If you’re a comic book fan there’s a chance you’ve might have heard about DC’s New 52 last year? No? Rebooted their entire line of comics and all of its continuity? Washed away years of history? No? Not ringing any bells? Well there are a lot of people out there, a hell of a lot of people out there that want DC to revert back, but should they?
So pretty much since the beginning of the New 52, people have wanted it to go away and as you might expect of an primarily internet based community, they’ve been pretty vocal about it. The question has been asked on podcasts more times than I can count, there are so many posts in forums and blogs out there, even a pretty embarrassing poll on DCs official facebook page which you can see in the picture on the right there. Everyone, literally everyone on all sides of the comic book industry has an opinion on this, and quite rightfully so. DC didn’t just erase history, they’ve done that before with Crisis on infinite Earths, Zero Hour etc., they changed their shipping schedules, their creative teams, (apparently) removed some characters from their line up entirely and basically changed everything they could. Obviously the whole thing was inspired by financial reasons (and some very good reasons, the New 52 made DC a lot of cash) the largest of which being that DC wanted to make themselves new reader friendly.
I pretty much came on board as a full time reader with the New 52. I had read some things before that, some Red Robin and some Batman and Robin. I tried reading Batman Inc. but my response was essentially “What the hell is going on?!!? Who’s that? Why is this happening?!”. So I decided to go back even further and read the return of Bruce Wayne, I wasn’t as much in the dark as I was with Batman Inc. but I still had no context for these events, I tried going back even further and the same thing happened and it just felt like no matter how many years I went back into DC history I would never have the full picture and it sucked. I really don’t think long term comic readers get just how much of a barrier the old DCU continuity was to new readers, after giving up on DC before the New 52 dropped I ended up reading a bunch of Ultimate Marvel stuff instead and DC lost some money from that. Not a lot (I am a student afterall) but how many people have had similar problems to me? 100? 1000? 10,000? More? Multiply that by that cost of comics and you start to get some pretty big numbers. Of course the people on the other side of this argument are probably going to read this and think, “I put years into these characters, I pushed through that barrier and DC just erased that, why did I bother?” and that’s a valid point, with the amount of effort and cash long term readers might have put into DC of course they’re going to feel a sense of ownership to the characters and I understand that. To be honest if I was on the other side of the fence here I would no doubt be making that same argument.
A lot of people like reading comics from larger companies like DC because they have this huge universe where all of the stories are set. They love it when Green Lantern goes to help out Batman with a villain, or when the Justice League fight the Justice Society before teaming up to combat a greater evil. Comic book fans fucking love cross overs, it’s in our blood, we try to fight it but we its who we are. The New 52 lost a lot of that, by de-aging characters a lot of these heroes who had been friends and teaming up for years, now don’t even know even know each other. There’s also the issue of the 5 year timeline that DC introduced with Justice League. Apparently 5 years ago (ish) is when super heroes first turned up, that’s when Batman started being Batman etc. Of course Batman has a 10 year son with a woman he met after he became batman so that doesn’t make much sense. It kinda seems like the writers didn’t put much thought into the timeline, if they were going to do it, they might as well try to do it right.
Whatever way you look at it DC is a company, their objective is to make money, comics is simply one way they accomplish this goal. It’s then the job of the creative types at DC to find a way to tell great stories, knowing full well that their books need to sell, and sell to the widest possible audience. There’s a lot of compromises to be made there. In Tv and movies it’s about working the budget and production schedule, in comics it’s about making things new reader friendly and incorporating Batman into the story as often as possible. In short, DC shouldn’t go back. With the amount of money they’ve pushed into New 52 marketing it just wouldn’t make fiscal sense. Yes I want Cassandra Cain to come back, and sure I want to know the history of my favourite characters. But you know what? I also want DC to be successful, I want the writers to make good money, and I want DC to have enough disposable income to print even more books. Ultimately thats what it comes down to isn’t it?
I kinda see these reboots in comics as being the same as Facebook rolling out a new update. Everyone bitches about it at first, groups and statuses pop up everywhere bitching and moaning. Then everyone gets used to it, and begin to like it. Then when the next update comes around the same thing happens.
Feargal is a a sophisticated sex robot, sent back in time to change the future for one lucky lady. You can follow him on twitter @Feargal_Ryan