Two writers face off over DC’s recent reboot.
SPOILER WARNING: The below discussion contains spoiler for DC Universe Rebirth #1
You’ve told me that you’re not going to check out DC Rebirth because it only serves to mess up the continuity even more. I’m here to tell you that you should check out DC Rebirth specifically because it messes up continuity even more.
Every few years, DC and Marvel revise their stories to keep up with the times and shed parts of the characters that didn’t work. Marvel recently had their own reset with Secret Wars and shed a much of the multiverse baggage and now is better off for it. Hal Jordan may have never been the Specter, but let me ask you: is Spider-man married?
This reboot is no different and perhaps is even better because it focuses on the spirit rather than the timeline. DC Universe Rebirth #1 lays out an adventure by Wally West, a much beloved character with decades of continuity, specifically to make his way back into continuity. Meanwhile it takes a page to unceremoniously execute a character created explicitly for the New 52. In the end, the villain is revealed to be someone messing with continuity for the purpose of breaking up relationships. Those relationships and the search for connections runs through the story as Wally runs trying to find a connection in his life.
Why is Wally younger? Why did the “mysterious” villain who is completely spoiled by the press and by the panel layout of the first page mess with relationships? Why does he have a cousin named Wally? Why did we have to blow up that one character?
The answer is obvious: who cares?
What matters most is that the comic in your hands is telling a good story, not whether Beppo the Super-monkey is back in Clark Kent’s apartment or whether Doctor Doom has a face full of scars or a single scar under his mask.
DC Rebirth tells us that the DC Universe is a place where hope and love is powerful. We’ve suffered for four years under the reign of MMA fan Superman and now the DC that we deserve is back. Come back for the hope and don’t worry about whether or not the Batman of Zen Ur-ah is Bruce Wayne having adventures on another planet or is a psychological defense mechanism. Come back for the stories.
I appreciate your trying to get me to read DC Rebirth, but I still think I’ll sit this one out. My problem with DC goes much deeper than continuity. My real problem is their lack of consistency and poor commitment to their creative direction. When they set out to do the New 52 I was excited because I had read smatterings of Batman and Superman as a child, but I mainly stuck to reading Marvel books. I had a hard enough time trying to get an idea of who and what was going on in 30 years of X-Men books, let alone over 60 years of Batman and Superman books without the help of Wikipedia!
I had tried picking up some DC books when I got back into collecting comics again in college, but writer Grant Morrison decided that all 70 years of Batman’s history applied despite Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis saying otherwise. New 52 was supposed to change all that; there would be familiar faces and some familiar history, but the new reader wouldn’t be lost. I contacted my local comic shop and set up some pulls for a large sampling of the Batman and Superman families of books and some books based on characters from the then defunct Wildstorm universe. What I saw was a mixed bag, and not just of quality, but of commitment to the idea of the new 52. DC writers and editors decided that if a book was selling well before Flashpoint there was no reason to change the series, so Green Lantern went on as if nothing had changed, and Batman’s history ended up condensed into a period of 7-10 years instead of decades.
To DC’s credit, Superman was reset and went back to the golden age themes of being a populist hero working for the little guy while trying to find his way in the big city. I slowly started dropping titles and towards the end I was really just reading Batman, but once Scott Snyder was forced to dance around stories like Year One when he was writing his own tales of the early days of Batman’s career I just gave up on the book and dropped it from my pull list. DC tried to spruce things up with DC You, but nothing in that line looked interesting to me so I skipped out on it. Now they have Rebirth and I feel like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it to. From what I’ve gathered from discussions with other fans and forums and talking with my local shop owner, people wanted the old DC universe back. So DC brought it back, but there was some stuff in New 52 that they desperately want to work, so it’s there too. My question is: why can’t they just admit that their gamble didn’t work and just leave the failed New 52 experiment behind them? If you tell the readers you’re doing a fresh start, give them a fresh start.