First and foremost, Major Spoiler warning, I tried doing this without spoilers but even the first 5 pages are full of moments that will have massive repercussions over the next few months.
Still here? Alright good…but just to be sure…
So yesterday saw the release of DC Rebirth #1 and I’m sorry I took forever in writing this article but I had to process the issue and really approach this with a level head. For those of you that don’t know then this is the ultimate DC event that’s going to be a soft reboot of all of their comics. This is also the last comic that Geoff Johns is going to write for the foreseeable future. As I previously wrote about, he is going to go and head up the new DC Films and is focusing the majority of his time on that. I’m okay with Johns taking a break but not the way that they’re going about it. Rebirth doesn’t answer all of the questions that we have and I’m worried about other people carrying the story after Johns is gone. This is a story that could easily go off the rails quickly. Johns as a writer knows and loves these characters, he wants them to succeed and be as great to us as they are to him. His writing in this issue is some of the best he’s done since his Green Lantern finale but that’s exactly why it’s sad to lose him right here. He and the company used this issue to “fix” the DC universe and the “problems” of the New 52 and he did so in a way that only a certain group of people could be upset with, the only problem is that that group of people are the people who were helping to keep the lights on.
DC Rebirth #1 is narrated by Wally West, a character who’s original incarnation has been missing since the start of The New 52. Many fans wanted his return to DC and I did too. They brought us a new Wally West and although he was good, he was vastly different from who we were used to, the new Wally was a kid who was troubled and hung out with the wrong crowds and he had to be coached into becoming the hero we needed. The original Wally was the heart of The Teen Titans, he was the Flash that my generation grew up with and he deserved better than to just be “Forgotten”
That word takes on a new meaning in this issue because instead of dying, Wally has been flung through the speed force since The New 52 started. He wasn’t dead, he was just “Forgotten” It’s a very miserable existence and what’s worse is that he sees this darkness growing and can do nothing to stop it. He keeps trying to return to our world and while he’s trying when he finally does get back he tells us that our heroes have been weakened since The New 52 started. The villains of this time theft have been revealed as none other than Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias from Watchmen. I actually really like bringing them in because Johns has spoken multiple times about a return of Hope and Optimism in the comics and films and there’s no greater villain for that then the cynicism of The Watchmen. So now that Wally is back and he remembers everything that happened before The New 52 he can tell all of our new heroes about the people that they could be and once were which I guess I’m ok with that but I liked the characters in The New 52. One of the other things that Johns spoken about was a return to the legacy of DC. Which is great…but don’t forget the legacy of The New 52.
Chris Sims once wrote about “The Problem” and this issue coupled with the release of Batman V. Superman : Dawn of Justice solidifies it. The basic premise of “The Problem” is that DC has chased the popularity of Marvel for the past 50 years and they just can’t reach it.(Seriously, the entire article is worth your time. Go check it out.) He’s right about the idea and I do believe that it is a factor but the real problem in this instance is that DC hasn’t believed in the New 52 for the last two years. Batman was the only consistent run throughout the entirety of 2011-2016 and that was only because of Snyder, Capullo and Miki just all being exceptional creators. Everything else just sort of faded out and it seemed like DC didn’t care. Scott Lobdell still has a job as a writer even though he has put forth almost no effort to better his writing. They let Pak, Bunn, Lemire and Fialkov slip through their fingers even though they were fantastic and you know what the worst problem was? They listened to the whinier fans instead of the ones that were actually buying the books. So instead of adapting the story to be both a fan service and an exceptional creative opportunity DC just told us that we were wrong for buying all of those comics for the past 5 years and that these characters were weakened versions of our favorite heroes. Phenomenal Stories like “Goddess Of War”, “Throne Of Atlantis”, “Zero Year”, “Endgame”, “The Red and The Green”, “Forever Evil” and many others may never matter again. I’m hoping that they don’t do away with them but there is a good chance that it could happen.
I will hang onto my optimism for DC for as long as I can but currently the truth is that for those of us who fell in love with The New 52, the ones who spent time and money buying these books and following these characters we are the ones who will still read DC, we are the ones who will still love the Hope that they have shown us but, sadly, we are the ones who have been Forgotten.