Panel Bashing: The New 52 review

Superman in jeans, a beardless Green Arrow and a lot of tired staff – but will DC’s initiative work?

Today was a day that comic fans across the land temporarily threw off their capes of pure cynicism and stepped out into the bright new dawn that is DC’s New 52. Wherever you stand on DC’s latest throw of the dice, you’ve got to admit that today, it felt good to be a comic book fan. Why? It’s simple really: the shops were busy, readers and staff alike were excited, comics were flying off the shelves at an alarming rate, and the majority of the new titles were good enough to justify all the excitement.

Maybe it’s because Superman has finally bowed to Earth-based clothing convention, put his pants away and slung on a pair of comfy looking jeans. Imagine all those years without pockets. It must be a revelation to Krypton’s lost son. He now owns an item of clothing that can both hold stuff when your hands are tied up with superhero business, and look good at the same time. The new Supes in Action Comics is in fact a bit of a dude all round, and it’s not just because of his incredibly late introduction to denim. A corporation-bashing man of the people who can once more jump rather than fly and is more than happy to scare the living bejesus out of some jumped up big-wig if it means getting the job done, he’s incredibly likeable and refreshingly erratic, running around the place with wild abandon. Lovely. Clark Kent looks nothing like Superman now, which is a nice change (he’s instead opted for the hobo Harry Potter look) and things really do feel all shiny and new. Top marks to Grant Morrison on that one.

Elsewhere, there’s plenty more to absorb. Oliver Queen has revealed the bottom of his face, a refreshingly forward thinking move for a man still using a bow and arrow in 2011. Here’s hoping it does the job and lures in all those Smallville fans shortly to be bereft of any new action. There were some tremendous surprises among today’s releases – Animal Man for example, which we picked up on something of a whim only to find it the most visceral and intriguing story of the lot – and while not everything was amazing, there’s no denying it’s a pretty tasty spread that DC has put on.

A victory, then, at least on the day, and one that DC should be proud of. It took a gamble, and it appears to have paid off. If the reputable man behind the counter of our local comic shop is to be believed (and he is, the man’s a saint), today saw regulars and a few faces not seen for some time return to the fold, as well as a significant number of never-before encountered customers. That’s right, new comic fans. Could it be? Are these wide-eyed newcomers really going to stick it out, or are they simply opportunists eying up all those shiny #1’s in the hope that in a few years they’ll turn a few quid?

Maybe, but let’s stick with today’s theme of optimism and say ‘hopefully not’. Of course, there’s every chance that today could prove to be nothing more than a short-term shot in the arm for DC’s sales. Even with all the midnight openings and early morning rushes, there’s no denying that things aren’t like they used to be round these parts, and it’ll be some time before the full impact of today’s activities can be fully comprehended. But for now, DC must be pretty pleased for itself, just like all those folk sat at home clutching those fresh new #1’s. Well done DC; here’s hoping a bit of momentum can be sustained from today and all that good feeling doesn’t fade away as quickly as it arrived.

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