Revolution Roundtable: The New DCU
- Published on Saturday, 04 June 2011 08:25
- Written by Rokk
- Hits: 1439
Darn vacation. Happening at the exact moment this crap goes down. I will say this much right now, I think the move is ballsy and largely done to coincide with the decision to go day and date digital release. It makes a lot of sense, too. What is the better way to get people to buy your digital comics then to make them accessible to everyone.
The extent of the continuity dump is largely unknown right now. Wonder Woman will get herself another fix, though it's all there to fix JMS (thoughts on this later). Superman looks a lot younger and chances are we might see an undoing of the marriage (which, I oddly liked because of various reasons. Weird I know considering I hated Pete and MJ). We still don't know jack about what will happen to legacies, but I have a feeling many will establish their own name instead of their mantle. Sure, some might be written off. Bart will most likely be sent back the 30th century. Stephanie Brown (the current Batgirl) might return to being Spoiler (PLEASE KEEP HER AROUND DC), and Superboy might actually stick considering the Young Justice TV series where even there they have a younger Superman and his clone.
The Green Lantern Corps looks to be hit hard too, when you consider that it's been said after War of the GL, there will be only two Lanterns from Earth. Those will be Hal and Guy (Maybe John). Guy will become a Red Lantern, if it is Stewart. Kyle will likely be a Blue Lantern.
It should be noting that of the 52 #1's being released, I feel that only 30 of them (at best) are ongoings and the rest will be mini-series and one shots to flesh out the new origins. DC just loves the number 52 and will flaunt it when it can. I also have a sneaking feeling that this might be the moment when we'll see more multiverse books and with that, the true rebirth of Wildstorm. DC has a lot of books to fill out in the 52 and Wildstorm is in desperate need of a fix.
That's my thoughts for now, and I will elaborate on them more when I return home next week. Just a lot to process and I know I am barely touching the tip of the iceberg of my thoughts on this matter. I will say I am cautiously optimistic on the matter. It's a bold and daring move for DC and will shake up everything. Marvel will be looking over their shoulder right now.
As a new comic reader, I personally think this move by DC is great. I've always found them a lot harder to get into than Marvel, with all the Crises and characters that don't seem to have evolved since their creation. They have always felt like an old-school company to me, and this move sounds like they've finally realised it themselves. It's as if they've gone, "Hey, we've read some books from this little-known publisher called Marvel, and it seems that they have their characters acting like real people between all the superhero stuff, and we think it's working for them, so perhaps we should give that a go."
I also think it's a real step forward for the industry for them to be releasing the books synchronously in digital format. I'll always love TPBs and HCs for my bookshelf, but when it comes to singles, I'm digital all the way, baby!
On the flipside, I really couldn't care less about the costume changes, because unless you're doing a film adaptation, I don't think anyone considers a costume's practicality and realism. The renumbering back to #1 really doesn't faze me, either. I'm reading a comic for its characters, art, and story, not the little number printed on the front.
Oh man, where to begin? Let's start with the stories. First off, DC never used the word "reboot." However, if they do reboot, I am 110% on board with this. The comics industry is in steady decline. Doing the same thing over and over isn't changing anything. In fact, to expect it to do so is the definition of insanity.
I feel like DC is stepping up and trying something bold here. If it's a reboot, and it seems to be, they could do something great here to draw in new readers. It does have to be done correctly, however. If it is, this may put DC on the path to catching up with, or even surpassing Marvel.
Why am I so positive about all of this? Well, look at the first book announced. Putting Johns and Lee on a new JLA title, particularly one that features the majority of the Big 7, shows that they have been listening to their fanbase, at least somewhat. This is a heavy-hitting team that will bring the sales numbers of JLA back to where they belong. I am fully convinced that a strong JLA title is absolutely crucial to the future of DC, as well as comics in general.
Also, let's take a look at the digital plans. Same date release? Genius. At this point it all depends on pricing. If they give digital the same price as print, this will be a massive failure on DC's part. However, if they are able to lower that price to .99, this will force Marvel's hand as well and digital comics will begin to become what they have the potential to be.
All in all, I'm quite optimistic about this announcement. Perhaps I shouldn't be, given track records and all, but I choose to look agt the positives. Plus, if we finally get those Wildstorm characters in the DCU and kill off Batman Inc., won't we all be better off?
This is going to piss off a lot of fans but I’ll say this about DC’s reboot: ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME! After 20+ years of continuity it is time to reboot the DCU. I understand everyone rioting on the streets when the first heard this news but the truth is this is the perfect time to reboot. Actually, this I would say this has been something that has been coming for a few years now. If I were DC I would have rebooted the universe with Final Crisis since Grant Morrison built that story more or less to be the final story of the current DCU.
To be honest, this is something that DC is smart to do not only to give new readers a chance to jumping on point but also a chance to wipe their hands clean of this Event Era that has become the 2000’s for comics. As sales have shown, even though both DC and Marvel have gotten sales spikes from their big events, the sales for each following event since Civil War and Infinite Crisis have fallen. Not only that but the sales both companies gain during their events sink after the events as readers do not stick around with the ongoing books. As a business this is the worst thing because it means there is some interest in these franchises but that neither company is doing what it takes to keep the readers.
So with how much more failure to keep new readers that DC and Marvel have had it is time to start over in a sense. And DC was in desperate need to be rebooted with how their universe is filled with five generations of superheroes and super villains running around at the same time. No matter how much DC fans will defend that all these Legacy characters add to the universe all they really do is bring up more questions about continuity. When trying to explain how all these characters can exist at the same time to a new fan we typically end up sounding like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.
Honestly, I have no idea how many different versions of Aquaman, Hawkman, Wonder Woman and so on we have had in the current DCU. Also with the legendary runs that both Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns have had with Batman and Green Lantern, respectively, it is hard to imagine another writer trying to pick up where the left off. Both Morrison and Johns have built their runs to not only be definitive runs but also runs that will give the characters a perfect way to walk off into the sunset. So with that, I would not mind reading early adventures of Batman and Green Lantern, especially since we have whole generations that did not grow up with Dick Grayson as Robin even though he is who everyone knows as Robin outside comic book fans.
And I have to give it up to DC for going in fully into the digital market with day-in-date release for the 52 re-launched books. Though Image has already done this, it is awesome that DC is actually arriving to the party on time instead of after the party is over. For a long time, DC has lived in ancient times as they are always the last in the industry to fully utilize the power of the Internet and technology in general to further promote their material. So for DC doing this before Marvel is huge not only because them being one of the Big Two will force all the other comic companies to follow suit, but also give them the opportunity for the first time in a decade to overtake Marvel as the #1 publisher. This all makes for an exciting time for fans as now the race is on.
Look, I am upset about having the thousands of dollars I have spent on the current DCU to be done with but at the same time it is not like this time did not exist. I still have all these comics in m collection in either trade or singles. I will always be able to go back and read those stories I have collected so if I don’t like the direction DC is going I can just read all the Batman, JLA, Green Lantern, etc. trades I have in my collection. I would save money by doing that.
All I know right now is that it will be refreshing that writers like Scott Snyder and Paul Cornell will have the opportunity to have runs on Batman, Superman, Flash or whoever they end up writing without worrying about 20+ years of continuity. So, if this re-launch is handled by the right people, this new direction by DC can turn out to be a great thing.
Mixed emotions is a term I use often in commentary posts like Solicit Commentary. I'll see something that looks good or bad but hope there may be some good in it, or see something that looks good but see something that could be a major problem with it. I have various mixed emotions with this big announcement and, honestly, I want to be furious but I can't totally hate it until I see what the final product of it will be.
First off, I think I need to address that this is totally 100% a sales gimmick. Let’s not beat around the bush and pretend that it isn't. We all know it is. Marvel does this every other month with a new ongoing just to get an extra 1,000 readers that will be gone by issue #2. I complain about Marvel doing this every month in Solicit Commentary to the point where I can copy and past a comment from one month into the next and it perfectly fits.
But that's one comic at a time and usually it fits for some marketing gimmick like Death of Johnny Storm, Death of Spider-man, The Thor and Captain American movie, etc. You see where they're coming from and in the end while it’s a cheap gimmick there's still one thing you can count on: Continuity.
As confusing as it is that we'll have three Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 1's in the near future at the very least it all fits. Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Comics Spider-man and Ultimate Ultimate Comics Spider-Man-Man are all in the same continuity and continuing the same series. Just like FF, The Mighty Thor and the upcoming Captain America reboot are all just continuations of the creators’ current runs, just with a #1 on the front to artificially drive up sales.
But this? This goes beyond your typical renumbering and rebooting gimmick. This goes past the atmosphere and breaks through time and space and creates a paradox of “what the hell?” that could shatter comic book-dom as we know it. This is just insane. You're rebooting your entire universe and for what? A sales gimmick? Are you mad?
For as much as I bitch Marvel apart at least their sales gimmicky reboots and renumbering are all continuing what they've been doing the last 70 years. They aren't just throwing their hands up in the air and giving up on decades of writing and character development.
Except for that one time with that one spider hero that shall not be mention.
If ever there was a visual for the term “throwing the baby out with the bath water” this is it! I don't know who at DC made this call. Maybe someone was seeing how well FF #1 sold and figured that if one comic that did that sold so well, 52 comics that do that should sell even better! What could possibly go wrong?
Here's the thing folks: I like continuity. I'm not a continuity buff, but I like it when writers take a character or a story arc and build off from what it's done for the series or the main hero. Developing new stories and ideas off of what has come before. It has lead to some pretty damn good stuff and to just throw it all away to start over is a huge waste of all those years of writing and building up this universe.
Now, I'm not gonna lie, DC is not the easiest universe to get into. When I tried a few years back with books like Teen Titans and JLA I was left scratching my head at what the hell was going on. But, you know what? For the most part it is not that impossible to get into a good DC book. The good ones like Detective Comics, Booster Gold, Green Lantern and so on use continuity to the point where it isn't confusing but instead fun to see how they introduce newer readers to old characters or older storylines.
But now we come to the more personal side of why this upsets me: The Bat-Family. I'm a big Batman fan and I love the little universe Bruce Wayne has built up around himself. From when Dick Grayson became Robin, Barbara Gordon as Batgirl all the way up to now with Damian as Robin and a Batwoman. I love what has become of the Batfamily and how much it has grown over the years.
Is that all going to be flushed down the toilet and we'll just pretend it never happened? Will Dick be Robin again? Will Barbara still be Oracle or maybe even become Batgirl again? What about Damian or Stephanie Brown? Are we seriously going to throw out some excellent characters and story lines all for the sake of new-reader friendly? If so that is doing a disservice to your fans and your very own creations which have come alive so well.
Man, I'm getting a lot angrier than I thought I was about this.
Will Superman not be married anymore? Will Wally West be Kid-Flash again? Who will be the Teen Titans? What's the point of even reading these comics anymore if everything I know and love about the characters and the worlds around them is tossed out and treated like it was all just garbage?
Now to be fair I am speculating a lot at this point, but that's because DC hasn't told us a damn thing really other than a couple of the creative teams. Maybe my fears are nothing to worry about. But if not, if DC really is just saying screw it and giving up? I don't think there would be a reason to ever read another DC comic again. If they don't care about their characters why should I?
But to bring it back to my early point, maybe it won't be that bad. Maybe DC isn't totally screwing themselves over and maybe this rebooted universe won't be a huge flop like it looks to be. I won't hold my breath.
I have to admit I am hopeful for the future creative teams. Mostly that Scott Snyder or Paul Dini finally get the reigns over Batman since it seems that Grant Morrison may be off the series finally. You had your fun, Grant, now its time to let someone else drive the Batmobile. Plus, Geoff Johns is still on Green Lantern and his new Aquaman series sounds great. Honestly, this has some potential and I don't want to totally condemn it until I see the first batch of issues hit the shelves.
Then there's the fact that they're releasing the issues digitally the regular day of release. Since I don't have an iPad (Not until I convince Rokk to buy me one for snagging that Scott Snyder Interview) I don't read Digital Comics but I can say that if this is DC's hope to get new readers this is a brilliant move since a lot of people seem to be slowly migrating to digital. Marvel has tested the waters but DC is diving head-first and I think its going to pay off well for them.
So, overall, I don't really like this reboot. I think it could backfire and ruin decades of great character work and great stories for DC. But I won't totally condemn it just yet. I will wait and see who is doing what and if something interests me and it looks like they aren't just flipping off the fans with this reboot then I may give some of their stuff a try. Here's to hoping for a Brightest Day instead of a Blackest Night for DC.
A Few Days Later:
Well, those were my thoughts a couple of days ago. How do I feel now? Well, for the most part I'm still a bit worried. And this is still 100% sales gimmick. But, I admit that the anger has subsided for the most part. Now, I'm just worried about characters like Damian, Conner and other characters that haven't usually been viewed as important enough to keep around. DC is very tight-lipped about the reboot as far as exactly who is where and what all is happening. We could be losing a lot of great characters because of this reboot and if that's the case then this reboot will be a bad idea in my opinion.
Having said that, some creative teams are being announced or teased and we're starting to see what the dawn for the new DCU will look like. So I might as well add some of my thoughts on this.
The most interesting announcement for me was a new Batgirl ongoing. This time starring none other than Barbara Gordon. The original. Now I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series as well as the updated show New Batman Adventures and one of my favorite parts of NBA was making Batgirl a more important character. I really grew to like her even more than Robin really, so for me Barbara Gordon has always been Batgirl even though characters like Cassandra and Stephanie have done a good job of taking her place.
I've been happy with Barbara's place in the Bat-family as Oracle. If anything her time as Oracle has been more important and interesting then when she was Batgirl. She's done a lot of great stuff with the Birds of Prey. But as a big fan of Tara Strong's Batgirl from my youth in animation I'm very excited at the idea of Barbara dawning her old digs in a modern setting and seeing her adventures as Batgirl nowadays instead of decades ago.
So far we don't know who the creative team for the new Batgirl is but my fingers are crossed for Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen. Mostly because this is my new Bat-Dream-Team. When these 2 get together, magic happens. Their work on Detective and Streets of Gotham was fantastic and I hope they reunite again.
I also hope Dini gets the job because from what I was told he originally was plannig to restore Barbara's legs long ago, with the help of Alex Ross. She would have become Batwoman. But that design eventually lead to the creation of the Batwoman was have nowadays and Barbara has remained Oracle. Dini is clearly a fan of Babs as Batgirl and he wrote her well in New Batman Adventures so my hopes are high that he gets to write her again here.
There's also going to be a Nightwing ongoing which most likely means Dick Grayson is back to the blue and black. Which is fine with me. I had no problem with Dick as Batman, I think writers like Paul Dini and Scott Snyder have done great work with Dick's role as Batman but I do think he's better off as his own hero with Nightwing. Though hey, maybe Tim Drake will become Nightwing.
Justice League by Johns and Lee, now there's a team that sounds great on paper. Seriously. If you gave 100 DC fans their dream creative teams for all their big books I'd bet good money that you'd get a good amount of names saying they'd want Johns or Lee to work on the Justice League. It sounds like a match made in heaven but if we stop to think about it, its a disaster waiting to happen.
All right so the Geoff Johns part is good. We can all agree he's an incredibly talented writer and him handling DC's flagship team is a great idea. For the last several years DC has had no idea what to do with the League. Johns taking over and seeing that it will have a big roster of the big-name heroes ensures this will at least be an exciting title, or one to watch for.
But like I said, sounds good on paper. There's just one tinsy tiny itty bitty huge problem: Jim Lee. Before I go on I should say that Lee is one of the most talented artists in the business and his work was defining back in the 90's and its still some of the best examples of how great comic book art can look. Lee is a modern day master and there's no denying that. But he just can't do monthly comics. At all.
Remember All Star Batman? I know it had its fair share of haters, but I was a fan and if Lee had accomplished a bi-monthly schedule it would have been over by now. But the man is just too busy. First he was managing Wildstorm and now he's managing the DCU. He's just got too much on his plate and unless he drew the first 20 issues in advance I can bet he's not going to make it to issue #2.
But Andrenn, I hear you shout in Internet Land, that was a couple years ago! He hasn't even done an issue of All Star Batman since late 2008! That was half a century ago! Surely he's changed his ways and can keep up with a monthly schedule now.
Batman: Europa says otherwise. Remember that? Oh yeah. DC was pretty hyped about it. Jim Lee drawing the first issue of this exciting new Batman mini. How'd that turn out, DC? Oh what's that? Issue #1 still isn't you? Jim Lee moved on to another project? Well I'll be damned. And how about All Star Batman's ending? Dark Knight: Boy Wonder. 6 issue mini with Frank Miller. Was supposed to debut February this year and now we haven't heard a thing about it.
Lee is a fantastic artist but the man can't do monthly. He just can't. If All Star Batman, Dark Knight: Boy Wonder and Batman: Europa can't convince you of that then you aren't really paying attention. I'm sure Johns will be writing the Justice League but I won't even give Jim Lee one full issue. Even if he does he certainly won't last until the end of the first arc. If he does I will be impressed but I'm not holding my breathe.
Wonder Woman, the only book of the 10 announced creative teams from the other day that really caught my interest. While Brian Azarello is not a name that comes to mind when I think of Wonder Woman. However, I know he's a very talented writer so I'm curious to see his take on the character. Even more exciting is Cliff Chiang drawing the series. Chiang is a fantastic artist and his first issue cover alone should sell you on the title. Never been a big Wonder Woman fan but I'm tempted to check out the new ongoing for the art alone.
Manapul on the Flash. Writing/Drawing the new ongoing, Francis Manapul makes his writing debut. This brings up the topic of artists writing. DC has let quite a few talented artists start writing. Tony Daniel, David Finch and now Manapul. Is this a good idea or not? Well personally I think many writer/artists can be a good thing. When you're both writing and drawing your comic you have a perfect idea of what your vision is for each page and there's no way an idea or important detail gets lost in the transition from script to a page.
Manapul is one of the best new talents in comics today and his Flash work is fantastic to say the least. But should he really be writing one of DC's biggest heroes? Personally I think he should be given a chance and I have hopes he can do some great work. Even then if the writing is flawed it will still be a great looking book. If I hear good things I'll give this series a try.
Tony Daniel and Phillip Tan will be teaming up for a new Hawkman ongoing. Fun fact, both of these artists have drawn Spawn. I have a quota of Image comics references to fill per post. Anyway I'm not a big fan of Hawkman and I won't be checking this series out. But I'm a fan of Tan's artwork so again if I hear good things I may give it a look in the near future.
Green, Green, Green and more Green. Green Lantern has become a huge property for the DCU. First off there's the main ongoing, still Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke. A team no one can complain about. Then Tomasi is returning to GL Corps, again, no complaints there. Red Lanterns by Peter Milligan and Ed Benes sounds pretty cool. I'm a huge fan of Atrocitus so seeing him get his own ongoing has my attention. Then there's New Guardians where Kyle Rayner takes center stage as leader of some group that unites all the Corps. Not sure what to think about that one but it sounds interesting. All 4 GL books look like something I'd like to at least give a first issue read.
There's other stuff like a new Green Arrow series, a new JLI that looks pretty awesome and some other interesting announcements but for now lets call it a day. These are my updated thoughts and to wrap up now that the initial anger has subsided I'm trying my best to be hopeful for the DCU reboot. I don't take back my complaints prior but I will be giving a few books a try this September. And then I look forward to the re-numberings they'll all get in a year.