I'm back in
So I’m back and getting Those Wednesdays rolling again. Before you ask where I’ve been let’s just say I let work and all this crap distract me from the stuff that makes me happy. I’m changing all that: shaved my beard, throwing myself into school, and I’m going to take up jogging…well maybe walking quickly. So for my relaunching post let’s talk about something that has spanned almost the entire time I’ve been gone. Let’s talk about 52!
So now we’re just a few weeks shy of the halfway mark and I’m hearing a lot of ragging on 52 from all over. People at the comic shop. People on this board or that board. All bitch, “It’s boring”, bitch, “Nothing happens”, bitch. In the beginning I wasn’t blown out of the water like I was hoping for but then again I think my expectations were a little much. I wanted so much from the comic that when it didn’t pay off right away in the most incredible way possible, I was a little disappointed. I think that was the case for most people. They wanted every issue to reveal some unknown fact or secret, to have knockdown comic action and get into the minds of six separate main characters while coming out weekly. An army of the greatest comic writers from across time and company would have failed at such a task. It’s just not possible.
Now, several months later I’ve gotten into the 52 groove and I really enjoy it. There are definite weaknesses, which I will address later, but what doesn’t have problems? When people say that nothing is happening I shrug my shoulders but internally I am resisting the urge to slap them. Nothing happening? Montoya and The Question on the search for Intergang, Black Adam building his own “family”, Ralph Dibney seemingly slipping into madness, an eyeless Adam Strange. THEY KILLED BOOSTER GOLD. There is a lot going on and just because there isn’t a bunch of good old-fashioned knuckledusters every few pages I’m not sure that’s such a terrible thing.
Who remembers Robinson’s Starman when he took Jack Knight for eighty issues of awesome? There was always something going on but in a very 52 way. Lot’s and lot’s of talking, some fighting every few issues but a lot about what it means to be a hero, a family, a friend or enemy and a ton of other deep themes. Starman in my opinion is one of the best series to come out since we entered into this wacky time called the 21st century. It was about being human within the super world. That is what the 52 is about and add more hints and clues than an episode of “Lost” and you have a good read. If that’s not your thing well I believe there is a Civil War or something going on and that has plenty of punching.
Onto 52’s weakness. It has trouble creating sympathy for the characters. I kind of think this is an inevitable problem. In order for the reader to want to follow our protagonists, to deal with spells of chatting, interludes and epilogues, we have to feel for them. Going back to Starman, it was only one character and by having him as the focus of ninety percent of the book we felt such a strong affinity and that we didn’t mind the slow pages because something was always happening to our guy. Similarly, look at the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That shit is slow with pages about walking and the scenery. Readers love it thought because the people walking are our core characters.
By having a cast of dozens and dozens we don’t have enough time to really glam onto any one character and really feel for them. We get a taste of each person but before we can really digest his or her feelings we’re gone. As the series has progressed I’ve found myself enjoying it more. I can only attribute this to having enough time with each character to feel for them. Admittedly, I feel the most for the Black Adam/Isis/Osiris/Montoya/Question storyline because it has had the most page space. I feel the least for the Steel storyline because he really hasn’t been getting that must face time and when he does it’s usually the Steel and Luthor show or the Steel and Natasha show or the Luthor and Infinity Inc. show. I think the writers were counting on the feelings we have for the characters to carry over from their previous appearances and therefore just didn’t spend enough time building their motivations. As we’ve seen from Superman Returns a beloved character can flounder if you don’t make us love him or her every time. I think the writers are getting us there; they just have a lot of characters to get us there for.
So with its strengths and weaknesses 52 has fallen into the category of “A Pretty Good Comic”. If you think it’s too slow or nothing is happening that’s cool. Stop buying it. No one is making you throw your money down for it. But you have to respect the writers and artists for what they’re doing and just because it isn’t what you were expecting doesn’t make it terrible.