Home > comics, opinion > A comic opinion: the announced DC Universe Reboot

A comic opinion: the announced DC Universe Reboot

It was announced today that DC comics was going to relaunch its most popular characters at the end of August. This follows after the company’s current crossover event Flashpoint, as well as a number of other series ending at the same time. Until today it was only speculated what the company had planned, but most suggested the reboot. And that appears to be the case. I wanted to take the time and look at this decision, its reasoning, and the implications of the announcement.

Before I talk about these things I wanted to talk about the current continuity. While DC has been around for around 75 years, the current continuity is only 25 years old. In 1985, DC released Crisis on Infinite Earths which served to eliminate confusing continuity, as well the multiverses of DC’s publications. This served two purposes. First, to eliminate the aforementioned issues of their prior continuity from allowing for newer readers. Second, by rebooting their universe and making accessible, DC could more readily compete with Marvel with sales.  It was more of a marketing ploy, which took the front seat, than a storytelling one. With that, the upcoming DC reboot.

The reboot planned after DC’s current crossover event, Flashpoint, has some of same reasoning of that from the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot. Since 2002 DC comics have been outsold by Marvel comics. The marketing aspect of this reboot decision is evident. To become #1. Along with this reboot DC plans to simultaneously release all their released issues available both in print and digitally (digital comics is totally different subject). Like in the ’80s, DC plans to use younger versions of its characters, without the continuity backlog, in order to attract more readers. In the age when film adaptations of comic books is becoming more successful in the box office, critically accepted, and to an extent, less of a niche to read comics. Of course pairing these new DC stories with the popularity of the film iterations of their characters is a wise marketing decision. But is it wise to undergo this transformation in their main universe?

In 2000, Marvel did something similar to the proposed DC reboot. Sort of. Instead of rebooting their main series Marvel created a separate imprint, the ‘Ultimate’ line, which had younger version of their characters, starting them out from scratch, but also continued the main continuity of their main titles (Marvel has yet to make a total reboot in 50 or so years). While there was some flaws in some of the storytelling (but what comic series is perfect?), there were some absolute gems. Ultimate Spider-Man (one of my favorite superhero comic series) was not only well written, but popular, often outselling the main Amazing Spider-Man series. Even though the main portion of the Ultimate Marvel universe ended with the travesty of Ultimatum the imprint has remained successful. It existed separately from the main Marvel series, but also attracted new readers to the company. In my opinion this is the correct way to go about this. While DC tried this, to an extent, with the All Star line-up (which flopped, despite the general appreciation of All Star Superman) it seems they’re not going to do this in September with the reboot.  But that will have some strong effects on the works produced in their current continuity.

Since Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC has produced what is most likely their strongest works in their time. As you can probably tell by the last section, I tend to favor Marvel, but that’s because that’s what I grew up with and read most. Even still I have great respect with the stronger DC works in their current continuity. I’ve already expressed my strong liking on this blog for the most recent run on the Blue Beetle character, Gotham Central, and Batman: The Long Halloween (there will be another such review later this week). Beyond this are the quintessential Batman: Year One (one of my favorite comics), The Dark Knight Returns, and most notable, Watchmen. All of these fall under the current continuity that DC will potentially make less important with the reboot. All of these works are great, but they won’t be given the same attention (except Watchmen) with a new continuity. While comic book sales are lower than they have been for the longest time, the writing is amazingly strong throughout. These are the works that inspire the popular superhero films. It shouldn’t be vice versa (though the new continuity writers should follow the films if they want more attention).

Not only does a reboot devalue these works, it disenfranchises the current readership. There is a great deal of dedicated readers who enjoy the DC Universe just the way it currently is. Changing up the continuity too much could potentially isolate those who are so dedicated towards the DC Universe. Without this demographic DC wouldn’t even #2 in comic sales. It’s important to respect the readers, who they like to see. Linkara (whose blog is linked at the bottom) recently said that one of the best parts about continuities is discovering the characters at random than simply reading a character from beginning to end. For Linkara that’s one of the great things about superhero comics. While I can see the allure of reading a character’s story in some kind of order I do like the lengthy, sometimes frustratingly confusing, continuity. It’s a part of the culture of superhero comics.

If the announced DC reboot is going to be successful it’ll limit the amount of continuity changes. It will treat both new readers and old readers with equal respect. It would be nice if the prior continuity could be continued in some fashion. If DC ignores these things the new reboot could be a total disaster. Crisis on Infinite Earths managed to reboot their franchise, but do so in the right fashion, but we’ll have to wait until September (or longer) to see if the new reboot does the same.

This has been a comic opinion. Until next.

 

Also, they shouldn’t mess with Batman’s origin story. Seriously.

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Categories: comics, opinion Tags: , , , ,
  1. Kalen
    June 1, 2011 at 6:11 am

    A lot of good points, and I agree wholeheartedly. I was thinking they wouldn’t be rebooting it as much as they seem to be making it out to be, but after some consideration, these may be some major changes. I am excited at the opportunities it could present, and I trust DC enough to know what they’re doing. It will be very interesting to see what they do.

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