A Look Back On The New 52: Did It Work?

So, hey, everyone! I thought I’d start this topic about the New-52.

See, here’s the thing… I remember when the New-52 came out. Well, not exactly when it came out, but I think each series was about 20 or so issues in. I kept seeing things online about how everyone hated the New-52 and how it was bad and stuff. I can understand why some people were upset. I mean, that’s a lot of DC history to erase out of nowhere. I’m from a special camp though, I’m one of the people who LOVED the New-52.

Before you all attack, let me explain!

See, I actually wasn’t a comic book reader, way back then in 2011-2012. I was more of an anime/manga kind of guy. The honest to God truth is that I couldn’t have even told you that Clark Kent was Superman. That’s how clueless I was. But Man of Steel was about to come out, I thought it looked pretty decent and my brother told me he’d always seen this comic shop in town. I went to check it out, read a couple of trade paperback’s and from there… Got kind of obsessed.

When I started looking up stuff about DC Comics it was overwhelming, to say the least. All these continuities and stuff. I felt like it was impossible to get into, until I finally understood what the New-52 was. See, the New-52 ended up being a pretty good jumping on point, after all. After I was deep into every single series I was able to go back to certain storylines and stuff and just… Explore.

So from that point of view, I think the New-52 kind of did it’s job?

Don’t you? At any rate I’d love to hear all your guys’s stories from the New-52 and when it came out. How you felt, and all of that good stuff. I’m grateful to the New-52 because without it I wouldn’t be the huge superhero fan I am today!

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I agree with you, I think that the New 52 was a great starting point to get into comics. It was how I was introduced, and I think most people who got into comics during that time period are very positive about it. I have only actually met one person who wasn’t a fan of new 52, but he also didn’t like Rebirth, and it’s interactions like that which give me the feeling that the people who don’t like 52 are a vocal minority

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Hi. I totally get what you mean. I basically grew up with N52 (I was born in 2004, and started comics in 2010, and in 2012 I started reading comics with continuity). I think that things like N52, TAS’s, and DCCU are great ways for people to jump into DC Comics, and then expand from there. I cannot imagine how someone wouldn’t like it (ok, there are things at the end that bothered me, but not much). As far as Rebirth, I understand where they come from, while I do not agree.

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A lot of readers that had followed DC for years were upset, but it was a perfect time for people start reading, or jump back in after not reading any new comics for years. Some of my favorite runs were part of New 52, which were Nightwing, Batman & Robin, Shazam and Aquaman. Justice League was decent, too!

As one of those readers whose reaction to the New52 ranged between unimpressed and disappointed, I can see how one can say it technically did the job of getting new readers. That said, a grocery clerk is technically doing their job by putting yogurt on the shelves. However, if they aren’t rotating stock, how good a job are they doing, if they’re allowing product to go bad and get thrown out, costing the store money?
Is it obvious I used to work retail?

It can be argued that the reboot cost more than it gained. Sales declined, customers left, titles got canned with a frequency I never recall seeing before. I think there were other ways to bring in new readers while keeping existing ones, because continuity is hardly the savage beast some portray it as. But the New52 fit Didio’s “vision”, and his decision-making is questionable at best. Think the South Park episode “Canada On Strike”, if that helps anyone.

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As someone who was reading before the New 52 started, I honestly felt like at least some sort of shake up was needed. Really, outside of Morrison’s Batman and Johns’ Green Lantern, pretty much everything else was in a massive rut and became really dull at best, if not criminally awful (Cry for Justice, anyone?).

Did the continuity make a lot of sense? No, but really, it never has and it almost never will. And when you look at some of the books that came from it:

  • Scott Snyder’s Batman
  • Grant Morrison’s Action Comics
  • Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman
  • Geoff Johns’ Justice League
  • Geoff Johns’ Aquaman
  • Francis Manapul’s The Flash
  • Jeff Lemire’s Green Arrow
  • Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing
  • Amanda Conner’s Harley Quinn
  • Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man
  • Gail Simone/Brian Fletcher’s different runs of Batgirl
  • Tom King’s The Omega Men

You have a really solid bunch of comics that either sold very well, was very critically/reader acclaimed, and were massively influential in both comics and other media.

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New 52 was a mixed bag for me.

i liked very much many New 52 Titles some arcs (mainly when Jeff Lemire or Tom.Taylor was writing). and my goal this year is to reread some New 52 titles that orhers recommend (Batman Wonder Woman Swamp Thing Anumal Man).

The 52 titles covered a much broader tange of characters than before or after

But there were too many titles.

The number of titles overwhelmed the editors as well as readers

The prep work to lauch that many titles wasn’t done, the editors were inexperienced or too controlling, (firing Gail Simone off Batgirl by email) the writers and artists sometimes were at odds, (Static Shock), George Perez quit a Superman title because basic facts like whether Ma and Pa Kent were alivel were not forthcoming.

Readers often could not find all the titles and books were cancelled quickly.

The concept of starting over really
happened only with

first arc of Justice League
Action Comics by Morrison
Earth 2

Everything else was five year later where readers didn’t know what was in continuity or not

Five years was too little for everything to happen like four Robins

The best reboots ignore continuity and just start at the beginning and continue from there.

Perez Wonder Woman
Byrne Man of Steel
Morrison.JLA
Justice League Animated

it is fun to watch young inexperienced heroes as in.early Spider-Man Xmen Teen Titans Young Justice and Legion of Super-Heroes

That didn’t happened in New 52

Basically Batman and Green Lantern ignored the reboot.

Continuity was re introduced with Titans Hunt and Superman Lois and Clark.

Sales tanked

This time with Rebirth there was more time spent investigating

What the core of each character was

What legacy characters to re introduce

A more limited range of titles initially

With Great talent. Most of which are unfortunately no longer on these titles

One problrm is with DC Management

Also see other thread

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Add Lemire’s Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE to that list as well. I loved that book.

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I enjoyed Animal Man, Frankenstein, Swamp Thing, Dial H, and Morrison’s Action Comics, other than those books I was not a fan. I was looking forward to it, but they just dropped the ball.

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The New 52 was a fun concept but it did lack in execution in some ways. I thought limiting DC history to 5 years didn’t work, it just made a mess out the Robins.

It’s what probably led to me no longer caring about continuity at all. Between 52 and Rebirth I can’t wrap my head around DC history, so now I just care if what I’m reading is a good story or not.

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I have SO MANY feelings on the New 52. So I’m just going to write them all. After DC had gone so far down the “dark and twisted” path, there was really no coming back. Most of the universe had been nearly fundamentally broken because of books like Identity Crisis and Superman Grounded. The point is, a fresh start was needed. Was the New 52 a fresh start? Sort of. That’s pretty much it’s only success.

In order for me to really talk about and analyze it properly, I think it’s important to bring up the four major aspects of the New 52’s “mission statement”, so to speak.

  1. Provide a jumping-on point for new readers
  2. Reboot the DCU and get these characters back on track
  3. Showcase popular creators on big titles while also giving lesser-known talent room to shine
  4. Still provide stories that will satisfy old fans

Really, the only facet that I can say completely confidently they succeeded at was 3. The bigger books (Justice League, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc.) had popular, well-known, and well-received talent on them. George Perez on Superman, Geoff Johns on JL, and Brian Azzarelo (WITH CLIFF CHIANG!) on Wonder Woman. But, even on a book as big as Batman, they gave new/lesser-known creators room to show off, and find an audience. Paul Cornell on Demon Knights, Jeff Lemire (who, up till that point, was largely known in the indie world more than anywhere else) on Green Arrow, etc.

However, once we start talking about the other three components of the mission statement, it starts to fall apart. While it was intended as a fresh start, separate from the attitudes of books like Justice League: Cry For Justice and Infinite Crisis (“dark” comics), it generally kept the same aesthetic. Almost all of the initial 52 series had long, wordy narrative captions and moody, edgy concepts and characters. Even Superman wasn’t free from this, starting off with a first issue about the destruction of the Daily Planet building. The message was clear: @&!$ the old, the “new and improved” is here to stay.

And that’s not even the only way in which the New 52 failed to escape DC’s past. What was intended as a “fresh start” was extremely continuity-heavy, especially as the books went on, but even in the first few weeks. End-of-book reveals teased characters only known by those well-acquainted with comics lore, and very few of the books would work well as someone’s first comic. I think this is because they leaned too hard into the fourth part of their mission statement; keep old readers interested. Which, to a certain extent, I can forgive, but, as an old reader who loves the Justice League, I couldn’t stand Johns’ run. It’s just made more unfortunate by the fact that new readers probably won’t love it, either.

So, in what ways did the New 52 succeed? Well, it did give us Rebirth, I just think that that’s the direction DC should have gone with in the first place. A variety of tones and genres. The biggest flaw I can find with the line is really just that DC wanted every book to appeal to every kind of reader, and the reality is that they can’t.

And, yes, there are some great New 52 comics. Scott Snyder’s Batman, the aforementioned Demon Knights, Grant Morrison’s Action Comics (which, ironically, was one of the only comics from the launch of the New 52 that I’d actually hand to a new reader), and Superman Unchained are all very good. But they’re the minority, sadly. So did the New 52 fail? Yes, but there are a good amount of silver linings, and I think those are what we DC fans should focus on.

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I’ve mentioned elsewhere here that I started reading comics with the New 52. I was 31 and had no prior comics reading experience before that. I started with Superman, and branched out to Batman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League. Needless to say, I loved what I read. Otherwise I wouldn’t still be reading DC Comics to this day. Eventually, as my interest grew, I found my way to comics websites and learned about older titles/runs to read and started digging a bit. Read most of the crises, more Superman stories and some Batman. As I got deeper into things, I discovered that many were voicing their discontent with the New 52. While I now understand why, I can’t personally relate. Probably because I don’t have the storied history so many people have with DC prior to that. When Rebirth was happening, I had learned/read enough to know what it was trying to restore (at least for the Trinity), but it wasn’t really something I was asking for. Nonetheless, I liked Rebirth as well. Yeah, I like 'em both. I like what DC is doing right now as well, especially with Superman. Maybe this upcoming 5G business will be my undoing, when I finally have that moment where I go “What the bleep are you doing DC?” Maybe, but I’m not there yet.

Back to New 52 though… was fun… for me at least, and it was my introduction to DC Comics… so will always have a special place in my heart :slightly_smiling_face:

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My New 52 moment came this past weekend. I had a few titles that I wanted to read, Metal Men, Grifter, and Futures End.

I’m not sure if Metal Men was a New 52 book, but it sure feels like it. Plus, I’m on issue 4 and I’ve seen everyone, but the Metal Men. I’ll give this one a few more issues to introduce the title characters.

I didn’t like Grifter from page 1, but since this is my favorite character I pushed on until I got a load of Midnighter’s new costume. Closed my browser, signed out my computer, and poured myself a drink.

I’m scared to read Futures End, maybe this weekend.

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I think the New 52 was a very good advertising campaign.

No, seriously. The continuity isn’t any less complicated now than it was before and we’re less than a decade in. It was only a better jumping-on point for new readers because they said it was a jumping-on point for new readers and new readers looked at it and said “Hey, a jumping-on point. I’ll jump on.”

And comic continuity is not nearly as intimidating as it seems if you just start reading.

And sure, putting top talent on top books and new talent on other stuff was a fine idea and produced some solid runs. But I’m not seeing what called for a reboot, and almost none of the actual continuity changes were for the better.

They’d have been better off with a soft relaunch like Rebirth that cleaned up long-standing problems and points of confusion in the background while keeping most recent continuity valid. Have mostly new #1s except for long-running legacy titles (let’s say anything with more than 500 issues) and leave the only editorial directive as “Explain what’s going on and lay off the deep cuts for a while.” That would have precisely the same effect without causing the damage the New 52 did.

In fact, I still think they should do exactly what I just described every three-to-five years, so everything that happens stays legitimate but they can clean up after themselves as they go if anything really stupid happens, and it’s never too intimidating to jump in. And they’re kind of already doing it, but it doesn’t really seem like an organized plan, just general desperation.

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I didn’t like the New 52. All the comics felt the same. I had been away from comics for about a decade, as I had largely walked away after Zero Hour. So I was prepared for the idea of fresh beginnings; everything old is new again.

But mostly, the stories were extremely sub par. I’ve always gravitated towards the B and C list heroes. The trinity’s never really grabbed my attention. Superman will always be Superman; Wonder Woman will always be Wonder Woman; and, Batman will always be Batman.

And as others have noted on here, the quality simply wasn’t there. And if you’re picking up titles which are being canceled after 8 issues, it’s disheartening. If the entire creative team gets jettisoned, and a completely new storyline is introduced where the characters behave totally different, it’s just no fun to read.

I’ve said it several times on these forums. DC needs to stop the reboots. If a title is struggling, take the time and effort to solve the issues: close the dangling plot threads; use imagination to entice new readers, but don’t give a middle finger to existing readers.

We all know a bunch of readers left because of the New 52. The readers who remained, despite hating the run, are a minority. A bunch left with Rebirth. And all the new readers you got, saw this happen. They’re ready to be disappointed. However, that’s probably not the best attitude to build within your fanbase.

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I totally agree with this sentiment. I hear a lot of people talking about how DC continuity was impenetrable or some such and to be honest I think that is much more a question of prejudices than anything else.

Back when I started reading comics we didn’t have places like this or other comic book related message boards, social media, wikis or whatever to get caught up and comics weren’t relaunched all the time, so when you started reading a book chances are that you would often come in the middle of a story, not having any clue what came before. But as you went along you learned more and while you might not read the start of that story for several years until you came across it second-hand you’d start getting to know the characters and their basic history. You didn’t need to know everything right away, and what you really needed to know was for the most part explained in the stories, even if you had references to old books.

I get that the New 52 was a jumping-on point and that they actually did succeed in getting a number of new readers, but honestly I think they did more damage in the long run than they actually fixed by doing this. Yes, there are most definitely good stuff among the New 52 output, but most of that stuff could just as easily have been done within the old continuity.

Green Lantern didn’t change at all (which is a bit odd considering how much of what happened in the New 52 was dependent on certain things from the pre-New 52 universe having happened, that now like Crisis on Infinite Earths after Crisis on Infinite Earth could no longer have happened the way it was originally told).

The Batman books were changed but only superficially and most of what we got could have been done regardless of the continuity. It wasn’t really until stuff like Batman Eternal where things really diverged so much that the new continuity was really an integral element important to the story.

Superman, Wonder Woman and Teen Titans were complete reboots and while I liked what Grant Morrison did on Action Comics, I think it might have worked out better as a companion to All-Star Superman as they didn’t really seem how to handle the character at the beginning outside of Action Comics and it took quite a while for him to really recover. Personally I wasn’t a big fan of the Wonder Woman revamp, but that was mostly because I loved the revamp George Perez had given her after Crisis. The story itself was pretty well crafted and well drawn, it just didn’t appeal to me.

Teen Titans, however, is one of the biggest failures of the reboot. It practically removed everything that made the team interesting as a result of the complete reboot and it took them years to get back to something that worked, and they needed to return some of the pre-New 52 elements to do so.

Flash was also a complete reboot, but honestly I think it would have been stronger had it not been. Manapul was not known for being a writer and while he did a good job, I think that had he had the previous continuity to build from his work would likely have been better.

That said we did get some great stuff such as Aquaman, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Swamp Thing, Animal Man, I Vampire right of the bat. But again, most of those did not really need a reboot to work and could just as easily have been done in the old continuity.

Honestly, I think most of the weak stuff from the New 52 was stuff that were complete reboots that could not have worked in the old continuity. It seemed like the decision to go full reboot came too late and that many of the books had a lot of last-minute changes that really made them suffer.

Instead of going full reboot I think they should have simply focused on making each story accessible by not having each story be 12 issues long (a problem many books still have) and/or make sure that you don’t keep referencing old stuff but move forward instead. A big problem with the continuity-hatred is not so much the continuity itself but the fact that people need to know a lot just to follow the stories. If it is important to know put it in the story, otherwise just move on. It is kinda like when you meet someone new in your life. You don’t know their full backstory right away but learn some bits and pieces as you go along. But as long as you know who the person is NOW you don’t really need to know everything about that person’s past.

8 years in, the DC Universe is as complicated as it ever was, making the point of the New 52 kinda moot. Aside from reinvigorating interest in DC Comics that is. This was something that the New 52 accomplished, and there is no doubt that something was needed as DC was not setting the charts on fire. The big question is how well would it have been doing had they “just” put on great talent on the books and relaunched everything with a promise of forward-looking and new reader-friendly stories would we still have seen a big influx of new readers, without pushing away a lot of the old ones?

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@Tenzel

Huh, that’s a really interesting way to look at it. Actually, when I first started I had noticed that Green Lantern was weird, kind of its own can of worms. I never FULLY looked into it but was that because it literally wasn’t a reboot at all? Like was it seriously a direct continuation from whatever was going on before that and was it still Johns who was writing before the New 52 shift? I mean, this never really impacted the quality of the book to me, I really enjoyed it but it was definitely weird.

Batman was also weird because I definitely never felt like it was a reboot. As a brand new reader, I was definitely confused because I didn’t know who all the Robins were. Funnily enough I thought there was only one, so to find out there were 4 was definitely a shock.

So here’s my question though, in regards to Teen Titans. Was it the new team that bothered you/most people, or was it the fact that none of it ever really… Made sense. If I remember correctly wasn’t the New-52 Teen Titans really tied in with Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes, not to mention every other page it was asking you to go read a different title or get ready for some weird crossover event.

I guess the universe is as complicated as ever. I wonder if that was by design though? The old readers who stuck around were never gonna be confused right? The new ones, however, have slowly, organically been learning stuff. Both on their own and through DC’s titles. It’s kinda smart don’t you think? When I think about the DC Universe, it doesn’t seem so complicated now but that’s only because I’ve stuck aorund since 2011-2012.

I’m happy I made this thread because there’s a ton of really interesting points made in here, stuff I’d never considered. It’s easier to see why some people were so upset when it happened and I guess in the long run maybe it would have been best to do something like Rebirth right out of the gate.

Seriously, kudos to @Jay_Kay @TurokSonOfStone1950 @Batwing52 @moro @BatJamags and @harley.333

Thanks for giving me all your perspectives and stuff, this has been a really fascinating thread to keep track of.

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The constant crossovers certainly didn’t help in regards to the Teen Titans. The team itself wasn’t really all than new, as the characters were mostly the same that had been head-lighting the series before the reboot. They were completely changed though as this was the first time they met each other in the new continuity. I think that personally that fact coupled with the fact that I found Lobdell’s writing on the book very uninspired made this attempt at rebooting the Titans fall apart for me.

All of the characters were changed to make them feel more edgy somehow and it just came across too forced. The villains weren’t all that interesting (or simply lacking) and when we got to the Culling, the first real crossover, things just became too convoluted.

But I guess my main problem was that the characters were just too unrecognizable and what we got instead of their pre-New 52 versions weren’t really an improvement. To me the good reboots of the New 52 were the ones where they kept the essence of the characters, but changed just enough to make them interesting for a modern audience.

Despite the fact that I personally didn’t much care for the New 52 Wonder Woman reboot, that one actually had an interesting new take on the character while keeping true to the essence. Sure, some details of her origin were changed but they dared try something new. Teen Titans on the other hand was pretty much stripped down to becoming a very generic comic book in my opinion at least and that’s not the way to push boundaries.

As for the part about the “complicatedness” being by design I very much doubt it and even if it was I wouldn’t call it smart. Sure, the ones that jumped aboard with the New 52 would be pretty much up to date, but DC’s goal should be just keeping the readers they got back then but to reach new readers and complicating things further will just put them in the same situation as they were before the New 52, making new readers complain about the exact same things as new readers did just before the New 52.

That said, while there are a bit too many inconsistencies at the moment, I think we’ve also been getting a lot of good stuff and I’m still optimistic about the future of the DC Universe.

Btw, I totally agree that this is an interesting topic and I’m glad to see people being able to discuss it in a civil manner, which isn’t something you see that often when it comes to this topic.

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I am as well. If they stop the reboots and concentrate on writing good stories, I think they could do very well. If they went the extra mile and created an editorial pool which collaborated to create a cohesive universe amongst the titles, I think they could dominate the market.

CoIE is such a milestone because readers are amazed (“Holy crap… it all fits together!”). On the other hand, CoIE has always been controversial because it’s a massive reboot (btw, Green Lantern survived this reboot as well). However, CoIE is a reboot which takes place within the story and all characters were involved. It’s not like Flashpoint where you don’t read or care about Flash, but suddenly, your favorite title is rebooted anyway.

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Actually, Green Lantern didn’t fully survive the Crisis. Ch’p actually had his whole life rebooted away. When he went home to his home planet in Green Lantern Corps 201 he learned that in the new continuity he had died 19 years ago and that H’lven had never had a Green Lantern.

While you’re right that Crisis was a reboot that took place within the story, Crisis itself did not happen the way we read it in the new post-Crisis continuity as many of the characters within the story had been rebooted away. With there no longer being multiple Earths the Crisis could no longer have been a Crisis of Infinite Earths, and characters such as the Golden Age Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman had now never existed to name some. But you’re right that for the most part you didn’t feel a big difference as the heroes you’d mostly been reading about the last many years were still mostly intact.

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