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.