Angst Overload

Image from Bleeding Cool.

When DC announced its relaunch, many readers — present company included — had a bit of a meltdown. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I freaked out, but my knee certainly jerked hard enough to cause injury. In my whiniest voice, I declared it to be a short-term exercise in nonsense.

Weeks later, as I looked through the relaunch guide and began adding books to my pull list, I noticed something: Not only had my list grown, but I was (gasp) looking forward to September. Rags Morales and Grant Morrison on Action Comics? Hell, yes! Gail Simone on Fury of Firestorm? Holla! And hey, is that Ron Marz on Voodoo? Sold! Suddenly, characters I didn’t give a rat’s ass about two months ago were linked to some of my favorite creators. It felt like a fresh start … which was the point.

Geeks are sensitive bears. Whether we grew up with certain characters or became wedded to an interpretation of them, we’re wary of change. That’s understandable, because we’ve all been gobsmacked by wack editorial decisions over the years. Unchecked, our skepticism hardens into cynicism.

And therein lies the problem. Comics are supposed to be fun, but sometimes we become victims of our own angst. Instead of giving something new a chance, we (and again, I’m including myself) declare it a) doomed, b) terrible or c) insulting. DC’s plan might prove to be all of those things, but we don’t know because it hasn’t even begun. I can’t imagine anyone taking a good, hard look at that relaunch guide and not finding something of interest.

A perfect example of Geek Angst played out at my LCS just last week. The owner, who said early on that he thought the relaunch was a good idea, had the following exchange with a customer.

Customer: “I’m kinda worried about this DC thing. Some of the books are going away.”

LCS owner: “Yes, but there will be new ones.”

Customer: “I’m not a big DC reader.”

LCS owner: “Then you have nothing to worry about.”

This bears repeating: Some of the new books will be stellar, some will be just OK, and some will be bad. How is that different from today or any other time in the history of comics? And, as iFanboy’s Thomas Katers noted, DC continuity is far from dead:

“There has NEVER been a time when more of DC’s back history has actively been in print, available for purchase. This is a golden age for readers who enjoy the history of characters and their back story.”

Comics disappoint and infuriate us sometimes, but if we’ve lost sight of what made us love them in the first place, why continue reading? Between the Big Two and the indies, if we can’t muster any optimism or joy, it’s time to find a new hobby.

Frankly, I’m a little ashamed of adding my voice to the instant chorus of “No.” That’s not to say that I don’t have some issues with the relaunch (I do) or that I believe it will magically make comics popular again (I don’t). No one will miss Secret Six more than I, and yes, Wonder Girl does appear to have rummaged through a pile of rejected Destiny’s Child costumes. On the other hand, I can’t wait to see what September brings.

Next: A look at the book’s we’re pulling and/or sampling post-relaunch.

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16 thoughts on “Angst Overload

  1. I’m kind of the same way. But I wonder if some story arcs will make there way into the DCnU? Like Lex Luthor discovering that Superman is Clark Kent…

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  2. The relaunch has killed my interest in the DC Universe for the foreseeable future, since I haven’t liked DC’s creative output of the past decade on its own merits, and often made purchases based on the rich history I still find fascinating. The two books I was following ended, and have been replaced by three others (Aquaman, Stormwatch & The Huntress.) There’s some stuff I’ll review/trade wait to see if they earn my dollars, but DC will fight for my interest about as much as any other publisher from now on. I’ll likely buy favorite characters (as above,) but if it gets like my relationship with Marvel, even that will fall into doubt. I haven’t bought Captain America in years, and he’s probably my favorite super-hero ever. Ditto Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Black Panther (my Marvel alphabet is rather limited, it seems. A-D are fat, then some Xs…)

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  3. I’m keeping an open mind about the relaunch and have from the first announcement, but, I’m disappointed by the changes to Birds of Prey because a great character is missing from the storyline. Huntress, was finally getting some much deserved attention and now that has been snatched away. I feel the loss already.

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  4. I am not a big follower of certain artists and or writers. I am a reader who sticks to her favourite characters, and to be honest I am a tad tired of what DC has done to Wonder Woman over the past year and has not given me a lot of faith and or trust in them.
    They change her writer, make a big deal of it and then he takes off before the end of his run, they renumber her books from the 30’s to 600’s and now that is most likely going to be tossed out. They have this amazing revelation about her feelings for Batman/Bruce Wayne in Blackest Night ( which was a moment that I have been hoping, praying and waiting for!) and now that is going to be completely ignored! And to add insult to injury there have been janky rumours about Diana getting together with Superman (which has been done to death!) because he is no longer with Lois. They give her pants, make a BIG HOOHA about it and then it seems they are taking them away.
    I LOVE Diana, she has been a part of my life for a long time, and I will stand by her but this relaunch, revamp, or reload or what ever it is being called this week, has me worn out, tired, wistful, and a tad sad.

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  5. I’m really looking forward to it. At least, I’m looking forward to the titles that aren’t my favourites now. Superman, Teen Titans and Supergirl I’m a bit concerned about, but Animal Man, Firestorm, Aquaman, Hawkman, Batwoman, Nightwing and Green Arrow I’m really looking forward to. The other son my pull list I am intrigued by.

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  6. There are definitely some books I’m going to miss, and one can’t help but be wary. However, I love certain DC characters and writer/artist teams, so I’m choosing to be optimistic. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, you know? Of course, if things run off the rails, I’ll have something to say about it!

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  7. It just all seems very, “We’re too lazy to write our way to where we want to go, So instead, we’ll just trash the stuff you dig. Suck it up”.

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    • I think a big part of the problem is that DC is limited in what they can do with legacy characters. They’ve been killed, brought back from the dead, etc., so perhaps this is their way of getting around it. Another issue is that the main audience for comics (including me) consists of adults who have been reading for ages, so we’re extremely aware of continuity. A kid wouldn’t be, but of course, there aren’t many of them reading comics – for a number of reasons. My default is: Fingers crossed.

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    • I’m not a professional writer, but I suspect it’s a lot harder to come up with fresh new potential long-term takes on characters that (might) excite an audience and (possibly) expand the fanbase than it is to write one more adventure of the same-ol same-ol Amazifying Mucous-Man.

      The architects of the relaunch didn’t sit around a table and decide to wipe out everyone’s favorite comics. If titles like Secret Six (sob!) Zatanna, Power Girl, Booster Gold, and Batgirl were really “everyone”‘s favorite comics, they’d be top sellers nationally, and not just in MY store and would still be around after the relaunch. Many of the titles that got eliminated were titles selling low enough to flirt with cancellation on a regular basis. Stuff I loved has been cancelled by publishers more times than I can count over the past 30 years. It’s ALWAYS going to happen to poor-selling books, regardless of how much we like them. Hell, my favorite CEREALS always get discontinued right after I discover them.

      What I suggest to comics readers is that they look at the titles, and judge them on the creative teams, characters, and plot descriptions, and decide whether they would have read it IF THERE WASN’T A RELAUNCH. If you answer yes, order it from your LCS. If the answer is no, then skip it! I’m willing to bet that if you look at it objectively, you’ll end up with MORE titles you enjoy instead of less.

      And if at the end, all of the titles fail to interest you, which I suspect is unlikely given the wide range of diverse characters and genres represented, you can always re-read the old stuff you like. That’s what my dad does.

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      • “(L)ook at the titles, and judge them on the creative teams, characters, and plot descriptions, and decide whether they would have read it IF THERE WASN’T A RELAUNCH.” Yup! That’s a good strategy.

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  8. I actually think, deep down inside, that part of the reason DC decided to do a relaunch was due to the whole Superman Lawsuit. Everything that appeared in Action Comics was up for grabs by the siegel and shuster family. Do you think it’s possible that DC decided to save their character by just changing him up? Hence comes the entire DCU relaunch?

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  9. Must have been the only DC lover who DIDN’T get angsty about it. The only thing I am angsty about is what it will do to my bank balance now the my pull list has almost grown out of proportion!

    And as to the back history – knowing there will be no more Secret Six or Power Girl has peaked my interest. So I am about to hoe into several trades that I may never before have thought twice about.

    This is an exciting time, folks. Let’s stop being insular and over-protective. Its fun, so let’s get with it!! :D

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  10. Pingback: DC Relaunch Rundown: Part One |

  11. What I found disturbing was when they released images of the new characters. The way Harley Quinn was drawn was frankly offensive. Catwoman has always been problematic because most seem to have difficulty balancing the sexuality/strength of character aspects, it just seemed like the portrayals were intensely sexualized and even fetishistic in tone, while the males were so often brooding and scowling in anger and such. I like good strong characters, and the best aspects of a super hero isn’t the anger and vengeance, it’s the optimism of what one person can achieve and inspire if they’re willing to sacrifice; and in the case of so many of the characters, they’re often sacrificing their identities and their personal lives for the greater good, and what could be more optimistic than that?

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