I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The New DCU: August 31, 2011 - A Simulblog

The following is a simulblog with Chad P. of Political Jesus, Josh Toulouse of Fat Train, and Arthur of Arthur the Lesser. You ought to be forewarned: there will be spoilers.

Chad's article, "Savage Nerdery: The New Genesis of DC Comics, A Simulblog," can be found here.

Josh's article, "The New DCU: August 31, 2011, A Simulblog," can be found here.

And Arthur's article, "Why I Can't Simulblog," can be found here.

In the scheme of things, I don't know much about the old DC universe. And maybe that means that this new DCU was created for me. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for the influence of Josh Toulouse, Arthur, Amy Bolan and Chad P., I'd probably still be shouting out, "Make mine Marvel" and reading every single X-Men-based comic since 1963. (I've made it all the way to the last months of 1988. That's 25 years of comics.) Since I'm not exactly the oldest supporter of DC comics, I thought I'd lay it all out for you. I've read select Batman stories from 1987's Batman: Year One to 1993's Batman: Knightfall, select Green Lantern stories from the destruction of Coast City in the 1990s to the last few comics before Blackest Night, some stand-alone stories like Elseworld Batman tales and All-Star Superman, and I've been present for several conversations regarding the DCU. The only thing I know about Flash or Wonder Woman is what I learn in cross-overs like Final Crisis. I am a noob to the DCU, and this is the perspective that I am bringing to this simulblog series.

I believe that it is significant that Justice League #1 is the first comic book to be released in the new DCU. With a release date of August 31, 2011, it is the only comic book of the new 52 that doesn't have a September release. Furthermore, its permanent spot on the release schedule is the third week, with Justice League #2 coming out on October 19, 2011. Justice League's September release came out almost a full month early. I think this points to one of the most interesting architectural changes the DCU has ever seen. Whereas the original DCU began with independent heroes isolated to their particular city and acting out independent stories with independent sets of villains only to be brought together somewhat awkwardly a couple decades later, the new DCU begins with unity. The old DCU set up its borders, whereas the new DCU begins with heroes crossing borders. Justice League #1 begins with the Green Lantern of Coast City crossing into Batman's Gotham City and it ends with both heroes crossing into Superman's Metropolis. Hal Jordan comments that the entire space sector belongs to him, but his concept of dominion is soon changed when Superman knocks him flat on his butt.

This serves as a good segue-way into a discussion of who's who in the Justice League, and what the purpose and effect of the Justice League will be in the new DCU. Already we've met Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman. (Since these three are the main characters of the first issue, does this mean that the Big Three of the old DCU, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, are about to be overthrown?) Batman is somewhat insular and brainy, and when he meets Hal Jordan he almost seems as if he's something of a socially inept geek. Of course, he wows Green Lantern by his crime-fighting prowess despite his lack of super powers. Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, is incredibly over-confident, and it seems clear that he has yet to be knocked down a few pegs by a truly good villain (or by Superman). Batman makes it clear that if he keeps shining his light everywhere he's going to get people killed. Some things never change. Superman is perceived as a rogue alien from Metropolis, and despite the confidence of both Batman and Green Lantern it seems to me that the two heroes are merely covering over the fact that they're kind of terrified of this Kryptonian powerhouse.

The first words that Geoff Johns writes in Justice League #1 are: "There was a time when the world didn't call them its greatest super heroes. There was a time when the world didn't know what a super-hero was." Clearly, by "them" Johns intends to name the Justice League. One is lead to believe that the time when the world didn't value or know of super-heroes includes the events of this issue, which happened five years ago. Not only were the members of the Justice League unknown; they were downright feared. The first part of the story features the Gotham City Police Department indiscriminately firing upon both Batman and the alien that he is chasing (and later Green Lantern). One officer communicates over the radio, "Is it one of them?" and is answered, "The way they're leaping twenty feet at a time? I'd say yes." This leads one to believe that the humans are scared of what in the old DCU would be called metas, individuals with super powers. (Ironically, the GCPD considers Batman "one of them," a meta.) The second part of the story features a Superman who may not stand for truth, justice and the American way, who may not have taken to heart all the simple country values of his Smallville origin and the responsibility that his powers entail. This may just be a self-serving Superman, and he may just be the reason why the world is up in arms against metas. Of course, this is only the state of events from five years ago, a dark period in the history of the new DCU perhaps, but in this same opening we are given hope. Johns suggests that the Justice League will become the greatest heroes, and perhaps just as importantly, the world will recognize them as such.

On the surface it appears that Darkseid is going to be the villain who unites the Justice League and allows them to rise to their rightful place in the new DCU. The alien that Batman tracked through his detective skills and that Green Lantern tracked with the alien-detecting device known as his Green Lantern power ring mentioned the villain before self-detonating. The alien that it took both Batman and Green Lantern to defeat was merely a minion of a higher power, the power of Darkseid. Darkseid and his army of followers are certainly a big enough threat to require the combined power of the world's heroes. Of course, this would be too simple. When the heroes duke it out in Metropolis, they do so in a demolition zone, a site that is being prepared for Lexcorp construction. The sign promises that Lexcorp is "building the city of tomorrow today." An astute reader will notice this and wonder if Lex Luthor is the true villain behind the events that will assemble the Justice League. Of course, this is a new universe: perhaps Lex Luthor is to the Justice League what Professor Charles Xavier is to the X-Men in the Marvel Universe (or what Nick Fury is to the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Overall, the new DCU appears to be focusing on subtle storytelling rather than flashy new adventures. Of course, that may just be Geoff Johns, but with Justice League as the flagship comic book, it would seem that other writers will be pushed to do the same with their titles. Not only will the new DCU be populated with new and interesting takes on characters, but it appears that a large span of time will be populated with new and interesting takes on the stories that these characters enact. Already, we have a look at what the world looks like five years ago in Justice League #1. I think we can assume that some titles will start their stories now whereas other titles might plunge back even further. We have met Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman, but we don't know how they come to be heroes. I'm not 100% certain where Johns is going with the Victor Stone/Cyborg story, but it seems interesting. It looks to me like Vic's father is spending all of his time studying metas so that his football playing son might some day walk among them as an equal. Of course, there's always that chance that Vic Stone might be transformed into Cyborg as a means of humanity fighting against the metas. Oh, and I'm sure that we'll see Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Flash at some point, too. After all, they are on the cover...

Next week, I intend to read every single new release. That means I will be reading Action Comics #1 (with Grant Morrison!), Animal Man #1, Batgirl #1 (I'm really interested to see how this one plays out), Batwing #1, Detective Comics #1, Green Arrow #1, Hawk and Dove #1, Justice League International #1, Men of War #1, O.M.A.C. #1, Static Shock #1, Storm Watch #1, and Swamp Thing #1. Of course, since I don't believe I could possibly read every DC comic for the rest of my life, I'll probably start crossing comics off the list if they don't interest me as much. Until then, however, read Chad P.'s article, "Savage Nerdery," Josh Toulouse's article, "The New DCU," and Arthur's article, "Why I Can't Simulblog."  And don't forget to leave your own opinion on the new DCU.


  1. Dude, I thought that the last page w/ Superman was EPIC! And it made me a believer in the new suit.

  2. @Chad, totally! I loved that last shot and CAN NOT WAIT for JL2

  3. This doesn't count as my blog on the first week's books, but you guys will be blown away with how awesome Animal Man is. For true.

  4. Just so everyone knows, Justice League #2 is not actually late. It has been moved to the third week. Any discussion of Justice League #2 and beyond will be added to the comment section for week two.