Beginning on this August 31st, DC is semi-kinda-sorta rebooting their entire comics universe by launching and/or relaunching 52 new comics, all beginning with #1. Some characters are changing drastically, many aren’t. Some things are getting switched around, some major developments are being forgotten or moved past, some costumes are getting altered, and some of these things are staying totally the same.
Suffice to say, this “DCnU” move has pissed off a lot of longtime DC fans, and certainly, Topless Robot has been bitching about it just as much as anyone. But while DC could be probably be doing some things better, really, nobody knows anything for sure about how good or bad the DCnU will end up being, for the titles in specific or even DC in general.
So DC is shaking things up. Fine. Good, even. DC’s books weren’t selling as well as they could be and a relaunch can bring some new life into a tired industry; it’s why Marvel and DC do them all the time. And you know what? We’ve survived all of them. In fact, here’s 11 reasons why the DC relaunch probably won’t open a pit to hell and usher in the End Times.
11) Not Everything Is Fucked
?Relax. Over the last few weeks, DC has let enough info slip to ease some of our worries. They’ve admitted that Batman Beyond is relaunching sometime in 2012. Same with Batman Inc. The speculation of Justice Society never coming back was disproved after a couple weeks of people yammering about it. And the Superman/Lois Lane marriage that’s coming to an end? A future scene in Superman #714 said that they break up and get back together a few times over their history. So while the instruments may change, the symphony is pretty much the same.
10) DC Is Listening to Their Fans
?Let’s make it clear here, organizing a protest march at SDCC is the wrong thing to do. It sends the message to people who are trying hard to entertain you that you know their business better than they do. But to DC’s credit, they’re making changes based on what they’re hearing.
Most importantly, the complaints about female creators were heard and incorporated into the business plan. But aside from that, DC is being very open with what they’re releasing, in order to prevent panic. Interviews are numerous and full of details. Preview art and sample pages are all over the net. They’re answering fan questions in panels, forums, and even in the pages of their comics. Compared to the garbage bags worth of vague teasers and title-only solicits we get on a monthly basis from every comic company under the sun, it’s refreshing.
9) New Villain Blood
?One of the most noticeable constants in all the new 52 solicits is the amount of new villains coming into the DCU. Everyone’s getting some new punching bags. Mister Terrific fights Brainstorm. Hawkman fights Morphicus. Batman fights the Gotham Ripper and someone in an owl mask. The Justice Society, Superman, and Aquaman all have new villains too. Will they suck? Will they have staying power? Remember all the forgettable characters we got back in Bloodlines? (No, not Hitman.) Sometimes the massive wave of new characters isn’t a bad thing. But at least it gives writers something else to play with in future stories.
8) Cutting the Dead Wood
Surprise! Not everyone likes every DC comics these days. Some of the books, I hate to admit, aren’t chartbusters. Books like Titans and Outsiders and even Justice League have been slogging along for months and I think Green Arrow has spent two years telling only two massively decompressed storylines. So kill ’em all. Start over with books that have a chance of attracting readers. Now there’s no need to try to figure out whatever happened in the last three years of Teen Titans angst-fest, it’s just starting from square one. Give everyone a break from the oppressive continuity we cling to so hard.
7) You’re Still Going to Get Good Stories
Put the fear of continuity loss away for a second. Do you think that the new 52 are going to be mediocre? DC knows these books have to be hits out of the gate, so these aren’t fill-in issues we’re dealing with. While you might not be a fan of Green Arrow or Mister Terrific as characters, these books are probably going to be above average. I’m buying all 52. Will I hate one or two or several? Probably. But I think that will be more because of my preferences rather than lazy writing and art. Give it a shot, it’s just money. You’ll get more eventually.
6) It’s Got Some Seriously Good Creative Teams
?Can’t argue with results. The artists and writers in the new 52 have all proven themselves before. And while you’re not going to get the Gail Simone monthly one-two of Secret Six and Birds of Prey, do you expect her new Batgirl and Firestorm to be duds? Talent is talent. Remember how psyched we all were when Jim Lee did X-Men #1? He’s on fucking Justice League now! Geoff Johns gets to do the Aquaman book he’s been dreaming about for years! Cliff Chiang on a monthly! Grant Morrison gets to tackle a Superman book that doesn’t exist in Elseworlds! It’s a collection of creators’ dream projects, and there’s no more waiting!
5) WildStorm Is Now in DC Continuity
?Wildstorm used to have untouchable stories and art, but after the DC/WildStorm merger, the universe started shrinking. Books came slower, characters and teams were absent for months, if not years. Now, it’s all in the mix. Every WildStorm character is now available from the creative vending machine. And while we’re not seeing Fairchild and the citizens of Tranquilty in the first month, I’m jazzed at the idea that they could pop up any time in the pages of Red Lanterns.
4) No One’s Gone Forever
Stephanie Brown isn’t Batgirl. Hal Jordan isn’t Green Lantern. Miss Martian isn’t in the Teen Titans. Is that forever? Nah, it’s just starting this September. Anything’s possible. Characters switch identities all the time (Wikipedia lists five separate Batgirls), and they’re going to switch again in the new 52. Just because some continuities are being fudged doesn’t mean you’re never going to see so-and-so again. If anything is true in comics, it’s that good ideas come back. Again. And again. And again.
3) New Costumes Never Killed Anyone
Okay, I’ve complained about costume changes before, and yes, it is a touchy subject. Familiar is comforting, I get it. Is this going to ruin a comic? Damned if I know. A lousy costume can doom a book (I’m still saying that Guy Gardner: Warrior and Fate were ludicrous), but give it some time. Workboots and a t-shirt are nowhere near as awful as Electric Superman, and people still went out to buy Batman figures in the ’90s where Bats was in pink or white or bright green. Good costumes will stay. Bad costumes will go. I’m not cutting my DC spending because the Flash has a collar.
2) There’s a @#$%ing Animal Man Series by Jeff Lemire
?C’mon! Animal Man is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of comics – you can’t not like him. Everyone loves Animal Man. He’s a superhero with a home life that doesn’t get all preachy and stupid. We’ve been waiting for another Animal Man ongoing for years and for it to be written by Jeff Lemire and be a direct tie-in with Swamp Thing? That’s nothing but good news.
1) Continuity Really Doesn’t Matter
Horrors! I said bad words! But no, it doesn’t really matter. Get the big tent-pole things in there, Killing Joke
and whatnot, but the little nitty gritty details really don’t mean
anything. Those are the things that keep casual readers in the dark and
new readers on the outside. DC is assuring us that big events still
happened and still mattered, but not every story is going to be beholden
to 30 years of post-Crisis continuity.
And we’ve had out-of-continuity books before. They were called Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, which ran for 214 issues. Or Superman/Batman, which has run continuously for eight full years without being referenced in mainstream books. Or the two Confidential series that ran 68 issues, or the JSA/JLA Classified books
that told some of the best stories of either team without ever having
anything to do with what was happening in the other comics that month. A
good story is a good story, and while I get the “respect the die-hard
fans” attitude, the question begs to be asked, “Are you collecting
because you like seeing Batman fight bad guys or because of the bad guys
he fought 20 years ago?”