilante who fought for the little guy, this new Arrow has two sidekicks who operate much like Chloe did on the Smallville show and bring a strange vibe to the book. Ollie even has a faint goatee of stubble, forcing a more mainstream acceptable look on the character. This book is definitely one of the more pitiful offerings of the New 52.
We’re not yet a full year into the relaunch, but it’s already become apparent what’s working well and what’s not. Who knows what the DCU will look like this time next year? We can only hope the quality is maintained and increased over time.