This month DC Comics announced that they were going to stop all of their superhero titles at the end of August, coinciding with the end of the current Flashpoint crossover event. 52 new superhero titles would begin publication in September with renewed and refreshed versions of the popular DC characters along with some of Jim Lee’s Wildstorm characters coming over into the DC continuity. I’m not going to do a full title by title breakdown for each of the 52 Number 1 issues being brought out by DC Comics this September that’s been done to death by many other blogs better than mine. I’ve been asked by many about my feelings towards this Flashpoint triggered “reboot” of the DC Universe.
How I feel towards this event is tough to explain because my feelings are mixed. My feelings that are positive toward the relaunch are targeted more towards what’s best for DC and what they are trying to handle their characters and remain competitive against Marvel in this business where the sales continue to shrink. My negative feelings are more personal towards some of the characters and as a longtime reader of DC’s books.
I’ll start with “bad news” first and get through my negative feelings. This isn’t the first time that DC has done a reboot of its characters. I’d just gotten back to the USA and regularly buying comics at a comic shop just after DC Comics did reboot of some of its major characters after Crisis on Infinite Earths had tied up. Now I’d totally missed the boat on this crossover event. Since I lived overseas and relied on a newstand for my comic books. But I got into it quickly the gradual retelling of the stories of Superman and Batman and the other changes regarding the multiple dimensional Earths. It wasn’t too much of a shake up to me, I was a fairly new comic book reader still, so continuity and history weren’t that big of a deal. This time though I’ve been reading comics for almost 30 years, and throwing away that continuity and history to freshen things up is seem unfortunate even though I understand the business reasons why. It also makes the books I’m reading now from DC seem less significant. Anything outside of the Flashpoint series just doesn’t seem to matter much. I know they are still enjoyable to read and look at but, in the back of my head I’m thinking who cares, someone is going to press the restart button this game. Basically the message that comes across, at least to me, is that DC Comics doesn’t think what they are currently publishing is good enough. So much so that they are willing to scrap it all and start over.
Reading through these new titles come out I’m disappointed by some of the heroes and titles that aren’t initially coming back or aren’t being initially spotlighted. I know there is room in the future for these characters but still its a disappointment when I’m just getting into Zatanna’s title and its being shut down abruptly. Power Girl has had a strong series in my mind, but its going away as well and I don’t see the character in any of the titles mentioned. Where is Captain Marvel, the Marvel’s appear in the Flashpoint storyline but seem to be absent in any of the 52 titles introduced. Where’s Plastic Man? He’s another long established character with still untapped potential that should have been given some ink.
All in all with some of the Jim Lee inspired costume designs (high collars and metal boots) and reboot promises, this feels a little like Marvel’s Heroes Reborn stint that I had to suffer through a year of without the Franklin Richards escape clause.
Now for the positive feelings I have. Overall comic book sales have continued to slip. DC Comics holds roughly 30% give or take of the total comic book market. Their survival is closely tied to the survival of the medium. Obviously something needed to be to bring new readers in, to call attention to what’s going with some of the oldest most established comic book heroes in publication. They have succeeded in spades with that goal. Announcing the relaunch of their books exclusively through USA Today and then bringing other exclusive specifics to the major comic book and sci-fi blogs (ahem… not this one I just leeched off of their exclusives) has definitely brought this to the attention of a lot of folks maybe not interested in DC books. And then tying in the relaunch with a new digital publication plan opens a door to new possibilities and readers.
Probably the best news I’ve read about the relaunch and new DC Comics is how the stories will be written. Writers have been told not to write for the trade paperback collections any longer. No longer spreading stories and padding across 6 issues to make a good collected work later on. This pandering the trade collections has irritated me for awhile. As a long time reader I remember how much story could be packed into a book, how some epic stories to my memory only took 2-3 issues to tell instead of these drawn out 8 book epics where it takes half an issue for the Hulk to pick his nose. For me it comes down to personal economics, for the price we pay for comics nowadays it feels like we get less story and entertainment per issue than we did in past years. Hopefully this mandate by DC leadership will carry through and bring back the style of writing that got me hooked into comic books to begin with.
Mixed feelings abound, where I finally settle in on this relaunch rests on the shoulders of the creative teams for these books ultimately. How the final product turns out will be the swing vote that either has me fully onboard or blowing off this relaunch as a train wreck. As for now I’m just waiting with the rest of you to see how this will workout.