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
Feb 24, 2017 - 10:24
Batwoman off to a rocky start
Feb 24, 2017 - 10:21
The fate of Bruce Wayne is revealed!
Feb 24, 2017 - 8:26
Some of the remaining followers are rebelling and seek to stop the crazy recluse business man Larry Ferrell @Robwilliams71
Feb 23, 2017 - 16:37
Cave Carson needs back-up, and WildDog aint cutting it.
Feb 22, 2017 - 13:22
Superman. Clark Kent. World of difference.
Feb 22, 2017 - 13:18
Will the alliance between Green and Yellow collapse before it starts?
Feb 22, 2017 - 9:00
The new Justice League of America have to deal with the new Extremists.
Feb 22, 2017 - 8:52
Amanda Waller is dead and buried in Suicide Squad #12.
Feb 22, 2017 - 8:49
The Flash's battle against the Rogues comes to a close, and one of the villains decides the time has come to kill the speedster.
Feb 22, 2017 - 8:45
No good new for Jaime Reyes in the latest issue of Blue Beetle, but that just makes for a good story.
Feb 22, 2017 - 8:43
Peter Tomasi and Neal Adams handle the second part of the Kamandi Challenge with superb art and a great story, full of guest shots and teases.
Feb 22, 2017 - 8:19
The Teen Titans stand alongside Robin to face the League of Assassins.
Feb 21, 2017 - 16:55
A hero falls (in love)
Feb 21, 2017 - 16:29
Fear attracts the fearful...
Feb 21, 2017 - 15:56
Green Arrow is losing friends fast. Maybe it's time for a reunion
Feb 21, 2017 - 15:26
Harley's gonna need A LOT of bug spray...
Feb 21, 2017 - 7:48
Raven is fighting the white burst of light that absorbs young people with emotional pain
Feb 20, 2017 - 13:11
This is a classic team up comic where the two factions meet and fight one another!
Feb 17, 2017 - 17:07
This issue is trying hard to go for a “Stranger Things”, 1980s nostalgia vibe.
Feb 17, 2017 - 14:15
After getting his butt handed to him by Batman, Bane is coming to Gotham looking for revenge.
Feb 17, 2017 - 8:04
The Birds of Prey fight the Zodiac Master who is predicting crimes that he intends to carry on
Feb 17, 2017 - 0:42
Supergirl’s daddy, the new cyborg Superman, wants to resurrect the Kryptonian city of Argo.
Feb 16, 2017 - 17:35
Richard Kadrey introduces a background for his new character and introduces a myriad of new plot threads.
Feb 16, 2017 - 8:54
I think that The Wild Storm is a reboot of the Wild Storm universe but it may not include Midnighter and Apollo
Feb 15, 2017 - 15:48
New Super-Man finds direction under his new teacher, and Bat-Man encounters a new, and surprising foe.
Feb 15, 2017 - 14:09
During the Lunar New Year break, the team faces some coming of age challenges.
Feb 15, 2017 - 7:50
This issue reminded me of the first fight between Aquaman and the NKVDemon
Feb 15, 2017 - 7:46
The Spirits of Evil having destroyed the kingdom of EterniaThe Spirits of Evil having destroyed the kingdom of Eternia
Feb 15, 2017 - 7:40
Robin and Superboy blast into their own series with a great debut issue.
Feb 15, 2017 - 7:34
Mongul gets free, and into Clark Kent's body, while the heroes are trapped with White Mercy as the first storyline concludes.
Feb 14, 2017 - 7:33
Deimos and Phobos the sons of Ares blackmail business woman Veronica Cale
Feb 13, 2017 - 11:34
The Red Lion rescues Deathstroke from the superhuman prison.
Feb 12, 2017 - 15:32
A dialogue-heavy JLA tale, largely taking place within a Canadian crater.
Feb 12, 2017 - 14:53
This oversized anniversary special is in top form.
Feb 12, 2017 - 14:17
Batman brings together a new Justice League, one that looks to herald a return to some of the great days of the team.
Feb 12, 2017 - 9:42
Superwoman was warned. Superwoman was given an explanation. Nevertheless, Superwoman persisted.
Feb 12, 2017 - 9:36
The Squad gets some time off, and Amanda has a significant encounter in this issue.
Feb 11, 2017 - 15:36
There is a big death scene in Earth 2 Society #21. The question is, will anyone care by the time it's reached?
Feb 11, 2017 - 11:29
Megan comes to get her body back from Shade.