June 9, 2011

What’s Going On In DC?

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Written by: Arnab
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As I’m sure most all of you are aware, come this September DC will be undergoing a major reboot. Over a five week period, DC will be relaunching all of their titles with #1 issues. Not only that, but characters will be receiving costume changes, new origins, and changes in current story lines, while others will become younger. The full extent of the changes won’t be known until September, maybe even later. For the time being all we can do is speculate about what will come,  and talk about what we know will change.

More than half of the 52 series have been announced by DC, and I personally have mixed feelings towards it all. There have been numerous new titles announced, such as Savage Hawkman, Aquaman, Captain Atom, and Justice League International, that seem like genuinely interesting books. These are characters who have recently come into the spotlight once again, and very well deserve the continued momentum. Other major title characters, such as Superman and Wonder Woman, haven’t had great stories in recent years and could use a shake up to get things going. DC also just announced a series of “dark” books that will be coming out, which will focus on the supernatural side of things. The only thing about having this many new titles is that inevitably a bundle of them will not succeed, and hopefully it’s the best that survive.

Out of the news that has been released, there have been specifically two things that I personally believe are unfortunate decisions: Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing again and Barbara Gordon becoming Batgirl. In the DCU a lot of stuff happens, but things relatively stay the same. Clark Kent has been Superman for 73 years, Bruce Wayne has been Batman for 72 years, Diana has been Wonder Woman for 70, and 55 years later Barry’s still the Flash. However, in Dick Grayson’s case he started off as Robin, grew into the role of Nightwing, and eventually took over as Batman. Readers have actually watched him age from a child to a teenager, to a young adult, to a full grown adult. Now, however, he’s being regressed, demoted of sorts, to a former position.

A worse crime, in my opinion, is that they’ve taken a wonderful, strong, established woman like Barbara and have demoted her to being Batgirl. First of all, do they not realize that she’s not a girl? She’s a woman, she deserves that respect. You might say that they could be rebooting her, making her younger, but I’d say that’s even worse. For over 20 years Barbara has suffered through her disability and has become a figure of strength and perseverance. She was a powerful female character without the use of her legs, without superpowers, without breasts larger than her head; she was powerful because of her intelligence, her resilience, and her dedication. Reducing her to the role of Batgirl, when there is a Batwoman around, when she was a mentor to the last two Batgirls, is an insult to everything the character has stood for over the last 23 years.

DC hasn’t been very forthcoming about what Tim Drake will be up to after the reboot, other than that he’ll be a part of the Teen Titans. While that’s great and all, the guy’s been headlining his own title since ’93 and has the fan base to support it, so a solo series better be announced soon. The thing about the Teen Titans book, is that the description leaves a lot of room for interpretation, especially this: “Tim Drake is forced to step out from behind his keyboard when an international organization seeks to capture or kill super-powered teenagers.” What keyboard? Hopefully he’s not being rebooted.

In the meantime, however, as a devoted reader of dozens of DC books I’m not sure what to do about the weeks between now and then. Am I expected to care about anything that happens in these books if it’s going to change? The previews have told us what’s next for the Green Lanterns, so is there any point in continuing to read any of the Green Lantern books until September? Is there any point to reading Birds of Prey if we know that the new Birds of Prey will be a completely new team?  If the #1 issues are supposed to be jumping on points for new readers, logically it would be safe to assume missing the next 12 weeks won’t mean anything. Other than finishing up major story lines and current arcs, I see no reason why anyone would continue buying books.

DC has made quite a few changes over the past year in the hopes of increasing readership and sales. As an avid fan I’m all for bringing in more readers and I think having digital copies go on sale the same day as print is a smart move for the company, maybe not so great for retailers though. However, do I think that making all these changes across the DC Universe will bring in new readers? Personally, I don’t think so, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Arnab Pradhan