<i>by Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</i> <p>As we all know by now, DC Comics' September relaunch of its DC Universe line is a "soft reboot" a reset of continuity that allows for a fresh start but, according to numerous statements from DC executives, editors and creators since the announcement, also keeps fan-favorite storylines like <i>The Killing Joke</i> and <i>A Death In The Family</i> firmly within continuity. <p>But with certain characters including icons like Superman and Wonder Woman appearing to be rebooted pretty significantly, how many classic DC stories (fan favorites in reader-ese, backlist in sales-speak) can <i>really</i> stay in continuity? <p>Click "start here" in the upper left-hand corner for 10 high profile DC stories that might prove to be problematic in the new relaunched DC Universe. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama"><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/newsarama"><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i></p>
Of all the classic runs that may be undone by the new DCU status quo, Marv Wolfman and George Perez's <i>New Teen Titans</i> may be the one most heavily hit. With Cyborg seemingly part of the Justice League of America since its beginnings Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's run on the title begins in the past, we've been told, which would suggest an origin tale or something similar, and Cyborg is present in all of the promotional images and Starfire off with <i>Red Hood and the Outcasts</i> , two of the central characters of the classic Wolfman/Perez run are no longer present. <p>Add to that Donna Troy's absence from any publicity or promotional material for "The New 52" (does she even exist in the new universe, with a new Wonder Woman status quo?) and that would leave the classic Wolfman/Perez line-up as Robin, Raven, Changeling and Wally West... Well, assuming that Wally or Raven exist in the new DCU, of course, (Neither of them have been mentioned so far, either.) <p>To make matters more complicated, the solicitation for <i>Teen Titans #1</i> suggests that that'll be the first time there's even <i>been</i> a Titans, perhaps effectively removing the entire existence of a previous team of Teen Titans from history in one fell swoop. <p>But that isn't the last of the Wolfman/Perez classics in crisis...
<i>Crisis</i> has always had a strange place in DC continuity. By its very nature, it rewrote history so things didn't happen exactly as we read, but some very similar things did and yet, just <i>what</i> was never quite explained, until 2005's <i>Infinite Crisis</i> firmly brought everything back into continuity. <p>But with the new DCU about to come about, there's a lot of this classic story that seems up for grabs again. <p>Was there ever a multiverse in the new DCU? Did Barry Allen make the ultimate sacrifice (you'd assume characters dying and then coming back to life would be one of the things a reboot intended to simplify characters would eliminate)? And what about all the characters who took part in this story that, based on solicitations for the first issues of their new books, may not have even existed at this part of revised DC history? <p><i>Crisis</i> is exactly the sort of epic-scale superhero story that comics do best, but it's also exactly the kind of confusing-to-new-readers story that a DC reboot should eliminate.
We know that Superman will come out of the reboot with, at the very least, a new costume. But it's also likely that his origin and past will become revised yet again. DC is calling him the first superhero in the new revised DCnU and adds that the world might not yet trust him, at least at the start of his career <i>as</i> Superman. <p>At the very least this suggests a career as Superboy of any kind let alone one that inspired the Legion of Superheroes as very much a question mark. <p>So where would that leave the Legion? Writer Paul Levitz has said that the relaunched title will essentially be a continuation of what is currently happening in the series, but does that mean that Superboy will remain part of Superman's past, or will Levitz be forced (for a second time in his <i>Legion</i> writing) to create a workaround that will leave Legion history essentially intact while coming up with some kind of Superboy analogue to fill his role? <p>Also, if Superman was no longer a member of the Legion as a teen, then where does that leave Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns' "The Lightning Saga" storyline, where Superman's connection to the Legion was a central plot point? Or, for that matter, <i>Countdown to Final Crisis</i> , which continued the thread of having Legion members in the present day from that storyline? Did these stories never happen in the new DC continuity?
Perhaps one the most ironic on the list, given that the intent was to reunite the versions of the JLA's "Big Seven" available at the time. But the problems here are numerous and obvious. <p>If the "Big Seven" (minus, apparently, Martian Manhunter who's part of the DCnU <i>Stormwatch</i>) formed 5 years ago in soft reboot comic book time and are still (or even back) together in the contemporary DCnU, can writer Geoff Johns and DC reconcile an "era" in between that included Wally West as <i>the</i> Flash and Kyle Rayner as <i>the</i> Green Lantern ... not to mention a hook-handed Aquaman, some New Gods, an angel, Connor Hawke as <i>the</i> Green Arrow, and stints with Hippolyta as Wonder Woman and Electric Blue Superman? and the yet-to-be-heard-from-in-the-DCnU Steel, Plastic Man and the Huntress? <p><b>Justice League</b> is maybe the epicenter title that tests the malleability of this "soft" reboot and how much readers must participate individually to bend but not break it.
All manner of DC events are at risk by the soft reboot, but <i> Final Night</i> may be the one hit the hardest. <p>Not only is it very possible that the time-lost Legion storyline that crosses over into this event will be undone in the new timeline ... Not only does it echo the new <i>Legion Lost</i> book ... but the Superman/Lex Luthor rivalry is also probably going to become some kind of continuity sticking point, given the Superman reboot coming from both <i>Action Comics</i> and <i>Superman</i> . <p>We also have a Supergirl that contradicts the new continuity, the death of Hal Jordan although that would maybe be necessary for the post-reboot status quo of the Green Lantern franchise and all manner of characters that just don't even vaguely fit into the new DCU anymore. <p>Additionally, the idea that the sun was essentially extinguished by a Sun-Eater and restarted with the help of characters who literally can't have been there anymore may seem problematic for Legion continuity in the 31st Century: If a Sun-Eater had visited Earth ten centuries earlier, wouldn't there be a solution to them in place by the time the Legion met their first one?
An absence that everyone noted from the New 52 was the Justice Society of America, and the new <i>Justice League</i> book will apparently start at the "beginning of the age of super-heroes"... So does that mean the JSA never existed? And if so, where does that leave James Robinson's wonderful series about Jack Knight, the FIFTH Starman to grace the DC Universe? <p>It's a fair guess to assume that some version of <i>Starman</i> will have existed someplace in the new DCU, if only because Robinson's long-awaited <i>Shade</i> miniseries is, we believe, still being worked on. But can Jack Knight's story have the same weight if he wasn't the son of the original hero and trying to live up to a long legacy that threaded itself through the history of the DCU? Will story arcs like "Stars My Destination" survive the removal of visits to Krypton? Will the Mist's slaughter of the JLE still have happened if the history of the Justice League is different? Whatever happened to Opal City on DC's latest New Earth?
Another story that we've been assured will have happened in the new DC Universe, there are some curiosities about <i>what</i>, exactly, will survive the reboot: Perhaps Sue Dibny's death at the hands of (spoiler) Jean Loring will make it (although try explaining the grisly details to a new reader) but there are all manner of subplots that suddenly seem in question: Was Zatanna a member of the new JLA at any point (we know she's with JLDark now, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she ran with the superheroes at any point), and if not, how did the mindwipes happen? If Firestorm didn't exist prior to <i>The Fury of Firestorm #1</i>, who died (if anyone) as a result of the manhunts?
Does the new <i>O.M.A.C.</i> series mean that the OMACs seen in the run-up to <i>Infinite Crisis</i> never existed? In which case, what happens to <i>The OMAC Project</i>? Does the reboot of Wonder Woman mean that she never killed Max Lord (or that, even if she did, it was not such a big deal)? Does the lack of Power Girl and mentions of Karen Starr, as if her alter ego doesn't exist in the new DCU invalidate that entire thread of the series? If there was no Donna Troy, because of the changes in Teen Titans and Wonder Woman history, then who led the charge into space? And, of course, if <i>Crisis on Infinite Earths</i> didn't happen at all, is there any story here at all? <p>Also, a small but potentially important unknown: We know that Jaime Reyes is still Blue Beetle in the New 52 but was there ever a Ted Kord who had that name?
It's only a couple of years old, but come September, <i>Blackest Night</i> will likely become one of the most recent, most high-profile casualties of the relaunch. Hawkman will apparently start over from scratch in his new series, which takes both Hawkman and Hawkgirl out of the series, and potentially both Firestorm and the Martian Manhunter as well, considering their new status quos in new series due in a couple of months. But <i>Blackest Night</i> also underscores the long history of the DCU in a way that will, perhaps, be much contradicted in upcoming stories many of the deaths might never have happened (For example: Superman? Wonder Woman?), and it's possible that many of the dead characters may be revealed to have never existed in the first place.
One of the unexpected side effects of the relaunch: Len Wein's 10 issue celebration of DC history could be invalid <a href="http://dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=18426">a week after the release of its hardcover collection</a>. We don't know exactly how far the "soft reboot" actually goes in terms of rewriting history, but it's very likely that the majority of Wein's series including the character-centric shorts spotlighting characters like the Seven Soldiers of Victory, Captain Comet, Sgt. Rock, and many other more obscure characters will be undone by the grand sweeping changes. Was there ever a Justice Society, and if so, did they still disappear at the McCarthy Hearings in the 1950s? Did Superman's appearance still happen when it did in this series, and if so, did he inspire a new generation of superheroes? <p>It's a shame that this series, created to celebrate DC's 75th birthday, not only went by without a lot of attention the art line-up, which included Brian Bolland, Frank Quitely and JH Williams III, amongst many others, deserved plaudits alone but even more of a shame that it came out when it did. Given the confusion surrounding what counts and doesn't count as DCU history come September, this is exactly the kind of thing that could be valuable for the next year or so.