Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wonder Wednesday - DC Reboot Part 2

So here is the full cover of Justice League #1, revealing the core of the team. No J'Onn J'Onzz, but Cyborg is there, having joined recently alongside fellow former sidekicks/children of heroes Nightwing Batman, Donna Troy, Jessie Quick and Jade. He's also apparently a central figure in Flashpoint, but I haven't read that, so I don't know much about it. The fact that I had no interest in Flashpoint, DC's central crossover this summer should have been a red flag. I've been all wrapped up in the other recent crossovers like Blackest Night, but this one held no appeal from the first teaser images they released.

So anyway, DC is relaunching 52 books all with new #1s, controversially including the two longest running comics in existence Action Comics, home of Superman and Detective Comics, which is responsible for the name of the company and also served as the launch pad for Batman. They've revealed that they are turning back the clock and the characters will be younger than they are currently. Hmmmm, so now everyone's speculating whether recent controversial events will be erased and whether certain characters will be returning from the dead. They claim that they will also be diversifying their universe, which you can't really tell from the above illustration.

This may or may not have anything to do with matters, but there has been a long-running legal battle between DC and the families of Jerry Seigle and Joe Schuster, the two men who created Superman. Recently, the families were awarded the intellectual rights to Action Comics #1 which detailed the origin of Superman. I'm not sure what it all means, but I've read that this means that the bulk of what happens in this issue now belongs to the families, including Superman being from Krypton and that it could mean DC may not have access to those things, should the family decide not to play nice. Couldn't restructuring their universe be the perfect way to recreate a new Superman without the trappings of that first issue? Wouldn't it have been a bold move to give him another skin color, like GASP! brown? DC's been whoring itself to the media for ages now, and that would have given them their biggest reaction yet!

Who's coming back from the dead? Jonathan Kent? Ted Kord (Blue Beetle)? Ralph (Elongated Man) and Sue Dibny? Kent Nelson (the original Dr. Fate)? Arthur Curry Jr. (Aquaman's baby son)? (Or for that matter Tula/Aquagirl and Garth/Aqualad/Tempest?) Lian Harper?

OR will the former original Teen Titans be de-aged back into their classic sidekick roles? Will Dick Grayson not only not be Batman, but will he not even be Nightwing? What does this mean to his successors Jason Todd and Tim Drake? It may sound crazy, but they are depicting Dick as Robin on their current Young Justice animated series, so it would make sense for them to try and reflect that in the comics. And, though it's doubtful that Robin will appear in any upcoming Batman movies, IF they were going to use a Robin, it's going to be Dick.
It seems unlikely that Garth/Aqualad would be used, since they just introduced Kaldur'ahm/Jackson Hyde as the new Aqualad. They could mimic the show's continuity and still have Garth and Tula alive, though, just with Kaldur/Jackson as the active Aqualad. It APPEARS that The Flash on the JLA cover is Barry Allen (blue eyes), which begs the question, what about Wally West, who was The Flash for the last two decades+? He's been reduced to part-time hero, but do we need two Flashes? (Three, if you count the original who is still with the Justice Society.) On YJ, he's Kid Flash again. Will DC be so bold as to take that step, putting him back in the classic yellow and red suit and... erasing Bart Allen (the current Kid Flash) from the equation all together?!

The one poor original Titan that deserves a reboot the most is Roy Harper/Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow, if just to get rid of all those damn aliases. In the last year or so, he had his arm ripped off, replaced with a cybernetic arm, had his young daughter killed, his city destroyed and relapsed into drug addiction. Let's let this poor sap go back to being a cocky kid sidekick when times were simpler.
DC's had trouble with replacing "classic" characters in the past. Most notably Green Lantern. They wrote out Hal Jordan and replaced him with Kyle Rayner, who gained his own significant fan base. But the decision to replace Hal caused one of the hugest backlashes in its history and eventually, they were forced to return him to the role. But what about Kyle who was a hugely popular character on his own now? Not to mention the two other Earth-based GLs John Stewart (one of the only big name African American heroes in its roster) and Guy Gardner (a member of the cult favorite Justice League International)? DC's choice... just use 'em all. They're all still Green Lanterns and they all still operate under that name and Hal and John were even in the Justice League at the same time. (Also as it is on the YJ cartoon, so that could remain.) As with The Flash... this is kinda confusing. Could DC really have the ballz to eliminate one or two of these guys?

I'd say probably the second situation similar to this is Wonder Girl. Donna Troy, in her classic origin, was Wonder Woman's younger sister. But in 1985, Wonder Woman was relaunched as a brand new character just making her debut. This would essentially negate Wonder Girl's entire existence, but DC rewrote Donna's origin so that she was no longer an Amazon, but rather given her powers by the Titans of Myth (the precursors to the Greek gods) and adopted a new code name, Troia. A few years later, a new Wonder Girl debuted, Cassie Sandsmark, the daughter of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods and a human mother. Cassie followed in Donna's footsteps and joined the current Teen Titans and has proven popular on her own, her romance with Superboy being a particular favorite among fans. Donna's overly complex origin has since been mended so that she is Wonder Woman's sister again. Despite Cassie's success, many fans still think of Donna as the quintessential Wonder Girl, though. IF DC is de-aging their characters and, as I suspect, returning a lot of the modern day successors to their original sidekick roles, Donna would certainly be among them, right?

In recent years, DC HAS attempted to racially diversify their ranks. BUT in order to do so, rather than introducing brand new characters, they've chosen to replace existing characters with new racially diverse versions. Firestorm was replaced by African American Jason Rusch, The Atom with Asian American Ryan Choi and most controversially, the care-free, fun-loving Ted Kord/Blue Beetle (left), whom they had KILLED BY A SHOT TO THE HEAD, and replaced with Latino Jaime Reyes. All three were included on Batman: The Brave & The Bold, especially Jaime who has probably proven the most successful of the replacements. However, none were popular enough to sustain their own comics and Ryan Choi has already been killed off, with the prior Atom, Caucasian Ray Palmer returning to the role. What will be these characters ultimate fates? I can't believe DC won't bring Ted Kord back, seeing as how outraged people were over his death. On Smallville, Ted Kord was alive, but Jaime was the Blue Beetle. Could DC pursue a similar storyline?

I GUARANTEE one thing that is being eliminated is Lois Lane's marriage to Superman, and probably her knowledge of his secret identity. (There are already rumors of a Superman/Wonder Woman romance!) This is one of those matters that has been handled EXTREMELY well since it occurred, but let's face it, no one cares about old married couples. That's why movie are all about falling in love, not maintaining love. That's why couples on TV shows are always will-they-or-won't-they and don't get married until their series end. Marvel's already wiped out Spider-Man and Mary Jane's marriage. Expect DC to follow suit. I just hope Lois remains a vital character. I love her and she doesn't deserve to be relegated to the sidelines.

There's also a very strong chance that Barbra Gordon will be reverted back to before she was crippled and will once more serve as Batgirl. The fact of the matter is that Barbara remains to this day THE Batgirl. She's the only one that ever appears on any licensed merchandise, despite not actually serving in the role in over two decades. She's still the one EVERY fan depicts in the role, when they do drawings o f the women of the DC Universe... despite not actually serving in the role in over two decades. Despite the fact that there have been two replacement Batgirls in that time. Both replacements, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, have been depicted as capable characters and have their die-hard fans. But Barbara's stamp has proven indelible. She simply IS the ONLY real Batgirl to the general populace, comic fans included.

The hesitance to simply return her to the part full-time has always been her current identity of Oracle. Oracle represents a unique role in the DC Universe, a guiding information resource for all its heroes... and one of the only disabled heroes in ANY medium. The character of Barbara Gordon was never particularly well written as Batgirl. It wasn't until she became Oracle that she received any sort if depth or development.

Even so, after failing with Cassandra Cain and acknowledging that pretty much everyone considered Babs the real Batgirl, DC came super close to making her Batgirl again and then at the last second balked and put Stephanie Brown in the role, which has resulted in a well-written book... that no one reads. So I'd bet my LIFE that we're going to see Barbara as Batgirl again very soon.

What does this mean for Batwoman? It's no secret that her run on Detective Comics is my favorite comic in years. She's had her own comic "in the works" for something like four years now. It was supposed to be out already, but kept getting pushed back. Is it still coming out? Will it have to be retooled now, to fit into this new continuity? Will her established continuity still exist? Do we need a Batwoman alongside a restored Batgirl? (Once again, just my hypothesis.) Well... I do, at any rate!

Heh. Here's a crazy thought. What if I'm overreacting? (Moi?!) What if this is just a stunt? Or a finite storyline that will be wrapped up in a year or so? What if the concept tanks and DC just undoes it all like it never happened?

I said yesterday that this may be the straw that broke the camel's back and the reason I drop monthly comics. Is that an overreaction? I don't necessarily think so. I've been drifting further and further away from comics in the last year or so. I realized that with my toy collecting, I'm mostly only buying characters or versions of characters that I grew up with, like the Super Friends, Satellite Era Justice League, 70s and 80s stuff. I've continually read comics the whole time, but anything post-Crisis, 90s, modern... it doesn't resonate with me. I don't have any emotional attachment to it. I think maybe the time HAS come that I should just let go and move on.

But then I think, but Aquaman is getting his own series written by Geoff Johns and Batwoman may still happen... how can I not follow those titles? So... ha ha, maybe I won't drop monthly comics altogether, I'll just revamp which titles I follow.

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