I stopped reading comic books regularly in 2011. There were a number of factors involved. I became increasingly involved in volunteer work, I had graduated the year prior, I was hurting for cash, and, perhaps the last nail on the coffin for me was that most of my favorite monthly comic series ended pretty abruptly. In the now infamous company wide reboot, The New 52, DC abandoned all their major story arcs, pushed the history of all their characters back to their origins, forgot about some of its greatest heroes altogether, and this really pushed me the wrong way. To top it off, just months prior DC announced they’d be “Drawing the line at $2.99,” a marketing campaign that began to combat the huge surge in prices that other companies started charging, but when the New 52 came around DC seemingly forgot all about that and bumped their prices back up to face off against their competition.
This rant is old news, I know. But it put me off of comic books for a while. I still read them here and there, mostly in their bound trades, but I’ve never been able to rekindle the love I’ve had for them back then. And then came this week’s DC Universe: Reboot. I had heard a lot about it. Everyone was teasing the revelations therein, but I held back from the spoilers. Is this yet another line-wide reboot? And then a friend of mine, one of the editors on this site actually, told me how imperative it was I read it. I always listen to his recommendations, so I went out to grab it. Mind you, this is the first DC Comic I’ve bought in maybe… 2 years? He gave me a rundown on EVERYTHING I needed to understand, and one thing stuck out to me – he told me “there never were any reboots,” and that someone behind the scenes has been controlling everything, attacking the timelines.
Boom, mind officially blown.
And thus starts some of the best retroactive writing I’ve seen in years. A mysterious protagonist, removed from time itself, remembers the timeline prior to DC’s New 52 alternative earth. We find out that the protagonist is actually Wally West (my personal favorite Flash), and he is literally ripping his existence apart by breaking through the Speedforce trying to get his old friends to remember him. Only by remembering him can he be brought back to existence in this new, warped, and unhappy timeline. It’s depressing to see rejection after rejection, but it’s also beautifully tragic. He monologues all the changes in DC Comics as if they were wrong turns taken by this new timeline, going all the way to the Flashpoint Paradox pre-52.
And this proves to be, if nothing else, a long overdue, but not unwelcome apology from DC Comics. And it’s surprisingly heartfelt. Especially when someone in the issue does finally remember Wally, it becomes a unique meld of old and new. The company recognizes their mistakes, or at the very least the complaints leveled against them since the big changes. And without breaking the fourth wall, they address these issues quite well. But in the meta text, the company actually goes and pushes another of their properties under the bus, as a means to get out of the blame – at least that’s one interpretation. More on that later. Before I get into any spoilery discussions, I’ll give you a heads up.
As far as accessibility to new readers goes, I really wouldn’t recommend this. Rebirth relies far too heavily on the assumption that its readers have been reading DC Comics regularly for the better part of the last decade, and throws you into a story that requires you to have read Justice League #50 and Superman #52 in particular. In that department it’s not forgiving at all, and won’t be readily accessible to many. But that’s the issue’s biggest problem, story-wise.
This is, incredibly, the most affordable comic I’ve ever purchased, considering the content and gravity of the subject manner, not to mention one of the greatest twists in comic history. But also because of its length. It’s an 80 page issue with NO advertisements. All this and the comic is only $2.99! Geoff Johns, the book’s writer, has even gone so far as to say that if you don’t like it, you can get a full refund!
(MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW)
Back to that whole meta discussion I hinted at earlier. Alan Moore has had a long and trying relationship with DC Comics, whom he used to produce his Watchmen comics. Alan Moore expected that the book would stop selling, and that he’d receive full rights back. That never happened. And that bad blood has finally turned Dr. Manhattan into a bonafide antagonist in the DC Multiverse. Like. Seriously. My mind is reeling. I can’t tell if this is a huge jump-the-shark move, or pure brilliance. The implication is that he, along with possibly The Comedian and Ozymandias, are responsible for some changes to the timeline. The other Watchmen members may make an appearance in the multiverse soon too.
Hopefully this is handled well. This isn’t exactly a reboot, per say, but a jumping on point. And I hope we see more changes that bring more characters back into the New 52 earth, pulling together more continuity, and making more sense out of the multiverse. But most importantly, I’m curious about the state of the DC Comics moving forward, now that Geoff Johns won’t be as involved in the writing process (as he’s been promoted to head the DCEU films). For fans of the comics – especially older fans – this is a breath of fresh air, and I’m excited to see this new direction through.
Grab this on Kindle!