DC New 52: What Went Right

I’m gonna go a little mainstream this week after some time off due to a story I recently ready for the first time, and how it relates to a current book on my pull.

The New 52 was an interesting idea that shocked me when it hit. I was so used to the DC heroes and all the stories that I’m not sure I was ready for the change. Looking back, DC has received quite a bit of flack for it, but it did get quite a bit right.

The best success has been on the Bat-Family of books. I myself read and enjoyed the entire run of Nightwing and have even enjoyed the transition to the Grayson title.

Dick Grayson actually factors largely into this post. Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters and was alwaysy favorite Robin due to the fact that he was the one on Batman the tv show and the animated series. However, the coolest part was how he grew out of the role and became Nightwing.

Without further ado, I believe the character that DC fixed and made one of my favorites with the New 52 is the Red Hood. Jason Todd is probably at the bottom of most people’s list of Robins. For me, I only knew him as the Robin that Joker killed. By the time I was getting into Batman, Tim Drake was established, and Todd seemed more like a plot device.

The fact that he was beaten by a crowbar and blown up by the Joker completely solidified Joker as the arch enemy and a very dangerous villain for the Bat.

When DC decided to let Judd Winnick bring Todd back from the dead as a villain, I thought it was an awesome idea. I read and enjoyed the Red Hood arc, but the animated movie did so much more to make me look into this character.

I looked into this character in reverse though. I ended up buying the Under the Red Hood trade and Red Hood The Lost Days. Since then I also tracked down most of Jason Todd’s Post-Crisis appearances and this weekend I finally read A Death in the Family.

The book was interesting and after reading it I went and read the sixth trade of Red Hood and the Outlaws. At this point I realized that I may now like this character more than Dick Grayson.

I am currently buying singles for Red Hood Arsenal and am enjoying this depiction of Jason Todd in current stories. After his initial appearances when he was resurrected, I feel that DC lost their way with him. Some stories like when he dresses as Nightwing showed that they had no idea what to do with him.

However, with New 52, he has been a fun character who has patched things up with the rest of the Bat-Family between Death of the Family and Batman Eternal. His interactions with Roy Harper have been fun and it is now even more so in Red Hood Arsenal.

The character is a fun action movie star now. He still kills villains but is certainly more heroic in nature. He can be written in emotional scenes or just kicking butt and it’s made for a more rounded character.

Jason Todd has grown out of the shadow of the Bat and is his own hero in the way that Grayson grew out of Robin. And his look is amazing. My only caveat is that I prefer the Rocafort New 52 design with a helmet similar to the animated version over the current Medri design.

The bottom line is that if you are looking for a fun big two book, this is the one. The characters are not the big guns so more risks can be taken and Lobdell’s scripts do provide some laughs.

Later this week there will be a new post about a book coming out from Marvel which has a special place in my heart. Check back here for a piece on my love of the Avengers’ Black Knight.

Valiant Entertainment, Amazing Entertainment

Forget the idea that they are putting forth a “valiant” (pun intended) effort, since their relaunch in 2012, the new era of Valiant has been knocking it out of the park.

I just finished reading Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak and Ivar, Timewalker issue 8, and realized I have done a great disservice by not covering this publisher previously.

I recently told a podcast host how good the series have been when he had showed interest in one of the series and had to message him to chime in. The truth is that of all the publishers and revivals in recent years none have been as consistently good as Valiant. They also have proved that they can survive in the current market.

Today I recalled a recently attempted revival of the old Atlas/Seaboard comics from a few years back. It came, it releases some issues, and it quietly disappeared. In all honesty, it left me disappointed.

But why did it fail and Valiant managed to thrive? Is it because the Valiant characters were fresher in the mind of the comic buying market? Were the characters inherently better? As a fan, I would say yes but that isn’t why they continue to succeed.

The truth is they attacked the comic market with a genius plan that should seem a simple path to success. This company which is headed up by Dinesh Shamdasani (Valiant Uber Fan if you’ve seen the birthday cake picture), assembled a front office team including people like Fred Pierce and Warren Simons to put together a publishing plan.

It all started with a slow release of 4 main titles from the stable of characters starting with X-O Manowar, then moving from Harbinger to Bloodshot and Archer and Armstrong. Each book came with a top quality artist and writer with the sole purpose of creating good stories to attract readers. This was aided and abetted by a different tone and flavor for each series and even the incentive of variant covers if comic readers added the title to their pullbox.

However, the two most important things they did that should be no-brainers are the aforementioned great stories, and more importantly a consistent release schedule. Nothing kills growth and momentum more than missed deadlines, release dates, and long lags between issues.

Valiant has consistently met the deadlines and kept new issues on the shelves and the Valiant brand out there. Their presence and love of the material at comic conventions shows them retaining the old fanbase while earning new fans with the way they reach out to potential new readers and make their line accessible.

To sum up, if you are an aspiring creator, look toward Valiant to see how it is done. Hit deadlines and tell great stories and you can make it. It will be hard and you still might fail, but your odds are better if you do those two things. Valiant has proved that for 3 years running.

And finally, do yourself a favor and pick a Valiant series to check out. The quality won’t be beat and they will have a genre type you are looking for. Harbinger is a personal favorite of mine and I can’t recommend it more.