A fully "revamped" DC Universe for a "more modern and diverse 21st century"…
52 #1 issues…
… including Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's Justice League.
Line-wide same-day-digital distribution...
As much of DC Entertainment revealed Tuesday afternoon about their post-Flashpoint plans for the future of DC Comics and the fictional DC Universe, what they didn’t reveal leaves many more questions unanswered than the other way around.
So with just a few hours to absorb the news, here are a (running) list of the top questions we have about the future of DC Comics.
- What is being “revamped” and to what extent?
DC is no strangers to the revamp, or the reboot. The various “Crisis” series, Zero Hour, "One Year Later," the seemingly annual Legion of Superheroes reboot… When supposed 20-early 30-something have been kicking it for 76 years, the eventual continuity housecleaning and/or attempt to clear the deck for new readers is likely inevitable, particularly when previous continuity housecleanings have created new continuity to explain them.
So perhaps the biggest questions for long-time DC fans right now is, how pervasive and consistent will the changes be?
In an interview with USA Today, Dan DiDio said, "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."Okay, but how much younger? And who is "today's audience" exactly?
Is shared history being erased? Preserved? Retooled? Or all of the above?
And however history is rewritten, will it have an internal logic DC can preserve over time and sell to their current, long-time readers, without having to create a new “Crisis” a few years down the road?
Now this main question is something of an obvious one, so let’s create a subset of these questions with more specific ponderings, like (and in no particular order):
- Did Identity Crisis happen?
Perhaps DC’s most controversial storyline of recent memory, it’s loved by some, reviled by others, and sold a ton to all. But the story is also steeped in Justice League continuity and its ramifications would be hard to parallel in a new Universe where the JLA didn’t mindwipe Doctor Light and its own various members many years previously.
Could a pregnant Sue Dibny have been burned by Jean Loring with a flame-thrower for some other reason without years of (albeit new at the time) JLA shared history to try to explain it?
Could some fans finally get their wish and see Identity Crisis removed from DC canon, even if that means a brand new canon? Or will that elephant remain in the spiffy new room?
And on that note - Who (if anyone) gets a get-of-the-DC-deadpool free card?Ralph and Sue?
The Aquakids? Aqualad (Garth), Aquagirl (Tula) and Aquababy? (Arthur Curry Jr.)
Tim Drake’s dad?
Pa Kent (again)?
Hawkwoman (again, again)?
And that doesn’t even touch the characters that died, got better, and created continuity and legacy characters as a result.
Wally West still wears a modified Flash costume and bears the name because he assumed the Flash legacy in tribute to Barry Allen when he died in the original Crisis . If Barry never died, wouldn’t it be logical that Wally would have assumed a new identity ala Dick Grayson/Nightwing?
Will a new DCU still have four native Earthbound Green Lanterns, as John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner all gained their rings via “continuity events”?
And how about the whole two Batmen can of worms?
Again, Dick Grayson became Batman because Bruce Wayne seemingly perished in Final Crisis, a line-wide shared continuity event.
If Bruce never was displaced in time by Darkseid, does Dick ever put on the cowl? The current crop of Batman titles are some of DC’s best-selling. How much is DC going to mess with something that’s currently working?
While DC is clearing indicating that they're targeting new readers, how much back-story will DC creators and editors be compelled to rewrite for the record, potentially reworking against the broad, new reader appeal strategy?Will varying approaches by family and titles to the revamp issue rub up against one another in the minds of long-time fans? What are the rules?
Either way this shakes out, DC will have to take a very disciplined approach to selling a new continuity when their entire backlist of trades and graphic novels will be steeped in another, not even mentioning the deep-rooted love of long-timers, some of which are DC writers, editors and even executives themselves.They'll have a challenge justifying to hardcore fans the decisions they make or don't make when they can potentially rewrite whatever they please come September. Every character and every story is some fan's favorite.
- And getting back to the dead for a moment, how about the maimed and disfigured?
Does Roy Harper get his arm back?
Does Barbara Gordon get the use of her legs back? DC has been rumored to be flirting with this one for several years now. Will the original Batgirl live and walk again?
- And speaking of rape, death and dismemberment…Ahem. Sorry... DC has come under some fire in the past few years for the wanton destruction of whole cities and assault on some long-time characters.
Justice League: Cry for Justice , and The Rise of Arsenal (we already mentioned identity Crisis are just two recent stories that have raised eyebrows and ire among some fans. Will DC take this opportunity to strike a new line-wide tone for the DCU?Open-ended serial storytelling often involves upping the ante to create new conflict and drama, could this be an opportunity to turn back the clock on the mayhem somewhat?
- Will origins of characters such as Superman and Green Lantern, which have already been retold multiple times in the last five years, be retold yet again?
Which is the "real" origin of Superman: Man of Steel, Birthright, Secret Origin, or that one where he fights the David Bowie alien?- Heck, does the Multi-verse even still exist? Again, trying to extrapolate DC's strategy here based on their earliest comments, which would be broad appeal and an ideal jumping on point, is any version of a multi-verse someplace they want to tread, even lightly, be it early-on or if the reboot is successful?
- How many Justice Leagues will there be?
James Robinson has been building an epic Eclipso storyline in Justice League of America and has indicated he's sticking around long-term. Assuming DC has been planning the Johns/Lee Justice League for a while, Robinson's language has indicated he's not going away. He told Newsarama in December: "All of what I'm doing with the Crime Syndicate, and the Omega Man, is a first salvo with these characters. They'll be coming back later for a much bigger role even than this one, in another storyline that I have cooking."
And then there are the "Dark Justice League” rumors.
And on that note…
- What Are The 52 New Books?
52’s a familiar number to anyone who's been reading DC titles since 2005's Infinite Crisis, but one that's significantly higher than the approximately 30 ongoing DC Universe titles currently being published. Even assuming that every ongoing series will be relaunched - Something that is by no means guaranteed - that still leaves almost twice as many new series left. Announcements have been made in the past year about new series for Aquaman, Batwoman, and the Justice League International, but... what other books should we be expecting to see when the September solicits are released in few weeks?- How long can a Jim Lee-Geoff Johns joint stay on track? Assuming the new Justice League is to be considered something of a flagship book and launching point of the new DCU, is giving the book to two dynamic creators that will certainly equate to dynamic sales, but individually sport spotty track records for scheduling-keeping the bestest of ideas?
- Is DC “f*****g the struggling retail community in the ass", per Brian Bendis’ tweet Tuesday afternoon with their same-day digital distribution?
We hope to have more insight into this question with some feedback from retailers sooner rather than later…
- Does this make the All-Star officially superfluous and defunct?And what about Earth One? If September introduces a sort of "Ultimate" version of the DCU (hey, someone was going to say it) to ideally new and greater numbers of more readers, do other simultaneous continuities make sense from a marketing standpoint? We seem to continue to come back to this core question. The role of mutiple continuities? Superman: Earth One sold buckets and J. Michael Straczynski is known to be working on a follow-up. In fact, he left Superman and Wonder Woman to write it... Oh ... waitaminute - here's a wild idea. Could "Earth One" (both JMS and Shane Davis' first two volumes and Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's previously announced Batman: Earth One) become "Year Ones" in the new DC Universe? UPDATE: Question answered (or at least 1/2 of it)! Take it away J. Michael Straczynski: "No effect at all," JMS told Newsarama asked if the reboot would effect the second volume of Superman: Earth One. "The book is already a re-imagining of sorts, and DC is very happy to leave that alone in its own separate arena. The changes affect the monthly books, not the Earth One line, which operate outside that continuity. "Oddly enough, the only effect kind of works in the opposite direction, as Superman Earth One was a bit of a proof-of-concept that you could reconsider and remake the characters with a contemporary thrust and it'll work. It did.
"What Dan[DiDio] is doing is correct, massively gutsy and long overdue. More power to him."Thanks JMS. - And finally (and we’re sorry we have to go there), but will DC “One More Day” Superman?C’mon, you know what we mean.
DC wants their characters to be younger… appeal to a broader audience…
We fans have all heard that before, haven’t we? And it’s not like they aren’t going there already as we speak in Flashpoint…
Someone’s gotta ask…
Look for more questions on the future of the DC Universe as they come to us, and answers when DC is willing to give them…
Graeme McMillan, Zack Smith, Vaneta Rogers, David Pepose and Albert Ching all contributed to this story.