With Convergence, aka Atlas Moving Vans, now rolling out in the DCU and the New 24 about to launch, several websites have taken a look back at The New 52, which launched in September of 2011 and super-charged the comics industry. As I’ve written several times before, the pr for the New 52 immediately lifted the entire comics industry with more customers coming into stores and finding a lot of new comics to read. Call it the Millennial Rush. The debut of Saga #1 six months later hooked those who were just nibbling and he rest is history: record breaking sales.
While the New 52 was a commercial success, the books themselves were a mixed bag. The entire initiative was put together so quickly that a lot of books ended up being “beauty pageants” where several writers pitched at the same time, and some of them even thought they had the gig until the very last second. People were butthurt right from the gitgo. While the number of books — yes, 52 — remained steady for quite a while, the creative teams soon started resembling a game of beach blanket bingo, people came and went with revolving door frequency and sales generally stayed on a “general attrition” trajectory.
But there’s no denying that the New 52 was the most successful and audacious launch of the “modern” comics era…whatever you call that. (Definitions in the comments are welcome.) Or at least since the Ultimate line.
There were 68 titles; 20 of them lasted all 40 issues; 12 of them will make it past Convergence. (Titles with an asterisk are the ones moving on to the Nü DC:) Action Comics*, Aquaman*, Batgirl*, Batman*, Batman and Robin, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman*, Detective Comics*, The Flash*, Green Arrow*, Green Lantern*, Justice League*, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Red Lanterns, Suicide Squad, Supergirl, Superman,* Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman*.
As you can see the titles that made it are the titles you’d expect in the core DC line. Surely no one expected to see Red Hood and the Outlaws make it to the 52 finish line, but then the New 52 saw many strange things, like the resurgence of Scott Lobdell’s writing career, a brief resurgence for Rob Liefeld’s writing career, and scores of foreign artists with hard to spell names filling in all over the place.
A couple of sites have more in depth looks at the legacy. Steve Foxe at Paste magazine has a Talking Dead-style In Loving Memory: All 68 DC Comics That Have Come and Gone Within the New 52 slideshow with EVERY WRITER AND ARTIST that worked on the books. God bless.
The New 52, for all of its initial commercial success, has often had a rocky relationship with critics as well as longtime fans up in arms over changes to decades-old characters. Nearly four years after its debut, DC is using its cross-country corporate move to Burbank, California as an opportunity to officially end the New 52 banner and do another reshuffling, wrapping up all but 25 of its current ongoing titles and debuting 24 new series in June once the Convergence crossover wraps up.
In its 30 issue run, Suicide Squad had 4 writers and 16 artists.
Harass also notes:
In this climate, it’s hard to look at the fact that only 12 of the original 52 survived and say that there’s anything wrong with that number. It’s not like DC is a failure. Books just get cancelled more often now. I’d be interested to see how many Marvel series that were going when the New 52 started are still running. We’re just seeing shorter volumes these days.
Which is a good equalizer. The bottom line on the new 52 will be for history to judge, but it will be no surprise to say that the books that were the best has the most steady art teams—Batman and Wonder Woman most notably. There may have been laughable moments and questionable editorial decisions, but for many new comics readers, The New 52 will forever be what got them hooked. Its legacy will live on.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.