Thursday, June 02, 2011

Same *#&$, Different Day

So DC is relaunching their entire universe with 52 new #1 issues later this year. In a move that will utterly shock anyone who’s ever read anything I’ve written, while this has potential, I think this is going to go horribly.

Back in 1988, DC reached the conclusion that their entire universe had become too cluttered, too complicated, and too impenetrable. So they had a crossover meant to start everything over from scratch. Except they half assed it. Superman was relaunched from scratch, but in everyone else’s book, this was totally ignored. Wonder Woman was totally reintroduced to the entire line as a brand new character. And Batman ignored it completely, his history remaining largely intact. This kind of inconsistent rebooting happened throughout the entire line and lead to a mess that 20 years of comics and multiple crossovers have failed to fix. So in 2011, DC has reached the same conclusion they reached in 1988 and decided to chuck it all and start over.

The first question is: how thorough a restart is this going to be? Is everything getting restarted from day one? I would not be shocked if they did this with Doom Patrol or JSA, but I’d be particularly surprised if they were to just toss out everything Geoff Johns has been doing for 6 years on Green Lantern or Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. If DC has learned anything from 1988, they’ll bring some consistency to this approach, because the lack of consistency in their 1988 reboots is what lead to the confusion they have today.

But continuity issues are not my concern. My concern is the people in charge of DC, namely Dan Didio, Bob Harras, and Geoff Johns. Their entire time in charge at DC has been a nostalgia tinged look back at the Silver Age that ignores any progression the company has made since Geoff Johns’ childhood ended. A look at the initial titles does not seem all that promising. Though nothing else is known, Nightwing is back as a title, so I doubt things look good for Dick Grayson as Batman (sorry Jim). Batgirl is back and Barbara Gordon looks to be back in the cowl. This strikes me as particularly short sighted. They’re not only retconing one of the most well regarded Batman stories ever, but also eliminating probably the most high profile disabled character in comics so that we can return her to an incarnation that no comics fan under 35 remembers her in. For the last few years, DC has been moving back to the Silver Age in fits and starts. Looks like we’re about to take a final, giant leap.

What’s particularly worrying however, is the people in charge of DC’s inability to recruit or cultivate talent. DC has to relaunch 52 titles! That means not only 52 number ones, but 52 number 3s and 52 numbers 7s and so on and so forth. They’ll have to generate excitement on a ton of titles for months! And there’s no staggered relaunch, so they’ll have to do this all at once!

That’s going to take a lot of work to get going. So who’s the creative talent we know are on the books? Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on Justice League, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis on Aquaman, probably Geoff Johns on Green Lantern, Grant Morrison on Superman, James Robinson and Philip Tan on Hawkman, and Fabian Nicieza on Teen Titans. Now there’s going to be a lot of high turnover on DC’s titles apparently, and that’s a good thing. DC’s titles have been awful by and large and a lot of those guys need to go. But those are all guys who have been neck deep in the crap that DC’s been turning out lately. We know names like John Rozum and Gail Simone are involved in some capacity and that’s good to hear, but I am highly doubtful they’ll be given anything above the c-list. We haven’t heard one name yet that hasn’t been writing DC stuff under Didio.

Seeing a name like Nicieza has me convinced we’re going to get a lot of 2nd or 3rd tier talent following Geoff Johns’ bullet points on these titles. The top of the line will dictate what is happening on even minor books, as opposed to creators being given a framework in which they can be creative and innovate. It doesn’t sound like we’ll be getting new and different, but more of the same.

Even high profile names don’t have me excited. Johns relaunching titles no longer feels new. After reading about sad Mon-El and the worst JLA run in recent memory (and THAT is saying something), I doubt I’ll ever get excited for Robinson again. And as Jim said, even Morrison on Superman isn’t as exciting as it could be, because we already know what that’s like.

What DC is doing is a bold, radical move and on some level they deserve to be commended for that. The problem is the people in charge of this are the ones who helped create this mess in the first place. Look at the mess they made when they tried to reboot everything with Infinite Crisis. Why should I believe they can do this time?


  1. You never know. It could be Nixon going to China.

  2. I think it is too soon to make snap judgments. I think I'll like some of it and hate some of it.

    But its DC so Greg hates it already. :P

  3. Its less DC and more Didio and company. I mean, this is like Bush and Cheney and the gang asking us to let them start another war in the middle east. "No c'mon guys, we'll get it right THIS time!"

  4. It just might work, if they sell all 52 titles at Silver Age prices -- only 12 cents each.

  5. I know I'll not be touching any of it with a 10 foot pole since as you summed up nicely: "The problem is the people in charge of this are the ones who helped create this mess in the first place."

    I also agree with your point that DC just doesn't have the talent to sustain this in any case.

    Some titles could have potential if Johns/Morrison/Didio/Lee have written a DC Universe bible but otherwise left the writers to do what they like (like John Rozum on Xombi or Gail Simone on Secret Six at the moment), but given their previous record of top-down editorially mandated writing, that seems highly unlikely.