“Get Off My Lawn, New 52 Superman!”

Every part of this was a huge @#$%ing chore.

Every part of this was a huge @#$%ing chore.

That guy is being physically ousted from the Fortress of Togetherness. @#$% him, and his Jim Lee, New 52 uniform wearing @#$%.

Much like my feelings about reading any DC Comics for the past five years…a big chore, or “get off my lawn,” depending on the book. About five years ago…a bit longer, DC Comics “rebooted” their entire long standing continuity into a functionally new line of comics that resembled, but simultaneously refuted, their prior continuity. Following the conclusion of the “Flashpoint” crossover storyline, DC cancelled all of its existing titles and debuted 52 new series in September 2011 with new first issues. Among the series that were renumbered were Action Comics and Detective Comics, which had retained their original numbering since the 1930’s.

This alienated many long time readers, like myself.

Still…the books were financially successful for a time. The relaunch included changes to the publishing format; for example, print and digital comics are now released on the same day. New titles were released to bring the number of ongoing monthly series to fifty-two. Hence the name, the “New 52”. Various changes were also made to DC’s fictional universe to entice new readers, including to DC’s internal continuity to make characters more modern and accessible. In addition, characters from the Wildstorm and Vertigo imprints were absorbed into the DC Universe.

Those Wildstorm titles didn’t stick, and the Vertigo elements were an awkward fit at best. The speculators dropped out, and the “new audience” that Dc was hoping to entice…just didn’t stick with it. Sales figures dropped, and dropped again.

Now, DC is launching (today) its “Rebirth” one shot, which will basically call the New 52 a space time continuity mistake, and to a large degree restore the pre New 52 continuity. It is priced to sell, and is designed to bring older readers back…as well as align to the successful TV series that they have been merchandising. All of those series successfully mine pre New 52 ideas and continuity, not least “The Flash” and “Supergirl.”

It should also give us back a nice, trustworthy Superman, not the interlocking plate wearing, untrustworthy Kryptonian of the New 52. I don’t read Superman to get the “look and feel” of an X-Men book, I read Superman stories to feel good. To be positive, and uplifted, and have them end with a wink.

Since all of that nonsense should be coming to an end, I felt that illustrating the protagonist straight up punching the New 52 superman off of his own @#$%ing cover with a show of Silver Age Era Alien American Strength was the way to go. Even her busted up old Infinity Gauntlet is seething a little.

I think that this is an important way for DC Comics to go…for the last five years, they have been trying to be Marvel. The fact is, both companies have the licenses and characters in place to tell different kinds of superhero stories, and should. Also…I’m pretty superstitious in some way, and consider this shift back to the way things should b a good portent or omen, for both my career, and my car…in a heavy handed metaphorical sense.

The art, as I mentioned in the caption, was a huge @#$%ing chore. In fact, I went to a lot of trouble to draw detail on Zebra Pony, super tiny since its on a Real Comics cover, one of the Sketch Covers. Getting the whole cover, we lost detail on his part of the scan, so i went to the trouble of doing this “panel zoom” scan, so we can see Zebra pony in better detail, as well as a closer view of New 52 Kal-El’s expression as he gets WORKED.

Knock his dumb @#$ all the way to the Moon...

Knock his dumb @#$ all the way to the Moon…

The secret, though, isn’t just in continuity. There also needs to be a solid story foundation moving forward, in each comic. Somehow, you need to have creative teams that harness the things that make DC comics fun to read, and an editorial direction that supports that. It’s far too early to tell whether that will be real and viable, or not.

One thing that is sure to be controversial is Dr. Manhattan, of the Watchmen, as an antagonist…in fact, and antagonist who is directly responsible for changes to the timeline. Most fans prefer that Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” be what it was presented to us as…a separate continuity, a world where only its own events happen. Using the characters in other comics, in later work…only erodes the value of the twelve issues themselves, which are a high water mark for the industry.

Certainly, fans will be up in arms about that.

The art cropped from the cover.  Third time's the charm.

The art cropped from the cover. Third time’s the charm.

Just like in a karate movie, you “triple cut” the one insane martial arts blow that defeats the bad guy, I felt like the end of the New 52 needed a “triple cut” punch to send it on its way. Drawing a figure hurtling toward you, in such a dynamic fashion, or the hit itself, in forced perspective is hard…I looked at a large number of Neal Adams images where he did that before sitting down to draw. As a result of all that effort, I am once again only a little bit ahead art wise, with paperwork piling up at work for the end of the school year.

That always give me more respect for comics writers and artists. They have to come up with about a page per day, of interesting new material, as their JOB. Even if I didn’t find the New 52 interesting, that’s still twenty pages per book, at thirteen books per week. A huge volume of creative power devoted to it…and that’s pretty amazing to think about.

Here’s hoping that Rebirth is a better direction.

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