Updated on March 26, 2023
As those of you may recall, I’ve never liked the New 52 reboot of DC Comics. Between the Lil’ Abner-esque costume for Clark’s “early days,” the bad 90s comic elements brought back in heaps, and the overall grim, cynical tone, the New 52’s about as much fun as a trip to the dentist. Maybe less so—my dentist doesn’t seem in need of Prozac or act like an overgrown sulking teenager, unlike most of the New 52 heroes.
That said, DC’s brightest spot for its superheroes these days is its digital-first line of comics. With no connection to the New 52, they’re free to write the characters with more relative freedom. Other positive aspects include being affordable (at 99 cents per issue) and generally being friendlier toward non-hardcore fans, including kids. The DC digital-first titles are eventually collected into paper monthly comics at the usual $4 an issue.
My favorite DC digital-first titles include:
- Adventures of Superman: This title offers weekly stand-alone adventures about DC’s first superhero. The stories told here reflect the “classic” Clark, red briefs and all. There’s even some stories showcasing Lois Lane. While the series was almost hobbled at launch by DC wanting to publish Orson Scott Card’s take on Supes, that’s pretty much dead in the water (recent remarks aside). For myself, this is easily the best Superman title DC’s currently publishing.
- Batman: Lil Gotham: An all-ages Batman series, this title covers the adventures of Batman and his son (from recent comics), Damian “Robin” Wayne. The stories are centered around a specific holiday or annual event. Said holidays range from the Joker trying to hide from every female villain in Gotham (after being sprayed by some sort of infatuation gas) on Valentine’s Day to Damian and Bats attending Gotham City’s version of the San Diego Comic-Con. The stories’ tone isn’t as light as “Tiny Titans,” but it’s much lighter than the New 52 comics, and has some of the former’s absurdness. Pre-New 52 Bat-fans will probably like seeing Barbara as Oracle here, computers and all.
- Batman ’66: For an even more light-hearted take on Batman, there’s this new title, which tells stories set in the vein of the classic 60s Adam West TV show. The characters are all drawn to resemble their live-action actors, while the stories seem set in the 60s (no cell phones or modern computers). The Comixology version I assume has DC’s new “DC^2” version of the comic, which offers semi-animated panel effects; my Nook-bought version doesn’t have such. Still, it’s fun to see some modern stories set in the 60s TV show’s world.
While I don’t read “Smallville” (not being a fan of the TV show), that digital-first comic does have its fans. From what I’ve read on the blog “DC Women Kicking Ass,” fans are pleased about Lois’ heavy role in stories, as well as Superman being more in character than his New 52 self. If you liked “Smallville,” you might want to check this title out.
That’s all for now. DC promises more digital-first titles to be released in the future, which is a good thing, as well as forward-looking for those who’ve moved to digital comics. The digital-first comics also offer an easy way for DC to attract younger or newer/casual fans, in a much better fashion than the New 52 relaunch’s attempt.