Call the Midwife of Burbank1 of 12Geoff Johns is no stranger to “rebirthing” DC Comics concepts. He’s done it time and time again, with several mini-series titled Rebirth under his belt. Now, he’s overseeing the Rebirth of DC’s entire comic book line when the publisher relaunches starting in June.
This week, Johns released a mission statement for Rebirth, reiterating his previous statements about recapturing the essence of DC Comics that was lost in the New 52.
But let’s be honest – Johns has already had his hands on reimagining and streamlining most of the DC Universe already. Here, we analyze his top ten previous Rebirths - including the ones that launched the whole concept.
Superboy Prime Rebirth2 of 12In Infinite Crisis, Johns brought back all four of the characters who got shuffled off to a "paradise" at the end of 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, including Prime-Earth Superboy, Earth-Two Superman, Earth-Two Lois Lane and Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three.
But Superboy Prime was the only one to survive Infinite Crisis, and for a while he played a significant role in the DCU, usually under Johns' pen. He was a key villain in high-profile events like Sinestro Corps War and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds.
He was, figuratively anyway, the Superboy from our earth. One a hero, he turned angry and evil when the "stories" of the DCU weren't to his liking. In other words, Superboy-Prime was a fanboy, a Johns-invented twist to his character that sometimes elicited delight — and chagrin — from fanboys themselves.
Power Girl Rebirth3 of 12Before Johns began writing a solo Power Girl story (in the 2005 launch of JSA Classified), the curvaceous hero's history was complicated. Some stories had her as Superman's cousin from Earth-Two (which technically didn't exist anymore), while others had her descending from Atlanteans and traveling to the future.
Launching a spin-off JSA title that initially focused on the female character, Johns streamlined Power Girl's origin while also injecting a lot of humor into the story. Thanks to the character's rebirth under Johns' pen — along with the art by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti — the character ended up getting her own title soon after, with the art team taking over writing duties.
Hawkman Rebirth4 of 12Pre-Johns, Hawkman had a variety of origin stories that didn't really fit together without a lot of head-scratching. Then a young Johns took over the hero's solo title (among his earliest comic book work), and he pared down Hawkman's origin to the point where it made sense — a story of death and resurrection that also had a nice love story involved.
Not only did Johns' "rebirth" approach to Hawkman finally make it easy to explain the character's origin story, but the title was one of the more critically acclaimed books at DC, helping to launch Johns into the fan spotlight.
JSA Rebirth5 of 12Back in the day (before the "New 52"), it was unusual for a popular team book to relaunch with a new #1 issue — particularly when the same person was writing it that had written it before.
But Johns united with artist Dale Eaglesham to relaunch the JSA after an 87-issue run (and notably, a run that was pretty much single-handedly penned by him over seven years). With that new #1 in 2006, the team was reborn to include new, young heroes, with Johns giving the group a new purpose as recruiters and trainers of young legacy heroes. While Johns was writing the book, it was consistently one of DC's top-selling titles and even had a spin-off (the aforementioned JSA Classified).
Teen Titans Rebirth6 of 12In 2003, when artist Mike McKone left Marvel to join Johns on a new Teen Titans series, someone said to McKone, "Why? Why in the world would you leave Exiles to go do Teen Titans? Teen Titans is a dead franchise."
As amusing as that statement might seem today (with a TV show and several incarnations since), the statement was pretty accurate at the time. Although many of the characters had been starring in a Young Justice comic, the name "Teen Titans" was something most fans remembered from the past, not something popular in 2003.
But then Johns got his hand on the title, and the series established streamlined origins and new approaches for DC's teen characters that have stuck, even in other media. Conner Kent was suddenly the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, and Impulse grew up to the name Kid Flash. Raven was reborn, and former beloved characters like Beast Boy, Wonder Girl and Cyborg got a fresh new take, while the writer added new characters like Miss Martian and Kid Devil.
Bart Allen Rebirth7 of 12Johns wasn't finished with Bart when he left Teen Titans. After Bart Allen had aged quickly during Infinite Crisis, Kid Flash was no longer a "kid." So he ended up taking over the mantle of The Flash in a story by other writers. Not long after, Bart was (quite shockingly) killed by the Flash Rogues.
Johns, who has made no secret of his love for the Titans characters, was apparently anxious to get Bart back. A little over a year later, Johns brought the hero back, as a kid again, in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. A speedster reborn, along with...
Superboy Rebirth8 of 12Conner Kent, or Kon-El, was a character that Johns frequently named as one of his favorites. In interviews, he bemoaned the fact that he had to kill the character in Infinite Crisis.
But just like Kid Flash's rebirth, Conner Kent wasn't gone for too long. Johns revived him in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, during the same story as Bart Allen's return.
And as long as we're talking about the Legion...
Legion of Super-Heroes Rebirth9 of 12Johns brought back the original Legion — the long-gone but much-missed Legion, that is — during his Action Comics run with Gary Frank. He made them part of Superman's origin again, and he incorporated most of their stories from the past.
Of course, fans wondered… what did that do to the other two Legions that had since replaced the original one? Never fear, DC fans. Johns fixed the discrepancy in the event comic, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, giving the "old" Legion a new birth that lasted even through DC's 2011 reboot.
Barry Allen Flash Rebirth10 of 12Despite Johns winning fan attention for his loving portrayal of Wally West during an acclaimed run on The Flash early in his career, a few years after leaving the title, he returned to write a new Flash story, this time starring Barry Allen, in Flash: Rebirth.
And although Johns didn't technically bring the hero back to life in Flash Rebirth (since that had occurred in Final Crisis), he established Barry's new status quo in the DCU, adding elements that have become part of the New 52 version, as well as CW's The Flash series and other incarnations.
Green Lantern Universe Rebirth11 of 12It would be easy to talk about how important Green Lantern: Rebirth was to Hal Jordan fans, since it brought the character back from the dead (and away from his temporary role as The Spectre). But there was so much more the series did for the Green Lantern Universe.
Before Rebirth, Kyle Rayner was the one and only Green Lantern. After Rebirth, fan-favorite characters like John Stewart and Guy Gardner had returned to the fold, along with a rebirth of long-time Green Lantern concepts like the headquarters on planet Oa, the overseeing Guardians, and a slew of other alien Lanterns.
It also revamped the Green Lantern Universe in a way that explained the Lantern ring weakness to the color yellow, while also giving readers a sense that Hal Jordan had been redeemed, blaming his bad turn on the embodiment of fear itself. What followed was a new approach to Green Lantern as a space opera that has pretty much stuck in not only comics, but just about every media representation of the characters since.
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