DC's The New 52 VS Marvel NOW!
Who is pulling off the more effective reboot?
It is a very interesting time to be a comic book reader these days. Publishers are making big moves such as online publishing, and putting out multiple and high priced variants. Perhaps the biggest thing is that both DC and Marvel have seen relaunches. Some fans see this as great jumping on point and a chance to wipe the slate clean, whereas other fans see it as a cheap stunt designed to draw in big money. This editorial will analyze both DC's The New 52 and Marvel NOW! I will compare both initiatives, pointing out differences, and ultimately offer my opinion of which one is better.
Section A: What are they?
Both The New 52 and Marvel NOW! are relaunches. They are designed as jumping on points to attract new reader. However, they are not each the same. In addition to being a relaunch, The New 52 is also a reboot. For the most part, this is the beginning of a new DC universe. Marvel NOW! on the other hand, is just a relaunch. They are not restarting their continuity. Instead, they are simply starting the next chapter of the world of Marvel, and using a line wide relaunch to draw attention to it. So which one appears to be the easiest to understand? In my own opinion, I think it is much easier to understand Marvel NOW! Like I said, no continuity is changed, and the only changes are writers being switched around or introduced, a book's renumbering, or in some cases, a completely new series. The New 52 on the other hand, while fun, can confusing. While it's categorized as a reboot, it's only partially one. Some characters have been allowed to remain the same, while others are completely new versions of themselves. To make matters worse, some of the seemingly unchanged characters have had pieces of their histories altered in some places, making it really tough to figure out what is going on in some cases.
Section B: How aggressively is the material putting out?
I would say both companies are being pretty aggressive, but in different ways. For example, DC made a big push to launch the whole new 52 in September of 2011 with Justice League premiering a month early as a primer. This meant that all stories before the New 52 had to finish before the relaunch. DC has also been very strict about making sure their books come out on time. All 52 of every month. This means that if a creative team is going slow, DC will hesitate to change them, so the schedule remains intact. Of course, this means, that stories are not always as fleshed out as they could be, but the fans are able to get the books and determine if they are worth reading. Not every book sells well though, and when DC sees several books struggling all at once, they cancel them, and announce new "waves" of books to replace them. Marvel too follows an aggressive schedule to get their books out as well, but in a different way. Unlike DC, Marvel ships some o f their books twice a month, and this has carried into Marvel NOW! This is actually pretty cool, because you get to see some of your favorite books more frequently, and for the most part part, the stories have been written a while back, so they have had their room to grow. The only thing that seems to bug readers a bit is that some books require multiple rotating art teams to keep up. In the end, the stories carry though. Another difference is that Marvel letting their NOW! books launch when they are ready, and are also allowing the pre-NOW! books to reach their natural conclusion. Also not all books are re-numbered even when they do eventually get the Marvel NOW! branding. Likewise, some creative teams are also kept in place.
Section C: Who has the better talent?
This one is a touchy area. Both companies have good writers, but their is a distinction between the 2. A lot of DC's talent are the same people who were working for them before, with seemingly not a lot of new names coming in save for Kyle Higgins, Adam Glass, Jeff Lemire, Joshua Fiakov, and Scott Snyder. How can what they are trying to create feel truly new and fresh when you have people like Rob Liefeld, Dan Jurgens, Ann Nocenti, and Scott Lobdell working on the books. Some are good, but some of them like Liefeld and Lobdell feel a bit washed up. Of course, Grant Morrison and Geof Johns still perform nicely. Of course, I feel the reason that DC is using who they are using is because they know most of them will get in line, and get the books out in a timely fashion. I think though that many writers and artists do not want to work at DC, because of the constant switching and micro-managing. I mean truthfully, you will get this at any company that puts out stories that all take place in the same world, but the fact that only parts of the new 52 are truly new, with the rest being up in the air, it must be chaotic at times for the writers to figure out how everything needs to go together. And I apologize too, for not mentioning artist, but it's the writers who get the bulk of the attention, and many comics at both companies employ multiple artists per book. Marvel and it's Marvel NOW! relaunch seems to have a better pedigree of talent. And that is because they are constantly bringing new people and looking to the indy scene a lot. A lot of the folks there now are pretty fresh like Matt Fraction, Jonathon Hickman, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Sam Humphries, Cullen Bunn, Kieron Gillen, Dennis Hopeless, Jason Aaron Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, and Rick Remender. Of course, you have some old guard and mainstay types like Peter David, Dan Slott, Mark Waid, and Brian Michael Bendis, but these guys still seem to be able to write stuff that seems as relevant as the newer crop.
Section D: Who puts out the better books?
Now I will admit a head of time, that I read more Marvel, and that I have been favorable towards them in this piece, but I am looking at things objectively. What I see at DC is a company that maybe does not fully understand where all their characters are in this new universe and that they seem to making it up as they go. This can confusing to the readers, because as I said several times, not everything is rebooted. The phrase throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks comes to mind. That being said, there are several books from DC on my pull list, and if you are like me, and stick to what you like, you will more than likely still enjoy the books. When I look at Marvel and Marvel NOW!, I am able to see what direction they are going in more clearly, because the characters are starting new chapters in their lives, and not being rebooted. It's just a highly advertised relaunch with lots of books getting new number 1's and creative teams. If you want rebooted Marvel charcters, then look to the Ultimate and MAX imprints. It's all about what general feel you want from your comics. DC is more fantasy based, and a lot of their characters inhabit made up cities. Marvel has and still takes place in our world, and our cities.
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