With the recent “Rebirth” announcement, it looks like DC is once again playing the reboot game. Will a back-to-the-past approach work this time?
DC’s New 52 relaunch initiative from 2011 was plagued with issues from the start. It never really had a chance. So many books were canceled within six issues of their debut. Creators left amidst complaints about overbearing DC editors. There were continuity issues where one book said one thing and another book said something different. Batman and Green Lantern weren’t rebooted and it caused continuity problems for other titles. The New 52 was a mess right from the start.
DC tried to fix the issues introduced by the New 52 with last year’s Convergence, Divergence, and DC You campaigns. These new books had a new, creator-driven direction and an emphasis on story and less on shared-universe continuity. Some succeeded, such as the very popular Batgirl (of Burnside) and some just seemed very odd (Black Canary as a rock star?).
It appears that those fixes aren’t staying around for long, though. For the past couple of weeks, DC has been teasing a capital-R “Rebirth” of its super hero universe and now we finally know what that means.
And I’m still confused.
Geoff Johns says that it’s not a reboot, but it sure sounds like it is. And it sounds like it’s a reboot back to the pre-New 52 status quo.
DC has always had continuity issues, stemming from its use of multiple Earths and variations of the same characters appearing on those Earths. The excellent (and gold standard for events) Crisis on Multiple Earths tried to fix those issues but it never really stuck and DC’s continuity problems just compounded and compounded. The New 52 reboot was supposed to fix what Crisis on Multiple Earths couldn’t but that didn’t work, either. And the recent “don’t care about continuity” trend doesn’t seem to be working either if DC’s continuously tanking sales are any indication.
DC has always emphasized the importance of superhero legacy. That’s what made it stand out from Marvel. This is the home of Batman and Superman, two of the most recognizable pop culture icons in the world today. Sure Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk are huge but they are not on par with DC’s flagship characters.
“Rebirth” sounds like it might be a return to the Pre-New 52 era of DC comics. Everything old is new again. And that is something many lapsed fans will look forward to. But is it too late? Did they do to much damage to bring back those older readers?
For me to really get interested in this, I need to know the story directions of the new books. Who are the creative teams? Nightwing is back, which is good, but how does that fit into the overall DC shared universe?
Part of me is worried because of DC’s insistence that “Rebirth” isn’t a reboot. That is scary. The New 52 was a “soft reboot”—some books were changed and others weren’t—and we saw how well that worked out. Is the same thing going to happen here? Will some books be “Rebirthed” back to pre-New 52 story and directions? Will some stay as they are now?
Details, we need more details. The first books have been revealed along with which ones will be shipping twice a month. I do like that DC is holding firm at the $2.99 price, that’s a great thing. But I have never liked books going on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Budgets are tight and asking fans to buy a comic twice a month is too much. I think the strategy actually stunts the growth of a company’s books. It forces a reader to make hard decisions and cut something out of the monthly reading budget. Too often, that is another book from the same publisher.
One thing I do know is that I’m very tired of DC making these changes. The New 52 and the accompanying decline in quality in the books drove me away from the company—I went from buying over twelve DC titles a month to six titles, to one title, and eventually, to none. “Rebirth” could bring me back into the fold but depending on the execution, it could very well end up turning me off DC’s titles for good.