It’s been rumored for months that DC had a very large shake up coming. It’s been no secret that their sales have been less than they hoped for over the last year or so, and yesterday they announced that they will be relaunching everything this summer with new #1’s.
That may sound familiar as within the last decade they relaunched their entire universe with new #1’s, restarting their entire continuity with DC’s New 52. While Marvel has taken a seasonal approach over the years of renumbering certain titles with new creative teams while allowing others to carry one, this will be the second time this decade that DC will relaunch their entire line.
Over the last few years we’ve seen shakeups to the status quo’s of many of the major heroes and they’ve received a varied range of response. Superman got new powers, then lost almost all of his powers, then gained a new power, had his secret identity exposed, rode around on a motorcycle with a t-shirt for a costume, and then gained a new secret identity. Batman died and was reborn with no memories of being Batman while Jim Gordon has taken over the mantle of the Bat. That’s just the main two heroes in their own series although they’ve appeared unaffected in DC’s centerpiece, Justice League.
Throughout the press release that came out with announcement of DC Rebirth, it was filled with a getting back to the basics idea. “REBIRTH is designed to bring back the best of DC’s past, embrace the stories we currently love and move the entire epic universe into the future. We are returning to the essence of the DCU. With REBIRTH we are putting the highest priority on the direct market and we will continue to create and cultivate new opportunities for retailers to thrive and prosper, grow readers, fans and customers.” (Dan Didio, Co-Publisher).
Considering their various changes to continuity over the years and their publicized poorer sales, it’s easy to assume that they are changing their characters back to a more classic line in order to be more new reader friendly while maintaining a certain level of nostalgia for more faithful readers. That means Bruce Wayne will be Batman again. Dick Grayson will be Nightwing, and Superman will return to a more classic form.
DC is denying that this is another continuity wipe and is a continued part of the ongoing story. However an entire line wide relaunch feels more like they are redacting the last several years of story to replace the current status quo in an enormous shift because they aren’t happy with where they currently are financially.
Also, DC will only be relaunching 32 ongoing series, with 17 arriving twice a month. While that means you will be getting double the dose of Batman proper, it means less chances for people to tell side stories that are off the beaten path in his smaller titles. That means taking less chances on newer interesting writers to tell new interesting stories. Also with shipping with twice a month, it does put more pressure on the writers and artist to deliver twice as fast instead of allowing them to breathe a full month to make a whole new issue. I’d rather wait a whole month for another great issue than two weeks for a mediocre one.
There’s no word on the creative teams behind each title. So we don’t know what that means for fans of Scott Snyder’s Batman, however we do know that Geoff Johns will finish up his run on Justice League with issue 50 coming out before the relaunch.
Only time with tell what will come of the Rebirth, but for now it screams they are playing it safe with going back to the basics and taking fewer chances.
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