People have been emailing and asking me what I think about the editorial/story implications of the DC reboot (beyond obvious snark, anyway), and I’ve been resisting the urge to talk about that because the books aren’t out yet and for all I know there are 52 works of genius coming at us every month starting in August or September or whenever this happens. Which won’t be the case, obviously, because Rob Liefeld working Hawk and Dove means there will be at least one comic coming out of the reboot which will be hilariously nigh-unreadable. But that still leaves 51 books.1
But what I can say is that looking at the solicits, the reboot looks awfully like DC wanting to have its cake and eat it too.
Here’s the thing: I understand the appeal of a clean reboot. Start from scratch. Day One of the new DC Universe. This is not a bad idea: Crisis on Infinite Earths gave DC the opportunity to do so and they largely squandered it by rebooting some titles (notably the Superman books) and letting others just sort of meander onwards (Flash, for example, was a book completely rooted in what happened in Crisis) so that the result was a bit of a well-intentioned mess. A well-intentioned mess that created some really great comics, mind you, but a mess nonetheless and one that didn’t achieve DC’s goal of simplifying continuity and creating a perfect start point for new readers across the line.
DC appears to be doing this again with the reboot, where the philosophy is, so far as I can tell, “whatever’s selling well stays more or less as is, and everything else, start from scratch as we like.” This has odd results. Damian Wayne being Robin, for example, has no place in a continuity-wide reboot, because Damian is the result of years of storytelling, but worse than that is the fact that in postboot DC, all four Robins are still around, and as they do that they’re also de-aging Batman a bit, with the result that Batman will apparently have taken in Dick Grayson as his ward at the age of eighteen or so.2 Similarly, all of the various-colour Lantern Corps are sticking around, because I guess people really like Larfleeze.3
I like Damian and the various Lanterns.4 But these are things you toss in a linewide reboot: that’s the cost of doing a reboot properly. Never mind that keeping the stuff you want to keep just embitters fans who feel like they’re losing out on stuff they like on an arbitrary basis (Barbara Gordon as Oracle, Superman and Lois being married, Secret Six, and so forth); by keeping the complicated stuff that sells better, you’re losing your “this is your start point” appeal of the reboot.
I could go on about how some of the titles also don’t just “feel” like DC comics – but that’s another post for another day.5
- Of course, the important question for DC is “can they realistically expect there to be a new audience willing to pay $150 a month to keep up with the entire DC Universe?” and the answer is “probably not, but maybe they know something I don’t.” [↩]
- This actually isn’t that bad an idea, because face it, Bruce taking in Dick was always a sort of a stupid idea to begin with and it actually makes more sense if Bruce is young and maybe a bit headstrong in making this sort of decision. But it definitely doesn’t work so well with what DC’s idea of Batman should be. [↩]
- Other than Larfleeze and Sinestro, does anybody at all care about any of the other various-colour Lanterns? Anybody at all? Maybe people like that Blue Lantern who looks like an elephant? I dunno. [↩]
- Although I think the Rainbow Lanterns are almost completely out of gas at this point and in six months we’re all just going to be sick of them; after three or four years of more or less dominating DC’s storylines it was bound to happen. [↩]
- Which will probably also involve a complaint about Superman’s terrible new costume. [↩]