Friday, June 10, 2011

Nerd Rage #7: The Great DC Comics Reboot of 2011

DC rebuilds the JLA with their most iconic characters
...And also Cyborg
I was debating whether or not I should write about this subject but ultimately I figured I might as well as it deals with several lingering issues that I was planning to address anyway and is really the biggest news story in comics right now.  It’s going to be a pretty stone cold nerdy blog though, I’m afraid.

So for those of you who haven’t heard (And if you indeed haven’t heard than you must not read comic books regularly) but DC Comics is rebooting the DC Universe following the current crossover “Flashpoint”.  Well “reboot” may be the wrong word as DC has been claiming it’s not a proper reboot. Plus all of the details have yet to be made clear.  As I understand what’s happening is that DC will be canceling all their titles and starting in September start releasing 52 new titles, most of which will simply be re-numbered issues of their catalogs (Superman #1, Batman #1, etc.).  At the same time, apparently due time travel madness as seen in Flashpoint (Though honestly I’m not 100% sure about that), the DC Universe continuity will be noticeably altered although to what degree I don’t know.  I’ve heard people say that it’s a full on new continuity and other people say that Batman and Superman are being made drastically younger ala Spider-Man: One More Day and there’s a lot of rumors spinning around the internet.  What we do know for sure is that it seems the vast majority of heroes are getting “updated” costume changes.  Seeing as I’m of the opinion that massive retcons in general are normally just an excuse to re-use old plots I’m not super into this news.

The reason for this change is apparently to give new readers a jumping on point.  New readers, huh?  It seems like DC and Marvel Comics are always trying to gain these “new readers” and it always seems to involve revised origins, massive retcons and new #1 issues.  I’m not sure either company have ever been really successful in the long term using this strategy but, hey, just because it didn’t work the last few times doesn’t mean it won’t work this time.  Or the next time.  Or the next time after that.

Pictured: DC's 2009 "Bold New Change" for Batman
New Readers Gained: Apparently Not Enough
I’m trying not to be too put off by all of this since as of this writing I do not know all the details of this new direction and am still months away from being able to read anything (Though I suspect a lot of things will be revealed during the San Diego Comic-Con).  Still what little I do know makes me feel like DC is about to make a huge blunder and isolate a lot of long time readers.  Plus I feel what I have heard form DC is the same B.S. I’ve hard for years about “Bold New Directions” and “Never Be the Same” and all that noise.   For now I’m cautiously pessimistic: I’m concerned but I’ll keep an open mind.

DC also announced that they’d be releasing digital version of the titles the same day the print versions come out.  A lot of people are excited about this but I HATE digital comics with a fiery passion so all this says to me is “Yet another step until comic book shops go the way of arcades.”

More about the Reboot after the jump.


"DC Comics re-creates the DCU for a new age-"
Oops. Sorry, I'm reading a script from 26 years ago

This is not the first time DC has sought to modernize their comics through massive retcons or try to lure new readers in with “New Beginnings”. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that Superboy-Prime repeatedly punched the wall of reality so that writers could justify any and every plot point they could think off?  Wasn’t that the whole point of the Infinite Crisis and One Year Later storylines?  Of course the granddaddy of them all is Crisis on Infinite Earths with made massive changed to the DCU.   But the alterations never seem to stick longer than five years before things get changed around again, so likely whatever crap DC does here likely won’t be the status quo for very long.   Frankly I don’t really understand why they feel the need t make these changes, since I doubt that they will actually be able to attract a large number of new fans who will be buying their comics for years to come, but theoretically if good stories come out of this then it shouldn’t be an issue.  Based on what I currently know here’s some good points, bad pints, and questions I have about this new direction:

The Good

-Both Static and Batwoman will indeed finally get the ongoing titles that we were all promised.  Both the books have been canceled and delayed to the point that I was starting to think it was never happening (Especially Batwoman which was delayed something like three times until it was finally just outright canceled).  As a fan of diversity in superhero comics having a young black character and a lesbian character being the led in a feature is a really exciting to me and I will be sure to pick up both Static Shock #1 and Batwoman #1.

-Mister Terrific is finally getting his own ongoing series!  HELL YEAH!!!  I didn’t really say much of anything about this character during Black History Month but that was mainly because I hoped to talk in greater detail about him in the future.  I’m super excited about this (Slightly less excited that he’s missing his trademark jacket though) because I sincerely believe that of all of DC’s current stock of black heroes Michael Holt is the coolest.

Sadly without his jacket he is but half a man
 -Despite some worry that they’d be retconed out of existence Tim Drake and Damien Wayne will remain active a Red Robin and Robin (And yet with all these changes no one at DC could think of a better superhero moniker for Tim than “Red Robin”).  Though Tim doesn’t seem to still have his own solo title at least DC hasn’t back tracked on setting up Damien as the new Robin.

-Blue Beatle Jamie Reyes has his solo title back!  I admit I was one of those guys who didn’t accept Jamie at first (Due to still being wounded over DC turning Ted Kord/Blue Beatle II into a badass and killing him immediately afterward) but after reading trades of his series I have drastically changed my tune.  Add this to my pull list!

The Bad

-First of all most of the costume redesigns are absolutely dreadful.  Looking at some of these covers I’m borderline offended at the stupidity and over design of some of them.  As I understand it Jim Lee has been doing most of these designs which explains why some of this artwork makes me think I’m looking at early Image Comics/90’s Bullshit when I look at some of the.   Not all of them are bad, for example I kind of like Red Robin’s new look, but a lot for them are awful and ALL OF THEM are unnecessary.  Check out the Superman Family titles here.  Poor, poor Supergirl.  The worst offender: Harley Quinn who looks to be suffering from a severe case of "Sexual Exploitation".

Comic Books...sexist?  No wayYou think?
 -Oracle, aka Barbara Gordon, one of the most unique and interesting superhero characters DC ever created, is as of now tagged to once again become Batgirl.  There are a lot of reasons why this is a horrible idea and I seriously think the people behind this and the supporters of it are being really short sighted but I can’t begin to go into now because then I’d be here all day.  With essays about Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown perhaps Oracle deserves some love as well…

-Secret Six has been canceled as a result of this move (Well, there may be other factors) and writer Gail Simone will be working on the new Batgirl and Firestorm books.   The world is now a slightly worse place to live in.

-Unless I’m misunderstanding things (And I may be doing that) it sounds like various aspects of the Wildstorm Universe (Created by Jim Lee) are being incorporated into the DCU proper.  In short Wildstorm featured A LOT of violent antiheroes living in a very dark world doing very questionably heroic things and probably shouldn’t be trying to exists in the more optimistic pages of DC alongside Superman (Hell, Superman comics have in the past tried to deconstruct that exact type of character).  That said if Apollo and Midnighter are still portrayed as being married then I think I can eventually get behind this since superhero comics in general have a severe lack gay dudes kissing.

The future of the DCU is NOW!

Questions

-How much of the history of the DCU is being changed here?  I’ve seen some things that imply some pretty big alterations, such as implications that Red Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash have never met before the upcoming Teen Titans #1.   If true doesn’t that invalidate not only all of Young Justice but also the REBOOT of the Teen Titans from the 2000s?  Does this mean Secret doesn’t exist?  What about Miss Martian?   Or Ravager?

Eww, it's like the 1990s threw up on the Teen Titans
 -If Barbara Gordon is Batgirl now what happened to Stephanie Brown?  Is she still an active hero?  Was she ever an active hero?  I’ve heard DC say all f the former Robins will star in a title, but does that include Stephanie the Fourth Robin or does she not count?  I’m all for her becoming the Spoiler again, as I’ve said before, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with her losing her spot as Batgirl what with all the wonderful character development that went along with it.

-Speaking of former Batgirls…where is Cassandra Cain in all this?   Possibly the greatest of all the Batgirls DC seems to have some weird hatred for the character and keep excluding her from the Batman books despite the fact that SHE’S BRUCE WAYNE’S ADOPTED DAUGHTER! She’s basically spent all of the recent Batman Inc. storyline hold up in Hong Kong (Was it Hong Kong?) far away from the core Batman Family because…um…she’s a girl or something, I guess.  I would love to see  a new ongoing title starring Cassandra, as would a lot of people who enjoy seeing diversity in their comics, but I do not trust that DC will pull the trigger on this but I hope that I turn out to be wrong.

-How about Wally West aka The Flash.  I know DC has already made The False Flash (Barry "Why Won't I Stay Dead" Allen) the main guy with the Flash name but still I would like to read adventures featuring Wally far more than anything featuring his former mentor (Who was dead for 23 years for God's sake...)

-There’s a major rumor, though it’s unconfirmed at this point, that Superman and Lois Lane will no longer married due to the de-aging of key characters.  If true it’s a pointless gesture.   If there are comic readers out there who’s big problem with Superman is that he’s hard to relate to due to his age and being married they need to straighten up their priorities.

That’s pretty much everything I can think of. For now, as I said, I’m cautiously pessimistic.  I don’t want to condemn without seeing a finished product but so far nothing I’ve seen has made me gung-ho about the project as a whole and certain things actively annoy the shit out of me. By September we’ll start to know what’s happening and by the end of the year DC will likely have a clearer idea of where to go from there.

Pictured: Barbara Gordon, Demoted

3 comments:

  1. Don't know if you've been reading Invincible lately, but Kirkman got in a pretty sharp dig at DC in the latest issue. He essentially called this whole thing a cash grab and said they had "no integrity".

    EDIT: oh snap, found the panel
    http://img200.imageshack.us/img200/8602/nointegrity.png

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  2. Hey Beta,

    I just read this post and it was wonderful. I agree with you on several points, and am really hoping that DC doesn't screw things up so bad that I leave and never look back.

    I wanted to comment about how the comic book companies keep trying all these "re-boots" in order to attract new readers. How about just writing some good stories? I have a 9 year old son who has really gotten into comics in the past year. Of the DC books he loves Green Lantern and Flash. He likes the current story lines, and consequently loves going back and reading older issues and learning about all their convoluted pasts. I am not sure how he'll react to this new re-boot, but he was doing just fine before.

    Hey DC (and Marvel): if you write good stories they will come!

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