So if you didn’t know, this week saw the last day of the DC Comics line as it’s pretty much existed since 1986 (or 1994, or 2005, depending on your opinion) as the DCU relaunch (don’t call it a reboot!) begins with JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 hitting stores (with many shops having midnight launch sales) this past Wednesday.
Personally, I am going with 1986; the end of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Since most of the major DC characters origins are traced back to the versions that came out of that (though there have been additions and revsions), those were, until this week, pretty much it. John Byrne’s Man of Steel, Frank Miller’s Batman Year One, George Perez’s Wonder Woman reboot – these were pretty much gospel. Sure Wonder Woman’s timeline was always a bit confusing, but hey, the “when”s were not as important as the “how”s, “why”s, and “who”s.) Of course, the Flash (Barry Allen) died in Crisis, and Hal Jordan wasn’t a Green Lantern at the start of Crisis; with John Stewart acting as the official Lantern of 2814 at the start of the Crisis.
Crisis was also where DC eliminated its “confusing” multiverse, where most famously, the alternate versions of their characters, from the Golden Age of comics existed on “Earth Two” But DC had the various characters that they acquired from other companies (The Freedom Fighters from Quality, The Charlton Heroes, Captain Marvel & Company) given their own world and their own continuities, that would occasionally crossover.
In one of the boldest, and most divisive moves in comics in years, DC has chosen now to relaunch their entire superhero line of comics. 52 new comic volumes, all starting with new number 1’s (including the granddaddies of comics, Action and Detective Comics), will be available in the next month.
With this relaunch, DC is taking advantage to throw out things in their current continuity that they feel didn’t work, or is holding them back from telling better stories. Some of these are pretty good ideas, some have not been met with much enthusiasm. They are taking some big chances with some of these books, and are branching out with different genres of comics taking place in their core continuity (such as war, western, and horror). Who knows how the audience will respond to some of the changes?
Here is what I am looking forward to
1) The REAL return of the Multiverse – Sure DC revealed that there were still 52 multiverses at the end of Infinite Crisis. But have they really done anything with those 51 other universes? Well now they are, and they made big news this week with the announcement of the return of the JUSTICE SOCIETY to Earth 2, and their new series coming from James Robinson and Nicola Scott. Sure we don’t know if this will be set in the 1940’s or the present (or somewhere in between), but I am excited for the possibility of new stories showcasing Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and the rest in their prime.
2) Roy Harper, cyborg junkie – There were quite a few people who were not thrilled when James Robinson dismembered Red Arrow back in Justice League: Cry for Justice, and then murdered his daughter, Lian. And then they were less thrilled with J.T. Krul pushing Roy into further depths in The Rise of Arsenal, although I wasn’t among them. I could see how by doing these things to him could lead to the character to rise to new heights; but it just never happened. Sure, during the recent run with Deathstroke’s team of Titans Roy had a purpose and was driven; but he was still driven by his selfish needs. Now I know he’s going to be one of Jason Todd’s Outsiders in the relaunch, but at least he has both arms. I am hoping that he’s the recovered addict, not the junkie.
3) A Definitive Wonder Woman – Of DC’s holy trinity, she has had been reshaped and tweaked and out right messed with the most. Well, now the slate is clean, and here’s hoping that she finally comes across clean. I don’t care is she has pants or not. Now that the David Kelly TV series is a bad memory, maybe they can get to work making her DC’s premiere kick ass heroine again. I am sure Brian Azzerello has some interesting things in mind, but don’t screw up the basics, DC.
4) Going Global, again – I am looking forward to the return of the Justice League International; maybe more than any other title DC has coming. I am hoping that the team keeps the tone of last year’s JLI – Generation Lost series. Humor and Action, making comics fun. The line up looks great (I’m particularly glad to see Guy Gardner coming back to Earth for a visit)! I would be more excited if Giffen or even Winick who wrote last year’s surprise hit were at the reins but Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens should handle the team well, with a nice POW to Bwah-ha-ha ratio. Jurgens being Booster’s creator puts my mind at ease about how Mr. Gold will be portrayed. I was worried that there would be a big back slide to Booster (i.e back like in his more selfish, solely for profit days) I am sure to be pretty happy with this book. I don’t mind Booster playing off the image a little, especially to help his opponents underestimate him.
5) The Dark Side – in the 70’s DC had some really great horror/thriller comics, but by the time I was reading in the 80’s they had fallen by the wayside as DC focused on straight superheroics. Then in 90’s things started to pick up. Of course then Vertigo came along, and took all the characters and creators. Don’t get me wrong, love me some Vertigo – but they took all of DC’s best scary characters. Swamp Thing, Animal Man, of course John Constantine aka Hellblazer are all coming back along with the likes of the Demon and Deadman.
Of course there are a few things I am upset about. I am not talking about restarting all the books with new number 1’s. I got over that, yes even Action and ‘Tec. But Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Dan Didio had to make choices, because a big part of this relaunch is about streamlining, making the books more appealing to new readers, sometimes to the point where some of us long time readers may feel a little ignored.
1) Where the hell is Wally West? – DC had to pick their starting line up. And when they did, and characters ended up where they did, there were bound to be a few fan favorites standing when music stop. Wally West is by far the biggest name left out. (so far) With Barry the choice for Flash, and Bart Kid Flash, where is a grown up sidekick who had taken his formerly dead mentor’s place to go? The powers that be say he’s “getting a rest” but it’s not clear what role he might have had in the past for this new 52. Was there a Wally before Bart? Was he ever the Flash? Then there is a rumor going around that Wally will be back soon, but, he’ll be a new nemesis for Barry. What?! Of course Wally isn’t the only missing name; Donna Troy and Stephanie Brown are also among the missing.
2) Martian Manhunter, not part of the League? – How is this even possible? J’onn J’onzz, the character whose appearance some say really started the Silver Age won’t be a founding member of the League? He’s with Stormwatch? Here is a character that on more than one occasion had been called the very soul of the League, having been a member in virtually every incarnation of the team since it’s inception. I’m shaking my head in disgust.
I am not going to lie, I really don’t know much about Stormwatch, other than they were the Wildstorm Universe‘s answer to the Justice League. They were a darker, a bit more brutal, and their Batman and Superman analogs were gay lovers (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I just don’t see how J’onn is a fit here. I suppose only time will tell?
3)The “New and Improved” Costumes – Some of these are okay, but what is up with all the lines? Batman’s costume is woven armor- ok so there will be some plates meeting, I get that. But what is going on Superman? (In Action or in Superman comics.) And what are those lines for on The Flash’s boots? If there was one costume that didn’t need tweaking with it was the Flash’s. It was classic. In fact all three Flash costumes were fantastic (Jay’s, Barry’s, and the Kid Flash version) Even Wally’s shiny version. Then there are the disasters like Starfire and Harley Quinn; the less said the better there.
Now you may notice I didn’t say much anything about Barbara Gordon. In the new 52, she’s no longer wheelchair bound, and she will once again be Batgirl. This move has been the most controversial on so many different levels. I don’t think I could say anything more about that what fellow NJ native, the Nerdybird, Jill Pantozzi did. Barbara Gordon as Oracle was something different, something special. There may have been some fans clamoring to see the redhead back in acti0n as Batgirl, but I wasn’t one of them. There have been several Batgirls before and since Barbara Gordon, but the role Oracle filled was unique.
So that’s it. So long ‘old’ DCU, and welcome to the DCnU. Hope you enjoy your stay.