Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by the Next Generation

In typical comic book fashion, this week’s headliner arrived at the last second. Let’s look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of Comics Disassembled, led by a little, teensy bit being revealed about what’s next for DC Comics.

1. 5G, Same as the Other Gs

Last week, my personal nightmare that is DC’s Free Comic Book Day release – Generation Zero – was revealed. It was suggested as the first step towards DC’s much bandied about “5G but don’t call it 5G” effort in which a whole bunch of things will happen, presumably resulting in a new generation of heroes and some sort of shift in how DC handles its existing lineup of icons. Considering it’s beginning by basically fusing Wally West with the New Gods and Doctor Manhattan…well, let’s just say I was unenthusiastic, especially with the rather ’90s duo of Brett Booth and Scott Lobdell being the architects behind it.

This week, we have much more revealed about the other Generations, as DC shared in a tweet that Generation Zero will be followed by Generation One: Age of Mysteries, and then, as you might have guessed, four other generations. They are:

  • Generation Two: Age of the Metahuman
  • Generation Three: Age of Crisis
  • Generation Four: Age of Rebirth
  • Generation Five: Age of Tomorrow

There’s more in the full press release. Generation One comes from Andy Schmidt (of editing Annihilation fame) and Doug Mahnke in May, with other involved creators including Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, Joshua Williamson, Ivan Reis, Bryan Hitch and more working on the later generations in successive months.

Let’s start with what I like. I’m happy for Andy Schmidt, a great and smart guy who is getting a heck of an opportunity here. It’s his first time writing for DC, and what a first project to take on. Beyond Andy, I like most of the creators individually. The artists involved are particularly great, especially Mahnke, whom I will eternally rep for. I like that it seems to be adding structure to DC’s history, if my read on the title is correct. I LOVE that these will be prestige edition comics, because everyone has their weaknesses and prestige edition comics are mine. There is a very real chance these could be good, interesting comics. These are all good things.

But if this is truly about establishing the future of DC, it’s hard not to look at that list of creators and those titles and that press release and think that the future for DC is going to look a whole lot like the present and the past. Granted, it’s a history piece, it seems, but it’s a pretty uninspiring reveal, with the whole thing building off a comic I honestly might pass on altogether despite it being free in Generation Zero. It’s starting something new, but coming from everyone who was already defining DC’s universe. I don’t see where the new starts, unless we’re getting something radical in the fifth generation, creatively (my vote: unleash N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell!). Even beyond that, I’m not sure if DC has ever heard of the term “optics,” but the creative diversity is…light. Let’s call it light.

And that logo – which you can see above, with Oliver Sava accurately describing it as “a very Valiant logo” – represents it all. It just feels…formulaic. Safe. Uninspiring. This should be a big deal, but it has zero juice for me, despite my love of history-encompassing prestige edition titles. But hey, I’m halfway there, so maybe I’ll be wrong. Believe me, I am all about being wrong here. I want to love DC Comics, even if I do and it’s just mostly at Black Label. This just feels a bit ordinary, and that’s not why I read superhero comics. I’m here for the extraordinary.

2. Death Metal, Making Me Sleepy

Ironically, DC’s other big May book was revealed this week, and it’s something that is extremely not ordinary…and yet I am also not into it! Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s follow up to their Metal event – Death Metal – is launching then, and I am just not into it. I found the first effort to be tediously insane, with a whole lot of things happening but very little connecting. It resulted in the incredibly overused and wholly unenjoyable Batman Who Laughs being unleashed on us, and I’m just not ready for round two there.

Like with the Generation books, it might be good. And I’m not even confident that the first effort was bad as much as it just wasn’t for me. But these titles feel like everything that I don’t want from DC’s comics, delivering grimdark stories starring the Trinity carrying scythes and weird chainsaws and holstering skulls, which is very off vibe (although it’s entirely possible – or arguably probable – that these are like…eeeevil versions of the Trinity). I am into the fact it appears to be the Batman Who Laughs’ skull. I am pro him going away. That’s a good result. But this seems like something that isn’t for me, which is fine, but something that seems to be happening all the time with DC these days.

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