Robot 6

‘The New 52 and You,’ and the dreaded R-word

Action Comics #1

If there are any lingering concerns that DC Comics’ sweeping September relaunch — re-branded this week as “The New 52″ — is actually a reboot, the publisher is working doggedly to stomp them out, tackling the issue head on this morning in an email to retailers.

Titled “The New 52 and You,” the message from Senior Vice President-Sales Bob Wayne wades into the thorny issues of continuity, devoting three of the email’s 10 “general” questions specifically to why the initiative isn’t the dreaded R-word. It’s familiar territory for Wayne, who insisted to those same retailers in early June what the New DCU is not. “It is not a ‘reboot,’” he wrote at the time. “I think you will soon discover why that is.”

Why that is, Wayne now explains, is that “a reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.” That probably amounts to hair-splitting, if not a convenient redefinition of the term, but okay.

“This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past,” he continues. “For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we’ve asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.”

The same argument probably could have been put forward in 1986, with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which restarted characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, wiped others out of existence and left still others relatively untouched (but caused many, many problems down the road; see Wonder Girl, Justice League and Justice Society history and the All-Star Squadron, for starters). Similarly, 1994′s Zero Hour scrapped Legion of Super-Heroes continuity, monkeyed with the various Hawkman characters, and changed aspects of Batman’s and Catwoman’s origins while leaving the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives.

It’s understandable why DC would seek to put distance between “The New 52″ and the R-word — a dirty word in many fan circles — but the company itself has shown that reboots and retcons take many shapes and sizes. “The New 52″ is what it is;  the publisher should embrace that like it does the renumbering (see below) or the costume changes. Repeatedly insisting what it is not only makes readers and retailers dwell that much longer on the word, and the baggage that comes with it.

But what about that other R-word, renumbering? Wayne addresses that, too — specifically questions about the wisdom of starting over its two oldest titles, Action Comics and Detective Comics, as they near their 1,000th issues (Action will hit #994 the month before the relaunch, and Detective #881). “A partial renumbering would not have had the impact we needed to showcase the amazing changes and direction we have planned for the new DC Comics universe of characters,” he writes. “Counting issue numbers is focusing on the past, not the future.”

Unfortunately, Wayne doesn’t address the notion that, if the relaunch doesn’t succeed, there might be a reset button — a Dallas-esque “it-was-all-a-dream” scenario in which continuity and issue numbers return to where they were on Aug. 24. Instead, he closes the “general” Q&A on a hopeful note for fans who may not see their favorite character among the new titles: “We are kicking things off with our best and brightest characters and what makes them so compelling and great. Simply because you don’t see a personal favorite in the September launches doesn’t mean your favorites are gone. This is just the beginning.”

Fans of, say, Power Girl or the Justice Society may bristle at the implication that those characters aren’t among DC’s best and brightest, while others may wonder how, say, Resurrection Man or Hawk and Dove made the cut. But one thing, and perhaps only one thing, is clear, two months from the New 52: for better or worse, it is just the beginning.

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Comments

17 Comments

Looks likes DC One Million will take place even further in the future now. Way to drop the ball.

it’s a relaunch similar to what Doctor who did or even one year later just on a larger scale.

If they want to do a reboot, do it totally and all the way but just use DC Earth one as the home of the reboot.

Dusan Al Ghul

July 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Wouldn’t “revamp” be a better word to use? To me, both “reboot” and “relaunch” mean starting over, while “revamp” means make renovations/modifications.

I think “revamping” the DC line sounds a lot less scary, but that’s just my opinion.

It’s a reboot. DC is in fact restarting all their series, regardless of what is or is not happening to the characters. Characters aren’t real. They can be manipulated in whatever way the creators want. The books are real, and when we see all those #1s this fall, THAT is a reboot. DC might as well call it a duck or Aunt Edna, it would make about as much sense.

Former DC Reader

July 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I’m gonna stick with Vertigo from now on

“It’s a reboot.”

Not really, because somehow Batman’s entire history remains intact (he’s had 4 Robins), as does the recent run of Green Lantern stories. Do not question how this makes any sense at all, don’t bother, this is a thrown together, semi-boot by a bunch of gutless wonders who can’t commit to an actual reboot because ditching Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison’s stories would make them sad.

Everything else is new. So, it’s like 3/4ths of a boot.

Doesn’t matter, it’s already a colossal failure. One look at those costumes and normal people will laugh. “Why are those lines on Superman’s costume? Is he wearing armor? Why? He’s SUPERMAN. Why does he have a collar now? That costume is ugly.”

My strongest guess is the only bits that Bob Wayne actually wrote is everything above his email address. The rest of the FAQ reads like it was written by many hands.

-B

He had to pick the title that makes it sound like a ’50s filmstrip?

This rings of propaganda…or something the guys on ‘Mad Men’ would’ve come up with….or the guys at FOX…..

DrunkJack – Are you so far lost in your fanboy mindset that you think ANYONE gives a damn about the costumes except for existing nerds? New readers and casual fans care about whether the characters are relatable, whether the stories make sense and have engaging plots, whether the emotional thrust and themes presented are important to them, and if there is enough fun and suspense to enjoy each page and come back for more.

Where exactly to costume seams rank on YOUR priority list? Here’s a hint: if they rank at all, they are too high. This is doomed to fail because of SEAMS?

SEAMS?

The seams are only part of the design awfulness that is the Flashboot. The costumes are so universally terrible looking that anyone with sense looks at them and sees that this is doomed to suckage, and that the most sensible thing to do is stop reading DC and make some popcorn to munch on while the line crashes and burns.

I don’t mind about it being a reboot, or semi reboot, or not a reboot at all. I’m not anal when it comes to continuity. Some people go alittle over board with their concerns I think. All I care about is a good story. If its not good writing or I am not enjoying it – I stop buying it. Simple as that.

Although it will be fun to see how they handle the OLD – Batman, Green Lantern, LOSH with the NEW – everything else. ;)

Resurrection Man made the cut because he was always an awesome character, like Aztek. I don’t understand the appeal of Hawk and Dove.

@Squashua – If I understand their goals correctly, if any current comics reader understands the appeal of all the books in the “New 52″ they’ve failed.

They want a variety of books for a variety of readers.

As for the whole Reboot question, I think a Relaunch is a better word because for the most part they’re picking thing up midstream. Some specific things are being rebooted, others aren’t.

Who cares about this crap! When’s the next issue of BATMAN: ODYSSEY coming out?!

What DC needs is a REAL reboot. Start from the beginning. The modern stories have been amazing, with more mature storylines, amazing art, and immersive dialogue. But these characters themselves are in need of being modernized. It could give them a chance to fix things that should’ve been fixed ages ago. Such as green lantern and superman. GL’s retarded vulnerability to a COLOR. Yes keep the vulnerability to fear… that makes sense. But a color? Just a retarded idea created years ago. And fix kryptonite, krypton, and supe’s weakness to magic. All three have been at various writers will and tampered and changed. All I’m saying is that with comics characters finding new popularity thanks to movies, it’d be the perfect time for a real reboot. With a flawless continuity and timeline established by DC Comics loremasters. They could put on the back page of issues a checklist for the current story arc and READING ORDER, trying to maintain continuity but not providing a reading order is ridiculous, a confused reader won’t be a reader for long. Then with the digital releases always being available, it’d make it that much more convenient. You’d always be able to know what’s happened in the universe, what order to read the comics in, and they’d always be available, if not in print, then online. It’s 2011, I’ve been a DC fanboy for years. But change can be good, if you aren’t retarded about it. If only DC would listen to fans.

Oh… and the new costumes blow.

I think if it was just a relaunch, those stories would not be at the currenct chronology. For example: Green Lantern Secret Origins, was not a reboot. It was a story told years before the currenct chonology. But, starting everything from zero (even the stupid books cover numbers), and putting everything in the currenct chronology makes it a reboot in my opinion. Stupid old fashion stuff (most of them silver age stuff) like the GL’s vulnerability to a color, could easely be fixed with a single issue!!! Things like that do not need a reboot. In general, I dont like this DC’s ideia at all!

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