DC Comics and the Nonsensical Reboot
"Everything Will Change In A[n Unwanted] Flash..."
This summer, DC Comics launched "Flashpoint," a massive event that would reshape the DC Universe, but we didn't know how. It was speculated that some things would change in the ongoing continuity, and that some things from the altered reality presented in "Flashpoint" would carry over. Well, today, DC Comics announced their plans for the future of the heroes and villains we know.
"The rumors of a massive DC Universe reboothave been confirmed. In September, comic fans will be the recipients of 52 #1 issues as the entire line of DC Universe titles gets a relaunch. Everyone from Superman to Booster Gold will be getting a revamp, which includes redesigns and a "younger" continuity," states the press release that hit the web earlier today.
That's right. They're cancelling almost every book that they have and starting fresh, which sounds great to the "prospective new readers" they are always talking about, but what about the fans and collectors? Recently, DC hit a landmark with Action Comics #900, which saw the return to form for Superman after a stellar run starring Lex Luthor. This 900th issue was a major accomplishment, as the series has ran for that long without a single reboot, renumber, or cancellation... until now. DC also has recently launched several very good titles, such as "Batman: The Dark Knight," "Batman Beyond," "Superboy," "Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors," and others, that are all solid, but only in the single digits in their publication runs, and they are going to be ending along with the other tentpole series like "Batman" and "Superman," which both also reached issue #700 last summer. All these cancellations and shakeups that happen every couple of years has led to an incredibly high number of short "ongoing" series, which end up seeming like a bunch of miniseries.
Aside from the numbering problem, I'd be remiss if I didn't say how great the DC lore has been over the past couple of years. Batman has transformed and branded himself globally, Dick Grayson ascended to the mantle of Batman, Superman has finally gotten back to his good ol' ass-kicking self, Green Lantern Hal Jordan has returned and championed the Corps through some major crises that were great, such as Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, and Booster Gold has become a more mainstream hero, saving the universe without anyone really knowing it. The world of DC has become a great, modern mythology rich with solid characters and stories, and now they are wiping the slate clean, making all the heroes younger, and giving them new costumes...
Yes, that is Superman back there with the high collar (how does he hide that under his civvies when he is Clark Kent), a clunky looking new "S" shield, and... no red undies. Hal Jordan Green Lantern looks about the same... just a lot younger. Batman looks like he did a couple of years ago, as it seems we will never be seeing his new look that we just now got used to. The Flash looks unnecessarily clunky, not agile and quick like he should. Wonder Woman looks similar to her previous redesign which happed a whole ONE YEAR AGO. And... is that Cyborg? People care about Cyborg? And is Aquaman a male model?
I love Jim Lee, and I think his work is almost always solid. But this idea of "modernization" has just ended with gratuitous overkill. People aren't going to see this stuff and say "I recognize these heroes, I should pick this up," but instead will say "What the hell is going on? These all look like kids trying to be heroes that I recognize... for the mostpart... is that supposed to be Superman?!" I'm not going to blame Jim Lee for this, but it is mostly his doing.
Now Geoff Johns, on the other hand... He has been my personal god and my favorite comic book scribe. His reinvention of Green Lantern has been nothing short of incredible. The 2009 event series "Blackest Night" swept the comic world by storm and is one of the best comic stories I've ever read. However, he was overextending himself over multiple books and events, and it showed with "Brightest Day" and a couple of issues of his "Flash" reboot. And now, after crafting this massive "Flashpoint" event that has been hyped for a year now, he is going to undo everything he has already done, as well as everything all the other writers that have put their souls into this company have done. For what?
I admit, I think it'll be nice to finally see a solid Justice League of America book with the big members of DC like Batman and Superman since they haven't been members of the JLA for a few years now, and the book has been suffering due to poor writing and a roster of little known or little liked characters. But do they really have to say "screw this noise, let's start EVERYTHING over again"?
Also, what is the incentive to keep reading until the reboot? We already know that everything that happens doesn't matter at all, so why bother reading since it's all going to be erased anyways.
Well, now it's time for a conspiracy theory of my own that I can only hope will happen at this point. DC will be launching 52 titles, which is, coincidentally, the number of alternate universes in the DC lore, as well as the amount of weeks in a year. Maybe this whole thing will be yet another event, and be a reintroduction to all the characters and places in the DCU, and maybe it will end in a year, and then the normal numbering and series will continue in a continuity close to what we already have right now. Yeah, we'd have a year of pointless storytelling to deal with, but in my opinion, that would be more entertaining knowing that we'd get to return to the worlds and storylines we have become invested in over the years.
What is the point of dragging characters back to square one? Readers care about characters that learn, age, grow, stories that go somewhere, lead to new things, bring us new places, unfold over time and draw from a rich past. Until today, I've had the utmost faith in Geoff Johns, and I've stood beside DC in their events, even during periods of time where weak issues dominated the racks (for the mostpart), but this is ridiculous. They've effectively alienated their core fanbase in an effort to appeal to a new group of readers that they've always wanted, but have never gotten, because quite frankly, that group doesn't exist. Sure, people get interested and pick up comics here and there, and sometimes that develops into collecting. The influx of comicbook based movies has also helped a little by almost being commercials for the comics, also leading to more people picking up comics. But "rebooting" everything WILL NOT magically attract a whole new readership in droves. In fact, they might lose readers, as all of the stories we have already read will be null and void, and we have to start the whole thing over again, which is a lot of reading, a lot of work, and hardly rewarding.
Maybe this is a knee-jerk reaction, and I hope to whatever god or gods that may or may not be that I am wrong with my frustration and anger, and that this pans out as a fun ride that is enjoyable. But it is quotes like "fans will see a new approach to our storytelling," "start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience," and "redesigns and a "younger" continuity" that raise concern with me.
As a friend of mine said today, "How is it entertaining to see Hal Jordan running around while worrying about the recession?" Great question, my friend, great question.
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