<i>By <a href=http://twitter.com/graemem>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Although it may not seem like it, this Wednesday marks the end of an era, with the release of the final comics published in the current (soon to be "old") DC Universe. With a continuity that stretches back more than 50 years Crisis on Infinite Earths- and Infinite Crisis-blips aside disappearing forever (or as forever as superhero comics can manage) tomorrow, it seemed like a good time to look back at the things we'll be losing when The New 52 come along to start everything all over again. <p>Click "start here" in the upper-left corner for 10 things we'll miss about the "old" 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>
Most currently running DC titles are either being relaunched in September, or transitioning into an analogue <b>Jonah Hex</b> becoming <b>All-Star Western</b>, for instance. Some characters are losing their solo books, but popping up in team books, like Booster Gold in <b>Justice League International</b>, or Zatanna in <b>Justice League Dark</b>. <p>One concept nowhere to be seen in The New 52 is <b>Secret Six</b>, the Gail Simone-written title that's been a fan-favorite since starting life in 2005 as part of <i>Infinite Crisis</i> lead-in miniseries <i>Villains United</i>. Not only are the team of mercenaries not a part of DC's post-<I>Flashpoint</i> plans, the individual characters aren't known to be in the cast of any announced books, other than Deadshot in <b>Suicide Squad</b> with the future whereabouts of Catman, Bane, Rag Doll and the rest still unknown.
Relaunching every series at #1 is a great thing to get new readers, but it means that comic book culture loses its longest-running, uninterrupted-numbered American title in <b>Action Comics</b>. Oh, and also the second longest-running, uninterrupted-numbered US title in <b>Detective Comics</b>. And the third in <b>Batman</b>, and I think you can see where I'm going with this. <p>While other comics around the world have made it past 1000 issues, <b>Action</b> was less than a decade away, and with it being renumbered, we're losing the odd tradition both meaningless and inexplicably meaningful of the birthplace of the superhero continually celebrating its age and long life.
With new <b>Wonder Woman</b> writer Brian Azzarello on record as saying that his reboot of the Amazon Princess is more of a horror book than a superhero book, it seems unlikely that the fabled "Purple Healing Ray" - a Silver Age device that has appeared more than once in recent memory (Both during <i>Infinite Crisis</i> and in the last arc of Grant Morrison's <i>JLA</i> run, amongst others that we may have missed) - will be making a reappearance anytime soon. Hopefully that's not a trend that follows through to other books <p>What separated DC from Marvel on many occasions was that it would gleefully use the dumb/genius Silver Age science left behind when the plot demanded it, whether it was the Flash's Cosmic Treadmill or Professor Nichols helping Batman travel through time by sending his spirit instead of his body. If the New 52 trends more towards "realism" in an attempt to appeal to contemporary audiences, it'll be to its detriment.
Wildstorm suffered through multiple reboots that had less and less impact and ended in an inglorious climax mired in post-apocalyptic cliches (but populated, nonetheless, with some surprisingly good work), but for a while, Wildstorm was a place where pessimistic, cynical and darker storylines could be explored without it feeling forced on the more optimistic DCU characters . It was an important outlet for a different type of superhero story that may have seemed out of step with the DCU, and where massive events could happen without the reader wondering "Wouldn't the JLA just step in and stop all of this?" something that's no longer possible with the Wildstorm characters folded into the DCU.
Moreso that any other redesign, Superman's just doesn't work, and it's all because he's missing those distinctive trunks. With the potential exception of Batman, it's a look that belongs entirely to the Man of Steel, and one so iconic that he just doesn't seem like himself without them. Yes, it's dated and "comic book-y" in the derogatory sense, but... He's <i>Superman</i>. If anyone can pull this look off, it's him. And speaking of Big Blue...
It seems just right that the superhero who is most like the DCU's father figure is happily married and doesn't have to go through the entirely questionable act of lying to the woman he loves every time she says something like "You know, Clark, you and Superman are the same height, look really similar, always seem to get haircuts at the same time and sound really alike, what's with that?" <p>It's understandable that the potential of different significant others can inherently create new stories and new conflicts for many superheroes, but Superman isn't just any superhero, and it feels like he's the exception that can prove the rule. We've had more than fifty years of single Superman and the love triangle between Clark, Lois and Supes... Couldn't we have had a little bit longer with a stable Superman/Lois marriage?
It's true that not all of DC continuity is being jettisoned for the new 52 - the <b>Green Lantern</b> and <b>Batman</b> franchises seem to be making it through the change mostly intact, and numerous big storylines will have still "happened" when September comes around, even if it's unclear exactly <i>how</i> they happened. <p>But the sense of having grown up with these characters - and of knowing exactly how they interrelate to each other, or being able to go back and read past adventures of your favorite characters - will be gone, replaced by uncertainty as everyone has to relearn just who everyone is in the New DC Universe.
It seems that everyone on the Internet with the exception of those making the decisions, perhaps agrees that, at a time when DC is making a point of having a more inclusive, diverse universe for its superheroes to exist in, replacing the wheelchair-bound, self-made heroine for whom smarts is more important than strength (and, for that matter, one of the sole supercharacters who knows that she can do more good supporting others than trying to grandstand herself) with a reversion to her costumed, rooftop-jumping, identity-inspired-by-another-character version seems... well, counterintuitive at best. <p>Barbara Gordon was one of the few DC characters whose changes not only stuck throughout multiple earlier relaunches and reboots, but whose changes demonstrated a courage that was achievable by readers and fans in the real world. As much as Oracle Babs will be missed as a character, Oracle as an inspirational figure, and a representative of an alternate type of heroism within the DCU, is the true loss when it comes to the changes coming in the New 52.
There's no way of getting around it: Making Superman the first public super-hero in the new DCU makes a lot of sense from a storytelling perspective, but the need to also make him youthful and contemporary means that the Justice Society of America just doesn't exist anymore in the new DC history (Or, if they do, they exist in massively changed forms). That's a harsh end to the careers of some of comics' longest-serving characters - at least until they return in a brand-new Earth-2.
There are many fan-favorite characters whose statuses appear to be uncertain come September, with Wally West, Donna Troy and Stephanie Brown leading the charge. <p>But fans will also miss some of the admittedly-lesser lights of recent comics: Whatever will happen to Congorilla or Simon Valentine? When James Robinson returns to Opal City with his new <i>Shade</i> series, will Starman still be a big blue gay alien? With a brand new Man of Steel still making his way in the world, what chance does the Superman Squad (from Chris Roberson's underrated <i>Superman</i> issues) have of returning? With the chance to recreate and remold characters into their most recognizable forms, there's a risk of losing some of the smaller, <i>less</i> recognizable versions, most of whom are fun in their own right - and have unique potential - compared to their more recognizable forebears.