May 3, 2007

End of the Road

Originally uploaded by Gordon D.
It was an experiment that had not been conducted since...well, Action Comics Weekly so many years ago. This week, the final issue of 52 came out. Many others in the comics blogosphere have been commenting on it, and since I'm a big bandwagon jumper, I might as well put in my two cents.

Thanks to a recent acquisition of a Chicago Public Library card, I found myself reading No Plot? No Problem!, the book which serves as a Bible for NaNoWriMo. (Yes, I'm considering doing it again, why do you ask?). As Chris Baty described the process of writing a novel in 30 days - the confident beginning, the what-did-I-get-myself-into doubts of the middle, and the mad burst of creativity towards the end, I realized that....

...well, 52, at worst, was a Nanowrimo project stretched out over a year.

As an experiment, sales wise it seemed to be a success - however, creatively it was an extremely mixed bag. We'll forgo WWIII, which I've talked about before (and didn't like), but let's look at the various plot lines that occurred:
  • The Question/Renee Montoya storyline - probably my favorite of all of them. It dealt with a hero willingly turning over his "legacy"; mortality in the DC Universe; and best of all - it made me want to seek out some Gotham Central trades. Superheroing as self-discovery? I'm in.
  • Ralph Dibney/Fate - I've never really been into magic/fantasy stories, but this grabbed me. I just felt that if they had to put such a cool character through all that to make him cooler and less "geeky"....then he deserved to stay "geeky".
  • Luther and the Everyman Project - could have easily been a separate mini-series. Mostly it seemed to be rehashing the main theme of Kingdom Come. Although it gave Steel some good face time, personally...I'd rather he have his own book again. Part of the saggy "middle".
  • Black Adam - ok, so he became heroic, and then his dying wife engaged in the cliche now-that-I'm-dying-my-personality-turns-180-degrees. Then, it leads into WW III. Again, part of the saggy middle/rush to the end.
  • Booster/Supernova - It started well, but the final issue? Well, remember how I mentioned that the last week of Nanowrimo (according to Chris Baty) is usually a rush towards the end. The final issue had some of that, as if to say, "[Expletive]! We have some unresolved plot points we need to handle!"
  • The return of the multiverse - I'm not too enthused about it, but nor am I too pessimistic about it. After all, what do you think the next weekly series Countdown is going to be "counting down" to?
Personally, I wish DC had held back from doing another weekly series so soon - yes, Countdown is going to be better plotted and have more coordination (a lesson learned from 52), but personally, I'm burned out from having to pick up a weekly comic. It's not that it was so horrible - I just like knowing that there's a bit of a break between issues. Giving the reader a chance to catch his/her breath is a good thing.

Although I'll be checking out the initial Countdown issues, I doubt I'm going to be into it over the long haul. But at the very least, 52 proved that it could be done.

I just wish it had been done better the first time.

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