Sunday, February 12, 2012

DC's New 52 - A Father's Take on a Missed Opportunity

Hi Gang!  Just the new kid on the block, Patrick here with my first post as a Beaucoup Pop contributor. Since Matt, Tressa, Kerry, Justin and now Christopher and Becky seem to have lot of areas of geekery covered, I wanted to add something a little bit different to the mix.  I am a dad and thought that some of my contributions may a bit of a parental slant to them when it comes to pop media.  Before you get too worried, I am not going to go into all the reasons that Steve is FAR superior to Joe on Blue's Clues - thank God my kids are past that age and you all already know this anyway - but my kids are six years old and are on the cusp of discovering a lot of cool new worlds through television, movies, games, books, comics, and music and I thought it might be fun to look at some aspects of the current culture that is going to be shaping what my kids experience and try to make it interesting for all of us.  If I succeed, then all the better and if I fail, well...then I can produce sonnets about how dreamy Fassbender is...cause you know...he really is.  Let's get to it!

DC's New 52.  I know, I has been talked to death, but as we are looking at the first casualties of DC's ambitious relaunch of most of it's integrated, main universe it has given them an opportunity to explore new books and give us new and exciting areas of the DC universe to explore.  Well...maybe not so much.  See, my kids love super heroes.  Batman, Spider-man, X-Men, Avengers, Wonder Woman...the list goes on and on.  I was hoping that with the New 52, there would be hope that DC would put into play a title or two that would appeal to a younger audience.  I am not talking DC Kids stories here, I am talking full on main universe stories that mattered, just written a little less dark and mature that I wouldn't be afraid to give my kids and would be a good gateway into a larger universe. A Robin book where he deals with growing up in the shadow of Batman or a Teen Titan's book where the characters actually act like teens or even a Batgirl book that was heavy on the "girl" part of that.  No such luck, I am afraid. 

Every title in the New 52 is rated T or T+.  That means ages twelve and up.  Not an E in the bunch.  I know, I know...DC, and Marvel for that matter, have books that are geared toward young readers and that is all fine and good, but I ask you this: How many of us current comic readers started out reading comics because of Spider-man Adventures or Tiny Titans?  Most of us started reading mainstream lines with big stories that mattered and made us hunger for more of the same.  Love it or hate it, a lot of us grew up in the age or the Comics Code.  I know the Comics Code was a bad thing for many reasons, but you have to admit that it kept a lot of sex and violence in check that we now see today in mainstream books. I am not saying that sex and violence is a bad thing - it has it's place and you only have to read the trade reviews that I do in order to see that I expose myself to a lot of both, but it just might be too much for one of my six-year-olds who want to look at one of my superhero books. I mean there is a book with "Teen" in the title within the New 52 that is definitely not at all geared toward the younger age set.  What would be the harm in DC taking say four of the New 52, making them all E rated books and planting them firmly in the DC universe proper?  And, to go a step further, drop those book costs by a dollar.  I know it sounds crazy, but I think it would have an impact.  You would have four books that any parent would not mind picking up for their kid (they could be released one a week to keep the kids coming back every week) and would be a bargain at the price.  And the best part? They are in continuity.  No watered down storylines.  No irrelevant information.  No "wasted" time reading something that the "big kids" didn't care about.

So, how about it DC?  Next time some more books are on the chopping block (we are going to miss ya Static Shock and OMAC), why not go crazy and replace them with something for younger readers that matters in the sense of continuity.  You might be surprised with the numbers you get and if it does tank you can point a finger and tell me that you told me so.  Either way, what have you got to lose and think of all that would have to gain if it works.  I mean, you are already in the mind set to take some chances...why not take a chance on the kids?  Think about it.


Christopher John (@Christopher2814) said...

Hey Patrick! It's a shame that DC and Marvel have relegated their all ages titles to separate lines, i.e. Johnny DC or Marvel Adventures. There is no reason why the main titles of the DC proper can't be all ages.

I remember Darwyn Cooke being interviewed after the DVD release of New Frontier and he basically said that there's no excuse for a book like Superman being off limits to kids. If you can't write a story that appeals to all readers you are doing something wrong. Coupled with the fact that I don't believe these characters are really built for mature stories. But that's a different argument for another time.

One of the problems is that Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen came out with gritty, adult themes, and they were immensely successful. So the suits being who they are said: "Well that made money. Let's keep doing it!" And we've been stuck with one kind of story for over 25 years. It's time to shake things up.

Mark said...

Hey Patrick, great first post! I really agree with how you're looking at things from a parental point of view, and that the new 52 really are not (for me at least) 7 year old friendly. I'm really not cool with him reading any of the new Batman titles (not to say the titles are not good, they are some of my favorites).

The Superman titles I'd be more inclined to let him check out but even then its not something I'd prefer him to read and thats a shame because it really takes away from what we can look at together as he starts to get into comics.

I have let him get some of the older Spiderman, Captain America big black and white books where its a ton of issues together and he likes them, however in some pages, the same problem persists. I think this is where its a great opportunity to make sure the kiddos know that its a story, and not real and that its not ok to go around smacking people with a big star shield or whatnot.

Patrick Ballard said...

Thank you guys! I really appreciate you taking the time to read me. Very insightful too. Incidently, my wife bought my son a blind pack of comics at the dollar tree and it had a Thing trading card and a copy of Negation and The Nam in it. He just looked at us both oddly...

Post a Comment

Hello Poppers!