Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meanwhile, at Robot 6...

I have a review of some length up regarding Stan Lee's Mighty 7 #1, which was a pretty horrible comic book, but a somewhat interesting one nonetheless. You can read the piece by clicking here.

A much better read, however, is Tom Bondurant's column on some of the problems with continuity DC's 52-boot has and will cause. Bondurant focuses on the fact that it was a highly selective reboot—everything that wasn't Green Lantern or Batman was given a hard, complete reboot—and the problems that causes.

For example, the last issue of Green Lantern featured Black Hand in the thrall of the Indigo Tribe, where he was left at the end of Blackest Night, which presumably still happened, only differently than the version we all read. Then he gets to picking at the Geoff Johns run on the Green Lantern franchise, and what the reboot means: Was Hal Jordan ever The Spectre? (Remember, the Spectre's generation of superheroes never existed in current continuity). Was he ever Parallax?

It gets messier the longer you think about any of this stuff. If Hal Jordan was still Parallax (Blackest Night and Sinestro Corps War were referenced in "New 52" Green Lantern, and Kyle Rayner still exists), then did Zero Hour still happen? How could it, though, if Barbara Gordon has always been Batgirl, or if Hawk didn't kill Dove and become Monarch in Armageddon 2001 or if Damage wasn't there to restart the un-made universe, since Damage probably never existed?

If Hal Jordan was still Parallax, then presumably Coast City was still destroyed during "Reign of the Supermen," so that story presumably still happened, only it somehow happened without Steel, Superboy or Supergirl. And if "Reign" happened, then "The Death of Superman" still happened only, again, without Supergirl, or the Justice League of America at the time that appeared in it, and without Lois Lane even knowing Superman's identity.

The "easy" answer would be, of course, to not think about this stuff at all, but then, DC has to quit eating the cake it won't let us have, and continuing the GL and Batman franchises as if the rest of the DCU wasn't rebooted. The likely answer, the one DC's editors must tell themselves and their creators, is that all of those stories still happened, just not in the way we remember them, or not in the way they were originally published.

Which is, frankly, several million times more complicated than whatever the original situation was that a reboot was originally supposed to make more clear. Seriously, try to imagine just "The Death of Superman" and "Reign of the Supermen" sans the elements we now know couldn't have been a part of them. They'd be completely different stories. I don't see how suggesting that unseen, unreadable, imaginary versions of stories that already exist is in any way less confusing or complicated or in any way more "new reader" friendly than just letting the stories that exist continue to exist and within your selective fictional history.

Personally, I would have preferred a universe-wide relaunch (new #1s, new titles, new creative teams and directions with a focus on new readers and new stories) to the continuity reboot they went with, as this fix, like every attempt to fix this problem, simply exacerbates the problem.

But if DC was going to do a hard realunch, then they should have done a hard relaunch of 100% of their DCU titles, not 75% of them, because, as Abraham Lincoln once said, a superhero universe rebooted against itself cannot stand and, as Bondurant's column points toward, the "New 52" is starting to creak.

Hopefully their next big crossover event involving "Pandora" will fix things by de-rebooting things, although I'm fine if that doesn't happen for another year or two, and they just let the "New 52" run its course first.


Jacob T. Levy said...

Yep. And I'm pretty sure that they know all this-- Geoff Johns certainly does. They just don't care. The effort we got post-Crisis to make sense of things is completely absent here.

And DC's general air of not caring is making it easier for me not to care, and to drop all my regular DC titles. I don't much like this particular Elseworld, and my almost-lifelong interest in Earth-1, Earth-2, and the Earth-1 variants that resulted from prior crises doesn't spill over into earth-nu.

Akilles said...

That really is confusing. Good that I use my brain to think more important things.
Like wasting my life being bitter...

Timbotron said...

At this point, I've dropped all the rebooted titles anyway. The only stuff still on my sublist are Batman and GL titles.

It's not worth the effort to pretend all this other stuff is really happening for the first time.

Guido-Visión said...

In my opinion, they should have done a hard reboot, better planned, giving the creators of high profile books (Johns on GL, Morrison on Batman) time to wrap up their runs. They could even have used the opportunity to do something that, in my opinion would have been pretty cool: giving the older universe a proper denouement, a nice wrap-up. Perhaps they feared that closing things too much would give jaded readers a nice excuse out?

SallyP said...

I am equally confused. And darn it, I MISS my continuity!

I can't help thinking however, that in a year or so, they'll use the Pandora character to somehow revert back to the REAL DC Universe...and we'll get Wally and the JSA and everyone else back.

It wouldn't be a bad thing to bring back all of the really fabulous DEAD characters either. Let's make people happy for a change!

rjt said...

"The effort we got post-Crisis to make sense of things is completely absent here."

What effort are you talking about? Post-Crisis Superman and Wonder Woman were rebooted completely, while Batman, Green Lantern and the Flash were not. Black Canary was retroactively made a Justice League founder. So, for just one example, every old Justice League story that was referenced had to replace WW with BC. When I was a kid, I just kind of dealt with it.The Legion of Superheroes became radioactive by the decision that Superboy had never the point that that book has been destroyed for over a generation saleswise.

I'm not saying that the new 52 avoided these kinds of problems (obviously they haven't) but let's not pretend that this is a totally unprecedented move.

Also, they're comics. Relax a little.

Jacob T. Levy said...

"What effort are you talking about? "

The effort involved in a monthly Secret Origins book that aimed to present a unified history; the effort involved in ongoing patches being provided in Legion, the All-Star books, and later Hawkworld; the effort in the express decision to keep J'onn on earth filling Superman's role in the League when, in the Bronze Age, he was on Mars; the effort in providing occasional lines like "Superman and Batman never accepted regular membership but helped us out a lot;" the effort in the eventual Year One annuals...

It's not that it was perfect. It's that we as readers had the sense that the company and the creators were trying to sort it out and were treating it as a storytelling challenge to solve instead of just shouting "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU O LOOK SHINY COLLARS."