The New 52, DC’s buzz magnet re-launch in 2011, is coming to a close with Rebirth.

The New 52 was controversial in some ways. Many long-time fans were aghast at some of the changes. But the initiative was successful in pulling in new readers. At least for a time.

It’s trendy to dump on The New 52. And there was a lot of complain about. But as we prepare to bid it goodbye, let’s take a look at 7 things worth praising.

The New 52: Justice League

The first couple of years of the New 52 Justice League were uneven, in spite of some good art. But after Forever Evil, the title kicked into gear. Freed from endless cross-overs and world building, writer Geoff Johns got to focus on his cast of characters and giving them some unique, world-shaking challenges. When artist Jason Fabok came aboard, it turned into one of the best partnerships of the era.

The New 52: Batman

If The New 52 is remembered for anything, it will be for the landmark Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo run on Batman. The stunning “Court of the Owls” saga, “Zero Year” and some truly disturbing Joker stories were the highlights in a collaboration that took DC’s flagship character to new heights. The series was creative, daring and often fascinating. Snyder and Capullo found a way to reinvent some older elements while infusing the franchise with newness. It was the best justification for The New 52 that DC could have put forth.

The New 52: Batgirl

Another Bat-title caught a lot of attention when the team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr took over almost three years into the book’s run. Their younger, hipper take on Batgirl was a stylistic eye-opener. It was thoroughly contemporary, added some welcome real world resonance and featured a costume re-design that emphasized the practical over the fantastic. It was a trend-setting direction that also featured some damn good character work.

The New 52: Huntress

For a certain generation of fans, the Huntress will always be Helena Wayne, the Batman’s daughter. That was the original concept of the Earth 2 character. She was very popular for several years, but was wiped out by Crisis on Infinite Earths. Her replacement, Helena Bertinelli, became a valuable character over time. But there was nothing like the original Helena. One of the biggest thrills of The New 52 was seeing the character’s original status quo restored.

The New 52: Creators

One of the great parts of The New 52 was how it brought in writers and artists who weren’t necessarily DC staples at the time. Long M.I.A. creators came back to the comic book fold. Newer talents came aboard. Diversity wasn’t always evident, but to DC’s credit, it recognized that issue and worked hard to bring in a variety of voices over the life of the initiative. It gave fans some intriguing takes on familiar concepts, producing some work that will remain relevant long after The New 52 is a memory.

The New 52: Anything Goes

While a lot of series didn’t last very long, The New 52 gets credit for trying a lot of different characters, genres and approaches. Titles ranging from Voodoo and Vibe to Dial H for Hero and I Vampire tried to broaden the parameters and provide something for everyone. Some experiments (Animal Man, Grayson) worked better than others. But DC’s willingness to take a chance on just about anything was nice while it lasted.

The New 52: Ambition

The New 52 era saw DC trying some ambitious storytelling. The line-wide re-launch was a feat in and of itself. DC then did an annual line-wide theme month with its September issues. At one point, the publisher juggled three different weekly series. Green Lantern successfully maintained a multi-title franchise for much of the run with complex, interrelated stories. Forever Evil was an old school event series with numerous tie-ins and crossovers. DC’s grand plans didn’t always pan out as they might have hoped, but you had to respect the ambition that drove them to try.

Originally published at on May 27, 2016.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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