I know what the internet doesn’t need right now is another Op/Ed piece on the big DC Comics Reboot, but guess what? It’s getting one anyway.
The more I read about this, the more I recognize myself actually mourning. Mourning the loss of “MY” comics. The comics I’ve been reading for 26 years now, ever since I picked up a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths WAAAAAAY back in 1985. After taking stock of my reactions this week, both internally and on Twitter, the irony of my own comic geek beginnings in relation to this “DCnU” is not lost on me.
So, using the standard Kübler-Ross model, I shall attempt to reconcile – for the record – how I feel about this situation overall.
Expect the unexpected.
When news first started breaking about the reboot, I’ll admit that I was in disbelief. There’s no way that DC would do this now. After all of the Events and Crises in the last several years? After working so hard to build up this HUGE mythology in the Green Lantern books? After creating the strongest and most diverse Bat-Family in a generation? After drafting such a deep bench of Legacy Heroes? To blow it all up and start over seems counter-productive.
But that’s what’s going to happen. Now, we have heard that the reboot isn’t going to be a complete mind-wipe, but quite a bit of it will be. The translation and execution remains to be seen. A lot of characters will have changed – ethnicities, origins, disabilities (or lack of) – and most of the costumes are being altered. (I’m particularly scarred by the new Harley Quinn as well as the Jersey Shore Superboy, both pictured to the right.)
As well, lot of characters seem to be MIA. Justice Society? Booster Gold? Power Girl? Captain Marvel? This makes me feel a lot of…
As a customer of mine said, “GEOFF JOHNS HAS LOST HIS DAMN MIND!” Not only are Johns and Jim Lee recreating the DCU in their image, but they are doing it in a way that is very egocentric. Jim Lee’s Wildstorm universe is now part-and-parcel with the DCU. The Green Lanterns – as well as their color spectrum counterparts – are all staying intact with little to no changes to their stories. Coincidentally, the Lanterns are Geoff Johns’ benchmark as a writer. The characters that are changing the most seem to be ones that neither Lee nor Johns have had any big hand in lately. This is a case of Johns and Lee believing their own press, or they have incriminating photos of Dan DiDio somewhere.
Taking a step back from that, I can see that this theory isn’t entirely true. Geoff Johns cut his teeth in the DCU by finally, once and for all, straightening out the Hawkman Mythology. That said, Carter Hall is looking to be remarkably different in the DCnU, and the character is almost starting from scratch. Also, Johns’ Stargirl, Courtney Whitmore, is nowhere to be found thus far in this new Universe. I wouldn’t be shocked if she wound up in Teen Titans, but up until now she’s been part of the Legacy set over in the Justice Society.
Which isn’t included on the List of 52.
Jim Lee, as an artist, hasn’t had any real impact on DC characters other than Batman. Even there he was just making pretty pictures. Hush, All-Star Batman, etc. This isn’t the first time that the DCU and Wildstorm have crossed-over, either. With the scuttling last year of the Wildstorm imprint, founder Lee’s characters had to end up someplace. So here they are.
Mostly, I’m just an old dog who isn’t big on new tricks. Why go thermonuclear? Which leads us to…
If DC hadn’t let so many good books go bad… If DC hadn’t already attempted so many mini-reboots and re-numberings… If DC had held some of their high-profile writers and artists to the deadline fire…
If… If… If…
Why not cut the wheat from the chaff? Cancel the dead weight. Shuffle up the creative teams. Give the readers QUALITY over QUANTITY. Apologize for the fact that J. Michael Straczynski absolutely KILLED the sales for two of your Big Three’s solo books. Enforce deadlines.
You can do all of this with just as much pomp and circumstance. You can do all of this and still roll out your day-and-date digital plan. You can do all of this without changing non-fiction history by taking three books – Action, Batman, and Detective – that have never ever EVER been re-numbered since they began in the 1930s and 40s, and rolling them – and every other title – back to #1.
You don’t want compromise? You don’t want to accept that if you had done more to encourage and enforce the status quo over the last 10 years that you look to attain with this complete and total revamp, that burning it down and salting the earth wouldn’t be necessary? This sends me straight into…
I’ve been a full-time comic reader for almost three decades now. I have been a DC Comics stalwart that entire time. Do I read books from Marvel, IDW, Image, Boom!, Top Cow, Dynamite, etc.? Sure, I do. Would I feel the same way if this scenario was presented by any of those publishers? No, I would not.
Age of Apocalypse and Heroes Reborn – Marvel Comics’ last two big reboots – mean nothing to me. The DC Universe that I grew up reading means everything to me, and this wholesale destruction of it cuts me deep. If I didn’t work in the industry, I would strongly consider this the end of my personal era and file away the longboxes for good.
I mean…look at all of the classic stories I came into comics with: The Man of Steel. Batman: Year One. The Dark Knight Returns. I’ve been through more Starmen than I can count. I read through Superman Red and Blue. I was there during Zero Hour, during Final Night, during Legends and Invasion. I’ve seen Eclipso rise more than a few times. Through Mind-Wipes and Rapes and Retcon Punches, OH MY! Why are you doing this to me?!? Everything that came out of Crisis on Infinite Earths has been the road map of my comics book geekdom, and I don’t understand why you would want to…um…
Why anyone could think to…er…
The last time DC Comics did a full-scale shakeup of their comic book universe was with Crisis on Infinite Earths. They did so to streamline their continuity, to put a cap on the Silver Age, and to bring a new generation of readers to the 4-color medium.
And that included me.
So who am I to say that this is such a bad idea? As a reader, as a retailer, as a convention organizer, who am I to tell anyone that they can’t do something new and exciting? Would I be who I am today if Crisis on Infinite Earths had never happened? If the DCnU brings in new readers, new customers, and new discussions, then I’m all for it.
If they tell me great stories paired with great art, why should I care if they aren’t “MY” characters?
Because they will be someone’s characters.
Somebody is going to find that issue of Flash, or Wonder Woman, or Justice League of America and it is going to be their gateway into the wonderful adventures and worlds inside of comic books.
And who am I – as a reader, as a fan, as a retailer, as a human being – to deny them that?
[Update June 15, 2011: Newarama.com has a decent update with some material from the powers and writers at DC. DC is going to make a timeline available for the reboot and also much of the history for many of the titles is going to remain intact - not a hard reboot at all. Check out the article over on Newsarama for specific details. -ed.]