Friday, June 6, 2014

What’s All This Then?: DC’s Weekly Addiction

WARNING: This article contains spoilers so if you are catching up and don't want some plot points revealed, go do your reading and come back later!!

By: Andrew O’Brien

This October I will be giving 9 dollars to DC Comics every week until April without even purchasing a monthly ongoing title from them. "Why Andy", you ask with anticipation. DC has decided to try and capture lightning in a bottle again by going back to their old tricks. What? You just started reading DC with the New 52? Well sit down and let me teach you about DC and their weekly addiction. In 2006 DC was coming off their highly regarded Infinite Crisis crossover, and decided to follow it up with a weekly series called 52. This was a high risk move because the series revolved around a year without Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, instead focusing on many “B and C List” characters like Booster Gold, Black Adam, and Steel. To hedge their bets, the creative tour de force of Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, and Keith Giffen (plus the excellent editing skills of Steve Wacker) made the entire venture much less perilous and 52 was a tremendous success.

Then came the troubles of following up a successful weekly series. (Or any success in the comics industry for that matter.) DC thought they could do it again. Directly following 52, DC had the tremendously disastrous Countdown series (or Countdown to Final Crisis, if you actually made it to the halfway point like I did.) To be honest, there were aspects of this weekly I didn’t hate, like the search For Ray Palmer in the Multiverse, but overall, this series was pointless. It had no relevance to Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, and the addition of the “to Final Crisis” was the most transparent marketing ploy in comics of the last decade. After that came Trinity, which did pretty much the opposite of 52 and focused completely on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman fighting Morgan Le Fey or something dumb like that. Again, to be honest, this entire thing was pretty forgettable and the current crossover story “Doomed” is a better Trinity story  involving Superman turning into Doomsday. DC sort of gave up on the yearlong weekly after that, putting together the critically acclaimed Wednesday Comics (only 12 or so issues) and then the bi-weekly Brightest Day/Justice League: Generation Lost series (which were actually pretty damn good, so it's a shame they were erased less than 4 months after completion.)

Since the conception of the New 52, DC has seemingly learned their lesson and stayed away from the weekly sauce ...until now. They’ve decided to break into daddy’s proverbial liquor cabinet and go all out with 3, count’em THREE weekly comics: Batman: Eternal, Futures End, and Earth 2: World’s End... but are these titles going to be a rip-roaring good time like 52, a bad trip like Countdown or a meaningless blackout like Trinity? I’m glad you asked! Let's explore each one starting with the strongest title and ending with the weakest.
1. Batman: Eternal- No surprises here. DC knows how to make a book about Batman. This is the strongest solely because of its creative team. It’s helmed by Scott Snyder (the now unchallenged lord of Bruce Wayne’s life) and a group of other writers including James Tynion IV, Tim Seely and Ray Fawkes, many of which have been writing within the Batman books for well over a year, so just based on the group’s collective experience, this series has some strong legs. The story is also one of its better points with the majority of it revolving around James Gordon and the corruption rotting the GCPD just as one of Gotham’s greatest crime lords returns. The book is about Batman, but uses him more so as an observer to all the hell taking over his city until he eventually puts all the pieces together and saves the day. This book also reintroduces Stephanie Brown into the DCU, a character I personally did not care for in the Old DCU, but I'm actually enjoying (so far) in her new origin, so that says something to the series as a whole. Also, with issues being drawn by great artists like Andy Clarke, Dustin Nguyen, and Guillen March, there is no shortage of things to be excited about!

2. Earth 2: World’s End- This is just my prediction (since this comes out in October) but I think Earth 2: World’s End is going to be solid, but perhaps a bit weaker than Batman: Eternal. I’ve been reading Earth 2 since the beginning, so maybe I’m a little biased, but the story through both James Robinson’s and Tom Taylor’s work has been leading up to something like this, and as far as these three titles go, this seems to be the most natural evolution of the bunch. It’ll also be strong because it’s the most focused, being about the last days of Earth 2 before the inevitable Earth War Crisis that’s bound to happen come next year. (Don’t believe me? Read the end of Forever Evil and tell me I’m wrong.) Even though it’s about the end of an entire Earth, it’ll probably have the smallest cast, which leaves things wide open to explore more meaningful character moments. 

Tom Taylor is the current writer on the book, and the lead of the weekly, and although his only other work I know of is Injustice: Gods Among Us, he’s been killing it on Earth 2 (even though, like Injustice, it’s been about an evil Superman. Hmmm... Curious.). The weak aspects of this book are the other writers: Marguerite Bennett, Daniel H. Wilson, and Mike Johnson. Hopefully they'll surprise me, but as of right now, my expectations are low. The good news is they'll have back up from the strongest of the three weekly art teams in Eddy Barrows, Jorge Jimenez, Stephen Segovia, Paolo Siquiera, and Tyler Kirkham backing them up. (Plus it’s probably the shortest so you don’t have to invest that much into it.)
3. Futures End- Hey, guys! Have you picked up the incredibly popular and interesting issue #31’s of Frankenstein, Grifter, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man, or Mr. Terrific yet? No? Wait.. you’re telling me that all of those books got cancelled? When? Within the first year or so of the New 52? Really? Then why is there a weekly where all of them are the main characters?? This is why Futures End is the weakest of all the weeklies. I mean... why base an entire event off of characters who have failed within the last couple years? In addition to this blunt fact, the choice of writers is strange. For this title we’ve got Brain Azzerello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen. Azzerello and Lemire are two of DC’s brightest writers, but they’ve never really worked on these characters before. Lemire has worked on Frankenstein, but the character he’s really known for right now, Green Arrow, dies within the first issue. (Which I think is a total fake-out by the way.) Whereas Jurgens and Giffen are comic industry icons, but their time has come and gone. They’re still good at writing, there’s no denying that, but you don’t have them helm an industry wide event (unless it’s Giffen and it involves space shenanigans like Annihilation.) It’s also really weird that the bulk of this series takes place in a dystopian future that’s 5 years away. This can only mean one thing... there’s going to be some timey-whimey, wibbly-wobbly stuff that stops any of this from happening, making the whole series wasteful. Now, I don’t want to completely bash this series (even though it’s easy.) There are parts of it that intrigue me. I would like to know how Mr. Terrific became such a douche, and I really like Batman Beyond (because I grew up in the 90s), and I genuinely need to know why Superman is all covered up. So with all of this plus the glimpses of great writing like Animal Man’s eulogy, I will soldier on and keep reading this. Overall I think it’ll turn out to be alright, but if they erase these events completely, like I predict, I’ll be upset. (Oh yeah and OMAC got cancelled too)

There you have it. DC is hitting the weeklies again and they’re hitting it hard. I think you should give them all at least an issue or two. Who knows... maybe you’ll wake up one day with 20 issues of one of them and just then, realize you are now committed and have established an endearing love towards Grifter, or Spoiler, or Earth 2 Batman or something. That’s what happened to me. One day I realized I own all four volumes of 52 and somehow, a Booster Gold shirt got in my closet. Man, those weekly hangovers sneak up on you.

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