Some major news came out today in the comic book world. Chief creative officers and co-publishers Geoff Johns and Jim Lee announced that the DC Universe will be rebooted, with new editions reverting back to issue #1. The first book to be released is Justice League of America, bringing back the classic team comprised of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman (the drawing above is a sneak peek of the rebooted team by Jim Lee). From USA Today:
(Geoff) Johns promises a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC’s trademark superteam. “What’s the human aspect behind all these costumes?” he says. “That’s what I wanted to explore.”
After this issue is released (in early September), 51 other rebooted #1 issues will be released, introducing stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the costumes’ redesign to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old. The move is part of DC’s efforts to reflect current themes and events and will feature characters with costumes redesigned and by Lee.
This move, is in part, with the new distribution strategy of comic books. Both DC and Marvel have been making millions with movie and videogame adaptations of their various superhero properties, but the print industry is a dying market. With the advent of digital distribution and special digital comic editions released through apps for the iPad for example, it seems like a right time to revamp the very complicated canon developed through decades of story lines. Lee states, in a press release: “We’re allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look.”
“We really want to inject new life in our characters and line… This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.” says Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC with Jim Lee.
The image above is the comic book cover for issue #7 of the massive DC Universe mini-series, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. This mini-series (or maxi-series as it was advertised) was released in the mid-80s as a way to course correct and consolidate all the different timelines and stories that occurred through the convoluted universe. Over the years, comic book writers would change origin stories, or set their characters in certain time periods (Action Comics #1 featuring the debut of Superman came out in 1939, with stories derived from that period), so to treat everything as “canon,” the conceit of multi-universes with multiple Supermen and other characters was a way to create a unified theory (or band-aid), when it comes to the DC canon, and to basically quell the fanatical geekdom of comics fans, who actually treat this shit seriously (me, included).
CRISIS was a major event, with universes destroyed and other superheroes with it, to consolidate one timeline. And it was friggin’ cool. But then DC ultimately half-assed it after this, and never stuck to a overall gameplan, and forced visionary writers to stick to rigid rules (John Byrne and his reboot of SUPERMAN, for example) that just didn’t make sense and screwed everything up again. You can read Hitfix’s take on the failure of the post-CRISIS reboot.
So hopefully, Johns and Lee can come up with a better gameplan. It certainly seems that way, especially since Lee is going to redesign or update the looks of a lot of the characters. One of the most legendary comic book artists ever, Lee is a major force in the comics world, and it’s going to be really cool to see what he comes up with. Plus, he gets the “new normal” of DC, especially in embracing the digital age.
I have to say, if they did this 10 years ago, I think there would’ve been an uproar from the comics community. But, I think the reboot is good, especially since a lot of properties are being rebooted left and right nowadays, ranging from venerable franchises like STAR TREK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, to SUPERMAN, BATMAN, JAMES BOND, and SPIDERMAN. It’s accepted now. Plus, the community is aging so this is an obvious way to gain new readership.
I’ve been out of the comics world for several years now, but this is a great way to get back in, come September. Let’s hope they get it right this time.