Saturday, September 17, 2011

The DC Reboot

[Editor's Note: This is the very first Entertainment Junkie article to come from a contributor, i.e. not me. My friend Abigail is one smart cookie, especially when it comes to the realms of comics, sci-fi, and fantasy. She may be coming back as a regular contributor in the future, so be sure to comment and let her know what you think!]

Abigail Gruchacz currently studies at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics as a senior. She wrote two unpublished novels for National Novel Writing Month. However, she has been published in her school’s Art and Literature magazine “The Blue Mirror.” She eagerly reads and watches science fiction, fantasy and superhero stories, but she is open to other genres. She’s been reading comics for a couple of years now, and considers herself a fan of DC, though she does fangirl over Marvel’s X-Men and harbors a soft spot for Captain America.

The DC Reboot.

Whoo boy, where to begin?  

To start, let’s explain what the DC Universe is and why it’s being rebooted for readers who have never picked up a comic book. There is a fictional universe called the DCU. There, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and all of DC Comic’s superheroes live their lives and basically do what they do best, save the world. The bulk of titles that DC puts out are in the DCU, but there are exceptions. DC owns the Wildstorm and Vertigo universes, but they don’t take place in the same continuity.  There are Elseworlds tales like Superman: Red Son and hypothetical continuations of the DCU like The Dark Knight Returns. (For those who are interested, Marvel works in a similar way.)

I hope I’ve explained it well enough, so let’s move on to the reboot itself.

My initial reaction was, “HA! Linkara called it!” Not two days ago Linkara, a vlogger who specializes in comic books and Power Rangers, released a video in which he explained why reboots are dumb.  At first, I disagreed with him. Reboots seemed like a pretty good idea to me. There are interesting stories to be found in this brand new universe. A blank rule book waiting to be filled in and no continuity to scare off newbies.
Besides, who was I to hate on reboots? I got my start on comics with Ultimate X-Men, part of a reboot of the Marvel Universe. Then I realized, “I don’t read Ultimate X-Men or any of the Ultimate Marvel line. As a matter of fact, I don’t read Marvel at all (except for the occasional X-Men story). I’m a pretty much a DC girl. But hey, this reboot can get some more fans on the DC wagon.”

Then I started reading 52. And it changed my mind completely about reboots. To start off, I friggen LOVE 52 (still reading, so no spoilers please and thank you!) because I felt fully immersed in the DCU. As I read, I learned more about the history and the continuity I was reading. Part of this was because of a helpful segment at the end of the comic that would a) tell a about the history of the DCU as a whole or b) detail the background of a specific character. 

However, I felt so immersed because 52 is a good story.  The characters were rich and fully engaged in the world around them. I got to know Black Adam, Booster Gold, Renee Montoya, Steel, and many more in this series.

Why do I bring this up? Because this is how readers are drawn in! With series like 52 which are easy to understand and just plain awesome! And it made me realize, “The DCU ain’t broke. So why are we fixing it?”

And that is my main problem with the reboot of the DCU. It was still telling modern, fresh stories, and now the reboot is going to mess up about 20 years of character and world development.
This leads into my next problem with the new DCU. All the backtracking!  When they decide to back track is really confusing too!  Apparently the facts that Clark Kent and Lois Lane are married and Barbara Gordon is in wheelchair and not Batgirl are confusing. Meanwhile, a new Robin that’s unfamiliar with the non-comic reader populace (Damian Wayne) and about 20 years of history for the Green Lantern isn’t! So, these changes that were made just pissed fans off and the changes that weren’t made confused new readers. Smooth move, DC.

I need to complain about the changes with Superman for a bit. First of all, Why aren’t Lois and Clark married?!? Why? Is this confusing? No. Can it prevent you from telling good Superman stories. No! Two of the most famous Superman stories, Death of Superman and What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way? were written while they were together.  

Secondly, Superman is a thug in Action Comics #1 . His first line in the comic is “Rats. Rats with money. And rats with guns. I'm your worst nightmare." He throws a man out a window and into a river breaking the guys hips and six ribs! Admittedly, the guy was beating his wife, but Superman knows there are better ways (that involve a little something called DUE PROCESS OF LAW!) to deal with scum.

 I can’t see the Superman that I know and look up to doing this. Why is he acting like this? The creators are trying to return him to his Golden Age roots. Yes, Superman did act thuggish in the Golden Age. But the character has evolved! Why are we devolving him?

You know what? Let’s return EVERYONE to his or her Golden Age roots! Let’s have Batman kill people and carry guns! And why don’t we let the writers exercise their BDSM fantasies on Wonder Woman? And while we’re at it, let’s return Green Lantern’s costume to this!

See why I think the backtracking is a crap idea?

Maybe the creators think that they can kill two birds with one stone; have Superman fit the “popular” mold of anti-hero while keeping true to his roots.  And yes, some people don’t like Superman and don’t read his comics because he’s not a grim anti-hero. And that’s fine. They can read comics about grim anti-heroes. More power to them. As for me, I like Superman became the most shining example of heroism, plain and simple, so the way he’s portrayed as a thug combined with the creative backtracking really pisses me off. 

I do have nice things to say about the new 52 though. Despite my earlier complaints about Barbra Gordon taking up the Batgirl mantle, I did enjoy Gail Simone’s Batgirl #1 and will continue to read it. I LOVED Demon Knights #1. Swords, Sorcery, Camelot, The Shinning Knight, Love Triangles; all make me squee! Lastly, I am defiantly looking forward to the return of Blue Beetle (about damn time, too).

But, oh well. For better or for worse, the new DCU is here to stay. There are going to be stinkers of stories, but who knows, maybe the next 52 will rise from the ashes. 

Up, Up and Away!


Anonymous said...

That costume is still in the universe, but he goes under the mantle of Sentinel, unless they took him out from the JSA in the New 52 (which I have yet to read as I just recently got Flashpoint)

Simon said...

My problem with this new reboot (which, I think, is the third time DC has done it, if you lump all the Infinite Earths together (sorry for the pun) (no I'm not)) is that it just feels so unnecessary. I mean, from my point of view as a shameless Batman and Co. fangirl, anyway.

And the Superman thing bugs me too. Do we really need another gritty character reboot? What's wrong with some good old-fashioned smug moral authority (I'm not being saracastic. Honest)?

But I'm psyched someone in the blogosphere is covering it. I felt so alone.