So, here we are about half a year into DC’s big Rebirth push, a redesign of the DC Universe intended to endear itself once more to longtime readers and fans. Things were to be lightened up a bit, old and unused characters were to make a return, and everything was the Watchmen’s fault. In a way, that last part is very true, though I would blame a good bit of it on The Dark Knight Returns as well.
On the whole, I would say that Rebirth has indeed fulfilled its promises. I’m enjoying DC’s offerings more now than I have in some time. Aquaman and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps are both on par with their counterparts when Geoff Johns was writing each book. Green Lanterns, Green Arrow, Titans, Cyborg, and Nightwing are each pretty incredible titles in their own right. I had the pleasure of reading the two-issue homage to Darwin Cook in Superman, and the Man of Steel has returned to his classic, heroic form. Batman: Detective Comics showed an interesting and radical redesign based around something of a Justice League for Gotham. The Death of Hawkman has been a fantastic story based around B-List characters that DC hasn’t touched in at least a year. Despite its myriad of flaws, the Blue Beetles have their own book again, and that is something DC wouldn’t even consider a year ago. I admit I haven’t touched Justice League or the Suicide Squad, the latter of which I feel is for pretty obvious reasons. As a result, I can’t really vouch for their quality.
All this amounts to DC Rebirth being a success. The whole is not flavorless and gloomy like it once was. Not everything seems to be based around Batman with every other character’s book being made to resemble Batman. I’m genuinely interested in seeing where the Watchmen sub-plot is going, and I hope to see more characters make a long-awaited return in the coming year. I’m particularly excited for the new Justice League of America, and I’m glad the Main Man himself, Lobo, is back to his 1980’s biker gang self. I look forward to seeing what they do with Killer Frost as well.
That being said, the soft reboot of Rebirth hasn’t been without its flaws. Despite many comics being only $2.99, many of them come out twice a month, so that’s technically a price hike of $2.00 to get every instance of your comic’s story in a month. This increase in releases has shown some degradation in some issues of otherwise quality books. It kind of shows that these writers may not be used to such a stringent schedule, and the need to pad stories out because they simply do not know how long they’ll be left to their own devices becomes evident. Case in point, despite my love for Green Lanterns, issue 12, despite fleshing out the characters of Jessica and Frank, doesn’t really go anywhere in terms of plot.
Then there is the Young Animals line of comics. This cache of titles is desperately pandering to young alternative culture. We’ve already gone over the train wreck that was Doom Patrol here, but with titles like Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, and Shade, the Changing Girl, despite how daring and unique I will admit they are, they are laser-focused on teens and twenty-somethings who like to think themselves above “regular super hero” comics. I do still intend to try Mother Panic though, as that does that looks pretty cool.
A lot of promises have yet to be fulfilled or are simply like a carrot being held in front of a mule. The Watchmen involvement hasn’t been mentioned since DC Universe: Rebirth itself, and the promise of a Justice Society title hasn’t been acknowledged in some time. Again, no, Earth 2 Society does not count, and for my reasoning there, go back and check my review of its #19.
Of course characters like Batman and Harley Quinn are being pushed to obnoxious degrees. That hasn’t changed, but even I’m not so righteously indignant to demand that DC turn away those cash machines.
The final concern for me is the potential for DC to renege on all of this and go back to what it was doing half a year ago. They have shown that kind of non-commitment before with the New 52 itself. A myriad of unique and interesting titles were given the axe at issue 8 because they weren’t selling as well as books they were never going to compete with. I loved Mister Terrific and Omac, but they were never going to sell like Batman and Justice League. It just isn’t going to happen, but these books were selling. They had to have been making a profit off of them.
With this in mind, it is entirely possible that, in two or three months, we are going to see mass cancellations. If so, books like Blue Beetles and some of these Young Animal comics will probably be up first for the executioner’s axe.
Or maybe they won’t. Maybe the past won’t determine the future here. I certainly hope so. We’ll just have to wait and see.
All this being said, Rebirth has been a true return to form for DC Comics, and the books have been mostly enjoyable. Series like Green Lanterns and Blue Beetles would not be remotely possible only a year ago. They feature lesser-known characters, and at least the first of those is high-energy, fun, and unique. Older and more mainline books like Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps (yes, for name’s sake it is a new title, but it is, for all intents and purposes a Green Lantern book) are better than they have been in quite some time. Even the tent pole titles like Superman and Detective Comics have gotten better. And, as I said, I’m really interested in seeing where this new Justice League of America title goes. I’m more optimistic than I was those months ago when I wrote the first “Batmanification” article, but I’m still in a “wait and see where this goes” mind set. Hopefully it will only get better from here.
As I said yesterday, my Worst 5 Comics of 2016 article will be up tomorrow, and I’ll see you then. The Best 5 will be live on Friday.
Until next time, keep reading comics!