DC goes back to #1 – Total Reboot or Just Renumbering?

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On Tuesday afternoon, DC Comics announced that starting Aug. 31, the company would renumber its entire line of superhero comic books. That’s right. Every book is going back to #1. This change is going to begin with an ending as August 31st will also see the end of the huge DC crossover event: Flashpoint. The only other comic book that DC will be issuing on that Wednesday will be the first in the new line: Justice League #1, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee. This Justice League title will include the classic line up of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

But what does this mean?

Could a total overhall reboot be in the future? Are long-running histories of these characters just going to get flipped around into no longer existing in the current timeline? Well … that’s one theory, but at this point it can only be reported as a theory. Though, some fans grow nervous to see Flashpoint possibly steering things in that direction.

But then again, when you listen to the words of co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, maybe this is more just a chance to change the focus of these long running series from the extraordinary plots to becoming more character centric:

“We really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” says Dan DiDio. “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.”

Geoff Johns, who besides being a writer on the forefront, is also the chief creative officer for DC entertainment. In reference to the upcoming change he asks the question: “What’s the human aspect behind all these costumes? That’s what I wanted to explore.”

Following the small-release week of Aug. 31, September will flood the shelves with an additional 51 first issue titles that will debut. These introduction stories will present the myth and legend behind the characters. It will also adjust the timeline for events to happen around real-world events. Of course this also means new costume designs that bring the characters up-to-date.

With changes this big happening, obviously people are going to be weighing the pros and cons.

The pros are obvious – start fresh. Start over. Invite new readers into worlds that don’t require so much annoying backstory. Bring the super heroes up-to-date and make them more relatable. This gives writers a chance to have a clean slate and make characters into the well-developed people that might have gotten caught in too many plot complications to really shine.

The cons are, unfortunately, just as obvious, though. How many times does it happen that in trying to start things fresh to make the Universe less confusing, it actually just ADDS to the confusion when a reader tries to place current events in relation to the last 40, 50, 60 plus years of comic history. Additionally, if this change is not well received, their is certainly potential for everything to bounce back, only adding to the confusion. A reboot also stands the chance of alienating long-time fans. It is difficult to see characters who are like old friends grow and change in ways that don’t even seem to make sense. These changes come out of nowhere and suddenly a reader feels dumped by their old friend. Like they don’t even know who they are anymore.

I have often griped that DC is unapproachable to new readers. Perhaps I griped louder than I thought, because this is them doing something about it – for better or worse. Whether the pro’s or con’s win out, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Just in case this marketing push wasn’t enough to sell those upcoming 51 articles, DC is also partaking in yet another revolutionary step. Along with the paper copies to be issued in the stores, these brand new comics will also be available (sameday) via a smartphone app as well as a new DC website. That’s huge and never been done by a comic book company as big as DC before. Again, this asks questions of pros and cons, though. Comics are going to become more widely available, more convenient to ascertain, and perhaps even cheaper. But what is this going to mean for the independently run comic book shops? What is it going to mean for the entire culture of geeks debating comic book events and characters over the newly-stocked shelves every Wednesday?

Changes are in the air for comic-lovers. Right now, it’s a waiting game until Aug. 31st.

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