Monday, September 26, 2011

The DCnU 52 - week 3

Week 3 of "The New 52" brought to mind two thoughts (and since I didn't read Catwoman, one of them wasn't "I love boobies"), the first being that the DCU has become egregiously more violent than it was a month ago. Sure there was a lot of violence before, but it wasn't quite as graphic as it's gotten now.

In Nightwing a couple of cops had their throats slashed out as Dick Grayson ducked and avoided an assassin so that he could change into Nightwing without revealing his identity. "That's on me" he said, which is about as meaningful as the badly grammatical "My bad." At least he acknowledged it, but still, how much is it really going to affect dear old Dick in his nightly crime fighting. If it actually does have an impact, I'll be really impressed.

Over in Wonder Woman, a couple of horses got their heads lopped off so that human-esque upper torsos could crawl their way up out of the neck-holes. Later, Diana tosses a blade which lops off the arm of one of these centaurs. I wonder if another mini-human torso will grow out of it.

In Batman, the Dark Knight Detective comes upon a scene where the victim has been strung up in a Virtuvian Man-style position, only with dozens upon dozens of blades sticking out of him, as noted in the scene, "whoever did it missed every one of John Doe's major arteries -- on purpose. Meaning they wanted to hurt him very badly, for a long, long time."

[If you want to see the grand guignol Bleeding Cool has combined the greatest hits for ya. We try to run a clean ship here.]

I'm not prudish, and I don't mind excessive violence [or sex, for that matter], but I think things like having the Joker's face peeled off at the end of the first issue of the flagship title for the company, or having a guy force-fed his garden hose in Batgirl #1 might not be the impact one wants to have... or maybe it is. I suppose it's a matter of context as well, as I didn't flinch at all seeing King Shark chomp off a guy's arm in Suicide Squad, but then that's what I expected from that book. I'm not sure I expect a full-on, tits-out affair from a Catwoman ongoing series (Vampirella, Lady Death, yes). If you came at us with a "mature readers" Catwoman: The Night The Tights Came Off In Georgia, then yeah, I would expect it there . Is the excessive violence of the bisections and crushed-heads sort that Geoff Johns has fondly delivered in his comics the intended status-quo for "The New 52"? Should it be?

You see just as much on your average episode of CSI or Sparatacus:Blood and Sand, but I thought, and I guess I thought incorrectly, that DC was looking to attract new readers to their books, and by new readers I had assumed younger readers, since their most loyal (or perhaps just vocal) audience came in around the post-Crisis reboot era at a young age, when comics were still relatively accessible to that age group. This leads directly into my second point, that DC has issued, 39 books so far, and not one has had an anything less than a "T" (for Teen") rating.

Where are the books that the kids can read, that can transition them in their pre-teen years from the Tiny Titans and Brave and the Bold/Young Justice/cartoon-tie-in comics to the DC Universe proper? You should have gateway books with characters like Static or Blue Beetle or Supergirl, all of which produced relatively clean first issues, but with a "T" rating I don't know that a younger reader won't be exposed to neck-slashey-face-peely-bodice-rippy material an issue or two down the road.

In some respect I understand that DC isn't "going dark" or "grim'n'grittiy" again, but that their entertainment is just, in many places, reflecting the entertainment that pervades popular culture at large. Every book isn't going to Saw-like torture porn, just like every book isn't going to be Jersey Shore-sex shenanigans (where Starfire is the only character to come close to matching Snooki's particular skin tone), or a gothic horror, or a military action set-piece or space opera or whatever.

But at the same time DC is saying they're diversifying their line with the types of stories they're telling, they're not trying very hard at diversifying the audience they want to be telling these stories to. "T" for "Teen" seems to be the main point, with sensationalistic imagery in places it's truly like they want teenagers to show it to their friends and say "you gotta see this, this shit is sick" (you know, in the way that they say "sick" meaning "cool" meaning "rad" meaning "good"*) or perhaps also meaning, well, sick, as in depraved, or morally incorrect, or abhorrent, or unwell.

This isn't to say DC isn't producing some good books, and that I'm not enjoying wading through "the New 52" like it was pilot season, because I am, but I wonder if, after the novelty of examining the new DC Universe through a critical lens, whether most of the books and the new universe itself will still be at all interesting beyond a few exceptional titles.

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My current top ten favs of "the New 52" (having read 22 out of 39)

1. Batman #1
2. Grifter #1
3. Batwoman #1
4. Supergirl #1
5. Animal Man #1
6. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
7. Wonder Woman #1
8. Action Comics #1
9. Suicide Squad #1
10. Men of War #1

* not sure the kids even say "sick" anymore?

1 comment:

Evan said...

No, kids have stopped using "sick," and left it to us old folks who think they still use it (according to my high-schooler).