What does the DC relaunch mean to me?

The full list of 52 relaunched DC titles has been announced.

I’m of two minds about this relaunch. Even the term relaunch doesn’t seem to be wholly appropriate. This really appears to be a reboot in a lot of ways. I would hope that reboot is a dirty word among media companies, but the constant rebooting of movies and TV shows over the last decade are testament to the fact that it’s more of a buzzword than a dirty word. And DC Comics is owned by Time Warner, so I would have expected them to embrace the term.

It could be I’m missing something (other than the obvious), so we’ll wait and see. There was talk of continuing some of the Batman story lines but I really don’t see that happening. At least not in the previous continuity. They’ll take ideas like the multiple Batmen and reseed those into the reboot relaunch.

A large part of me (which is a fair amount) really wants to ignore this whole thing. I’ve been a Marvel kid since, well, since I was a kid, and after a rocky relationship in the 90s and again in the early 2000s, I’m pretty much all-in now. But there were times when I flirted with the other team. And, no, not in the gay way you’re thinking thank-you-very-much. I have a few Batman comics, I have fewer Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Flash, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman comics, but it’s enough to know that there are some DC characters I quite like.

But the fanboy part of me, the part that dresses up as Harley Quinn and makes gay porno for… ahem, what I meant to say was, the fanboy part of me sees an entire new line that I can get invested in right from the start. I don’t have to know about which universe we’re playing in, retconned or otherwise, and I don’t have to feel like guy who looks in the window, but never goes into the shop to make a purchase.

On the flip side, however, is the fear of what DC will do to the new universe. Now there’s a trip down memory lane. Remember Marvel’s New Universe? shudder. Yeah, so things could go badly. Even worse, Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics was their version of breathing new life into their characters, and they were bad. Really, really fucking bad. I bought an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man featuring the Green Goblin once, and it was so mind-rapingly horrendous, that I tore the comic up. And anyone who knows me will attest that if sombody so much as looks at one of my comics wrong, I threaten them with violence. So me tearing up a comic will tell you about the depths of my nerdrage.

The cover to Deathstroke #1

Based on historical evidence, DC’s reboot is enough to make me very afraid. But I’m trying to hold my eyeballs in because I know that most of my rage has been induced by Marvel, and the things we love the most tend to make us unhappy when things don’t go our way. So petulance aside, I’ve managed to read the list of titles spewing forth from DC’s bowels and I have to admit, things don’t look so horrible. In fact, shit like this is giving me a serious fucking broner. I really want that on a poster DC. Full fucking size. As big as my door.

The first thing I realise, without any surprise, is that there are 50 bat-books. Why don’t they just make one title and make it weekly? Why separate the titles out? Given that story arcs tend to be 6 issues, getting each story over in a month and a half strikes me as better than waiting six months for a resolution.

If I jump into this, and this is still up in the air, then the following will probably be staples of the collection: Justice League, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Batman, and Catwoman.

Now that JMS’ name is nowhere to be seen, I’m very thankful. And Judd Winick on Catwoman is a very pleasing thing. While Winick is also writing Batwing which features what looks to be a second Batman — or some bastard hybrid between Batman and Nightwing. I’m not seeing that, but maybe this is an intro into a Batman Corps as the previous DCU made headway into. DC are calling him the Batman of Africa. It’s like they’re trying too hard to promote race diversity. This is the 21st century. Race shouldn’t be an issue any more. He’s just another guy. Either way, no interest there.

Some other titles that I might get depending on my financial situation are: The Fury of Firestorm, The Savage Hawkman, Justice League International, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Detective Comics, Batman: Dark Knight, Birds of Prey, Swamp Thing, Demon Knights, Legion Lost, Legion of Super-heroes, Blackhawks, Justice League Dark, and Deathstroke. I may even consider Superman, but that has sucked for a very long time. The girly TV show Smallville really killed him, and the comics seemed to turn him into an uninteresting and uninspiring pansy at about the same time.

Titles I haven’t read for a long time include Firestorm — I have a few from the 80s and maybe 90s, mostly bought as back issues, but always had other higher priorities for my money. A new take on him could pique my interest. The original Swamp Thing series was awesome. The recent (-ish) relaunch was fairly mediocre. I must have lasted about 20 or so issues before giving up on it, but I’m still keen to see what a complete reboot will do.

Hawkman I’ve never read before, but this marketing fluff looks fairly interesting. An archaeological discovery leads to a possible alien plague in New York apparently. I’m all for alien plagues. Alien Plagues for Presidente!

I have no idea what Demon Knights and Blackhawks are, but they do look appealing. Demon Knights is set in the middle ages around Camelot. Allegedly it will mix swords, sorcery, and super-heroes. Could be worse. Could be swords, sorcery, and transvestite alien hookers. That never goes well.

The cover to Blackhawks #1

And Blackhawks looks to be some super-hero spec-ops team. From the unknowns, this is my pick.

One thing on a few people’s minds is whether this will last. Will this be completely retconned a couple of years down the track? Will DC go back to their old numbering if they see this isn’t selling as well as expected? Will they just go back just for the sake of next year’s marketing gimmick?

Honestly I don’t know. I’m hoping it doesn’t, but I won’t be entirely surprised if it does. As a comic fanboy who has a Marvel bias, the DC reboot is a good thing. Well, it’s a good thing now. Those people jumping on it two or three or ten years time will still be in the same boat as far as historical continuity goes. There will always be somebody new, for whom the history is unknown. As the old saying goes, every comic is somebody’s first (I’m not sure who first said that, but credit has been applied to everyone from Stan Lee to John Byrne to Chuck Dixon). Comics seem to have lost sight of that (especially obvious when you look at all the long multipart story arcs), but that very same adage is also very restrictive for storytellers.

Is this really a reboot?

DC have already renounced the term. They’re very specifically and vocally calling it a relaunch. In this interview with Judd Winick, he uses the term “fresh start.” So that makes me think that the origins of most of the characters is going to remain relatively intact. The idea seems to be that DC want to make the bulk of the characters more youthful to appeal to younger audiences. This, for all outward appearances, seems to be just a slightly more advanced version of Marvel’s Point One initiative.

Perhaps a better question is “What will change?” Of that, as far as I can see, mostly it’s just costume changes and a bit of rewinding. Bruce Wayne is Batman again, while Dick Grayson has gone back to being Nightwing. The Batman Incorporated thing will apparently kick back off in 2012 so there will be an organisation of Batmen all around the world. Barbara Gordon is going to be Batgirl again. Gone is the wheelchair and Oracle, and she’ll be back on the streets. Much to the annoyance of many readers.

I suspect that the legal battle over the rights to Superman will result in several changes to his origin. Of course, that’s just speculation on my part, but it’ll depend on how much money they want to pay for royalties. Personally, I think this’d be a great time to dump him completely. But he is a big old American rah-rah wankfest, and Americans like that sort of thing. They eat it up with their weetbix and their bibles in the morning. Chuck him out I say. Introduce a new international hero. Someone who stands for the people of Earth. Like ROM the fucking Spaceknight. Awwww yeaaahhhh.

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