DC Comics Reboot

Okay, I saw it first on a newspaper headline outside a store (which shows that I’m still way behind on being a highly connected uber geek technologically) but then I found it online as well.

DC Comics is rebooting 52 of their major characters.

DC Publishers Reboot Announcement

This isn’t just another issue renumbering ploy to pump up sales. They are saying, “We screwed up. We’re sorry. We’re going to pretend we were just in the shower the whole time and it was a dream.” For me, I really just follow Batman as a DC title so what does that mean?

Dick Grayson as Batman? Gone.
Batman International? Gone.

They rolled the dice when the “killed”* Bruce Wayne and brought him back but let someone else be Batman, buying into the version of Batman that has a bunch of other superheroes in the city as a network of heroes almost like a Gotham City Justice League or something. I’d LOVE to see their actual sales totals since that experiment started. I think it’s been several months in the new mode and the sales must have tanked for them to pull this. They’ll be abandoning characters and storylines set up in the new model completely, as far as I can tell.

And I’m glad they did. They were starting to lose me. Some titles still had Bruce as Batman and were kind of hinting that the stories were set in the past or something. I’d dropped the titles in the new model (which says something because for a long time if it had Batman in it, I bought it).

I know it must be hard for them to keep creating stories about a character who can never change, who can’t evolve and develop… who won’t ever “get over” his parent’s murder and the near-psychopathic alternate identity he’s constructed to deal with it. I get that, but you can’t change who he is. Bruce the loner, highly resistant to making bonds with others, just doesn’t play right to me as being a leader of a bunch of other vigilante heros. Robin and Alfred are the areas for them to play with that part of Bruce’s personality.

I see it like someone writing a new story about King Arthur. You want to bring something new to it, but if you change who Arthur was in his core concept, then you aren’t really writing about the same guy. I don’t have a problem with people writing 100,000 Batman stories where he never seriously evolves. If you picked up a new Robin Hood story, you’d expect to find the Sheriff of Nottingham as his nemesis, the Merry Men hanging around somewhere, and Maid Marian as his true love.

Story-telling doesn’t have to maintain continuity with every other story ever told. I don’t know if it was the movies that did it or what, but keeping “canon” is a fairly recent invention in the life of story-telling. I think that DC and Marvel bought into having a ~consistent “universe” where all their characters exist and can cross-over and interact, and got trapped by the fan base and technology in maintaining the sense of not contradicting something published before. You go a couple decades like that and you have written yourself into a box.

So I hope DC is buying itself some room and creative freedom with this whole reboot thing. I like that they are teasing us with Batman titles where Bruce is the only wearer of the costume again. It certainly helped Marvel when they rebooted after having Spider-Man reveal his identity as part of the Civil War event. Rebooting let them clean up all the dozens of people who knew his secret identity, having learned it in this story or that over the years. The world “forgot” that they knew he was Spider-Man. I even read commentaries by some of the lead creators talking about getting back to his core character concepts.

Speaking of Spider-Man, I also like the Spider-Man Ultimate series which is a separate continuity and is much more free to give Spider-Man big changes in his story, almost like they are expecting it to be a limited run so they aren’t worried about supporting decades of future continuity.

* Oh, yeah, and the “let’s kill ” is getting so old… They couldn’t leave Superman dead. They couldn’t leave Steve Rogers dead. They couldn’t leave Bruce Wayne dead. I’d love someone to name me one major character in DC or Marvel that got killed and stayed dead. They ALL come back eventually. And if we know that, it just becomes a weak marketing ploy and has no depth for the character or the universe in which he/she is apparently immortal.

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