Logopolis: The New 52 Mastheads

Being a brief and hopefully pithy look at DC's 52 mastheads to adorn its 52 Relaunch series. (Note that they are in the same order as the spoiler image - sort of alphabetical and bafflingly, not.)Action Comics: It's the classic design currently used and harking back to the 1930s, but with one innovation - placing the word "Comics" over the A's underlining shape. It works.
All-Star Western: One of the better ones, the wave in the weather-worn words and the red sheriff's star making a typical Western logo more dynamic.
Animal Man: One of two logos with claw marks (the other is Catwoman), that feature did sometimes appear on Buddy Baker's earlier series. The spiky Gothic font, however, makes it look like a werewolf book.
Aquaman: DC is pushing the sharp "A" belt-buckle and it works as a design element. Is the "Q" supposed to be a little fish? I like the title's soft, subtly wavy shapes, but it's not quite iconic.
Batgirl: The Bat-titles almost all follow a similar theme, that of the background bat symbol (but never the same exact one). Batgirl's is probably my favorite, distinctive and at once sharp and vaguely feminine.
Batman: I don't really care for this one. The letters try to follow the basic bat shape, but it makes Batman seem crazy and unable to write legibly. When I look at the various shapes created, it just looks haphazard to me.
Blue Beetle: Circuit lines imply technology and the scarab armor. I could do with more insect flavor.
Blackhawks: The Blackhawk logo is welcome, though always invites comparison with the hockey team's. Otherwise, it's pretty ugly. The words have been shot up, but it's not really clear. Just optical detritus. And splitting the word into two creates confusion. Are they the Black Hawks or the Blackhawks?
Batman and Robin: No change. It's a good logo. It's expressive and expands to include both names. It's even a little retro, with the eyes and shorter ears.
Batman: The Dark Knight: The series so young, you can't believe it's rebooting. Well at least its logo isn't. Sadly, I dislike as much as I ever did. Its jumble of letters struggle to complete a bat-shape cut in half is clumsy at best.
Batwing: I like the sharp and dangerous letters (though the "B" is borderline), but I don't know why the bat symbol if cut up into sectors. It seems to be SOMEone's design fetish because it occurs on other logos as well.
Batwoman: The bat-logo that sets itself apart from the pack and I'm not sure why. While I've accepted this as Batwoman's logo, largely because it fits her artist's aesthetic, what happens when he leaves the book? Looking at it objectively, it's a mystifying thing, strange shapes and lightning bolts. The more I think about it, the less I like it.
Catwoman: Edgy and scratchy, it fits Selina well. Feminine and curvy, but sharp and spiky. Beware the bloody scratches of the "W".
Captain Atom: I'm wondering how its radioactive effects will look on any given cover, but this is a fairly cool one.
Birds of Prey: Like Batwing, this one's checkered for no discernible reason. Ultimately rather simple, despite the beak/talon shapes.
DC Universe Presents: You know, I've never been a fan of the current DC bullet, with its single spinning star, so the full DC Universe logo in the same style likewise leaves me cold. Worse, that smaller "presents" inspires diminishing returns. A front-heavy monstrosity.
Deathstroke: As with Blackhawks, the split into two words doesn't do Death Stroke any favors. Otherwise, it's a faded heavy metal t-shirt of a look, which is pretty appropriate to the character, actually. Those extra vertical strikes through certain letters rarely work though.
Detective Comics: I really like the bat and how it's flying in from the side, and that saves the words themselves, which are relatively plain. There's a pulp feel here which suits the book.
Demon Knights: There might just be one too many claws on the letters, but the fantasy effect is well rendered nonetheless. Nice "O".
Flash: Not quite as dynamic as I would have hoped. Looks more like it's shrinking than speeding away. And the "The" cutting into the "F"... ugh. In the fact, the whole font is a horror.
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E.: I wish the Seven Soldiers' more "monstery" Frankenstein logo had been kept. The focus is more on the techno/military aspect of the series. Looks ok, but a bit plain.
Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men: Those concentric circles add some motion to what might have been another ugly font (looks like the Flash, but works better by virtue of the character's more technologically advanced origins). I do like how Firestorm is sandwiched between smaller words. Achieves a kind of balance.
Green Lantern: No change. The rounded letters of the GL logo will show up on all four related titles. I guess it works well enough, slick, modern and science fictionny.
Green Lantern Corps: Again, no change from the current title. A little bit more techno, and the GL symbol more integrated.
Green Lantern: New Guardians: It's starting to get boring. The third of these new GL logos, and the first new one, uses the same font, but stretches it here, skews it there. I generally dislike it when the logo is flying away from me like that. Note that the GL symbol is not used, since this will showcase different Corps.
Green Arrow: Why does it remind me of an aviation company? The "A" has a little cap, but the rest of the letters are very square and retro-industrial. I essentially like what I see (and relevance may depend on what the interpretation of the character actually is), but the "O" is problematic. It seems divorced from the masthead. Maybe if the color wasn't too bright?
Grifter: Pure junk. Strategically placed bullet holes in pudgy metallic forces, oh and some blood trickling down. With that big blood dot atop the "i", it's silly indeed.
Hawk & Dove: Lacking any kind of dimensionality, this one's a rather ugly, clumsy design from a bygone era.
Savage Hawkman: A cluttered mess and difficult to read too. The hawk symbol might be interesting if it wasn't obscured. The "v" shape the letters have been forced into makes the logo hard to look at. Disappointing.
I, Vampire: Looks about right. A scrawl in blood is what you'd expect from a vampire book and it will likely look distinctive among other DC books.
Justice League: A most bitter disappointment. It looks like a banner for an ad, but not like a distinctive and attractive cover element. Just a play on very ordinary fonts, at an odd angle that makes me queasy, it's a far cry from every other JLA logo EVER. It has NOTHING to say about the concept of the Justice League. Nothing at all.
Justice League Dark: The other two Justice League books find a way to subvert the mother logo, but they're still stuck with those disappointingly arid fonts. Dark's bloody scrawl adds dimension and interest, though I fear it'll be too high and eat up a lot of cover space.
Justice League International: What are those? Continents and oceans? Can't quite place the geography. Still, a good effort at making the Justice League logo interesting. The fact that all three use the same look does make me wonder if they are linked somehow, though their solicitations don't seem to say so. If they aren't linked, then it's a mistake to use the same fonts.
Legion of Super-Heroes: Let me talk LSH first here, because Legion Lost is a derivative. I like this new Legion logo. It takes its roots in the past, with the huge interlac "L", but firmly brings it into a technological future.
Legion Lost: Awkward. Why is the "Lost" so huge and dirty? What are they trying to say about this Legion spin-off? Or are they trying to attract Lost fans? I don't know. The two elements don't really play well together.
Men of War: Simple, but classic. Harks to the original war book of that name (with a stronger "of"), and will work as a block of solid letters or as a more textured ("camo") logo.
Mister Terrific: The worst masthead of the lot? The "T" with Terrific's face in it stops being a "T" and you're left with Mister Errific. A piece of over-designed silliness that actually affects legibility.
Nightwing: The bat symbol returns (Dick will never be his own man now), possibly in an effort to sell Nightwing to the rubes. The way the end letters curve to follow the bat gives the logo a nice, edgy spin. Bit heavy metal, but it's better than any Nightwing logo I remember.
OMAC: The big block manages to evoke a number of relevant ideas. The letters run into one another, like OMAC is an entire army in a single man. There is circuitry and perhaps Brother Eye. The blockiness relates to OMAC's toughness. Do I love it? Not especially. But I think it works.
Red Lanterns: A sharper edged version of the Green Lantern logo, as used during Blackest Night. Nothing new here.
Red Hood and the Outlaws: Because of the Outlaws name, there's a hint of the western in the choice of font, though I doubt it'll relate to the series as such. The bat symbol is used cleverly as the holes of the Hood's two "o"s, keeping a marketable relationship with Batman, but it never really rises above its ordinary font choice.
Resurrection Man: That's almost the original logo and I'm glad to see it again. The hand thrusting through the fresh grave (much cooler than the silhouette of a man, the mystery, the variableness of the letters and of the hero. It says it all.
Suicide Squad: Somehow, it works. I say "somehow" because it goes so far with the bells and whistles that it really shouldn't. Again with the sector lines. Bullet holes. A sniper's rifle leaning on it. A couple letters another color without real motivation. And not only is the "Q" in crosshairs, but there a re extra crosshairs at the lower right corner. When is it too much? Not quite yet, apparently. But it's not far off.
Superboy: The entire Super-family gets to use their classic logos. You can't update a true classic. I just fish they'd thought the same thing about the characters themselves...
Superman: Superman Classic for me. None of that New Formula Superman.
Supergirl: And again.
Swamp Thing: And yet again! Swamp Thing's had a number of logos over the years, some filled with plant life, others piling on the creepy. The original was just right and it's nice to see it again as Swampy goes back to his roots. (Damn, didn't mean to make that pun.)
Static Shock: Lots of energy, which makes the logo more exciting than the usual electric lettering, but what's that little flower? It's not on his costume anywhere. Strange element.
Stormwatch: All the characters on the first cover seem to have an orb on their chests. The sun, the moon, Mars. The logo has one too (Earth?), something bright sectioning it. Simple and classic, it is way better than every other Stormwatch logo I've ever seen.
Teen Titans: Horrible. "T" is a letter with its own personal indentation, and having them start two words, boxed in like that, unbalances the whole graphic. What is the use of those three bars except constipating the logo? And that "A" looks like it's dropping a brick. Ok, THIS one is the worst of the lot.
Voodoo: Another logo with fangs and/or claws. Whatever.
Wonder Woman: The font's on the ordinary side, but the little wings are cute. I suppose the scratches evoke Diana's new role as monster slayer.

Of course, some of these will look better on actual covers, while others may look worse. Not long to wait now...

14 comments:

Craig Oxbrow said...

Resurrection Man had a man rather than a Shaun of The Dead hand last time. The new one's more amusing though.

Siskoid said...

Looked so natural, I failed to realize it. I've updated the text, thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Dick will never be his own man now" ... I don't know, the name "Nightwing" has always struck me as an oblique reference to a bat anyway. Putting the bat in the logo only serves to remind the reader, "Dude, what night time creatures have wings? Think REAL hard about this one."

"Night-wing" is actually a kenning, if you remember your Beowulf. We don't use kennings enough, but I'll shut my "pie-hole" about the matter.

Jeff R. said...

How did that classic review go again? 'The parts that are interesting are not new, and the parts that are new are not interesting...'

Michael May said...

I hadn't noticed the hand in the Resurrection Man logo either. Very cool.

rob! said...

Great post!

As a fan of good typography, I was a little disappointed so many of these logos are font-centric. I don't see too many of these logos lasting for ages the way a lot of other DC ones have.

My personal choice for worst logo is Wonder Woman--to me, that has virtually no connection to the character, and considering she is one of their marquee names, to me its a big, big miss.

Siskoid said...

So also disappointed by the Aquaman logo, Rob?

rob! said...

No, I kind of like the Aquaman one--its a little on the dull side (the #1 criticism I have of the logos in general--when put all together, they look waaay too similar), but with its curve and slightly wavy lettering treatment, it gives some visual cues to the character. Not so WW.

That said, I'll still be getting the book!

Delta said...

I agree with Rob, the WW logo is surprisingly weak. Makes me think of a punk rock band screen-printing.

Very nice post, though. Great stuff.

Delta said...

(re: WW logo) ... which is to say, cheap and sketchy, the opposite of a gold-garbed princess.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Siskoid, have you considered a post on other logos in the old DCU that worked well, I think the case here being sticking with the very first Swamp Thing logo. As all the DCnU seem to be font-heavy, as I've heard a few people say, I'm curious to, say what past title's logo style would work better than Justice League Dark. Just a thought, as I enjoy your well-thought out "bottle" posts.

Siskoid said...

I'll see what I can come up with, Wayne!

Martin Léger said...

I'm getting more and more interested in Swamp Thing. Any starting points?

Siskoid said...

Unsurprisingly, I'll direct you to Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, "The Anatomy Lesson" by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totelben.

The swamp monster stories before this are merely ordinary. Anatomy Lesson is a bonafide classic and you can ride the wave of Alan Moore trades to the end of his run and beyond if you like (and the trades are easy to find).

Later Swamp Thing has its ups and downs. Veitch's run had something to say. And I liked the Millar-supervised-by-Morrison run (with art by Phil Hester) quite a lot, especially as an "ending" to the Saga (ending in #100).

Hopefully, Snyder can capture some of the best of the character. I think he can.

 

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