The Problem With Zero Month
As most comics fans know, tomorrow marks the second week of DC’s Zero Month, a time in which every title will release an Issue #0 to highlight some event that took place prior to the book’s first installment. The Zero Issues’ main focus is to fill in shadows of origin, back-story or character that were intentionally left open ended or blank at the start of the New 52 reboot last year. This was generally applauded as it allowed for New 52 titles to hit the ground running while neither overwhelming new readers nor pissing off returning fans with as many Year 1 origin stories. However, since the fading of initial excitement, the entire line has been plagued with problems like people still wanting continuity connected to the old world and stories, as well as continuity between the individual titles to create a cohesive universe. While I agree that Zero Month is a great way to build some of that hype back up, it will again be unsustainable if the individual titles don’t attempt better than to put out more of the same. Unfortunately, after the first wave of books have come and gone, it appears that Zero Month is currently the largest non-event in modern comics events. The first week featured Action Comics, Animal Man, Batwing, Detective Comics, Earth 2, GI Combat, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Dial H, Phantom Stranger, Storm Watch, Swamp Thing, and Worlds Finest. To be honest, I don’t read the majority of these titles regularly; at it’s core I feel that DC is making a legitimate attempt to once again offer readers an easy access point into a world regularly criticized for its dense, uninviting continuity. However, to make every issue a #0 seems superfluous. GI Combat probably didn’t need a dedicated origin story, and other titles like Dial H which had their #1 issue only a few months ago might not best be served with this same Zero Issue handling. The titles that remain again hinge on the current creative teams running each.
Sadly this is Zero Month’s downfall; there is nothing inherently special about any of the books. Yes, they have a plot that’s different in continuity than last month’s. But rather than really plan out a big reveal or bring in a classic writer for each character or story, it’s been left to the discretion of the same teams that handle them, well…every other month. If you hate how Green Arrow has been served up to date, this month’s #0 isn’t going to change your mind. If you feel that Detective Comics has had poor stories and has been the weakest of the dozen or so bat-titles, as my “DC #0” Review explores, you can expect more of the same.
For better or worse, each title is just maintaining itself and merely falling into a mandated marketing ploy. Earth 2 is still a beautiful superhero team-up with grand scale and ambition, Worlds Finest continues to have surprising heart and emotionality, and Grant Morrison continues to insist on putting pig heads on people in Action Comics. Will this push sell more books? Of course it will; with all the hype that DC has put into it, Zero Month can’t not bring a bump to sales. Will it be a huge event like Blackest Night or an industry changing move like the original New 52? No, it will barely be a blip on the radar. It’s an interesting ploy that might bring a few wayward readers back into the fold.
Zero Month itself isn’t going to make me a regular reader again for any of the titles I’ve dropped over the years. Who knows, though—in a world where six month story arcs are the norm, maybe a nice one off on Barbara Gorden’s recovery to become Batgirl or how Bruce Wayne built up the cape, cowl, cave, and gadgets that make him Batman will be a refreshing change of pace. Again, it all depends on the people that regularly deal with the character, same as it does every issue.
So keep reading the books you normally would anyway, as Zero Month should be time spent only picking up titles you love.