Down & Out in the New 52

A column article, Kate Or Die by: Kate Leth

And so, it begins.

It's two weeks (three, forgive me -- I forget about Justice League) into the DC relaunch at ye olde comic shoppe, and it's been a whirlwind. The only topic of conversation for most customers, it seems everyone's got an opinion one way or another. Some who expected great things from the New 52 have expressed disappointment, others who barely gave it a passing thought have already signed up for weekly accounts. We've seen a few people make a stand that they'll "never buy a DC comic again!" just as we've seen a number of newcomers who've never bought a DC comic in their lives picking up titles. Whether the relaunch is going to work on all levels or not is still up for debate, but they've succeeded on one - they've got everyone talking.

They've got everyone buying, too. Some issues are going into second and third printings already, and many titles are selling out the day they hit the shelves. It's fun to see from behind the counter; I've been working at the shop a little over a year and I've never seen so much buzz about comics. Good, bad, indignant or indifferent, folks are coming out of the woodwork to see what's what.

And speaking of indifferent...

I was excited for Batgirl. I love Batgirl: Year One and I've always been a fan of Babs when she shows up in Batman books, so I was really looking forward to this series. Of course, you can't tell how something will end up from its inaugural issue, but I didn't get the feeling I was hoping for. It seems as though many people felt that way. I was hoping it would be something fun to give to girls interested in picking up one of the 52 titles, but it wasn't, not really. I only recently got into the Bryan Q Miller Batgirl run (the first two softcover collections so far) and loved how lighthearted and adventurous it was. This new Batgirl suffers a bit from the "dark and gritty" trend that Bat-titles always feel the need to embrace. Maybe it'll pick up, but I'm not biting my nails in anticipation of issue #2.

What I am excited for, however, are the next issues of Swamp Thing and Animal Man. If you're a comic buff, it's not news that those two have been pretty well-received, but as an amateur/intermediate comic reader, it certainly was for me! I've never read a Swamp Thing or Animal Man book and have no connection to the characters, but I loved those two issues. The art and stories were both fun, interesting, spooky and weird. Resurrected zombie animals and creepy plant creatures? Yeah, I can get down with that.

I wouldn't have picked either of them up without the recommendation from my freakishly knowledgeable boss, since they're very much outside of my realm of familiarity, but I loved them. In this way, too, DC has succeeded. I've already borrowed the first volume of Swamp Thing from said boss and am eager for more, mostly to understand what the heck was going on with the title character. The relaunch has already gotten me into two new comics with a massive backlog of books to potentially purchase. Yeah, Batgirl was a miss, but there's gold in them thar hills.

Then, of course, there's Batwoman.

Oh geez.

Batwoman: Elegy was one of the first books I picked up when I started working at the shop. I fell in love pretty much right away. It could be narcissism (Batwoman, in her off-hours, is a redheaded, tattooed queer named Kate) or it could be the art (J H Williams III and Dave Stewart are an absolute dream team and you should check out their work on Promethea, even though I could never understand it) or it could be the character (Kate Kate is ex-military who is relieved as a result of the now-defunct Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and turns to badass vigilantism). Whatever it is, Batwoman: Elegy rocked my socks and I was champing at the bit for the ongoing series to start.

So I waited. And waited. I waited through teases and solicitations in Previews and sample pages and appearances in Batman Incorporated. I waited through issue 0. Nearly a year later, she came home with me. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait. The art is amazing. The story is creepy and cool. The panel layouts, dear god, the PANEL LAYOUTS. If I can churn out work a tenth as good in my lifetime, I'll die a happy girl.

Overenthusiastic? Maybe! Deserved? Absolutely.

Three weeks in, and I'm three monthly comics ahead of what I was in August. We've still got a couple more to go, and with nothing but Justice League Dark on my checklist and an open mind, I'm looking forward to it. Surprise me, DC! I'm ready for you to woo me, $2.99 at a time.

Kate's Happy Comics Dance

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