Aaaaand we're back! The first Saturday in May has become one of my favorite days of the year, because it's Free Comic Book Day! Although I've spent most of my time away from A Comic A Day creating comics, I can't resist the chance to review a few of this year's FCBD offerings -- so, these posts will come sporadically, but they will come, starting with . . .
DC Comics' The New 52 was exactly what I expected: heady, convoluted, and generally unfriendly to anyone interested in picking up a DC Comic for the first time. A friend of mine asked what I thought of the New 52 concept yesterday, and this issue represents my opinions perfectly: if the attempt was to establish an entry-level experience for new readers, mission failed. Generally, in just these past nine months of "the new 52" experience, we've been "reintroduced" to the DC Universe via a muddied five-year timeline for our beloved characters, and, now, multiple earths. If the goal was to put old and new readers alike on the same page, consider it done, because everybody's confused.
Specifically, the FCBD The New 52 issue was a waste of an effort. It didn't tell a complete story but rather teased several upcoming stories, and the main yarn is spun around Pandora, a character that has haunted DC's titles since their relaunch. Here, her origin is told, and basically she is the Pandora of old that opened that terrible box, a sin on par with whatever condemned the Phantom Stranger and the Question to their respective fates, as well. Of course, if you're a new reader, you have no idea who the Phantom Stranger and the Question are, so that detail would be lost. Cut to Pandora, today, trying to retrieve her famous box from A.R.G.U.S., which must be DC's answer to S.H.I.E.L.D., then to Batman fighting a Green Lantern that isn't Hal Jordan, then to a four-page foldout that zooms back to the entire Justice League fighting each other. The issue concludes with a bunch of one to three page teasers of other DC titles.
I know these characters from decades' worth of reading, and in twenty-some pages, I was confused, disillusioned, and ultimately rendered uninterested. How would anyone that has never read a DC comic feel? The New 52 has Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman on the cover, and it serves no one looking for a Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman story -- either for the first time, or for the first time since the relaunch. Again -- what a waste.
The Superman Family Adventures Flip Book was a much more familiar depiction of my favorite superheroes, and since it was primarily intended for children, I don't know if DC is inadvertently calling me a baby for wanting something simpler from my superheroes, or if their comics have simply outgrown me. Whatever -- Art Baltazar and Franco tell a simple Superman story with the Lois/Clark/Perry/Jimmy paradigm that made these characters timeless, and that's good enough for me. The Green Lantern story on the other side of this issue was short, sweet, and complete, thus, enjoyable -- and the Young Justice snippet ended too soon, which means I was successfully left wanting more.
Ultimately, between these two comic books, I don't feel like I read even one whole comic book, but instead I flipped through a sales pamphlet of product available soon at a comic shop near you! I thought it was Free Comic Book Day, not Free Comic Book Samplers Day. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the best way to get people to read comic books is to give them a good comic book.