DC’s “Rebirth”: so much over so little

Last week Dan Didio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns teased an image of a blue cinema curtain with the text “Rebirth” projected. Bleeding Cool posted a couple of stories in which they claimed DC is about to reboot its entire comics line only 5 years since establishing the New 52 universe. Now the comics chattering classes are slugging it out over the pros and cons of another reboot.

Undoubtedly something is happening behind the scenes at DC. They’ve already moved their business to the West Coast to consolidate the various media the company operates in. Sales over the last year have been abysmal while Marvel and Image have shown growth. DC’s strength lies mostly in its tv shows and potentially in the forthcoming Justice League movies. Rumours suggest that their better-selling titles like Batman and Justice League will become bi-weekly. 

Personally, if it is a reboot, I’ll use it as a jumping off point in the same way I’ve dropped almost all Marvel titles I used to pick up. I was reading something like 20 or so of the New 52 titles over the first couple of years. I stopped reading Action once Morrison left, dropped other titles like Demon Knights, Justice League Dark, Batwoman, Green Lantern (which became hideous)and many more when either the creators left or the book lost interest for me. I’ve continued to enjoy Snyder and Capullo’s Batman and Justice League 3000/1 but I buy Flash and Wonder Woman purely out of habit more than anything else and, with a renumbering, I’ll stop them. Convergence was such a yawn. It’s a trajectory I’ve followed with Marvel since (I guess) Fear Itself (and definitely since Infinity). There’s little about the current DC comics universe that’s exciting.

It’s also interesting to see that many of the creators I enjoy work increasingly on their own material and I’m currently buying more Image comics and classic 60s Marvel than anything else. 

It may be a reboot. It may not. If it is – to ape the thousands of commentators on the net – my bet is that “Rebirth” will bring the DC universe very close to the developing cinematic and tv ones. I’ll read the first few issues but I’m sure it won’t be the DC heroes that I grew up with. Most of the New 52 characters seemed slighter than their predecessors. I expect rebooted ones to be even thinner: more like the flat tv versions of characters like Barry Allen and Ollie Queen. I like most of the current generation of superhero movies but I don’t find them compelling in the same way I was hooked with John’s run on Green Lantern and the way it led into Blackest Night. For me, that was an enjoyable period in recent comics (I even bought EVERY Blackest Night tie-in!) I’m not someone who thinks superhero comics need a shallow backstory or need to be gritty-realistic. I’m also not someone who thinks comic heroes and their worlds should be unchanging, preserved in Amber. But I do think that you keep readers with compelling, creative stories. For reboots to succeed they need to be less about character design and more about employing top-quality writers who can tell amazing tales.

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