Tuesday, May 24, 2016

THOUGHTS ON DC REBIRTH...BEFORE THE BOOK HITS THE STANDS

DC Comics and I have had a rather complicated relationship over the past few years.  

...

You know, I just typed that sentence and now I immediately regret it.  It makes it seem like DC Comics and I had a romantic thing going on and that just isn't the case.  DC is a comics publisher and I am a person.  It's not like we can date or get married.  So saying that our relationship is complicated implies that there was something romantic between us and that just isn't possible.

The better thing to write would be that I have had complicated feelings about DC Comics over the past ten or so years.  See, I started collecting comics back in 1987 but until the summer of 1994 I mainly stuck to the Superman titles.  I would pick up the odd book here and there and follow the Batman books or Flash (especially when the first television series hit in 1990) and I went through my obligatory X-Men phase in 1991, which lasted about a year, but for the most part I stuck with the Man of Steel.  That changed in the summer of 1994.  I had just graduated high school and Zero Hour: Crisis in Time led me down the path of buying a bunch of different titles.  I jumped feet first into the DC Universe and stayed there for well over a decade.  At one point I was buying all of the Superman books, Flash, Green Lantern, most of the Batman titles, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, JLA, JSA, Martian Manhunter and a handful of other random books.  

To be fair I would take day trips and weekend hikes into the Marvel Universe and even take a peek at what Image and other publishers were up to but at the end of the day I was a DC guy.

Things started to change at the beginning of the twenty-first century, which strikes me as another overly dramatic way of beginning of sentence but that doesn't make it any less accurate.  Around 2000/2001 the party seemed to be ending.  I wasn't connecting with the books like I used to and slowly I started culling titles from my pull list.  It was weird to suddenly feel like I was losing touch with the comics I was reading.  Looking back this was a very natural thing but I didn't have that perspective at the time.

My mood picked up around 2003, which was weird because DC was going through some significant changes both editorially and creatively at that time.  Titles I still loved like Young Justice and Supergirl were being cancelled, so on one hand it seemed like the end of an era.  On the other hand I rather enjoyed Geoff Johns' Teen Titans and Judd Winick's Outsiders.  Winick also began writing Green Arrow and Greg Rucka started his run on Wonder Woman.  Then the build-up to Infinite Crisis began in earnest and I was completely on board.  Suddenly I was buying all the titles again and while things were different I was enjoying myself and felt part of that world.


After Infinite Crisis that odd feeling of detachment began again.  

To be completely fair some of that was me.  I was entering my thirties and had spent twenty of those years reading and collecting comics.  At some point the material is not going to speak to you like it once did.  It would be the height of hypocrisy to expect DC (or Marvel for that matter) to continue to cater to my tastes when I came through the door at the same time the previous generation was leaving because DC had changed everything and was going for a new audience.  

I didn't understand that at the time but have come to understand it after stepping back and taking stock of my collecting life.

On the other hand DC made some pretty bad calls in the Post Infinite Crisis/New 52 world.  There was a fair amount of blaming the audience for books not doing well and there were some creative decisions that alienated more readers than it was bringing in.  There was a lack of an identity for the company and a serious loss of history.  I'm not talking continuity.  I mean history...as in DC felt like a world that had been around for decades and you could see that in the stories.  Continuity is flexible.  History shouldn't be and you can't artificially create that with a five year timeline.  

Right before the New 52 hit I had just come back from taking nearly a year off the week to week business of the comic book world.  In 2011 I was just getting used to the idea that I wanted to continue collecting comics again on a regular basis, specifically the Superman titles, so I wasn't in the head space to want a new direction.  I tried and dropped a bunch of titles and eventually it was like the pre-1994 days when the only books I was buying on a regular basis were the Superman titles and I HATED what was going on in those books.  There were bright spots.  I rather enjoyed Forever Evil and Justice League became a solid read month after month.  Synder and Capullo's Batman was phenomenal but for every Earth-Two and Worlds' Finest there were a five books that could best be described as a hot mess.

And that whole DCYou thing?  I've never seen a direction crash that hard, that fast.

Which brings us to DC Rebirth.


I am genuinely excited for DC Rebirth.

I'm not naive.  I am not walking into this with my eyes closed and my arms wide.  I have just seen enough to make me more and more interested in the new direction and the new creative teams.  I like that DC seems to be, on paper at least, trying to embrace what made it special in the first place.  I like that they aren't completely abandoning the New 52 because there were some neat concepts tucked in there.  I like that the Pre-Flashpoint Superman is returning but without setting the clock back in a Spider-Man: Brand New Day style.  I like that DC is bringing back the numbering for Action Comics and Detective Comics.

Greg Rucka is coming back to Wonder Woman.

That's freaking huge to me.

More than anything DC seems to embracing the elements that made me love the company three decades ago.  It looks like we might be getting Legion of Super-Heroes and Justice Society books down the road.  There are rumblings of something being done with the Shazam property.  It's all so exciting and even though this sort of thing has been done before it feels fresh.  

More than anything it feels like I am on the cusp of wanting to be part of the DCU again.  I have turned in my pull list to the local LCS and it reads like the one I had back in 1999.  I'm going to be buying both Batman and Detective.  Nightwing is also on the list.  Both Green Lanterns and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps are on the list.  I'll be buying Flash (which I should have never dropped in all honesty) and Aquaman again.  I mentioned Wonder Woman before but then you have something like Red Hood and the Outlaws, which is going to be made up of Bizarro, Artemis and Red Hood.

That's freaking genius.

It could end up being terrible but for the moment I am stoked.  

Justice League looks like it's going to be a lot of fun and obviously I am going to be picking up all of the Superman titles.  Let me take a moment to say how gratifying and exciting it is for there to be a line of Superman titles again.  Superwoman has me really excited.  I am intrigued by New-Superman as well.  The new Supergirl series seems to be taking cues from the television series, which is just fine by me because I love that show.  Down the road there's a Trinity title and...and...and...Super-Sons.

I haven't been this excited for new comics since the build up to Infinite Crisis.

And that's where I am at the moment.  DC: Rebirth #1 comes out tomorrow.  I'll be buying it as soon as I am able to leave the house.  It is so great to be excited for Wednesday again and not look at the trip to the comic shop as something I will get around to but something I need to do the day the books come out.  I've read some of the spoilers and oddly enough I don't mind that they were ruined for me.  All of the elements I see people complaining about have me more intrigued than I was before.  

I just can't wait for tomorrow!

I was originally going to record all of these thoughts but time got away from me but I wanted to get something out there before Rebirth begins.  Maybe this will be the start of me blogging a bit more.  I don't know.  But I hope you liked this post and if you want more just let me know in the comments.

Also, if you want to hear another perspective on looking forward to DC: Rebirth head on over to the Relatively Geeky Network and listen to Episode 42 of Shortbox Showcase.  Alan Middleton and Emily Middleton always produce an amazing show and I greatly enjoyed hearing what their thoughts on Rebirth are and what titles they are looking forward to.  

More to follow...

6 comments:

Mario Reyes said...

Hey Michael.

It's been a while since I seriously bought a new book. I have gone every now and then to my LCS and picked up a new book here and there, but mostly I've been a back issues customer when I do go. Now though I'm genuinely excited, and I find myself looking forward to not only tomorrow but the next few months.

Seems to me that DC is finally starting to pay attention to what the long time readers want. Like you I don't go into this blindly, but I do have some hope for it. The Superman titles, WW, Green Lantern, Batman these are all titles that I'm looking forward to. I don't know what will happen with Rebirth but I hope that it's at least close to what a lot of us want.

Michael Bailey said...

Thanks for the comment, Mario. Looks like we're on the same page with Rebirth.

Mario Reyes said...

Well I've read it. And to put it in simple words, I'm hopeful for the future.

Johns did a damn good job, and that scene between Wally and Barry just tugged at the heart strings. Looking forward to what's next so much I started a pull list again.

Michael Bailey said...

My review of the issue will be up over on the Superman Homepage Sunday night.

Short preview: LOVED IT.

Mike McLarty said...

I too had checked out from DC after the first couple months of the New 52. With a few exceptions, it was no longer my universe.

Marvel has lost me due to the snark of Brevoort and David Gabriel. $4.99 comics is the final nail in the coffin.

Having said all of that, I was absolutely floored with DC Universe: Rebirth. I'm smitten with admiration. The book moved me to tears and actually inspired me to write my first Comics Journalism piece in about 4 years.

I don't wanna impose myself and self-promote, so I'll hold off on a link. :)

I really came over to see what *you* thought. I'll look forward to your article later today!

Aidan said...

I know this is late, but I loved this post! I can't wait to hear what you thought of the book.