Jan 20, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 330: The New 52: Future's End FCBD Special Edition, June 2014

I think that this comic represents the first time I haven't picked up a DC comic on Free Comic Book Day since the inception of that event in 2002. This says a lot about what I think of the direction DC's heroes have taken over the last few years. But a few weeks ago, I decided that, whether I like the New 52 or not, their take on Animal Man has been pretty great, and I owed it to myself to track down all of his more recent appearances. One of them was in the Justice League United tie-in issue for this event. When I came across this comic in a quarter bin, I figured a little background on what A-Man was going to be dealing with in JLU might be nice.

I know DC has had modest success with the weekly comic format, so I'm not surprised they'd go back to it for a crossover event. But, as far as I can tell, this 49-issue series is basically telling the last 5 issues of Age of Ultron, albeit with a different cast. The main character even has the little Wolverine wings on his cowl. Not that seeing what AoU would be like with the DC characters instead is necessarily a bad thing, but it feels a bit like fanboy speculation (a lovely pastime, but not always narratively fruitful) rather than mainstream, professional storytelling. And coming from the fairly stellar line of writers on the title, it's more than a little disappointing.

What is nice is the introduction of Terry McGuinness into DC continuity. The animated universe from which he emerges (which also gave us Harley Quinn) is probably DCs best foray into other media, and though I've not watched his whole series, what I do know of McGuinness I like. If for nothing else, I'd read this series just to get his story. I wonder who wrote his bits.

That said, it's definitely not something I'd invest too much time or money in. I was chatting with a colleague the other day about how DC seems to be intent on channeling early 90s Image Comics right now. It's hard, as someone who loves these characters, to not have them involved in my life at the moment, but every time I pick up a DC comic, I'm disappointed. I've frequently joked that I should be in charge of DC's creative direction, but I sometimes honestly think (as many of we fanboys likely do) that I could be doing a better job. And it's not even big things. All they need to do is join up their cinematic and televisual universes (and they've set up a nice multiversal frame in Flash), and start embracing the mythic nature of their characters, rather than, as my friend Jasmine says, "grit-washing" everything and trying to make the heroes edgy and relevant. These may be the heroes we think we want, but what we need are the mythic inspirations that Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman and all the others have represented for so long.

Oof. Rant over. I'll continue to give DC a chance every now and again. They've certainly earned at least that from me.

Onward (which seems to be becoming my current sign-off).

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