Monday, 11 July 2011

Comic Book Confidential: Crisis On Infinite Bullshits

The more I hear about the DC Reboot, the more I think that whole damn thing is going to be a pointless waste of time and money.

A reboot is necessary. There are no new readers, they are too expensive for what you get, they are too hard to obtain, and even if you do manage to get your grubby little hands them, you then have to wade through decades of back-story to understand what the hell is going on. To get new readers the major publishers like DC need to attract new readers with an affordable product that they can actually understand. Digital comics can get it into people's hands, but if they still need to reference events that occurred before the birth of their parent's it's not going to work out at all.

The reboot should be simple. The basics of the characters have entered into popular folklore, so it should be fairly easy to get back to them.

But DC Comics isn't.

Everything I've seen shows that the whole thing is going to be a half-assed boondoggle. Look at these examples:

1. Superman: The Lois Lane/Clark Kent marriage is over. Okay, that seems logical to have them meet for the first time in a reboot, since they are supposed to be starting over again. They are also adding a collar to Superman's uniform, and also doing stories where he's wearing some kind of super T-shirt and jeans combo while he's starting out as the first superhero, about 5 years earlier. Sounds kind of silly, but I'll give that the benefit of the doubt. However, the recent big "events" like
Blackest Night, Final Crisis, etc., etc., have all still happened. The problem is that Clark/Superman is married in most of those stories. How are they going to explain that without making things even more of a mess?

2. Batman: When this reboot begins Batman can only fit logically fit into this new narrative by being an active vigilante for 4.5 years at the most. Now you'd think that they'd start out with him being the lone avenger, gradually introduce the villains, then the sidekicks like Robin, and Batgirl, but you'd be wrong. During the very short window of opportunity Batman has lived through
Final Crisis, where he "died," mentored three Robins into adulthood, and saw Batgirl mature into a crime-fighter, get crippled by the Joker in 1988's The Killing Joke, become Oracle, and then go back to Batgirl, without any logical explanation. And let's not forget Batman Inc. you see, instead of being the lone mysterious crime-fighter, standing out from the others because what he lacks in superpowers he makes up for in attitude and bad-assery, he's going to be running an international army of Bat-men, including former Robin, Dick Grayson. Oh, and did I mention that he's on his fourth Robin, who is Batman's 10 year old son by a fling with Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of enemy Ras Al'Ghul.

And that's just a few of the half-assed changes coming with this reboot.

So you must be sitting there, staring at the screen, furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand why they would be creating such a mess even though they know it's not going to do a lick of good, and probably do a truckload of harm.

Well, let's have a look at the people responsible and their reasons, because they are all to blame, in descending order of importance:

1. Corporates: Remember, DC Comics is just part of the massive Time-Warner media empire. To them its primary purpose is to provide fodder for film/TV franchises, and cartoon faces to slap on merchandise. If DC was to do a proper reboot they would have to get rid of a lot of superheroes and villains whose origins have to be put off after the "core" characters have some time on the main stage. You can't sell movies and merchandise with a character's face on them when they haven't been properly introduced in the original comics. So they have to keep all the characters, and their plot-lines, just in case they stumble on some way to cash in on them. Logical narrative be damned if there publicity over the reboot creates potential for a Batman Inc. toy deal with Hasbro.

2. Creatives: I'm talking about the writers and artists who make comics these days, especially those who work on the top titles for the major publishers. They have more rights than the creatives who came before them, and lots of clout with fans, since many of them have their own loyal followings. They are also heavily invested in the history of their medium, being major league fanboys themselves, especially the parts that they played a part in creating. Starting all over again might be beyond their abilities since the bulk of DC's recent storytelling, especially Blackest Night, and Final Crisis, has been based heavily on the past history of DC's superhero universe. They are all very ambitious, and want to leave their mark on the medium by putting together some sort of big event that heavily involves said history, and make a place for themselves in it.

3. Consumers: Comic book buyers, AKA Fanboys, are just as heavily invested in DC's history than the Creatives, possibly even more so, because they get really, really annoyed when the Creatives rewrite that history. Of course, these folks have the least amount of power in this little troika, since their ability to affect the decisions of the Corporates & Creatives is minimal at best. Comic sales don't really have any major affect on the corporate bottom line, movies and merchandise do.

Those are the people responsible for the coming boondoggle, and their reasons for it.


  1. It seems like DC and the BIG 3 auto companies have the same problem. Their main consumer is aging and dying off and they lost the younger set to japanese products.

  2. CrisisEraDynamo12/7/11 5:28 am

    I wouldn't be so sure, Gary. With the terrible economy cutting into everyone's job prospects and Tokyopop and Borders downsizing their operations immensely, I'd say that the manga boom is over.

    That doesn't mean, of course, that people will be going for Marvel and DC.

  3. Y'see, originally, despite all other things, I was happy about this reboot, for one simple reason - Barbara Gordon getting her legs back. Yeah, not only am I one of *those* guys, I'm also one of the ones who sees nothing but unintentional misogyny in the various counter arguments - seriously, it's 2011, can we now admit that being a 'super-hacker' isn't really impressive, and that she's basically the JLA's secretary? Not to mention the fact that she regularly hangs out with somebody who could fix the problem just by saying 'klaw'.[/rant]

    I assumed we'd be restarting, ie, going back to the beginning. But apparently, she's been Batgirl, gotten crippled, been Oracle, and now somebody's *finally* given her legs back? All in less than four years? That...that makes no sense. Granted, it's exactly the kind of half-assed thinking I would expect from the guys at DC. This is exactly why I quit reading comics five years ago.

  4. I should also add that, as much as I'd like the manga boom to wither up and die, in the end, the manga 'style' of art probably won't go away any time soon, as it's a great technique for artists too lazy to learn how to draw - can't tell what gender the person you're drawing is? No perspective in any of your fight scenes? Well, say it's manga-style and that you did it on purpose! (See - the complete works of Brian Lee O'Malley and about eight million other hacks.)