Monday, March 28, 2016

DC Rebirth: A Distinct Lack Of Hawkman

Well folks, considering that there is nothing Hawkman related in the DC Rebirth information released at WonderCon, you would think this would be a short post, and you'd be correct.  What's shocking is just how short.

I remember when the New 52 was announced.  Amidst all of the cynicism and paranoia, there was a general sense of excitement both from me and my comics-reading friends.  The general idea was that DC was trying to shake things up, streamline a continuity which since the Crisis had become unwieldily without using Wikipedia, and trying to diversify the line by offering different families of titles.  The fact that there was going to be a Hawkman title was icing on the cake, but no doubt played a role in my excitement.

Of course, so did the fact that we were getting 2 War books, a Western book, a Horror-inspired Swamp Thing, and other titles which were not just Superheroes.

Whatever your opinion of the New 52 relaunch -- and this being the Internet, I am going to assume your opinion as you read this is negative -- there was a definite approach of trying to reach as many readers as possible.  

In the intervening years, I have been called a "DC apologist" as well as "not a real DC fan," been told that would "settle for anything" and that I was simply "riding out a rough patch."  I was told to "shut up" since I don't know anything about comics because I am "just [a] Godzilla guy."  I haven't made most of this stuff public because frankly I don't want or need to spread negativity; we have enough of that already. I prefer to try to focus on what I enjoy rather than what I don't.

For instance, I thought Convergence was a great throwback series, a reminder of the "mash up smash up" crossovers from when I was first reading comics back in the 1990s. It was fast and fun, with surprising characters and twists.  I liked it a heck of a lot more than Marvel's boring, inert slog Secret Wars, which I was more than happy to trade in to the used book store as soon as it was over.  That's my opinion and I come to it honestly, so I do not feel the need to defend it with a bullet list about why.  (For the record, Book Of Death was a lot better than both of them... and you could buy ALL of the event for less than half of one month of either the DC or Marvel event... but I digress...)

So what does this have to do with Rebirth? Ultimately not much; I suspect that all of the "Told You I Was Right" and "Victory Lap" articles and blogposts about the end of the New 52 won't amount to much more than a tempest in a teapot since it seems that the New 52 universe is still going to be around... you'll recall seeing similar sentiment after Convergence with the Post-Crisis diehards claiming "victory" and yet the New 52 was still there.  

But looking over these titles and creative teams, I'm sorry, there's just not much here for me to get excited about.  One of the continuous charges leveled at the New 52 books was one of "sameness" or homogeneity. I personally never saw that, but then again the only "mainstream" book I read consistently was The Flash -- the fringe titles I was drawn to were more unique... which is no doubt why they got cancelled.  Be that as it may, the Rebirth titles seem to have doubled down on this, narrowing the focus of DC comics even more, at least at the launch.

To be fair, Geoff Johns did say that groups like the Legion, JSA, etc. have a role going forward but will have their own stories to bring them in.  So that is good.

And if you want to have someone architect your universe, Johns seems like a better choice than Jim Lee and Dan DiDio.  And this is coming from one of the very few avowed Dan DiDio fans.  Exactly how much of the actual creative stuff of the New 52 came from DiDio will probably never be known for sure, but I have always liked the books he has written, and the way that as an executive he puts himself out there as the face, complete with all of the tomatoes and cabbages which get lobbed at said face. But again, there I am being a "DC Apologist" once again.

Anyway, there's so few titles of this group of launches which I am interested in, it's a little surprising and somewhat sad.

-- The Flash: Josh Williamson, Carmine DiGiandomenico, Neil Googe.  Don't think I am familiar with any of these guys beyond a passing recognition.  I'll always buy The Flash though, what can I say?  The little blurb they gave about a bunch of new speedsters sounds intriguing, and the cover art preview they showed appealed.  The fact that said cover includes Wally West wearing his Kid Flash costume as seen during the Future Flash story, and Captain Cold is wearing a vest, suggests this takes place firmly in the New 52 U.  But never mind the facts, the New 52 is dead, VICTORY LAP!!!!!!

-- Action Comics: Dan Jurgens, Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham, Stephen Segovia.  I was a big Superman guy in the 90s.  And you don't get more "Superman in the 90s" than Dan Jurgens.  So, DC, you have my attention.  I know Patrick Zircher from his short stint on Iron Man, as well as his Valiant work, and I am eager to see his take on the Man of Steel.  Will I buy this? I don't know.  Maybe.  But it stood out, like I said, and Jurgens writing style has always appealed to me.  

-- Trinity: Francis Manapul, Clay Mann.  Manapul is a guy who's Flash work I just ate up, whether it was pre- or post-Flashpoint.  So to see him take on the Big Three has got my brain juices flowing. I'm not much of a Batman fan (Batman Minimum Appreciation Index not withstanding), but this seems like a perfect assignment for Manapul and I definitely want to see more of the details.

And... that's it.  3 books, one of which I have been buying in one form or another since I was in high school.  

I get that I am the oddball, the weird-o who liked DC comics in general during the last 4+ years.  And I also get that I am not going to buying any Batman books any time soon (unless they bring Paul Dini back to Detective like they did around 2007 or so), so maybe the line is not for me.  That's fine.  It's disappointing, but not surprising.

I have been leaning more and more away from DC AND Marvel over the last few years, as Marvel moved into the near-constant relaunches which they popularized but DC gets accused of, and DC started getting more tunnel vision with more titles getting focused on less characters, a tactic they stole from Marvel (even as Marvel seems to add more screwball titles each month). Honestly I buy more books from Valiant than DC and Marvel combined, and Rebirth will not change that.  But that's alright, I am seeing people excited about books like Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka (I wonder how much of Brian Azzarello's mythology will be tossed?) or Super Sons (we miss you, Bob Haney), and I am glad that there are new books coming down the pipeline that people are looking forward to.

Nothing snarky here, folks; I've said it for years: Read what you enjoy, and if you don't like it, don't read it.

5 comments:

Tim Board said...

Just wanted to say I always enjoy your Hawkman blog. We just started a Hawkman facebook page a few months ago and post your articles at times. Thanks and we hope Hawkman will show up somewhere, anywhere real soon.

Tim Board said...

Just wanted to say I always enjoy your Hawkman blog. We just started a Hawkman facebook page a few months ago and post your articles at times. Thanks and we hope Hawkman will show up somewhere, anywhere real soon.

Luke said...

Cool! Glad you are enjoying the blog. Please post the link to the Facebook group and I'll be sure to check it out.

bentongrey said...

Hey Luke, I'm sorry that you've gotten so much static for expressing your opinion. People are terrible, and the internet magnifies the worst about them.

For me the biggest problem with the New 52 is one that doesn't seem to be fated to change in this new incarnation or in the foreseeable future, and it isn't even really about what they published. Instead, what worries me is the unsustainability of what they're dong. DC and Marvel both are fighting to the death over the same, ever dwindling market of aging fans, and they have no mechanism to bring in new readers. Not only are comics physically inaccessible for kids, they're also completely unwelcoming to younger readers in content, tone, and marketing, all at a time where, thanks to the movies, more people are interested in comics than have ever been since the 90s or earlier.

And there can be no mainstream comic book industry without younger readers. The concept was literally created with them in mind, and even with comics gaining more acceptance among adults, they'll always be a niche market in older age groups.

Anyway, it's a real shame that Hawkman won't get another shot in the new incarnation. I've just started re-reading the brief Silver Age Atom/Hawkman run, and it is an absolute blast. It was also wonderful to see that version of the character again in Convergence, even if all too briefly. I'd love to read new adventures of his.

Speaking of readings, I've started a little project that you might find interesting. I haven't covered any Hawkman yet, but there's some coming in World's Finest and Detective:
https://bentongrey.wordpress.com/
https://bentongrey.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/into-the-bronze-age/

I'm reading through almost all of DC in the Bronze Age, tracking themes, changes, and giving short reviews of the issues published each month. I want to observe the growth of the medium in my favorite era and maybe create a resource that will be of use to folks later on.

Anyway, I'm glad you're still doing what you're doing, and I hope we'll see some more of your coverage of those cool Silver and Bronze Age stories!

Tim Board said...

Just posted this again on our Hawkman/Hawkgirl group. Still waiting for some good news! Here's the link to the facebook group you asked for. Thanks again for a great blog! https://www.facebook.com/groups/HawkmanWingedWarrior/