Tuesday, February 23, 2016

DC Comics may have lost its mind

Remember when I said I no longer read comic books?

Or at least currently published comics? DC Comics has now given me even more reason to continue with this divorce.

For in just the past week, DC has announced that its shared universe of characters will go through a publication event called "Rebirth." After that point, DC Comics will be "all-new," "all-different."

Just like the last time.

And the time before that.

And the time before that.

In truth, they've been building up to this for a while. DC published a miniseries called Green Lantern Rebirth. This restored Hal Jordan as the one true Green Lantern while bringing back other characters such as Sinestro and the Green Lantern Corps.

I never knew they were gone, showing how much I actually pay attention anymore.

Following that was another mini called Flash Rebirth. This brought Barry Allen back as The Flash, ensconced within an origin story remarkably close to that of the TV series of the same name. I honestly don't know which one is the chicken or the egg there, again showing how much I pay attention.

Now, Rebirth itself will bring something big back to the DC Universe. What that is we don't know, but Dan Didio and Geoff Johns are saying it's about going back to who and what the DCU really is and with the characters everybody loves. A noble sentiment. 

I have five problems with it, however.

1. How many times are we going to do this?
How many "Crisis"-like events are there going to be? I understand and support the need to shake things up and keep the stories from growing stagnant or dated, but wasn't there a "final crisis" at one point? Oh, I get it. This is the final final crisis. So after this one, when is the next major conflagration scheduled? So we can once more say "Oh that character? That incident? Not in continuity anymore." My point being, it keeps happening and seems to keep underscoring that French axiom of "the more things change, the more they stay the same." 

2. This doesn't exactly engender faith in product brand.
If Johns et. al. want to go "back to basics," which as I said is a noble sentiment, then the logical question becomes "why did you ever change?" New Coke comes to mind. This repetitious cycle of crossovers and promises of shocking "All-new! All-different!" content borders on cliche. Borders? No. DC is looking at the border of cliche somewhere about ten miles back in the rear view mirror. What are we to think of any business that goes through that many overhauls, promising "No wait! We've got it right this time! Or wait...maybe this time! Yeah! Yeah, that's it!" It's like someone who has at best repeatedly let you down or at worst told a series of lies. Why should we have faith in DC?

3. "All-new! All-different!" probably won't include diversity.
I don't mean that in the sense of gender and ethnicity of characters or creators, but that's no doubt going to be a genuine factor as well. What I mean is the diversity of storytelling and genre. I loves my Superman and Batman, but DC has a rich heritage of non-superhero characters and titles that will likely never again see the light of day. Where are Jonah Hex, Sgt. Rock, Blackhawk, Warlord, Unknown Soldier, and the House of Mystery? Don't hold your breath. Why? Well that's related to my next point.

4. This is all about the Benjamins.
This isn't a change meant to reinvigorate the DC Universe or its "brand." In truth, they probably don't even care about the stories they tell. Why should they? Geek Nation is full of people who will buy a title simply because they have every appearance of Batman since 1963 and cannot abide gaps in their collection. Quality of narrative is not a factor. Now that might be an extreme example, but this lure of "All-New! All-Different!" seldom disappoints as a marketing gimmick. Remember Death of Superman? Electric Blue Superman? Yeah, you get the idea. Along those lines...

5. Dan Didio promises that Rebirth will feature "the single most controversial scene in DC Comics."
Great. Because that's why I read comics. The controversy. What, Dan-o. Is Sue Dibny going to get raped again? Shock+controversy=marketing. 

While I've stopped reading first-run comics, this is a little rough for me. Between 1992 and 1999, all I read were DC Comics. They were of better narrative quality than Marvel and they didn't have a mutant on every other page. I left Marvel completely in the era of Bendis and Millar, never looking back. I just had no interest in packing my slim window of entertainment time with "Edgy McEdgerson." Then DC seems to have had over ten years of identity crisis (a parapraxis!), seeming rather unsure of just who they were or what they wanted to be.

So, startled as I am to say this, I really am done reading comics. That time of my life has come to an end. Aside from old trade collections, cool independents, and the odd trip through the dollar or fifty cent bin, I'm certainly divorced from the Big Two.  

Not really losing any sleep over it, either.

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  1. On FB, Paul said: "I walked away from DC after they introduced the New 52."

    I'm just thankful I still have all my old issues. That and I can track down other older stories in trades. Yeah, New 52 was a deal breaker for me too.

  2. On FB, JC said: " I'm looking forward to the Batman/superman crossover. However I do think we are being saturated with superhero movies. Both DC and Marvel."


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