DC Comics brings new look to superheroes

New Look DC Comics recently relaunched their superhero comics with a brand new look.

Sam Sayler / Washburn Review

A new age of wonder is ready to dawn on the world as masked mystery men and fierce femme fatales prepare to fight for truth and justice.

On Aug. 31, DC Comics re-launched its entire line of superhero comics, starting with the company’s flagship title “Justice League,” with 51 subsequent new books following throughout September, dubbed “the New 52.”

The new comics feature updated origins for the characters and streamlined continuity to help new readers as well as costumes redesigned primarily by DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee

“Overall, it’s a ballsy move,” said Chris Stiles of Gatekeeper Hobbies in Topeka.

Initially, the re-launch seems to be positive for gaining ground in comics as “Justice League” #1 has received over 200,000 preorders when the top comics each month struggle for 100,000, but whether or not the success continues remains to be seen.

“We’ll see what happens when they make their second role in October,” said Jim Guinotte, another Gatekeeper worker. “It’s exciting. I’m wondering if anybody else is going to step up to the plate, which will be an interesting prospect.”

Stiles and Guinotte have interest in established books like “Action Comics” starring Superman and “Green Lantern” and offbeat new titles such as “Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE” and “Resurrection Man.” Outside the basic cape books, the New 52 features westerns, horror, war, and espionage to help gain new readers.

While much hype and excitement have been made, there is still controversy from fans regarding changes in continuity, namely the dissolution of Superman’s marriage to Lois Lane.

“It seems like a change for the sake of changing it,” said Stiles. “I don’t know that necessarily good stories can come out of it, but there’s no way to know for 2-3 weeks, until we actually see the issues.”

After years of trailing their main competitor Marvel, the New 52 seems like a DC’s best shot at becoming the top comics publisher in America.

“Sitting in the second or third spot with characters with more longevity, that’s rough,” said Stiles.

Stiles and Guinotte believe the re-launch is a clear way to entice people who have been curious about reading comics, but have been deterred by the years of continuity.

“It’s daunting to step into “Batman” at 617,” said Guinotte.  “This is the 1st time DC has given you, especially with established characters, a clear jumping-on point, and DC decided to put all their money on the table with this restart.  It’s one of the reasons it’s paying off, and it’s one of the reasons they saw that they had to do it.”

Fans have been most vocal about the costume redesigns for the New 52.  Characters like Superman and Batman no longer have their trunks and many characters now have high collars while the traditional tights inspired by 1930s circus strongmen have been replaced with modern stylized body armor.

“I don’t think Superman, an invulnerable character, needs body armor,” said Guinotte.  “There are definitely areas where the costumes really do make sense. Like with Flash, if you’re running at 500mph, I’d want a little more body armor in case I tripped.”

The cosmetic change in the comics may reflect the appearances in other media, such as the recent “Green Lantern” film the upcoming “Batman: Arkham City” video game.

“They’re definitely showing you it’s not DC comic books anymore,” said Guinotte. “It’s DC Entertainment.”

Though not altogether appreciated, the new costumes have been mostly accepted, but there is still some contention in that regard.

“The biggest thing I don’t like is that the Teen Titans look like backup dancers for Britney Spears,” said Guinotte.  “I think one of our customers said it best when he said Superboy looks like a bouncer for a ‘70s night club.”

According to Guinotte and Stiles, the loudest outcry has been from older customers and fans, but Washburn junior Clay Huerter also has reservation toward the reboot.

“I think they have good storylines and good ideas, but nothing’s going to be as good as the original,” said Huerter.

Huerter also keeps to the school of thought that the original is better as it pertains to the new costumes, especially Superman wearing armor in his eponymous title and an everyman’s t-shirt and jeans in “Action Comics,” set in the character’s past.

“I like the classics a lot better and I think it’s unnecessary,” said Huerter. “At first, I liked the Superman [‘Action Comics’ costume], but then I realized that he’s going to wear the pants all the time.”

Huerter may be down on the looks of his favorite heroes, but still has his curiosity piqued for the villains’ new looks.  However, he still has no plans to continue collecting “Action Comics.”