DC Comics is the often characterized as a stuffy company unwilling to take risks and that makes comic books that cater to middle conservative America and white male readers afraid of changes. Marvel has long been seen as the leader and most profitable of the two companies in the comic book industry. DC has often been described as the Pepsi to Marvel’s coke. This description of DC Comics is wrong.
Although DC Comics owns a lot of cardboard characters whose name could be exchanged for one another – for decades, there were practically no differences between Hal Jordan, Ray Palmer, Barry Allen or Carter Hall, DC Comics has always been ready to risk everything and attempt change that affected its entire business to the extent that these experimentations have left their imprint on the company’s DNA and are part of its character today. DC Comics only looked stuffy because it has had an uninterrupted history since the 1930s where in those days, America was white, middle class and conservative. DC Comics has often being a victim of its own head-start in the comic book world, with so much at stake that forces within the company have regularly opposed change, only to lead the way when their backs was against the wall. DC Comics is not a stuffy old conservative company that writes comic books for white middle class Americans. DC Comics is a record of American culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.
DC Comics’ 52 is not the first time the company has attempted to publish so many comics at the same time that the market could not bear the pressure. DC Comics did the same in 1978 through what is known as the DC Implosion. DC Comics invited creators from all over, including Marvel Comics, and asked them to create the new DC Comics. In the 1960s, with the return of the super hero, DC Comics thought it had found a sure footing amidst continuing diminishing sales of comic books throughout North America. Instead, within a few years, Marvel had copied the DC Comics’ formula and improved on it. Super heroes were no longer stuffy interchangeable gentlemen; they were filled with motivations, angst and failures. By the time DC Comics got around to adding such dimensions to its characters, it felt like they were just copying Marvel badly. No one today cares about the Wonder Woman dressed in white that had no powers, or the Teen Titans without secret identities that did all but smoke weed.
Yet, DC Comics always allowed comic book creators to experiment and create characters and universes that would much later save the company from insolvency. Swamp Thing was an experiment at horror comics. He was created at the same time as Man Thing for Marvel Comics by creators who were roommates at the time. Swamp Thing at DC Comics flourished and became the backbone of the publisher’s adult line of comic books two decades later. Man Thing is still a pile of trash without a mind.
One of the most important changes to DC Comics has been the 1984 Crisis of the Infinite Earths crossovers which altered forever the fabric of the publisher both inside and outside of comic books. In hindsight, the motives for the Crisis mini-series are ludicrous; a few characters appeared in a dimension they were not supposed to appear into and two universes with concurrent versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash existed and could potentially confuse one or two readers. Yet DC Comics decided to merge several parallel universes into one but did it through a narrative that changed the company and how it made comics. It also paved the way for new creators to burst in and start the reinterpretation of comic book classics for a new generation. This is a practice that continues to this day where every generation looks at an established character and tries to update them from scratch or to find the true essence of their subject. Marvel does not function this way at all. Although reinvention and experimentation exist, much of their history is not up for grabs or to be dismissed.
This apparent strength of DC Comics to allow itself to be reinvented has led to excesses in the 2000s. Whereas it a few smaller reboots have occurred since the 1984 Crisis, in the 2000s, it was one crisis after the other, that tried to explain the DC Comics universe to readers and clean up house. The focus on re-engaging the reader and cleaning up its past is so ingrained in DC Comics’ genes that it’s the best way to characterizes what this company is about. Often, it makes DC Comics look like a kid that can’t stop picking up a scab that’s about to heal and did not need picking in the first place.
With the 52 experiment, DC Comics has again picked its scabs and is trying to redefine itself in a market that is changing. Instead of just launching new comics, DC Comics is doing what it does best. Reinvent itself and start everything fresh again, whether the comic book reader is willing to follow or not.
Hervé St-Louis, October 1, 2011
Sep 20, 2017 - 17:11
Bizarro Reborn Part 1
Sep 20, 2017 - 17:08
Fall of the Gods Part 3- Godspeed
Sep 20, 2017 - 17:03
This issue opens with Superman and other key members of the Justice League on the trail of Batman
Sep 20, 2017 - 16:16
The first story of the 25th anniversary issue is a Thelma, Louise & Louise DC style
Sep 20, 2017 - 7:33
Meanwhile, in another story...
Sep 20, 2017 - 7:30
Hooray! It's over!
Sep 20, 2017 - 7:26
Win With Quinn!
Sep 20, 2017 - 7:22
Now I want pancakes
Sep 16, 2017 - 21:38
Sep 15, 2017 - 11:29
Spoiler free: Superman is shocked to discover the the secret identity of Mr. Oz
Sep 15, 2017 - 11:25
Ghosts, golf and gators
Sep 15, 2017 - 11:21
The secret origin of Daphne Blake
Sep 14, 2017 - 8:59
Mister Miracle, leading the combat against Apocalypse on behalf Orion, the new Highfather
Sep 13, 2017 - 23:49
Motivations are revealed, and they are not what was thought. Characters are revealed to be more than they seemed.
Sep 13, 2017 - 22:57
Race riots, black superheroes, white radicals, the turbulent 1970s...or is it the 2010s?
Sep 13, 2017 - 12:32
Ray Palmer finally gets found.
Sep 13, 2017 - 8:36
Is Nightwing really a traitor to the Titans? Warning: spoilers!
Sep 13, 2017 - 8:10
The conclusion to the Direktor Karla storyline.
Sep 12, 2017 - 20:18
Kite Man is the last man standing in the Joker’s side of the war of riddles and jokes
Sep 12, 2017 - 19:58
Defiance, Deathstroke’s team tackle a pirate ship as part of a routine operation
Sep 12, 2017 - 10:37
Lieutenant-colonel Dastardly and Captain Muttley fly into Unliklistan after a nuclear-like device exploded
Sep 9, 2017 - 10:16
Hard Travelling Hero Part 5 - Constellation of Fear
Sep 9, 2017 - 10:12
Sep 9, 2017 - 10:08
Sep 8, 2017 - 11:14
Lots of weird $#!+ happens.
Sep 8, 2017 - 11:03
The children of the Justice League deal with their parents.
Sep 8, 2017 - 9:59
Shade, the Changing Man shows up as things get really crazy for Shade, the Changing Girl.
Sep 7, 2017 - 9:55
Sep 6, 2017 - 14:07
The Green Lanterns Corps – what it is and how it came to be
Sep 6, 2017 - 14:03
the obligatory evil twin plot device
Sep 5, 2017 - 20:48
A bloody good start to a new arc.
Sep 2, 2017 - 16:55
@DCComics presents Dark Knights: Metal #1, the event series created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo that reveals the "Dark Multiverse."
Sep 1, 2017 - 11:20
The First Ally Part 4
Sep 1, 2017 - 11:09
Heart of the Amazon Part 4
Sep 1, 2017 - 9:09
Darkseid deals with rebellious kids, and an OMAC story.
Aug 30, 2017 - 9:22
Can Shilo Norman escape from the Black Racer?
Aug 30, 2017 - 9:18
Continuing the adventure in the Microverse.
Aug 30, 2017 - 4:09
With special guest hero, Nightwing
Aug 29, 2017 - 11:06
What is the reason behind Superwoman's powers?