Welcome to yet another post on the greatest blog in the universe!
Last year, to celebrate the second year anniversary of the re-launch of the DC Universe, the good people at DC Comics decided to interrupt the release of their regular titles to release a series of one-shots with lenticular 3D covers focussing on the villains of the DCU. As you may recall, I read a bunch of those books and didn’t have a whole lot of nice things to say about them. I concluded by suggesting that DC not repeat their commercially successful, yet widely panned, villains month event. Well, it looks like the good people at DC didn’t take my request to heart, because here we are a year later, celebrating another anniversary of the launch of the New 52, and there is another round of unnecessary one-shots with 3D covers.
As you can probably guess, I wasn’t a big fan.
Before I talk about what these books are actually about, how about we discuss their biggest selling feature: The 3D covers.
My biggest complaint about this round of 3D covers is that, while the covers used in last year’s villains month were used to show depth and movement of the images, these ones are used to show two separate images on the same cover. This results in both images looking muddy, with very little sense of depth and motion. If the whole idea is to slap a cool cover on a bunch of books, shouldn’t you make the covers look as cool as possible? And, you know… clear?
So how about what’s in between the covers? Are the stories exciting and memorable? Are they instant classics?
Careful! There may be some spoilers ahead!
All of the books take place five years in the future, just after the regular DC Earth has survived a war with a parallel world. Of course, none of the books explained how the war started, how it ended or even what it was about. Most of the stories did however have moments where it was made clear that certain characters were no longer on speaking terms, but wouldn’t explain what it was that happened to cause this. Here’s a generic example.
Random character: Hey Batman, maybe we should call Superman on this.
Batman: I can’t call Superman. Not after what happened.
Random character: What happened?
Batman: I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s fine when you come across this kind of thing once in a while, but when it happens over and over again it can get a little tiring.
Another thing that bugged me was the use of the term “one-shot” on some of these books. In my view, a one-shot should be a self contained story that doesn’t require the reader to read anything else to understand what is happening. This view is apparently not shared by the people at DC, who decided that the Wonder Woman one-shot and the Superman/Wonder Woman one-shot should make up a two-part story. Now admittedly, they really don’t need to be read together (or at all… they were both pretty terrible) since the only tie between the two is the revelation in the first couple pages of the second part that the first part was actually a dream (well… at least that explains why super-angry Wonder Woman was hanging out with Napoleon and other historical figures). If that wasn’t dumb enough, there is a two page spread in the Superman/Wonder Woman book where Wonder Woman is drawn with a 12-inch waist and calves that are longer than her torso. I know she’s an Amazon and all, but… Ugh.
Now, to be fair, it wasn’t all bad. There were a few cool moments to be had.
In the Batwoman book for instance, Batwoman is now a vampire (obviously) and it is revealed that she is part of a super team consisting of her twin sister Alice, Clayface, Etrigan the Demon, and, in a sign of true inspiration, Ragman. Ragman is an awesome superhero that wears a suit made of rags (obviously), and each rag has a different soul living in it from which he can draw power. It sounds goofy, but it’s amazing. So while I was super pumped by the first appearance of Ragman in the New 52 (as far as I know), I was bummed by the fact that in some panels Batwoman wore red boots and in other panels she had talons. If she was supposed to be a shape-shifter, that wasn’t conveyed very well. As you can see, even when there is something cool, there is something else that drives me crazy.
Moving on to other things I enjoyed as part of the Future’s End event, I also appreciated the reverse chronology storytelling in the Grayson book. The story itself was interesting, but telling it in a creative way really made it pop. Also, Dick Grayson was a communist or something, so there was that. Speaking of storytelling, I really enjoyed the Harley Quinn book. It had the sort of crazy antics you would expect in a book about a crazy psychologist with a giant mallet, and showed the sort of awful relationship that exists between her and her “puddin’”.
But my absolute favourite thing about Future’s End was in the Swamp Thing book. The basic plot is that Swamp Thing, as the avatar of the green, has to go see the avatar of the grey, the red, the divided and the metal (metal avatar!) before he goes to battle the avatar of rot. But the plot isn’t important. What’s important is that during the climax, as Swamp Thing is battling Anton Arcane, the green avatar pulls a Kuato, and another Swamp Thing pops out of his chest. But not just any Swamp Thing. It looks like the pre-New 52 Swamp Thing! I love pre-New 52 Swamp Thing! I mean, that’s like, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing! And he’s a white lantern! In a New 52 book! How awesome is that!??! This book was easily the best part of this whole Future’s End thing.
So those are just a few of my thoughts on the Future’s End event. There were some good things, but not enough to outweigh the bad. It’s clear that all of the people involved are talented, and you would think that giving writers and artists a blank canvas would allow them to create something incredible, but when no one (especially the readers) knows what’s happened in the past, things just seem confusing and, well, pointless.
So like last year, I am going to suggest that DC stop celebrating the anniversary of their reboot and stop interrupting the release of their regular titles. Please just focus on making your regular books better. Selling special one shots may give sales a slight boost, but focusing on the regular publishing line is more likely to encourage readers to keep reading over the long run.
Until next time!