They say that all good things must come to an end, but thankfully, all god-forsaken comic books come to an end as well. This week DC Comics finally announced the first half-dozen cancellations out of its “New 52” initiative in order to make room for six new titles coming in the spring.
I think it would be counterproductive to have a moment of silence for books that fans were already totally silent about (since, y’know, no one bought them and that’s why they’re being cancelled), so I’d like to say a few words in memorial of each of these soon-to-be departed titles: Mr. Terrific, Men of War, O.M.A.C., Static Shock, Blackhawks, and Hawk & Dove.
Casualty #1: Men of War
Men of War is a comic I thought that a certain niche market might actually exist for. And then I read it. Issue 1 gave us such a ludicrous concept as soldiers versus evil Nazi Superman. And then Issue 2 came out and things got even worse. I think I can best illustrate why this book deserved to die with this excerpt from my review of Men of War #2: “I’ll spoil the whole issue for you here, because I don’t want you to buy it. Here’s what happens: The newly “promoted” Sgt. Rock leads his group to find an American senator who was taken hostage while trying to negotiate peace in a Middle Eastern country, only for the group to be sidetracked when they run into… CIRCE.
Yes, the Greek goddess Circe of myth is hanging out in a war-laden Middle Eastern country, where she’s taken a U.S. senator hostage to let the government know that she’s pissed and wants the United States to stay the hell out of her country in the Middle East. Or something. Then she grabs Sgt. Rock and flies over 115,000 feet into the air, threatens Sgt. Rock to pass on a warning to his people, and then drops him from outer space back to Earth, causing Sgt. Rock to set on fire and burn up on re-entry. Only for Sgt. Rock to wake up on his helicopter on the way home and have this amazing dialogue with a comrade-in-arms: ‘We saw some weird stuff back there!'”
I think that speaks for itself. Unbelievably, DC is launching a new military series as part of the “Second Wave” of New 52 books: “G.I. Combat”. This defies all logic as both New 52 war comics (Men of War and Blackhawks) are among the first cancelled New 52 books, and both were the lowest-selling New 52 titles. Evidently, DC knows something about their buyers that lowly comic fans don’t. With G.I. Combat being a war anthology book containing such beloved properties as “The War that Time Forgot” and “The Haunted Tank”, I can only imagine that I’ll be eulogizing that comic by the end of this year.
Casualty #2: Mr. Terrific
Mr. Terrific probably had the best chance of succeeding of the six cancelled titles, as it featured a fairly prominent member of the now now-existent JSA (though I predicted this to be in the first wave of cancelled New 52 books within seconds of seeing its announcement). I’m not going to lie and say I’m sad to see this book go, as it was the most racist comic I’ve ever read. In this comic book all African Americans are geniuses, beautiful, and honest–whereas most people of all other races are reprobates, sluts, villains, and morally bankrupt. DC comics aimed this book at a specific demographic, but obviously they weren’t very interested in Mr. Terrific either.
Mr. Terrific will be showing up as a member of the modern Justice League in a couple of months, and I hope that when he does he’s not depicted as being smarter than Batman and a better combatant than Wonder Woman. This series completely over-hyped Mr. Terrific as being like the perfect person and perfect superhero, and it’s going to take a lot of rebuilding to make me look at the character again favorably.
Casualty #3: O.M.A.C.
Here’s what I said in my overall review of O.M.A.C. #1: “Up at bat we have a concept that has failed so many times over the last decade you’d think it must be one of the almighty Dan Didio’s personal favorites. And it appears that’s actually the case, because for OMAC #1 Dan Didio himself is stepping up. Can Dan Didio use the tidal wave of marketing to finally make a new OMAC series succeed, or is this book doomed to fail like all of its modern brethren? …This is a book that was doomed to a fast cancellation if it was anything other than outstanding, and it’s nowhere near that good.”
Sadly, I was correct about this book getting a fast cancellation but totally wrong about the book not being outstanding. This book was excellent at exactly what it was intended to be: being pure, stupid fun with a retro throwback feel. Of the six cancelled New 52 titles, this is certainly the one that received the most critical praise and had the most fervent fans. There weren’t a lot of them, but they were proud and vocal. Hopefully O.M.A.C. can find a home in a title that sells well like Justice League and build up a fanbase so that DC can give O.M.A.C. another try. This concept has failed over and over in the past decade, so what’s once more?
Casualty #4: Static Shock
When a series writer announces he’s resigning from the book within a week of issue #1 of said book coming out, that’s kind of a bad sign.And that’s exactly what happened with Static Shock writer John Rozum. My prior exposure to Static was zero going into this series, but I pre-ordered the first three issues because of positive things I’d heard about the character. That was a big mistake, as this was one of the most contrived series out of all 52.
Static Shock as a series was totally impenetrable to new readers and made no effort whatsoever to clearly define the main character’s abilities or backstory. Every issue raised many more questions while providing zero answers, and the series was rife with freakish, bizarre subplots like Static’s sister and her doppelganger who both live with the family and believe that they’re the real one.
Whereas I enjoyed O.M.A.C. for being dumb fun, Static Shock forgot the “fun” part. This title was a jumbled mess that did much more harm to Static’s character than it did good. I sincerely hope that Static can be redeemed over in the main Teen Titans book, where I’m sure he’ll show up.
Casualty #5: Blackhawks
Again, this was a book that I instantly predicted to be among the first books cancelled upon reading its solicitation. In fact, here’s what I said about the book in my review of Blackhawks #1: “If you had asked me what single book I had the absolute least interest in when the list of all 52 new titles was announced, I would have told you “Blackhawks” without hesitation. I was so disinterested in this book, I didn’t even read the solicitation and never even realized a favorite writer of mine, Mike Costa, was attached to the book until it was in my hands.”
I actually really enjoyed the first issue of this book, but the only reason I ever got it into my hands at all was because I pre-ordered the first few months of all 52 titles. I didn’t even know what the premise was until I read it, because my eyes glazed over the moment I saw the title in the solicitations. Which is unfortunate, since I’m pretty sure that the intended reader demographic for Blackhawks is me. Clearly, something went astray here with DC’s planning and marketing.
This book would have been a lot better served later on once the Blackhawks had been established in the New DC Universe as something other than a group of boring old WWII pilots. I believe that there is absolutely a place in the DC Universe an elite covert ops military organization, and that the Blackhawks can be popularized over time and through careful usage in other DC comics. I thought this was an above average original concept in the DC Universe, and I don’t think it deserved to be the lowest-selling New 52 comic book.
Casualty #6: Hawk & Dove
Finally, we come to the Rob Liefeld book. And I mean that literally, as DC fired “Hawk & Dove” writer Sterling Gates mid-run and let artist Rob Liefeld write the book himself. Surely that would go well, right? Uh, no. Rob Liefeld can barely draw, much less write. This is a mercy killing. This is almost a shame because, as poor as the book was under him, I started to connect a bit with the Hawk & Dove characters for the first time ever with Gates’ direction. I mean, the book was bad, but in a lovable kind of bad way. But under Liefeld this book would’ve degraded into a train wreck quickly. I anticipate these characters showing up in a team book somewhere else, but I’ve really no idea where they’ll fit in.
This series will be best (or maybe worst?) remembered for adding on more bird-themed characters than ever before. Thanks to this failed New 52 concept, we’ll now forever have a stable of bird-named characters such as Osprey, Ren, Condor, and Swan to draw upon for future failed incarnations of Hawk & Dove.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I think DC made good choices for the most part with the titles they chose to cancel here. I’ll miss O.M.A.C. and Blackhawks somewhat, but they just didn’t have the support they needed to survive at this time and I think both concepts can still succeed in the DCU outside of their own books. The next three books to be cancelled will almost certainly be “Blue Beetle”, “Captain Atom”, and “Resurrection Man”, and I don’t think any of those are going to be a big loss at all. I’m pleased that both “Grifter” and “Voodoo” will survive a while longer, as those titles are essential to building up a WildC.A.T.S. presence in the new DC Universe. Likewise, “I, Vampire” is just too good to be terminated before we get an insane superheroes vs. vampires knockdown, drag-out war.