Thursday, June 9, 2011

DC's Reboot

It should probably come as no surprise that as a longtime comic book fan, I have some opinions about DC Comics' plan to reboot all of their titles and release all of said books in digital format on the same day that they release their print comics.  What might surprise you is what my opinions on this big DC news actually are.

It seems that most longtime DC fans feelings right now range from apprehensive, to militantly angry.  And I understand that.  When you re-boot a nerd property or properties (like Star Trek for example) you're going to piss off fans who've poured time, money and most importantly love into that property.  But you know what? Comic book fans are going to get pissed off regardless of what you do.  I've stated this before and I'll state it again- there's a significant portion of the nerd population who just really, really enjoy hating stuff.

Myself? As far as the creative stuff goes, I'm kind of excited about the reboot.  Really.  I mean, some of it looks god-awful.  Teen Titans in particular looks like something that early 90's Image comics would barf out (they even have 90's uber-writer Scott Lobdell as their scribe).  And I really believe that every comic book company with a shared universe should re-boot their line every 10-15 years.  Comics get SO bogged down with continuity over time that it becomes almost impossible to get new readers into comics.  Have you ever tried to explain Cable's (X-Man Cable) back story to a non-comic fan? Hell, have you ever tried to explain how Superman came back from the dead to a non-comic fan?  I realize there is kind of a "eff that, we don't want any muggles reading comics anyway" thing going with this stuff, but if you don't get young fans into comics, you could lose whole generations of fans to Pokemon or whatever new thing young nerds are into nowadays.  Shared comic universes need re-boots to get rid of continuity detritus.  There is one caveat.  The re-boot needs to be executed well.

The other portion that is interesting about the re-boot is the release of comics in digital format on the same day as the print product.  I realize that this has caused something of a stir amongst comic shops in that shop owners (who are really the foundation of the comic book business) are annoyed by the move and feel like they may lose business to digital downloads.  I sympathize with that.  The thing is, the comics industry has been hemorrhaging business for 20 years now.  Comics have gotten too expensive, too continuity heavy, and have been replaced in the hearts and minds of potential readers by video games, the internet, and even things like card games (Magic, Pokemon, etc.).  Marvel, or DC or somebody had to do something to adapt to the current technological climate and going same day with the digital product, while risky, is probably a good move.  The only problem I have with same day digital? They're charging too much for it.  I don't know what the exact figures are, but my assumption is that it's cheaper to publish a digital comic than it is a physical one.  DC is charging the same price for their digital comics as their print product.  If they charged less, they could quickly dominate a market that their main rival, Marvel, hasn't fully committed to yet.  It would hurt comic shop sales which is unfortunate, but it would probably be good for the comic business overall.  If comic companies keep doing what they're doing- focusing on print, while putting out a half-ass digital product- then their reader base will keep shrinking.

Phew.  So basically, I like the re-boot, and I think same day digital is probably good too.  So what looks good and what doesn't in the re-boot?

Here's some good stuff:

Geoff Johns on Justice League- Holy crap, yes.  JL should be DC's marquee title and it has been AWFUL for like, 10 years.  I love the roster- a new big 7.  I love Cyborg on the team.  Justice League looks great.

Grant Morrison on Superman- Grant Morrison is my favorite writer, and if anybody can bring Superman back to prominence it's him.

Wildstorm as part of the main DC Universe- Martian Manhunter on Stormwatch? Voodoo and Grifter with Solo titles interacting with other DC characters? Why didn't DC do this YEARS ago.

Gail Simone on anything- Secret Six is probably my favorite comic on the market right now and Gail Simone is the reason why.  I will read anything she writes.

A book starring Kyle Rayner- I love Green Lantern, but I think Hal Jordan is the second most boring comic character ever (he's ALMOST as boring as Barry Allen) so I'm glad to see Kyle is starring in "the New Guardians".

And some bad stuff:

Jim Lee re-designed all of the characters- The 90's were kind of a bad time for the comic industry.  Every character had a giant gun, shoulder pads, and a bad attitude.  So why let a guy who was one of the main creators behind that style re-design every single classic DC character? Have you seen the Teen Titans? They look terrible.

Is this a re-boot or not? DC is being kind of coy on just how much of a reboot this is.  First they said it was a full reboot, then they said it wasn't a reboot at all.  Reading some of the descriptions of the new titles (like Teen Titans, Outlaws, etc.) you get the impression that DC is starting over from scratch.  But others- like Batman, Inc. and Green Lantern kind of sound like they're not re-booting at all.  If you're going to do a re-boot, don't half ass it.  They half-assed when they re-booted after Crisis on Infinite Earths and it kind of led to their "New Universe' being a mess for years.

52 new titles is alot.  DC has 3 bona fide superstar writers in Morrison, Johns, and Simone, but after that their bench isn't very deep.  I worry that they don't have enough writing talent to sustain this huge effort.  As I stated above, they brought back Scott Lobdell to write like, 3 different titles.  And Fabian Nicieza.  And a bunch of other guys who haven't been heard from in years.  I want every book to be great, but great books start with great writers.

Barry Allen and Hal Jordan still make me want to nap.  Despite every effort, I still really dislike Hal and Barry, and cannot for the life of me understand why DC felt they needed to be brought back.  DC's thing now is they want to have "the most recognizable versions of each of their characters" which is dumb.  They should want to use the most interesting and compelling versions of their characters.

Generally, I'm excited for the re-boot.  I hope it all works out.  I want the comic industry to grow.  I want more people to read comics.  I hope this whole thing helps get the industry back to a better place.

2 comments:

  1. I just saw Rob Liefeld's signature on the new 'Hawk & Dove' concept art. Until that moment I was buying your argument that DC knew what they were doing.

    Oh well.

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  2. There is definitely a weird "it came from the nineties" vibe that worries me. And I hate Rob Liefeld's art, but his comics sell great. Who the heck is buying his stuff?

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