Saturday, January 28, 2012

Analysis: Superman/Superboy/Supergirl: The First New 52 Crossover


Superman/Superboy/Supergirl: DC's first New 52 Crossover

A few days ago, DC editor Matt Idelson announced the New 52's first crossover event. Citing hints in Action Comics and Superman in upcoming months, Idelson explained that this crossover would deal with the Superman family of characters. He continued on to say that Superman hasn't yet met Superboy in this reality, and that the Man of Steel's relationship with Supergirl hasn't been the most pleasant thus far. Seeing how these characters interact will be the main focus of the crossover, concluded Idelson in his comments.

In June, it will have only been 10 months since the New 52 relaunch with six titles already cancelled and replaced with six new books. Obviously, DC isn't looking to drag anything out, and letting sleeping dogs lie is not on the itinerary; unpopular books should be axed, a crossover would be neat, and new titles need to be introduced to keep attention on the New 52.

But is there a real need for a crossover event so early on? Reading reviews from several other sites has yielded a common desire from many journalists: more cohesiveness between titles. The main reason given - a good reason - is that this new DC universe has started to feel fractured, like no events in one book truly affect those in another. And while various titles have somewhat produced said cohesion (see Justice League Dark and I, Vampire), it's a far cry from the tightly-knit world that once existed.

But to be fair, isn't that one of the reasons DC decided to re-launch it's entire line in the first place? Part of what made it difficult to dive into comic books (as a new reader) was the sheer amount of history littered throughout regular narratives. Hardcore fans loved the winks, nods and hat tips to previous events, new audiences found it near-impossible to break the think ice of continuity. Re-launching 52 titles was an effort to clear up the muck of historical cohesion that drove away potential new readers. It feels almost like a step backwards to introduce a major crossover event so soon into the life of the New 52, some titles of which will only be two months old when the event starts.

Though, the idea behind a crossover event to establish the Superman family is a good one. In the past, DC had the time to slowly introduce Supergirl (multiple times over the decades) before eventually getting around to Superboy, which also took a long time. Since all four titles (including Action Comics) that will be included in the event premiered at the same time, DC needed a way to bring these three characters, who all share the same insignia, together to be the surrogate family each one of them needs. This event could go very well. If DC sticks to only including Superman-related books in it's 'tie-in' scope, as well as keeping it simple and fun, it will be success. If they expect me to buy Justice League Dark or Catwoman, it will be a disaster.

Readers who jumped in when the relaunch started in September have decided which books they read. It's not unreasonable to ask said readers to pick up Superman-related titles if they'd like to understand the relationship between Superman-related characters. And honestly, most people who are reading Superman and Action Comics are probably reading Superboy and Supergirl anyway. These new audiences are in a fragile spot right about now. Justice League #5, arguably the most popular title of the relaunch, was the first of the New 52 titles to be delayed, something that may not sit well with new buyers. And if, come summer, they're asked to pick up issues not on their list at the local comic shop, they won't. It's as simple as that. Comic books are a luxury many cannot afford (especially in this economy) and buying extra books for a possible single-panel shout out to the real event isn't something many people are likely to do. And, some might feel alienated by the prospect of having to buy other books to understand what's going on in Superman, a book they actually read.

So, DC, you have a chance to do things right this time around. Please, please don't screw this up.

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