For one reason or another, I don’t have as much to talk about concerning DC Comics. As I look at my list of comic stuff I want to talk about, I see much more Marvel than DC. I enjoy DC and I feel like I definitely intend to talk about them more, but I just can’t figure out what all to say about them a lot of times. When considering what to first talk about with DC, I thought about the most talked about part of DC nowadays. Soon, I came to realize that the most talked about part of DC is, well, everything concerning DC right now: the New 52, DC’s massive reboot of the entire universe two years ago. This is discussed so much because the New 52 has many good aspects and many bad aspects, which I’ll go ahead and touch upon here.
DC Comics decided to reboot the entire universe two years ago and restart all of the storylines for everyone. …Well, kind of. First of all, I’m actually in favor of this decision. And before everybody becomes outraged, let me explain why. The DC Universe was such a mess with so many bad storylines that made following or explaining anything a headache sometimes. There were stagnating storylines and characters that just didn’t have too much more they could do in that universe. And while I am very well aware that with creative enough of writers, any character can be redeemed and become interesting again, it isn’t as easy to do with a universe that is decades old. So I think it’s a welcome change of pace, especially if you want to bring more fans in.
I say they kind of rebooted the universe though because some things they wanted to keep the same. And the way in which they rebooted the universe was rather odd as well. We have universes that are still somewhat similar like Green Lantern and Batman. The issue there is that they intended to have both of those universes end up condensed into a five year period in the New 52 where all of the heroes began fighting crime until the present first issues. Herein lies the problem with that though: Green Lantern and Batman only having their major universe happenings in the past five years just can’t happen. What was the result was that Green Lantern had Hal Jordan, then Hal Jordan becoming Parallax, then Hal Jordan being Spectre, then Hal Jordan being reborn with help from three other Earth Green Lanterns who were all around during this time, then the Sinestro Corps War happened, then the other colored lanterns resurfaced, then the Blackest Night happened, and then the War of the Green Lanterns happened all in a span of five years. Confused yet? Batman’s entire history was supposed to be intact along with him having four Robins during this time! Four of them! Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne—and we’re not even sure how Damian Wayne is ten years old when Batman has only been fighting crime for five years, meaning Talia al Ghul couldn’t have been knocked up by Bruce about eleven years ago when he had nothing to do with being Batman!
So they might have goofed up there and just assumed everything would have worked out. But see, if you’re going to reboot the entire universe, then you need to reboot the entire universe. You can’t half-ass it. You go all in or not at all. I understand you don’t want to undercut the amazing progress Geoff Johns did on the Green Lantern universe, and you don’t want to alienate your biggest seller in Batman by having his entire world restarted, but if you’re going to take a huge risk like this then you might as well risk all of it.
And as DC knows, comic book fans are among some of the most obsessive folks there are. So if you don’t have all of the details of your new universe planned out, you’re going to make them upset. For instance, if you have Tim Drake say he was never a Robin, only to come back around and retcon him into being a Robin, they’ll be upset. And if people can’t follow it all and different books contradict each other, then they aren’t going to be happy. It may sound presumptuous, but I get the distinct feeling that the reboot wasn’t planned out as well as it could have been. Judging from how some issues were handled, it really seems like not everyone was on board with the same ideas. My advice for dealing with this continuity problem would be to just forget about it and let it all fall in place in the coming years. It’s not like continuity in comic books has ever been alarmingly consistent, although it is nice when it happens.
However, while there were many problems like there, the New 52 gave new freshness into various characters that were floundering for a while. Aquaman in particular became a real contender now as opposed to a joke that DC didn’t understand how to fix. He owned up to all of the “Aquaman sucks” jokes and has become a serious badass with a unique past and story centering around him being the King of Atlantis. Wonder Woman also got a new past that was tied into Greek mythos, and it makes her a much more enjoyable and deeper character. Animal Man and Swamp Thing got a fair shake for the first time in decades. They also gave many other characters a shot at their own book, even though many of them ended up not sticking. And for those reasons, this reboot was a very good idea.
Of course, with all of the good changes there were also bad ones in the New 52. We lost many beloved characters like Wally West, Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, Donna Troy, and others, and we haven’t heard any word on whether or not they’ll be around in the future. Furthermore, they made some changes to some series that were for the worse. Teen Titans has been going through some rough times, and the cast of Red Hood & the Outlaws weren’t so great to begin with. Green Arrow had big changes to him and as a result his series was less enjoyable. Obviously, every change wasn’t going to be great.
But let’s be real: isn’t that always the case with comics? Even Marvel has some bad books and some great books. This doesn’t have anything to do with the New 52 reboot. Some books were bad before the New 52, and some were bad after the New 52. However, DC Comics took that chance to make something outstanding and succeeded in many cases. They wanted to try and do something new, and while they might not have done it as well as they should have, they managed to make some really entertaining books that are worth following. They wanted to try and make books more accessible for readers and try to make a fresh, new take on older characters.
I know it’s hard to stomach that the past you’ve read for as long as you can remember is gone, but I don’t think that should stop people from enjoying good stories and good writing. In the end, that’s all DC is trying to do is entertain us. Naturally, they do it so they can earn that almighty dollar, but they want to ensure people are reading quality products, even if from editorial rumors they have a funny description of quality sometimes. But without quality writing, DC knows they’ll lose people’s interest which means they lose money. They want good books just as much as you guys do, and I don’t think they’ve done a terrible job with it at all.
If I had to compare it to anything, I’d compare it to Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics. Some parts of their Ultimates universe were good like Spider-Man while others were not-so-good like parts of X-Men and basically all of the Ultimates team. The difference is that they decided to keep it as its own universe to still tell their own unique stories, but DC didn’t want to do that. They wanted to have a similar universe that they had before, but restarted for ease of new readers. They wanted to try and make a more concise and easier-to-follow story for all of their characters. They were both business moves, but they were both business moves with the reason of making money and fans out of people.
So my takeaway here is to say that for all of the disdain and vitriol that the New 52 gets, there are quality stories in there. Yeah, DC has made mistakes with it and not every book is an absolute winner, but give it a try for all of the wonderful books they have out right now. Besides that, you can still read the old comics, because those aren’t gone. They’re just done with those stories. It’s just like when your favorite TV show ends and they started a new one that’s similar. Don’t miss out on watching something good just because they ended your other show. Love it and enjoy it. And just like for the New 52, I think that holding out on reading some entertaining stuff simply because they rebooted the universe is just being stubborn at this point.