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 26, 2018 - 6:06
A little judicious editing would be in order
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:57
Picking up LONG AFTER where we left off
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:54
The new Scarecrow
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:51
Batgirl is back in Gotham
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:44
Looney is as Looney does
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:38
Scooby shows a bunch of simians who is top dog
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:33
Bendis takes on Batman
Sep 26, 2018 - 5:03
What a non-surprise...
Sep 23, 2018 - 13:23
John Constantine and other mystical figures assist Batman in his quest for the truth
Sep 23, 2018 - 12:05
Baby Miracle meets granddaddy Darkseid.
Sep 23, 2018 - 11:34
Nightwing and Batman continue to jump across the rooftops of Gotham City
Sep 23, 2018 - 10:21
Lord Satanis is about to detonate a bomb that will destroy all of Atlantis and only Dolphin and Master Jailer stand in his way.
Sep 20, 2018 - 19:16
The Legion of Doom recruit a new member.
Sep 20, 2018 - 8:39
The Flash now has the strength force in him
Sep 20, 2018 - 8:38
Carter Hall visits his past self on Thanagar and sees Katar Hol, the Hawkman of Thanagar.
Sep 19, 2018 - 21:38
Mister Miracle and Big Barda invade New Genesis to confront Orion who wants the former dead.
Sep 19, 2018 - 21:32
Scott Free and Big Barda spend one last day together before he is executed by Orion the new Highfather of New Genesis
Sep 19, 2018 - 21:26
Damien gets a romantic interest.
Sep 19, 2018 - 5:48
How can our heroes be so dumb?!
Sep 19, 2018 - 4:55
Nightwing's in it to win it
Sep 19, 2018 - 4:52
I get it now!
Sep 19, 2018 - 4:00
Harley turns 50!
Sep 18, 2018 - 14:49
A new house enters the Dreaming.
Sep 13, 2018 - 21:49
The Suicide Squad fight each other as Mera escalates the situation.
Sep 13, 2018 - 21:47
Supergirl heads to Mogo.
Sep 13, 2018 - 21:44
Nightwing and Miss Martian get pulled into the tv.
Sep 13, 2018 - 21:41
The Infinite Woman vs the Immortal Men.
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:56
Plas is pissed – and for good reason
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:49
Welcome to the new Red Hood
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:27
Justice League, starring Wonder Woman
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:25
Drop dead, Fred
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:21
Bendis taps into DC rich history
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:08
A deal to be had at WalMart...
Sep 12, 2018 - 5:02
Batman needs a shave (among other things)
Sep 11, 2018 - 22:22
Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson explore their relationship thanks to the intervention on the Condiment King
Sep 11, 2018 - 22:14
Batman and Deathstroke fight in the Batcave locked away from everything everyone until they decide or admit who Robin’s father
Sep 11, 2018 - 17:44
Firebrand and Neon deal with the Huntress.
Sep 8, 2018 - 11:02
Defeating the Legion of Doom.
Sep 8, 2018 - 11:00
Learning about little Luthor's plans.