It’s all true kids. It’s a new DCU - From USA Today:
In September, more than 50 first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the redesign of more than 50…
This drives me nuts.
Many years ago, I worked in the tech field doing research with some of the most brilliant and wildly inventive people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I have my areas of expertise, but these people were straight-up geniuses, complete with garage / basement laboratories. I’m not kidding. They were one industrial accident or chemical spill away from being a super-hero or super-villain.
People who deal in science and engineering and mathematical truths often regard areas of study like sociology and marketing with an almost paternal sense of amusement, like watching a child pull a dog’s tail and then look around for approval. And really, I can’t fault them for that. When you’re dealing with people who can rewrite significant parts of a kernel before lunch and still have time to drop a Zerg rush, social sciences seem laughable because so little of it is empirical.
The point of this is that one of my old bosses, in dealing with the marketing people who thought they were helping develop a product by providing what they considered input and feedback, used to derisively comment on their contribution by noting, often in front of them, “Yeah, and if we add anti-gravity, it’ll fly!”
We were developing network hardware.
Generally, network hardware does not need to be airborne.
Sadly, we encountered a couple of marketing people who asked how feasible that was and what it would do to the product development cycle.
Insert your favorite facepalm.jpg picture here. I’m partial to Jean-Luc Picard or that awesome statue of Jesus.
THAT is how I feel about DC’s new renumbering plan.
Remember, Wonder Woman Vol. 3 only started … what, three years ago? Maybe four? And then there was that wonderful initiative to send DC postcards to restore Wonder Woman to its actual numbering with issue 600, if every issue had been sequential. Action Comics just hit 900, Detective is coming up on 900, and now DC is renumbering EVERYTHING.
Now, I’m not a purist. I think Superman giving up his American citizenship actually makes sense - Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” suggested what could happen if such an incredibly powered person was identified as having an agenda remotely close to one shared by any single nation-state. A Muslim Batman? Why not?
I think comics can progress, can tell more mature stories in ways that adults can appreciate without alienating kids or making the content inappropriate for certain ages, and I think they can and should change.
But this change? This is, to borrow from Stephen Colbert, like rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenberg.
The idea of a company-wide reboot isn’t necessarily bad. When companies have been milking characters for 30+ years and much longer in some cases, every so often, some kind of update is necessary. Iron Man is a perfect example - the conflict has to be updated from time to time, just so we don’t have Hugh Hefner flying around in the red and gold armor and Tony Stark can remain in his 30s.
Even more to the point, if a company-wide reboot results in greater diversity and a more accurate depiction of the demographic realities in America and around the world, that could be a good thing by potentially opening books up to new readers because they can see themselves reflected in the pages.
However, this is really spectacularly bad timing, particularly after the debate about renumbering Wonder Woman to the original sequential numbering, and I can’t imagine that fans who were passionate enough to send in postcards will be happy about this, even if DC does try to fall back on the reasoning that it’s fair because it’s happening to every comic across the entire line. Fairness isn’t the issue with Wonder Woman - it’s that the comic was renumbered a handful of months ago based on reader feedback. DC’s CUSTOMERS wanted that for Wonder Woman. And now this.
And that’s completely ignoring the J. Michael Straczynski reboot which, to the best of my knowledge, is still going on and won’t be finished by September. Not that it’s unusual for a plot that JMS started to go unfinished (“The Twelve” as one example), but still.
A superficial change like new numbering won’t bring new readers in because they now have a good point to jump on. When has that worked in the past? It may bring in speculators who believe that these new #1s will appreciate dramatically in value (pro tip: they won’t - they’ll get dumped within 5 years or so and will likely sell for less than cover price, if recent reboots / restarts are any indication). And rebooting the stories as well? Reframing origins? What, Batman’s parents were killed after taking him to see “Monsters Inc.” or “Finding Nemo”?
I really hope that DC takes this moment and truly diversifies, in terms of content, characters and creators. I’d love nothing better than to be able to buy my little girl more DC stories and help her grow into a bigger comic fan than she is, but I can’t do it with the violence, with the way women are drawn and so forth, not in the current version of the DCU.
My little girl is only 9, after all, and she’s just starting to hit that certain age. I don’t want her thinking that women normally have broken spines or somehow manage to have anorexically thin waists while having ridiculously bulked up muscles in their torso and anatomically impossible breasts.
And that’s exactly where my appreciation for Ross Campbell’s art comes in - while the women he draws are stylized, he’s clearly seen a real woman in the flesh at some point, and draws women who actually look like real women. I won’t have to worry about my little girl getting body image issues from his comics - the only thing I need to watch for is making sure it’s age-appropriate.
So now I get to wait and watch to see what happens with the DCU, whether it truly becomes more diverse (including, for example, the long-awaited Batwoman comic with Kate Kane) or whether it goes right back to the same old stale loaf of Wonder bread that we’ve had.
On a somewhat related note, I wonder if this will also affect Tiny Titans …