DC’s New 52

So, DC rebooted their entire comics universe in September after a 5 issue event called Flashpoint. As per my previous reboot post, reboots attempt to re-interest consumers and gain new ones. It is useful for comic books, especially the big publishers like DC, to reboot their comics line because some of the story arcs are so complex, and so long-lasting that it is difficult for new readers to jump in and get interested. Reboots start everything over, so, assuming new readers know that the reboot is happening, it offers them a chance to start reading and stay on top of it. Well, DC’s reboot seems to be a big success, and coupled with their fantastic digital distribution through Comixology, it seems DC is riding pretty high right now.

On a quick sidenote, I don’t think Marvel has ever rebooted their main comics line. I could be wrong, but Marvel instead chose to expand earlier in the 2000s with their Ultimate line that somewhat served as a reboot, but was also published in tandem with their main line.

Okay, back to DC. I was so excited about the reboot in September, and for the first time in a long time I found myself in a comic book store setting up a box and pull list. I couldn’t read everything (funds are always limited when you’re a starving grad student), so I’ve had to be selective in the series to read. I settled on the two big guys, Batman and Superman, and two that are a bit more cult in The Flash and Batgirl. Maybe when (and if) I start a career in the next few months I’ll buy the e-versions of the other 48 series and continue my readings from there, but until then I’ll stick to these four.

I’m pretty pleased with the little I’ve read. The new Batman series went right to work with a long arc called “The Court of Owls” that looks like it is going to be going for a while yet. It has been a fantastic arc and even crossed over into the other Batman related series like Nightwing and Batgirl. It’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen next with the Bat, but I’m looking forward to whatever comes.

Superman has been pretty interesting too, but it seems I should have read the new line of Action Comics in tandem with Superman as the first arcs tied together pretty nicely. Superman hasn’t entered any long arcs yet, and they’ve done a good job giving the new series emotional “oomph.” Let’s face it, without some strong emotional bent Superman can get pretty boring because his powers are so, well, powerful. But the writers and editors have done a good job keeping me emotionally invested in Superman, Clark Kent, and their relationship with Lois Lane. As one might expect being a flagship title, the art is wonderful and the creative team is doing a great job making the Superman series be the best it can be without starting a long arc.

The Flash started out great! Of the first issues that I read, it was easily the best. Unfortunately it seems to have lost some focus and it is really hard to tell where it is going. The art is fantastic, however, and the writing is strong so I’m sticking with it for now.

The biggest surprise for me has been the new Batgirl series, and it remains my favorite of the series I’m currently reading. They brought Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl, and it just feels right. Gail Simone is the writer and, seriously, that lady knows how to write an awesome comic book! Barbara and the other characters are extremely well-rounded from book to book, the action has been almost non-stop, and there is quite a bit of dry, fun humor. It has let me down here and there, but the writing is still too awesome for me to hold it against the series. It seems they haven’t really set Batgirl off on her own big story arc yet because they’ve been waiting for the “Night of the Owls” crossover last month. But maybe now that is over they’ll get started on an arc, and they’ve hinted a big one could be on its way. I’m way excited!

Really, I can’t recommend the New 52 enough to any fan of DC’s characters. I’ve heard there are some series that are not very good, but I can’t comment on them having not read them. However, it doesn’t seem you can go wrong with a large number of the other series. Also, DC is publishing the first arcs of the new series in trade paperback format throughout this year! So with the trade paperbacks and DC’s awesome digital distribution through Comixology, the new series are perfectly available for anyone to jump in and start reading!

I know I said I’d talk about the TMNT reboot in this post, but this is long enough. I’ll talk Turtles next time.

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Reboots

So, I’m a little later on writing this post than I anticipated. Moved this week, and spent some time hanging out with family and friends I’ve not seen for a while. Journey for PS3 hasn’t helped matters much; it consumes me, and I love it. More on that later though. I will talk about reboots in this post, and save Journey for another post.

Anyway, reboots. The last decade has seen a lot of reboots of classic franchises. The first that I remember happening is actually the re-imagined He-Man series that debuted on Cartoon Network in 2002. After that came the second Ninja Turtles cartoon series, and it seems like the reboots just keep coming. Everything from the Batman film franchise to Star Trek, and most recently the entire DC comics universe and Ninja Turtles comics with Spider-Man and Superman film reboots just around the corner. We live in an age of franchise reboots and it doesn’t appear that will change in the foreseeable future. 

But what exactly constitutes a “reboot?” The term is pretty ambiguous and refers to everything from a new entry in a long dormant franchise, parallel stories to a previous story, complete re-imaginings, and new beginnings. But they all tend to have some things in common. First, the goal of the reboot is to reignite interest in a particular franchise and to draw in a new fanbase. Doing so helps to keep the franchise lucrative by creating new fans as well as giving older fans something new to anticipate…at least ideally. They also tend to feature new actors, visual styles, storylines, and so on. From what I can tell, they seem to be really successful, because every time a favorite franchise of mine is getting a reboot in some form I’m usually interested. I have to be honest, I’m super excited for The Amazing Spider-Man coming this summer. On the other hand, there have been a few that leave me wary and suspicious, such as the new TMNT cartoon coming in Fall on Nickelodeon and the upcoming Michael Bay TMNT film. 

Though I can’t deny that a part of me loves the fact that some of my favorite franchises will never die as long as reboots keep happening, I have to admit that I do wish that producers and parent companies would devote more time to creating new material rather than relying on stuff from the 80s to keep their companies afloat. I guess in a way, they are simply playing it safe; they know that old franchises are cash cows so they keep relying on them. 

Really, I can think of only one type of media that really does require an occasional reboot: comic books (or graphic novels if you are so inclined). DC rebooted their entire comics universe with the New 52 last fall. At the same time, the TMNT received a new comic book reboot that, while more cult than DC’s, is still just as exciting for me. I’ll talk about my thoughts on both in my next post, and then maybe I’ll talk about Journey.

Adventures in Star Trekking

I’ve been re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation over the past month-and-a-half. Most recently I watched the season five episodes “Unification Part 1,” and “Part 2.” They made me think about the recent franchise reboot because a part of the backstory left out in the film can be found in these episodes. When watching the movie, I wondered why Spock was helping the Romulans save their world when the Romulans were usually the bad guys in TNG. I just figured for some reason Spock wanted to help them in order to establish peaceful relations with the Romulans. Spock’s motives for helping the Romulans are explained in the two “Unification” episodes. So, in order to really get the whole story explaining Spock’s role in the newest movie, it is necessary (or helpful at the very least) to watch the “Unification” episodes.

That leads me to my next thought. Much of pop culture storytelling relies on the creation of a universe. Some are more broad and complex than others, but authors, TV producers, and so on rely heavily on the creation of a complex universe that cannot fully be explored in a single book, movie, or even medium. I think it probably started with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels because trilogies tend to be the norm in the case of movies, books, and even video games (The Matrix Trilogy, The Hunger Games, Mass Effect and so on). In order for consumers to get the whole picture, they have to consume all the material available. In the case of the Star Trek universe, this includes eleven films and six TV series! That’s a lot of consumption! So maybe only the most nerdy make it through all that Star Trek has to offer, but it is pretty rewarding catching on to a reference that you may not have understood before as I did while watching the “Unification” episodes. Most viewers probably won’t want to slog through literally hundreds of TV episodes in order to understand every reference to every event, but it is a fun experience when you realize that the writers/producers are referring to an event from one of the previous movies or TV series. 

I also admire the continuity of the recent movie with TNG. When creating a universe as vast as that of Star Trek, continuity errors are bound to crop up in some form or another. My friend was telling me how the series Star Trek: Enterprise tries to explain away the discrepancy in the appearance of the Klingons between the original series and TNG. There are some similarities in appearance, but they lack their “forehead ridges” in the first series that are a staple of every canonical appearance that has come afterward. I won’t comment on the explanatory episodes myself since I haven’t seen them, but I’m glad that J.J. Abrams and the other people behind the the new movie did their homework and tied everything up so nicely in the movie. It almost doesn’t feel like a reboot to me because of that strong continuity, but rather a “logical” progression from where TNG left off allowing the creators to form a new universe within the old one rather than simply rebooting and starting over as so many other franchises have done in recent years.

Hmm…perhaps “reboots” will be the topic of my next post. Until next time!

First Post!

Okay, so I’ve begun a new blog where I’m going to talk about all the pop culture I consume! I read a lot of books and comics, watch movies and TV, and play video games, so I’d like to think I’m pretty well-rounded in pop culture. I guess I have a weakness in that I don’t listen to a whole lot of music, at least not recently. Regardless, from here on I’ll talk about my adventures navigating pop culture!

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