I’ve been reasonably critical of DC’s company-wide relaunch, but three months in I’m softening slightly. For all the stuff DC has done wrong here, they’ve also done a few things right.
* The Detective Comics Batman is pretty interesting. Very much an old-school Batman story with roots in the kind of Strange Tales horror stories we had before the Comics Code. I continue to enjoy Wonder Woman, which gives us an entirely new–and altogether superior–version of the character, rooted in Greek mythology. And I’ve even fallen a little bit for Gail Simone’s Batgirl. As much as I liked Barbara Gordon’s Oracle, as Batgirl again she’s definitely a fourth-tier hero. And it’s kind of charming. She’s a little like the goody-goody version of Jessica Jones: always a step behind, slightly crippled by self-doubt. But clever, in her own way.
* I don’t actually like Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. Or the new Justice League. But I haven’t jumped ship on them. Yet.
* The single smartest thing about the new DC universe is that it does not appear to be a coherent universe. So far as I can tell, there’s no character continuity. Not just in events, but even in how they’re written. The Batman of Justice League is tonally very different from the Batman of Detective Comics, who is almost a different character than the Batman in the plain-vanilla Batman title. A Darkseid invasion in one book does not seem to have bearing on stories in any of the other books.
What this does is free up the writers to simply tell stories. Detailed continuity has really crippled both Marvel and DC over the last couple decades–especially when it comes to the yearly event books, which then push their tendrils into the publishers’ full line, interrupting normal storytelling and forcing the entire company to deal with the same central topic. It’s not an accident that over the last 10 years or so, some of the best storytelling from the two big houses has come in runs that were deliberately out-of-continuity: The early Ultimate books; Alias; Gotham Central; The New Frontier; Wonder Woman: Hiketeia, Joker.
I’m not sure DC had to reboot it’s entire line to do escape the narrative confines of continuity, but it’s probably good that they did, whatever the route they took.
* At the end of the day, no matter now much I’ve complained about the New 52, the central fact is this: After three months, I’m following maybe a half-dozen DC books. In the three years prior to the relaunch, that number was a consistent zero.