Greetings from the Odinson,
DC Comics History Leads to DC Universe Rebirth
From 1938 to 1985, DC Comics birthed, hands down, the grandest, most expansive multiverse in the history of comics. Over the course of this almost fifty-year run, the DC Universe had grown so big in fact and its nearly non-existent continuity had become so convoluted that it was hard for even the most seasoned DC fan to keep track. To help, DC came out with the fantastic dossier series Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory to the DC Universe. However, even with the Definitive Directory, it was time for a change, time for a reboot, time for a new beginning.
Industry legends, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, executed and delivered the Big Poppa of Big Events – Crisis on Infinite Earths. In this 12-issue series, the heroes of the DC Universe discover a threat so big that it would take not just the World’s Greatest Heroes to meet it, but the greatest heroes from across the entirety of the multiverse. By the end of the tale, most of the multiverse had been destroyed and the last remaining Earths were merged into one singular Earth, one singular continuity. The multiverse was no more, but a new beginning for the DCU, and its fans, was launched.
The Post-Crisis era of DC had begun.
With titles like Man of Steel, Batman: Year One, and SHAZAM: The New Beginning, classic heroes were given fresh new starts with updated origins and bold new directions by top notch talent like John Byrne and Frank Miller. Even Wonder Woman, The Flash, and the Justice League for the first time in comics history were given brand new number ones and bold new mission statements by more A-1 talent like George Perez, Keith Giffen, and Kevin Maguire. It was a new era for the DCU and a fantastic jumping on point for new and lapsed fans. The first decade of this brand new era spawned some true modern day classics – The Death of Superman and Knightfall – but it was not without its bumps in the road – Aquaman loses his hand and Stafire’s Marriage to not Dick Grayson – nor its controversies – A Death in the Family and Emerald Twilight. This first decade of the Post-Crisis era of the DCU snowballed and culminated with the universal event Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.
Like Crisis on Infinite Earths before it, Zero Hour changed the DC Universe. This time the threat caused a partial destruction of the current timeline. The aftermath of this event saw changes to the histories and origins of some of the DCU’s major players. The characters probably most affected by this change to the timeline were the Legion of Super-Heroes whose entire continuity was altered, a phenomenon further explored and expanded upon later in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds. Zero Hour proved to be a soft reboot for a burgeoning new DCU that was not even ten years old yet. This is significant because as I have noticed, time seemingly passes quicker the older I get. More on that in a moment.
Throughout the 90s, with their distinguished competition across the street seemingly self-imploding, the Post-Crisis era of DC Comics was allowed to fully spread its wings and usher in some truly memorable concepts and ideas. With JLA, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter delivered what the Odinson considers one of the Top 5 greatest comic runs in history. With storylines like Contagion, Cataclysm, No Man’s Land, and Hush, the Caped Crusader saw a boost in ratings and a level of popularity not seen since the classic Batman ’66 era. Superman got new powers (Superman #123), the Flash’s Rogues became rock stars, and Lex Luthor became the President of the United States (Secret Files: President Luthor). It was essentially the Wild West and DC Comics was the best gunslinger around.
The Post-Crisis era of DC Comics was bookended nicely in 2005 by Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez with Infinite Crisis. All the plot threads and subplots and overarching themes of this era were brought to a very satisfying conclusion. For the next several years, the DCU pushed on with some highs – The Sinestro Corps War and Superman by Geoff Johns – some lows – Superman Grounded and The Death and Return of Bruce Wayne – and a few in-between – 52 Weeks and Blackest Night. With the previous era reaching its climax in the pages of Infinite Crisis, it was time once again for a new beginning.
Like Crisis on Infinite Earths before it, Flashpoint changed the face of the DCU and ushered in a bold new era of DC Comics – The New 52. The multiverse was reborn and all the DC titles, even flagship titles Action Comics and Detective Comics, were started over with fresh, new number ones. The characters were made younger and given sleek new costume designs by rock star artist Jim Lee. The continuity of the DCU was set at a point in time where, in the pages of the comics, it was only five years old. Though, at the time, the Odinson was completely on board with the concept of The New 52, it had problems right from the start. First, it was not a true fresh start like the Post-Crisis era was. Much of it was bold and new, but then there were cherry-picked tales from the previous era that remained continuity like Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern and some Batman history like The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family. The problem here is that it has never been made crystal clear what continuity from the old era carried over to the new and what did not. The Post-Crisis addressed this perfectly in the pages of The History of the DC Universe. To my recollection, there was no such history lesson for the New 52 takeover. Another major problem is that if the continuity is set at five years old, then that makes Batman the worst mentor/partner in history. It means he’s had no less than four Robins in just five years. That’s a whole lot of history crammed into just a handful of years. Not to mention the math doesn’t add up. How does Dick Grayson jump from age eleven to twenty-one in five years? The same goes for Jason Todd.
These problems along with others that include inconsistent quality of storytelling have The New 52 getting off to a rocky start, but it all has not been bad. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman has been one of the best in the Dark Knight’s illustrious history, and that’s saying something. The Odinson applauds DC for finally exploring an in continuity romantic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman. And, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s Harley Quinn has achieved a rock star status on par with Marvel’s Deadpool. But, even the Powers that Be at DC know this is not enough, and the time has come for a fix.
Enter: DC Universe Rebirth.
Here’s what we know so far. A major event, this time around it is The Final Days of Superman, will change the face of the DCU and usher in a bold new direction for its continuity and characters. Hitting the shelves and racks May 25th is DC Universe Rebirth and hopefully it will bring the DCU back to basics and capture the essence of these fantastic heroes and the world they live in. Right out of the gate, Action Comics and Detective Comics will be returned to their majestic and unparalleled original numbering. We will witness the Reign of the Supers, a bold tale that will see four new heroes embracing the duties left by the Man of Steel. It is no coincidence that this tale mirrors the Reign of the Supermen that followed the Death of Superman back in the early 90s, an event that introduced four major new characters to the DCU that are still relevant to this very day. Wonder Woman will embark on a quest that will redefine her mythos and her place in the DCU. The Flash will be faced with a challenge unlike anything he has ever faced before. What happens when the same bolt of lightning that gave Barry Allen his super speed strikes again and again and again all around the city giving random citizens super speed, but one of them is a serial killer? Across the board, the DC heroes and villains are being given fresh, bold, new and exciting beginnings. This is a perfect jumping on point for new and lapsed readers.
We have seen this all before, haven’t we? And now, it seems like these reboots/restarts/rebirths (it does not matter what you call it – “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”) are coming with even more frequency. As I said, the older I get, the faster time seems to move, and the same can be said for the history of comics. The Pre-Crisis era of the DCU lasted from Action Comics #1 (1938) to Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985), nearly fifty years. The Post-Crisis era of DC lasted from Man of Steel #1 (1986), with a soft tune up in Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time (1994), to Infinite Crisis (2005) and a little beyond, right at twenty-five years. And, The New 52 era of DC started in Justice League #1 (2011) to the present. Now, is DC Universe Rebirth a soft tune up like Zero Hour was, setting the stage for a modern Golden Age of storytelling? Or, is it the accelerated reboot to a continuity that is only five years old?
I don’t have an answer for that, at least not yet, but here is why I know, without a doubt, that DC Universe Rebirth will not only be a success, but an exciting new era for DC Comics. Two words: Geoff Johns.
With a bibliography that includes the Flash, Green Lantern: Rebirth, the Sinestro Corps War, Flash: Rebirth, Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes, Superman: Brainiac, and too many other fantastic comics to list here, Geoff Johns has not only proven that he is a master of his craft, but that he knows the essence of these great characters. He knows what makes them tick, what makes them great, what makes them legends. He has been overseeing the highly successful TV universe of DC –Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. And recently (and the Odinson could not be happier about this), it was announced that Geoff Johns will now be overseeing the future progress of the DC Cinematic Universe, a change that sorely needed to be made. Geoff Johns is one of us, a fan who loves these characters and wants to see them portrayed in the right way and continue to make the myths.
Geoff Johns is the father of DC Universe Rebirth. He is now the captain the ship called the USS DC Comics, and the Odinson cannot think of a better man for the job.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell