Top o' the Lot: The Best of The New 52
From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.
It doesn’t seem like that very long ago at all that DC Comics announced their plans to relaunch every single title in their comic book line. Despite those feelings, however, the New 52 is, in fact, ending, and we’re taking a look back at the best books that were part of the initial launch of the moniker. DC threw its best and brightest characters and talent at readers, and while a lot of it ended up in the dumper, a few brilliant stars shined through the fog of crap. So, without further ado, we love good writing, adore quality artwork, and are really going to miss that logo, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: The Best of the New 52.
Honorable Mention: Constantine
Alright, Constantine was not a great book, and Justice League Dark was just okay. But Constantine was certainly a highpoint of the New 52 simply because he was there. The chain-smoking, trench coat wearing occultist was one of the most liked DC characters not actually in the DC Universe, and bringing him into the DCU proper was genius. If the follow through would have been better handled the title would be a bit further up on this list, and I’m still not sure if that says more about how great Constantine is as a character, or just how mediocre most of DC’s New 52 launch titles were.
5. Swamp Thing
This Top o’ the Lot is full of some great creative runs, but not so much this one. While Swamp Thing will go down as a great creative achievement for writer Charles Soule, it will be quickly forgotten that Mr. Batman himself Scott Snyder wrote the first 12+ issues. It’s not that Snyder’s work on this was bad, but it will be eclipsed by both his work on Batman and Soule’s incredible work with the character. With Soule at Marvel exclusively this title will go down as a bigger success for the writer than the character, but it’s still a really bright gem in the New 52 pile.
4. Animal Man
As far as creative runs for characters go, Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman on the 32 issues (with annuals and #0) of Animal Man is easily the most entertaining New 52 book that was cancelled. And there were a lot of cancelled New 52 books along the way. Lemire had a lot more story to tell, even moving the character to his team book Justice League United, and it’s a shame we couldn’t see more. If we had Animal Man would be higher in this Lot, but it wasn’t, and it’s not.
Yes, Aquaman! Of all of the New 52 titles announced prior to the launch, this was the one everyone was the most apprehensive about. It was Aquaman, for goodness sake! He had been reduced to a laughing stock in most cases. But the creative team of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis was so promising, and it paid off really, really well. Aquaman was finally cool again, redeemed of all past transgressions. The character was truly changed for the better for the foreseeable future. There was even a spinoff, but it just didn’t stay good throughout. That puts it at #3 on this Lot.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done a whole lot of amazing things with Batman in the New 52. Court of Owls, Zero Year, and End Game are only the crowning achievements of this run, and the creative team was able to pull off something that is very difficult to do in comics. They changed many facets of Batman’s backstory in very entertaining ways, but did so without removing the character from his much beloved history. They found room in-between the gaps of previous stories, and oozed smoothly into the crevices of Bat-story (Batman-History). It was great, continues to be great, but it didn’t completely change a top-tier character and come out as shiny as the tippy Top o’ this Lot.
1. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman used to be an Amazonian; a really strong and awesome female warrior who hung out with gods, but was not herself a god. All that changed in the New 52, and writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang took a dramatic approach to an immensely popular character, taking Wonder Woman’s origin story to godly levels, and it was easily one of the best reads from DC each and every month. It’s incredibly difficult to change a character’s origin in a way that doesn’t seem forced, and it had to be even more daunting to a creative team doing so to a character as beloved and important as Wonder Woman. This will forever be THE version of the character that we see in comics, TV, and, most importantly, the big screen, and that’s a huge deal.
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