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DC Comics Decides to Reboot Everything…Again. June 4, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Comics.
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Well, children, it looks like DC Comics has decided to change everything. Again. Recently, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee said they had a bombshell announcement that would change the course of DC Comics. They also said that the announcement would come down on June 11, at the Hero Complex Film Festival. Well, the Internet being what it is, fanboys and girls were all atwitter with expectation. Would this be an announcement regarding the new Superman movie? Would this be an announcement concerning the Wonder Woman movie, which has been in development hell since forever?

Nope.

Starting this summer, the publisher will re-number its entire DC Universe of titles, revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.

The first book to be released under this new era: Justice League No. 1, out Aug. 31. The series by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee reunites the famous lineup of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

Johns promises a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC’s trademark superteam. “What’s the human aspect behind all these costumes? That’s what I wanted to explore,” he says.

In September, an additional 51 first issues will make their debut, introducing stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the costumes’ redesign to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.

(source: USAToday)

Fig. 1: Costume redesigns will totally make you buy new comics!

Of course, the announcement along with the first picture of what the core characters of this redesigned DC Universe will look like has set the Internet commentariat ablaze. As we all know, fanboys hate change. Every fanboy with a computer and a high-speed Internet connection has weighed in on this:

1. This is doomed to fail—remember what happened when Marvel did this?
A few years back, Marvel comics decided to kinda-sorta reboot their core characters…by killing them and then bringing them back for a “new generation.” It was universally loathed. Incidentally, Jim Lee had a hand in that clusterfuck as well.

2. This is going to screw up the longest running comic books! (to wit, Detective Comics, Action, and Superman)
Just last month, Action Comics hit a milestone when Action Comics #900 hit the stands. Assuming no interruptions, in about twelve years, Action Comics would be the first comic book to hit its 1,000th issue. With this reboot, every comic goes back to #1. Make no mistake: for fanboys, this is a very distressing prospect. Renumbering comic books for those of us who are avid/rabid collectors has something of a psychological impact. But I’ll discuss that later.

3. Change is bad!
Fanboys tend to loathe changes in their favorite comic books. If you change the costume or the origin story in any way, expect a firestorm of angry Internet chatter. Mind you, a number of superheroes have had their costumes change over time and have had their origin stories change, but fanboys tend to accept those historical changes as part of the evolving mythos of the character. Should sweeping changes occur currently, it is not an evolution of the character, but a betrayal.

Now, for the record, I am approaching this reboot/revamp cautiously. I am a fan of the John Byrne-era Superman (1986-2003ish) and DC universe. The stories were more interesting, stripped of unnecessary artifice, and the art was spectacular…and consistent. DC during this period had a fairly stable roster of artists and writers who turned out some awesome Superman stories. Unfortunately, the last ten or so years have seen the dilution of Superman via multiple competing origin stories, inconsistent artwork and tepid storylines. If this revamp gets Superman back to being Superman, and not some whiny, constantly grieving/crying/moping imbecile, then revamp away!

Oh, and before I forget, let me address comic book numbering. Like I said, collecting comics is something more than just a hobby for some. And we—I include myself here—find some sort of psychological satisfaction when a favorite comic reaches a milestone. For example, I posted about buying Action Comics #900—usually, those milestone issues are “special issues.” They can be the culmination of a storyline or the launching point for a whole new direction. I remember when Action Comics #500 came out. I was eight years old and getting my hands on this issue was a number one priority. Of course, back in the 70s and early 80s, comic books weren’t quite the serious affair that they’ve become. Even still, a milestone issue was a milestone issue. And, after hundreds of issues, I think that the comic book becomes part of a person’s life—in a sense, you become invested in the character, and the comic in which that character appears. A reboot in which years of previous continuity is erased might be traumatizing for some comic book fans.

But, as they say, everything changes. Including Superman.

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