Between the initial article in USA Today, the letter from Bob Wayne, and the follow-up information also on Comic Book Resources, the internet is abuzz with the news of DC Comic's impending massive reboot of, apparently, 52 titles. From Superman to Wonder Woman to Teen Titans, it appears nearly every corner of the DCU is going to be affected by this Flashpoint-induced change.
With only a few details leaking out, it looks like Grant Morrison will helm a Superman book, Birds of Prey will go on without Gail Simone, Geoff Johns will still own the Green Lanter-verse while simultaneously helming a JLA book with Jim Lee on art, while Hawkman & Aquaman will get their own titles once again. And that's not even all of the details out at this moment...Teen Titans, JSA, & Wonder Woman were all also on the list for new #1's.
Never before has something on this scale been attempted by either of The Big Two. Once upon a time, following the 13-issue "Heroes Reborn" maxi-series, Marvel, under the "Heroes Return" banner, started Captain America, Thor, The Fanatastic Four, Iron Man, and The Avengers back at issue #1 with resounding success sales-wise (at least for the first issue). They did the same with Marvel Knights titles like Punisher & Daredevil, with Amazing Spider-Man, and are also slated to do it once again with Captain America, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, & Punisher in the next couple months. A brand new Moon Knight started with #1 once again just recently which marks perhaps the 6th volume of a series bearing his name. The new Punisher series might just be the 7th or 8th volume of a book bearing that name...quite ridiculous considering it has essentially been one on-going series since 1987.
Now in the case of ASM, Daredevil, and the Heroes Return comics, all of them eventually resumed their original numbering (usually as they approached a milestone issue) after several months, if not years, of using BOTH numbers on the front cover. Talk about confusing when you're reading issue 30 of Daredevil and it also has a 410 in the corner box.
I recall lots of outcry at the time to resume the original numbering, which is what led to Marvel first double numbering and eventually just going back to the original numbers. I can easily see the exact same thing happening after a few years of a new DD comic, especially considering DD morphed into Black Panther: Man Without Fear in Matt Murdock's absence. Why not give Panther the new #1 (it would have been his 5th volume) and move DD back into his proper book? Why restart Moon Knight or Punisher or Ghost Rider?
The argument would probably be that it's a new status quo to go along with the new number one but really that can be done within the context of an exisiting numbering sequence. It's a sales thing, plain and simple...nothing to do with status quo or reboots or whatever label gets attached to it. It is proven to make money, and ultimately, comic book fandom be damned, Marvel & DC & every other company is looking to make money. Especially in a market that has drastically fallen when comparing sales figures from just a few years ago to today.
I can't fault the companies for finding ways to make money, especially if they can find ways to make it work within the context of whatever story arc is going on. What better way to push reset on the entire DC Universe than as a results of a story that is dealing with time travel & its effects? So my issue isn't so much with the renumbering, although it would be heartbreaking to see Detective Comics & Action Comics get reset, it is with the following quote from DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio...
"This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
...and these from DC's Senior Vice President-Sales Bob Wayne explaining that the new No. 1 issues "will introduce readers to a more modern, diverse DC Universe, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character's legend -- but will relate to real world situations, interactions, tragedy and triumph...Some of the characters will have new origins, while others will undergo minor changes," he wrote. "Our characters are always being updated; however, this is the first time all of our characters will be presented in a new way all at once."
So now I'm scared....and the image at the top of this little rant plays directly into those fears. I know I'm being presumptious and guessing at what the future will entail (as I'm sure most of the internet is doing as well), but those are two of DC's top guys essentially saying that things like age will change, and that new origins may emerge! Buzz words like modern & diverse, catch phrases like "real world situations", these all make my brain scream of the marketing for Marvel's Ultimate line all those years ago.
The main difference being that Ultimate was, from day one, a totally seperate Universe in which younger, hipper, less continuity laden, blah blah blah....versions of our Marvel faves got to play. In theory they didn't come with all the baggage of the 616-Marvel proper version and thus could come off more like the movie versions without pissing off the core fanbase; you know the ones that buy the books through thick & thin. Great in theory, and Bendis put out great material with Ultimate Spidey, especially compared to Ultimate X-Men, but it all degenerated into "I wonder what Ultimate (insert name here) looks like" stories. Hell, the Ultimate Universe required a story like "Ultimatum" (as awful as it was) to try and bring the concept back to what it was intended to be. So now I don't read a single Ultimate book....
Now, what does any of that have to do with DC's new initiative? My fear is that the outcome of "Flashpoint" that leads into this #1-Fest is essentially an "Ultimatum", or to keep it company consistent, another "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Has DC reached a point once again where they've decided that all the rich history that has made Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. cultural icons is in fact baggage? Is their too much backstory for your average reader?
Honestly, I'm probably not the best person to judge that because I've been reading Batman for 15 years and have 20 years worth of back isssues. It's impossible for me to pick up a book and NOT know what the backstory is. I know the nuances of every character, of their relationships with Batman, and I know why they are they way they are. I can see how someone would pick up an issue of R.I.P and wonder why the Joker is slitting his tongue in two, why he doesn't seem like the Jack Nicholson, Mark Hammil, or Heath Ledger takes on the character.
Instead of the layers of story wrapped up in this one scene, it appears (based on the image above), that we will be greeted in September with a gaggle of characters who are younger than their pre-Flashpoint iterations. In particular the Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman in that Jim Lee piece look young to mine eye by comparison to their current depictions. So it leaves me to wonder several things:
1) Is this a short term story line point where the characters have to correct the ramifications of Flashpoint & return the world to status quo? (All signs point to no)
2) Are we going to get retold origin tales a la Frank Miller's Batman: Year One or John Byrne's Superman: Man of Steel? (Could be interesting)
3) Will Action Comics & Detective Comics get the #1 treatment? (I hope not)
4) Can Grant Morrison write if he can't dredge up ancient continuity points? (I kid, I kid)
I know I need to take a wait & see approach with this whole situation, but I figured I may as well get my initial gut reaction down on e-paper while it was still fresh in my head. As a long-term fan of Batman, I am a bit scared of the idea of restarting the world & how it will impact Bruce and family. And as a fan of everything Geoff Johns has done with GL in recent years, I really hope that the majority of that sticks (I'm hopeful since Johns seems to be the architect of this endeavor). I don't want to see, and this is my fanboy nature at its most paranoid, Tim Drake & Stephanie Brown disappear from continuity in favor of bringing back Dick as Robin & Barb as Batgirl.
I don't want to see a Lois & Clark who aren't married (had enough of that with Brand New Day) or a cocky, arrogant Hal Jordan circa Emerald Dawn. I appreciate that characters have grown, matured, and evolved over the course of my readership. I mean it's not as if anyone of my generation started following Batman with 'Tec #27 or Superman with Action Comics #1, but we have managed just fine.
So, I will head into this new endeavor with those fears, but also with hopes. Hopes for something great from the Johns/Lee collaboration on JLA, for a return to greatness for the JSA & Wonder Woman, and definitely high hopes for the Morrison Superman project (maybe he'll get to do something like Superman 2000 finally....oh wait Spider-Man ripped it off already, and All Star Supes was kind of that anyway). I am intrigued to see what other news will come on this subject in the ensuing weeks...it's only June after all and this party doesn't start until September!
Please DC Comics, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, and whomever else is spearheading this....please prove me wrong. And be prepared for the deluge of letters, e-mails, tweets, and what not pestering you with questions about what is still considered continuity if this things goes all Crisis-like. And be prepared for Grant Morrison to ignore all of it as he dredges up some random incident from 53 years ago and turns it into a key ingredient in the life of Superman....
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