Friday, June 3, 2011

DC Comics

So DC Comics announced on Tuesday that after the conclusion of their Flashpoint story event (which runs from May through August), the entire main DC Universe will be rebooted. That is to say that the entire universe will be "updated." The history of the universe will be rewritten (to varying degrees), characters will be at different (likely earlier) points in their lives, costumes will be updated, and all manner of other details will be altered.

This is what we're getting, come Fall:

That's the cover to Justice League #1. It's finally reuniting the classic team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and the Flash (Barry Allen) which is six out of the seven original team members. Also, they've apparently brought in Cyborg, a former member of the Teen Titans. Which is cool, I guess.
You can see the little costume changes. Batman has armored gauntlets. Superman has a collar, and he may or may not have lost the red briefs. Flash has a slightly redesigned cowl. Cyborg is sleeker and spikier. WONDER WOMAN HAS STUPID PANTS. -_-

A lot of comic fans are going CRAZY over this news. After all, it means that pretty much everything that's ever been written after 1986 (when the last DC reboot happened) might be changed. DC's also re-numbering every single book and starting over from #1, so Action Comics and Detective Comics—the books that launched Superman and Batman, also the two longest-running comics in history, currently at #901 and #877, respectively—will perhaps never reach their one-thousandth numbered issues.

This has been read by some comic fans as a slap in the face from DC, who are tearing apart the beloved stories from the past 25 years in order to make things easier for new comic readers to jump in. In essence, DC is supposedly sacrificing their current fanbase in order to make room for newer readers.

Personally, I don't think that's true at all, and I couldn't be happier with this news.

It's true that comic continuity needed to be rebooted to make room for new readers. After all, most comics are very hard to get into if you're unfamiliar with the decades-long history already in place. Furthermore, comics are a very, very unknown, tiny, and oft-overlooked industry. Even the absolute top-selling books out there never break a million issues sold. Most high-selling titles only get into the tens of thousands, and a big event book is lucky to break into the hundred-thousands.
Comics need to be available to the masses; characters like Superman and Batman should be able to be read by millions or billions of people, not mere thousands.

At the same time, there's no reason to sacrifice the integrity of the story that's being told, either. The interesting thing about DC Comics is that its characters are more archetypal and ideal-driven than Marvel's. It's the characters and the ideals behind them that make DC stories work, not the years of continuity.

So as long as those characters are the same at their core as they always have been, this is not only a good move for DC; it's a wonderful thing for the entire comic book art form. And, so far, judging by various comments from people at DC, it really seems like they're doing just that. Except for Wonder Woman's stupid pants.