When DC Comics launched The New 52 in 2011, you could hear howls of frustration from many diehards. After all, some of the longtime favorite characters were suddenly being rebooted, in many cases with radical changes. And if there is one thing comic book fans can’t tolerate, it’s change.
In many ways, The New 52 was a double-edged sword. It generated new fans with its fresh take on a variety of characters, but it also infuriated many longtime fans, with a number of them walking away entirely.
In 2015, DC attempted to soothe some of these sudden pains by launching the Convergence event, which actually reintroduced the DC characters that appeared before launch of The New 52. It didn’t do away with the new characters, just made sure that the previous characters also existed in an alternate existence sort of vibe.
While I’m no huge DC fan, this always felt like a huge cop-out to me. I don’t have a problem with the legacy fans crying about losing the characters they’d come to love, nor do I take umbrage with people enjoying a fresh take. This just reeked of the comic publishing giant allowing fans to have their cake and eat it too. On top of that, it’s just confusing as hell for anyone trying to get into the mix. But, as is the case with so many comic books, it doesn’t matter for newbies.
On May 25th, DC launches the Rebirth event, which sounds so much like they are File 13-ing The New 52. But in fact that is not the case, much like it was for the Convergence event. There’s a hell of a lot going on, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a flow chart, but alas, those won’t be included in the opening issues of this event’s titles.
So, what’s going on? Who the hell knows?
For a better explanation regarding this confusion, let us turn to the lynchpin of the DC Comics brand – Superman – and how so much of this will leave folks scratching their heads. For starters, there is more than one Superman. The New 52 version, who lost his suit and had his identity revealed, ingested kryptonite and inadvertently killed Jimmy Olsen. He was unconscionably bad at being Superman.
Then there was the Superman in the series Superman: Lois & Clark. Who is really the pre-52 Superman. He married Lois and had a baby boy, Jon. And he has a beard. He fought off pre-52 villains to make things easier on The New 52 Superman, who I am guessing he knew was really bad at his job.
So there are two Supermen. Until Rebirth, where it looks like The New 52 version will get voted off the island in favor of Superbeard.
This oversimplification of things works only in the most basic sense. While it helps to have less Supermen – he’s essentially an omnipotent being whose only weakness is space quartz, making him pretty boring for most fans – it also makes things really confusing because this character worked in the shadows for this other character that suddenly no longer exists.
There are a bunch of other titles to consider in this new launch, with not all of them having the convoluted issues that Superman will bring to the table. But it shares the same problem that existed with Convergence – the old having and eating cake platitude- that could just as easily be retconned by rebooting all of the titles altogether.
If nothing else, you could always reintroduce these alternate existence characters in the new Flash storyline. At least all of the multiple worlds stuff seems to work well with that character.
In any event, Rebirth doesn’t mean death for a number of characters, which might make some readers happy. I’d personally rather see DC separate their brands – like a RAW and Smackdown of the comics world – between Rebirth and The New 52. That said, there are a number of series that will see their end – Midnighter, Omega Men, Secret Six, Martian Manhunter, and Doctor Fate to name a few – but for the most part, it will be the characters we love and the characters we hate.
Have fun keeping up! I’m sure there is a handy How to make a flowchart video on YouTube.
Rebirth hits newsstands May 25.
Vaya con Dios!
Here’s the DC Rebirth splash page showing the full cast that was just released:
All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!