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  1. #1
    Master Hero Vladimir
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    Default Was the New 52 an objective mistake in regards to Superman?

    This thread is to discuss whether or not the New 52 benefitted Superman and his community, not from a creative and narrative perspective, but from a financial perspective. Basically, what I'm saying is, we can talk about whether or not the New 52 allowed Superman to sell more comics or caused financial damage to the series that Rebirth had to come in and right the ship.

    The Superman comics during the New 52 era featured a lot of creative decisions that were meant to subvert the readers' expectations; such as rebooting Superman's history to an early time in his career, turning his suit into a battle armor, undoing his relationship with Lois and killing Jonathan and Martha Kent during Clark's teenage years. This new status quo was meant to portray Superman as less Clark Kent of Kansas and more Kal-El of Krypton; a state of affairs more similar to the Silver Age. Over the course of the main books, Superman was portrayed as immature and reckless; and in Justice League, he could be an outright bully. His relationship with Wonder Woman, while enjoyable on its own merits, simply did not have the same longevity and emotional pathos as Clark/Lois; not to mention that a relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman decreased their agency and independence as protagonists of their own stories.

    I know that some of you are going to call me and others who weren't happy with the way the New 52 portrayed Superman whiny fanboys who did not get what we wanted and now we are trying to spoil the fun for everyone who did enjoy the New 52. But I'm personally not trying to ruin the New 52 for anyone. If you liked the New 52 and how Superman was portrayed during that era, that's fine. I can state my opinion on something and you neither have to like it or agree with it. That's the beauty of an opinion. I can also say that I understand why some people did enjoy the New 52 and its portrayal of Superman. It was a different story than anything we were expecting, which is the whole of point of a continuity reboot, and you get something completely different from Superman and that's great for you.

    But let's set aside our opinions and emotions aside for a moment and look at this objectively. Why was New 52 Superman so controversial? Aside from making money, one of the main goals of each and every one of these comics is to keep existing fans happy and to generate new ones. And I know some of you are laughing right now because keeping fans happy doesn't seem to be the main agenda at DC Comics these days; but in all reality, it should be their top priority because keeping fans happy doesn't just mean they'll buy and read every single one of your comics, it also means they'll buy any related merchandise over the years.

    And lately, it seems the term "fanboy" has become a negative one. Let's also keep in mind that a synonym of fanboy is "loyal customer", and when you consider some of these whiny fanboys are loyal customers that have read Superman comics and consumed Superman-related merchandise over the years and now many of them have families and jobs, which translates into disposable income and a flock of young minds that can be indoctrinated into Superman, you gotta wonder why wouldn't Warner Bros. and DC try to cater and maybe even pander to these fans to a large degree. And I'm certainly not saying that Warner and DC should always do that, that you should never try to do something new and different with Superman, but maybe disposing of decades worth of continuity and stories that defined Superman and his community in the minds of many people who want Superman's story and character development to move forward. We have to value the risk versus the reward. Did Warner and DC think that doing something completely unexpected with Superman was going to generate more fans and customers than it would cost them?

    Basically, what I'm saying here is that, when the dust settled after the New 52, did Warner and DC think they would have more Superman fans or less? Because, if they actually thought they would have less, that the continuity reboot would cost them more fans than it could possibly generate or keep, why exactly did they go for it? Why would they ever do anything that would shrink their customer base? And not only that, but enrage a good portion of them to the point where they would drop the books entirely? Because it's one thing if people just didn't like New 52 Superman very much or thought he could be better but in general are still fans and will keep reading the comics after one disappointment. It's another when fans hate the New 52 so much that they refuse to read the comics or buy any New 52-related merchandise. Warner and DC turned fans that had been emotionally invested in Superman and his community and had spent a lot of money to follow their stories and alienated them so much that they refuse to spend money on Superman-related products.

    And to be fair, there was no comic book that absolutely every single Superman fan would have been happy with and enjoyed. There were always going to be some who weren't gonna be happy with no matter what, but it didn't have to be like this. There were options that would have been far less detrimental to the entire franchise, mainly keeping the pre-Flashpoint continuity intact or modifying it to an extent that still keeps Superman's personality and relationships with his supporting cast are kept in a recognizable state for a vast majority of fans.

    And again here, I do want to reiterate that I'm all for taking some chances and shaking up the norm from time to time with Superman. Warner and DC just picked an awful and horrible way to do it. By rebooting Superman's history, they stripped away his experiences and relationships. Some fans, myself included, didn't want to wait for another 20 years just to see Clark and Lois get married again, or Superman and Batman be recognized as the World's Finest or Superman find a surviving colony of Kryptonians, or any other major event in Superman's history. I don't think DC understood the kind of backlash they would face from Superman fans thanks to the New 52. To be fair on DC, they eventually realized that the New 52 was not exactly a sound business decision, at least in regards to the Superman comics. Rebirth eventually delivered a Superman more in line with people's expectations of him, with the added of bonus of becoming a family man, which many saw as a natural progression of his character development. Even if you personally loved the New 52, which is absolutely fine, it was ultimately a disservice to Superman and his fandom.

    I admit I did keep up with the Superman comics during the New 52 and even enjoyed some of them, such as Superman Unchained, but overall I wasn't that emotionally invested in the overarching story. I felt that the constant changes in creative teams prevented Superman from achieving some semblance of character development and instead, he just flew from one crazy adventure to the next without really learning anything or dwelling on anything or even setting up any personal goals.

    The Superman universe is enormous and fans tend to interpret in many different ways, but what matters is that fans respect each other's opinions instead of just labeling each other "haters" and "shills" and only speaking with those who hold similar opinions. Some of you might call me a hater for not liking Smallville or the New 52 or call me a shill for enjoying the DC Extended Universe and Brian Michael Bendis's stories, but in reality, I'm just a Superman fan like all of you. Posting comments on this forum doesn't make my opinions greater and more valid than yours and I'm just glad I have the privilege and the opportunity to share my opinions with you. To summarize, I did not like the New 52, not only on a personal level but because it shattered the fandom and jeopardized the future of the franchise and that is something that we, as Superman fans, should talk about. Yes, the New 52 earned DC a lot of money on the short term but it also lost them a lot of money on the long term because fans had dropped the comics. I'm always open to the opinions of others, but I admit I did hijack this particular topic. Nevertheless, I want to read your opinions on the New 52, even those with opinions that are different from mine. Do you really think it failed the Superman franchise? If so, why? So, leave a comment below and thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeroVladimir93 View Post
    This thread is to discuss whether or not the New 52 benefitted Superman and his community, not from a creative and narrative perspective, but from a financial perspective. Basically, what I'm saying is, we can talk about whether or not the New 52 allowed Superman to sell more comics or caused financial damage to the series that Rebirth had to come in and right the ship.
    I dont think we can really argue that the New52 *didnt* make money. It started out strong, with both Action and Superman hitting the top 10 for months; I think Superman lasted in the top ten for the first six-eight issues, and Action sold really well through most of Morrison's run, though it did see the standard kind of sales atrophy that impacts all books, especially Morrison's stuff. It made more money for DC than the property had been in the years preceding it. And in the runs that followed I dont recall the books falling below their typical rankings. At least not until the very end maybe.

    By the time the New52 ended, sales had fallen back to their pre-52 range, so it was definitely successful from a financial perspective.

    I think we also had more Super books during the New52 era, didnt we? We had Superman, Action, Supergirl, Superboy, Superman-Batman, Superman-Wonder Woman, World's Finest...maybe one or two I forgot about, and a number of mini's like Unchained and American Alien. Before the reboot we were down to.....what, Action, Superman, Supergirl, and Power Girl I think? And the only mini we had in recent pre-reboot memory was New Krypton?

    As for whether it was critically successful, that really boils down to how you want to look at what little "data" we have. Some reviews were good, some weren't......personally I dont think the fans were any more divided on the New52 than we already were over other elements like the marriage and pre-Crisis v post-Crisis. We might've been a little more vocal, but I think that's just the atmosphere of a reboot more than a bigger divide among us. Some fans left, but new ones came in. And that always happens. People have left because of Bendis while other people have come in. That's just the way the industry works.

    It definitely didnt do any long term damage. It makes me laugh when fans worry about a bad run, or even a few bad years, doing permanent damage to properties that have lasted for almost a century and seen some real low points in the past. Superman isn't going to be permanently damaged by anything a creator does; Superman already survived the DC implosion, the decline of superhero comics following WWII and the commie hunt of the 50's, and the creative bankruptcy of the 00's (among other low points). If those things didn't kill him, nothing will.

    As for why it was so controversial......its because it changed things. Any change, whether good or bad, is always met with huge controversy by the fans. This was just louder, and the changes ran deeper, than usual. But again, I dont think there's anything all that unusual here, it was largely just business as usual, only with the volume turned up. I personally thought some of the creative choices in the New52 were good ones, and others were pretty horrid. Just like most other eras in the character's history.

    Now, if you want to ask if the New52 as a whole (not just for Clark) ended up being a creative dead end I'd probably have to agree. DC's spent the last two years walking back on many of the changes they made across the line. It was a success short term, but not long term. Of course, when was the last time the Big 2 did anything designed for long term considerations (other than same day digital)?
    Last edited by Ascended; 12-05-2018 at 09:37 AM.
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    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Pretty much everything Ascended said.

    But this
    Even if you personally loved the New 52, which is absolutely fine, it was ultimately a disservice to Superman and his fandom.
    I can't get on board with. That's way too black and white. There was a side of his fandom that didn't feel this was a disservice. I would know, I'm one of those long-time fans, and there's a lot more of me. Likewise, there's a lot who felt totally different. What side of the pendulum it swings in regards to majority or whatever I don't know, and can never know, all I know it was well-received by many and not well-received by many at the same time. So its incredibly subjective, not objective.

    But in the end I agree totally with your final paragraph, we're all just fans and the individual's opinions is just as valid as the next man's. There's no such thing as real fans vs fake fans and all that garbage.
    Last edited by Sacred Knight; 12-05-2018 at 10:00 AM.
    "They can be a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you. My only son." - Jor-El

    "Now why don't we step up here and everybody get stepped up, and let's get some stepped up personal space up in this place." - Phillip Jacobs

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    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Agreed; I've been reading Superman for over twenty years. Im pretty sure that qualifies me as a "long term" fan, and I really loved a lot of the stuff the New52 Superman did. It wasn't perfect and there's plenty of things I didnt enjoy, but I feel pretty confident in my knowledge and understanding of Superman and I didn't see anything that really made me say "this is wrong."

    Hell, I think Morrison was closer to the spirit of Superman than Byrne was in 86.

    Im not saying I get Superman more than other people or Im some kind of expert, Im just saying I personally didnt see anything that was a straight up fowl. Saw stuff I thought was a bad play, but nothing that was actually out of bounds.
    Last edited by Ascended; 12-05-2018 at 10:08 AM.
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    Ultimate Member Last Son of Krypton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Agreed; I've been reading Superman for over twenty years. Im pretty sure that qualifies me as a "long term" fan, and I really loved a lot of the stuff the New52 Superman did. It wasn't perfect and there's plenty of things I didnt enjoy, but I feel pretty confident in my knowledge and understanding of Superman and I didn't see anything that really made me say "this is wrong."

    Hell, I think Morrison was closer to the spirit of Superman than Byrne was in 86.
    Just tell what you really think: post-COIE Superman was an objective mistake in regards to Superman. 😉

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Hell, I think Morrison was closer to the spirit of Superman than Byrne was in 86.
    Byrne's Superman is perfectly fine. It's the one that we keep coming back to above all others while everything else has it's time then steps aside.

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    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Last Son of Krypton View Post
    Just tell what you really think: post-COIE Superman was an objective mistake in regards to Superman. ��
    Ha! No, it wasnt an "objective" mistake, and there were a lot of really good things in that era that enriched the mythos and made Superman a better property and character. Though I do think the "Clark is who I am" mentality that Byrne ran with probably was, objectively, incorrect. And there's other stuff I think was pretty wrong headed, but that doesnt make it objectively wrong. It's really hard to be "objectively" wrong with literary analysis and the development of an idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miles To Go View Post
    Byrne's Superman is perfectly fine. It's the one that we keep coming back to above all others while everything else has it's time then steps aside.
    It's what DC keeps going back to. That does not make it right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    It's what DC keeps going back to. That does not make it right.
    Yes it does, as that's the one most of this generation have grown up on and are familiar with, and we're still pretty young

  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Actually I would say DC has stopped going back to it for a decade now, ever since Infinite Crisis. Although they took their sweet-ass time finally getting to it, Secret Origin, for all my distaste to it, follows very little from Byrne's origin. Its lazy and cut-and-paste, but that cut-and-paste is majority Silver Age with a modern spin. And that's what they've gone back to now. Really the only thing today's Superman has in common with the Byrne reboot is that he's the version still technically considered a product of that reboot. But he's far removed from that in most practical applications. I suppose if we're reaching we could say some aesthetics like cape length and S size have been retained, but honestly those details have fluctuated over the character's entire history to just be applied wholesale to one era. Whether we're talking post-IC (same as what we also call pre-FP these days), New 52 or Rebirth, all those incarnations saw DC move pretty far away from the Byrne platform.
    Last edited by Sacred Knight; 12-05-2018 at 10:29 AM.
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    "Now why don't we step up here and everybody get stepped up, and let's get some stepped up personal space up in this place." - Phillip Jacobs

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    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miles To Go View Post
    Yes it does, as that's the one most of this generation have grown up on and are familiar with, and we're still pretty young
    Heh, speaking of subjective........

    I grew up with post-Crisis too. And I still prefer a healthy dose of pre-Crisis in my Superman. And Im far from the only one.

    However, I didnt realize what I was missing until the 00's, when I dropped the books and started reading the older stuff. Until I had that wider perspective, I was a hardcore post-Crisis fan who considered 99% of pre-Crisis out dated and pointless. After actually reading it, I realized I was wrong and that Superman lost so much in 86 that never should have been lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Ha! No, it wasnt an "objective" mistake, and there were a lot of really good things in that era that enriched the mythos and made Superman a better property and character. Though I do think the "Clark is who I am" mentality that Byrne ran with probably was, objectively, incorrect. And there's other stuff I think was pretty wrong headed, but that doesnt make it objectively wrong. It's really hard to be "objectively" wrong with literary analysis and the development of an idea.
    I think him and DC went too far distancing the character from his pre-Crisis self and mythos and as result we endured endless soft-reboots to restore most of what was lost with COIE.

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    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Yeah, objective gets thrown around far too easily.

    Its only objective that the returned New 52 Superman needs his own world and mythos.

    U see what I did!
    "They can be a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you. My only son." - Jor-El

    "Now why don't we step up here and everybody get stepped up, and let's get some stepped up personal space up in this place." - Phillip Jacobs

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    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Last Son of Krypton View Post
    I think him and DC went too far distancing the character from his pre-Crisis self and mythos and as result we endured endless soft-reboots to restore most of what was lost with COIE.
    I think in hindsight this is probably true for both New 52 and Post-Crisis. Both made drastic departures before settling back into more familiar territory.

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    Well, I'm certainly not surprised at the turn this thread took.


    New 52 in and of itself wasn't necessarily a mistake. The mistake was in the execution. New 52 didn't do the groundwork necessary to make a reboot successful. Morrison did for his story, but the mess everything else became overwhelmed that.
    Last edited by Truman Burbank; 12-05-2018 at 10:39 AM.

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    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truman Burbank View Post
    Well, I'm certainly not surprised at the turn this thread took.
    Really? I think everyone is being pretty damn civil. Except for Miles of course, because he dared disagreed with me! >shakes fist in faux anger!<

    Just playin' Miles, in case that wasn't clear.

    New 52 in and of itself wasn't necessarily a mistake. The mistake was in the execution. New 52 didn't do the groundwork necessary to make a reboot successful. Morrison did for his story, but the mess everything else became overwhelmed that.
    The entire reboot seemed to suffer from being rushed. No one seemed to know what anyone else was doing. I'm sure we've all heard the reports about WB demanding a quick turn around in revenue, and that seems to be largely responsible for the haphazard execution and communication between editors and creators, as well as the heavy handed editorial mandates that drove so many writers and artists away.

    Rebirth, by contrast, has been much more cohesive, despite the entire premise being "history is broken so everything and nothing are in continuity at the same time!" Rebirth has still had its problems, just like DC did after the original sin of COIE, but compared to the New52 it's been a much smoother execution.

    As for Superman.....I said in a few posts above that the "Clark is who I am" mindset of 86 was, maybe, objectively wrong. But giving it a little thought I dont think I can say that. Superman's character was on a pendulum swing; in the Silver Age the only "real" persona was Superman and "Clark" was just a disguise with damn little depth to him. Then when we started to get into the news caster era, Clark started to become more important and more developed, and started having a personality of "his" own. So Byrne taking that trajectory and just swinging it to the furthest extreme where "Superman" was purely a disguise.......it's just following the momentum, right? I still think it was the wrong move, I still think it goes against what Superman is supposed to be (a fusion of god and man, not one over the other) and like Sacred said DC has spent much of the last thirty years trying to put things we lost in 86 back in place, but "objectively" probably is too strong a word.
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