DC's suffered a really bad past few years
DC has had a pretty bad last two years. Their editorial vision has been, in my humble opinion, horrifically broken, and, more importantly, completely and utterly out of touch of the interests of the audience. What successes they've had have seemed to this observer to either be completely accidental (SINESTRO CORPS) or actively worked against (the end of 52, and the multiverse, etc)Actually, I'd say it was more like 4-5 years of badness they've gone through, if we look back at Identity Crisis, and even Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, which was also pretty awful. And one of the commentors replying to the topic also points to some of that:
Excellent as your review was, Brian, I think perhaps you were wrong about the problems startng with OYL. It seems to me that some of the problems (at least the bloodthirstiness as sales grab) goes back to Identity Crisis. Here they took a perfectly good character, Sue Dibny, a nice, smart, good humored woman who was a fairly unique character in being non-superpowered but joining in on her husband's adventures as somewhat of an equal, and brutally murdered her in issue 1. Then issue 2, we get to see her in flashback brutally raped by villain Dr. Light. Issue 3 opens with her graphically depicted autopsy. With this natural progression of events, issue 4 may very well have opened with Dr. Light or some other villain going back to the morgue and skullf***ing her. But I wouldn't know because I tuned out.See, it really makes me glad when someone points to the real beginning of the problems, which certainly was with IC, as the only idea they really seemed to have with that was to tear down heroic ideals. Even today, there's still some apologists for IC out there who may complain about how DC's storytelling has deteriorated, yet won't consider the possibility that IC may have led to it. And that's a shame, because how are problems to be solved if we don't consider some of the things that may have served to bring about current disasters?
Having revitalized the JLA by making them all ashamed or vengeful toward each other (and in fairness I'm sure Identity Crisis was more Brad Meltzer's idea) we move on to DC Countdown. 80 pages for a buck ending in one forgotten 2nd string character (Max Lord) brutally slaying another 2nd string character (Blue Beetle, not so forgotten and fondly remembered in some quarters). But this death was not in vain as it provided the springboard for the next big event, as BB's death raises the attention of the other heroes that Lord is planning to take out all the heroes and...
Oh but wait, before we get to that, you have to read four different miniseries of six issues each. Twenty-four issues (and yes I spelled out the numbers to make it seem longer)? I tuned out.
I think this is where I'd also like to make a point of my own that, even if it didn't happen right away, some of the worst storytelling effects at both Marvel and DC came as a result of editorially mandated crossovers, gratuitous character deaths and villifications, among other things that were otherwise done as publicity stunts and controversy generators. They brought plausible writing to a standstill, forced some books and their writers to add contrived elements that simply didn't mesh well, which resulted in embarrassing ideas that could be difficult to overlook the deeper they sink into them. Kyle Rayner's awkward development was an early example of that when they killed off his girlfriend. Why, even before Zero Hour, DC had already tarnished Hal Jordan's image when they wrote a story in Action Comics Weekly where it was told that the reason why Hal was such a brave man was because Abin Sur had influenced him to that effect! It got worse with the Emerald Dawn miniseries, where it was claimed he'd screwed up by getting drunk.
Up until 1984, I'd say that most storytelling was pretty good, because you didn't have tons of company-wide crossovers that hijacked each and every character, probably even those without their own ongoing series. Secret Wars may have been what led to the downfall of modern comics. While it's not like there weren't editorially influenced stories even before that, what they featured in one book was still stand-alone enough so that it didn't have to affect each and every other book published by both companies. SW drastically changed all that, but while Marvel had lame crossovers years before, DC may have turned out worse crossovers as the years went by. The Millenium crossover was pretty dreadful, but it was with Armageddon that things got worse, when Hank Hall, the Hawk side of the Hawk and Dove duo, was turned into a villain before being killed off.
There were even new characters whose introduction was disastrous, such as in the Bloodlines crossover, which took place within several series annuals. Now, if they want to introduce a couple new protagonists to the DCU, that's fine. But the way Anima, Argus, Gunfire and Hitman began their (very brief) careers was not. A most disgustingly bloody mess was this crossover, and now that I think of it, some of the worst crossovers DC's done are those that involve serious violence and bloodshed.
If that's what crossovers are going to amount to these days, that's just one reason why crossovers have seen their day in the sun, or, maybe more appropriately, their night in the moon. If comics are to save themselves, they're going to have to stop with crossovers, fix each and every error that got caused in their wake, and return to more stand-alone storytelling, with the only real crossovers being guest appearances by stars of some books in those of others. That's all that's really needed.
It can only be hoped that this year's crossovers will lead to the end of any more real company-wide ones in the future. But so far, there's no way to tell.