Since many these zero books are not essential to moving the stories along in the series, I can't fathom why they weren't done in annuals. If the story has compelling or important information put it in the regular series, why go with a gimmick? It could be a sign that the relaunch is not as successful has they hoped. The whole New 52 concept doesn't seem to be achieving its initial goal of attracting new readers, it may even have alienated some older readers.
Images of two New 52 crossovers: Rise of the Vampires and Night of the Owls.
I have observed many things during this relaunch that have not really made sense or worked very well. I've tried to follow most of the books for their first twelve issues(only made it to 9th issue for most of the book). The series have ranged from very good to why does this character/characters even have their own book. There have already been crossovers, Rise of the Vampires was the first, it occurred in I, Vampire and Justice League Dark. It was an event that would cause major changes in the DC Universe(DCU). The events in Rise of the Vampires seem to barely even register outside of the books the crossover took place in. So even if a major change has occurred and the DCU at large is none the wiser, except for the character involved in the crossover, it feels pointless.
In Night of the Owls, the talons (the Gotham city based secret society, the Court of Owl's assassins) were handled so different from book to book it really was hard to enjoy. An example would be in Birds of Prey, Black Canary and Katana weren't even able to stop the talon they faced even after dealing him a massive amount of damage. While this worked for Batwing in his story. In Catwoman, she was able to stop the talon by simply shooting him, same was true for the Red Hood. The inconsistencies really ruined what could have been a very good event. The story was best handled in Batman, written by Scott Snyder who invented the talon characters and concept, the same can't be said for the other Bat books(comic books related to Batman). There were books where the talons appeared as unstoppable as a horror movie boogie man and in others they were as mundane as mid-level henchman in Joker's crew, the writers' interpretations of the talons varied that much.
A lot of initial setup for the background storyline of the New 52 is unclear and leads to confusion for readers. Many readers have posted how could all of Batman's history(all of which DC says still has occurred, is at minimum about 15 years) has happened in the 5 five years that the heroes started appearing in the post Flashpoint (the company wide crossover event that resulted in the New 52 DCU ) universe. I'm pretty sure Batman and others like the Green Lanterns were active before the five year period the current universe focuses on, but DC has never clarified this.
But the time issue is through out the whole New 52. In Green Lantern, Hal Jordan doesn't have his ring anymore but in the Justice League book he does. In Justice League International(JLI will be cancelled after issue 12), Blue Beetle is being considered for membership, but in his book he just got his powers and he is relatively unknown. There are more examples of this all across the New 52 books. All of which could be fixed by just providing the date of when the stories are occurring and not some silly caption stating five years ago. What makes it worst is the fact that the 'x' years ago caption is rarely used. So the reader has no idea of the chronology of what they are reading in most cases. Not sure how this is good, for new or old readers. The relaunch gave DC a clean slate, but instead of having a single starting point the stories are all over the place.
3 covers of titles released in the Second Wave: Earth-2, World's Finest, and The Ravagers.
Then there are the cancellations and releases of new titles called Waves. The launch of the New 52 was the First Wave. The Second Wave got rid of 6 of the initial launch titles Blackhawks, Hawk and Dove, Men of War, Mister Terrific, O.M.A.C., and Static Shock after their 8th issue and were replaced with 6 new ones. The Third Wave will begin after the end of 0 month with 4 more titles being cancelled Captain Atom, Justice League International, Resurrection Man and Voodoo after their 12th issue. Of course all titles won't sell well, but I think more thought should of been put on the titles being released and at least give these titles a 12 issue run(concerning the second wave cancellations). There are many other books that are not doing so well and I'm sure the waves will keep coming. The sad note is if the Blue Beetle and Green Lantern Corps get cancelled the only book from the First Wave with an ethnic minority in the lead will be BatWing with Mister Terrific, Static Shock and Voodoo being already cancelled. I do wonder how some of these books would of turned out with different creative teams.
The New 52 is not all bad. Batman, Batman related books, Wonder Woman and The Flash have been fun reads most of the time. There have been a few nice surprises like Swamp Thing, Animal Man and All Star Western. The concept of the relaunch isn't horrible, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Better planning and collaboration between writers, artists, editors and the editor in chief would have mitigated most of the issues, such as inconsistencies in character depictions and the over all cohesiveness of the the shared universe. Laying out a clearer background story line of this new shared universe is truly needed. I was disappointed to see that DC couldn't make through a year with talk of parallel Earths. The Crisis story can't be too far behind. I'll never understand the decision of the DC creative team to use this tiny five year window as where most of the major DCU events have occurred, knowing they were planning on keeping over a decade or more worth of back story for characters like Batman and the Green Lanterns in place. Then to not even try to clarify this seems lazy and short sided on DC's part. DC needs to do a better job or they are going to have to create a whole new company wide crossover "Back Crisis Retcon Point" to undo The New 52. Hey, maybe the characters will able to keep all those neat new outfits.