The DC #1 Reboot (AKA The Long Road To September)

The announcement from DC Comics in USA Today this past Tuesday can be summarized as follows:

The entire line of DC Universe (DCU) comic book titles are getting a major overhaul this coming September.  This “reboot” eliminates some titles, adds new ones.  It will assign new creative teams pretty much across the board and will develop new takes on all of the characters.  All titles will ship digitally on the same day as they are available in comic book stores and, every title gets (re)numbered to #1.

The Tuesday announcement also stated that the first title will be The Justice League, written by Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer of DC) and penciled by Jim Lee (co-publisher).

Is This The First Time This Has Happened?

DC has done this a number of times over the course of its 75+ year history.

The Silver Age in the 1960’s.  1985’s Crisis On Infinite Earths.  1994’s Zero Hour.  And most recently, 2006’s One Year Later.

Those are the major ones.  There are also “softer” reboots that have happened during the run of any particular series such as the tonal shifts of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in the 1970’s.

Reboots in the DCU, and other serialized fiction, are cyclical due to the fact that the problems with integrating the increasing amounts of continuity over an extended period of time.

While it can be debated whether it is the ideal solution, the reboot is seen by many as the natural (and easiest) release valve.

Why Dump The Continuity? 

From the outside looking in, the density of continuity is often seen as the barrier holding back new readers from entering comic books.

It can be argued that every reader has to start somewhere, and every reader eventually gets up to speed with continuity (I managed to do this before my tenth birthday, without the aid of the Internet).

But that only addresses the most loyal of fans.  Casual readers require fewer obstacles to get on board.

The reboot solves this problem for new readers.  They get to start on the ground floor along with everyone else (myself included).

For existing readers, like me, it means closing the door on one continuity and opening the door to another.

Frankenstein Monster Say Change (and Fire) Is Bad!

And as we know, he would be wrong in saying that.

Change is often met with fear and I’m sure that many longtime fans will see this as a personal attack.  That the stories they know and love no longer “count.”

The reality is that this opens the door for new stories to be known and to be loved.  And to count for everyone.

And I have to think there will be nods to those old/known/loved/counted stories.

This is inclusive.  Not exclusive.

But Will It Work?

It’s hard to say if this will work or not because so much has changed in the industry over just the past ten years.

Distribution channels for how readers get comics.  The quality of writing and art.  The familiarity of new readers with the characters from exposure in movies and television.  The crossover of comic books into mainstream culture.  Etc.

It’s hard to compare this reboot with even the 2006 One Year Later because, market conditions aside, the scope of this type reboot has not been done in so long that it’s difficult to compare.

It would be like comparing the original King Kong with the 1976 and 2005 remakes.  The storytelling is different.  The market is different.  Too many variables.

What I will say is that this reinvigorates the line and people are talking.  DC has the attention that they want.

As to if they will maintain the current readers and bring in new ones as well…there will be a lot of attention on the Septembers sales charts  (as will November, December, etc.).

Where Do I Personally Stand On The Reboot?

Continuity is a platform of moral superiority for many fans.  Knowing more than other readers is seen by many as a status symbol.

And let’s face it, it’s also selfish.

It’s selfish in that continuity can grow to be so large and so vast that it builds a wall around the medium making it difficult for others to come in and access it.

The fact that everyone is now starting on the ground floor is OK with me.  I’d trade in my 30+ years of DCU knowledge for more readers enjoying comic books.  I’m fine with that.

I’m fine with more people in the comic book store on a Wednesday if it means that we’re all talking about the same stories we read last week.

Part of the reason I feel this way is something on the Greg Fitzsimmons podcast about nostalgia and the fact that nostalgia is exclusionary.

That really stuck with me.

What Will I Be Buying?

Each day is bringing new information on the creative teams and titles (see today’s announcement on The Source Blog  for the 10 “New Justice” titles) but a list of creative teams and 25 word descriptions aren’t enough to pass judgement.

I won’t know how I feel about the titles themselves until I read them in September.  After all, we do not know what we do not know.

So, here’s my strategy: based on previous performance by the creative teams + my interest in the descriptions of the titles, I will try sample books and then make my judgements.

For example: Brian Azzarello is a a writer who has yet to let me down.  Cliff Chiang is a phenomenal artist.  They’re on Wonder Woman.  I’m down for that book.

Should You Be Excited About This If You Currently Don’t Read Comic Books?

Not to tell you how to feel, but yes.  Yes you should excited about this.

If you are a new reader, it’s your opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  And by that, I don’t just mean with DC.  It could help you work your way into reading other comic books.

Across the street, Marvel comics is publishing some pretty awesome stuff.  If  you were at all impressed with the Thor movie, you owe it to yourself to see the epic scale of action and drama happening in the Fear Itself mini-series by Matt Fraction and Immonen.

That new Justice League title in the USA Today article looks like a sure bet to please new readers.  Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are two of the most talented creators in comics and 2 of the masterminds behind this reboot.  Think of it like the David Chase scripted episodes of the Sopranos.

But what about the other 51 titles?  My suggestion is to read about the creative teams and descriptions.  See what catches your attention.  Use Wikipedia (or the comments section on this blog) to learn more about the writers and artists.

For instance: Brian Azzarello wrote a great Joker hardcover that can tune you into his writing style.  Cliff Chiang illustrated a cool comic based on Neil Young’s Greendale.

There are plenty of books to sample, today, that skirt continuity that can give you a feel for some of the creators working on the reboot.

I also suspect previews and samples will be online (and on the iPad) as we get closer to September.

Find your local comic book store (Comic Shop Locator) and ask them what they’d recommend.

My Open Challenge To DC (AKA “The DC Challenge”)

I won’t beat around the bush.  DC, don’t mess this up!

Comic books are $2.99 for 20 pages and that’s the amount of money and time  you have to maintain me as a reader for each title.

Let me put this in nice big bold letters to be clear – you have 20 pages to convince me to keep purchasing each title.  You need to recognize that there is an over saturation of entertainment sources (and content), so asking me to spend more than 20 pages to “wait for it to get good.” is not an option.  

My brother and I were having a conversation about the show “The Event.”  He was trying to convince me that in the later episodes it found it’s bearings and started to get good.

Too late.  I’d already moved on to watching other shows that secured my free time.

The modern consumer does not have the time or bandwidth to “wait for something to get good.”  It needs to grab them out of the gate.  Go hard or go home.  

My Open Challenge To The Internet

If you’re happy hating on the announcement before you’ve even read the comic books, maybe it’s time  you left.

As in now.

Leave.

Vote with your dollars and go elsewhere. 

Marvel publishes great comics.  They’d be happy to have you.

I was flipping through Previews yesterday and was amazed at how many Star Wars titles Dark Horse is publishing these days.  You can go there.

Dynamite has all those Green Hornet titles.

Seriously,there are plenty of comic books being published weekly that if you didn’t want to read DC comics, you could enjoy other things and never miss them.

And that’s fine.  If it’s not your thing.  It’s not your thing.

And voting with your dollars will tell DC this.  And if enough people do that, maybe things will change again.

But then again, if enough people buy these books then maybe it shows them that they’re on the right track.

Change is not always a bad thing, my advice is to embrace it and see where it takes you.

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2 Responses to “The DC #1 Reboot (AKA The Long Road To September)”

  1. 52 Pickup – What I’ll Be Buying During September’s DC #1 Reboot « Noah Kuttler's Blog Says:

    […] entire line of 52 DC #1 reboot titles have been announced, and the following is my pull list / recommendations for […]

  2. Before Watchmen? Here’s Why… « Noah Kuttler's Blog Says:

    […] Which brings me to the news that DC Entertainment will be publishing a series of “Before Watchmen” comic books, a move that I would argue is bolder (and more controversial) than their decision to reboot the DCU with the “New 52.” […]

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