Like any good comic columnist, I feel compelled to put in my two cents about the upcoming/ongoing DC reboot. However, in true Grind and Rewind fashion, I will look backwards instead of forwards. DC reboots have a special nostalgia for me. You see, I am what might be called a DC “reboot baby.”
What is a reboot baby? It means that I was once exactly what companies are looking for during a reboot: a new reader. And a new reader that, once hooked, stuck around for decades to come. With me, DC’s strategy worked 100%. I was transformed from being anti-DC into a loyal fan.
When I first got into comic books, I was all about Marvel. I loved the Uncanny X-Men. I loved The Defenders. I loved Fantastic Four and Conan the Barbarian. I never went so far as to join the Merry Marvel Marching Society, and I knew that Marvel put out some crap comics too, but I was still brand-loyal. When it came to DC comics, I wouldn’t touch them.
In retrospect, I don’t really know why. Like everyone, I had grown up on the DC heroes on television. I loved the Superfriends cartoon and the live-action Wonder Woman, and Shazam!. I loved the Superman film. I had all the DC hero Megos. But when I actually got into reading comics, I picked the new and unknown over the familiar and classic.
Maybe it was because I was young, and the DC heroes just seemed like old people. Maybe it was because the interactions in Marvel comics just seemed more real, more human. Maybe it was my fierce crush on Kitty Pryde. Or maybe it was just the stubborn stupidity of a kid who was so loyal to McDonalds he would go hungry and refuse to eat rather than go to Burger King. I knew what I liked, and I stuck to it.
For whatever reason, for years I stayed far, far away from DC comics. Until Crisis on Infinite Earths brought me into the fold.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
As prejudice as I was against DC comics, I don”t really remember why I picked up Crisis on Infinite Earths. I had read Marvel”s Contest of Champions and Secret Wars, so I was into the concept of “event” comics. Ultimately, I think I just wanted to see what the fuss was all about. George Perez’s art was a lure for sure. The covers and interiors looked so beautiful. And after I picked it up, the story hooked me from issue one. It was compelling.
Strangely enough, I didn’t know many of the characters involved in Crisis unless they had appeared on one of the TV shows. I didn”t even know DC HAD a multiple-Earth continuity. I didn’t know there was more than one Superman, or both a Justice League and a Justice Society of America, much less a Crime Syndicate of America. What was supposed to be a big house-cleaning was, for me, pure stage setting. I still can”t imagine what impact that series must have had on regular DC comics readers. All I knew was that Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC Universe Day One.
It turned out to be the ideal comic book for a new DC reader. I got a glimpse of this grand and glorious universe, so much larger than Marvel’s self-contained system. And Marv Wolfman proved to be an able tour guide. He had this way of introducing characters I had never heard of, making me care about them, and then killing them all in a few panels.
“His name is Gunner. He was the youngest of them all. This is Sarge, a thirty-year vet. Johnny Cloud, called the Navajo Ace. Captain Storm, Former PT boat Commander. They were called The Losers. But they were winners to the end.”
And he did that for all of these characters, which helped new readers like me identify the mad mayhem that was Crisis on Infinite Earths. “His name is Lex Luthor…”; “They are the Freedom Fighters…”; “His name is the Spectre…”
It was perfect.
The History of the DC Universe and Who’s Who
DC was also smart enough to provide a coordinated attack with their universe reboot, providing foundation documents to new readers such as myself.
The follow-up series to Crisis was The History of the DC Universe. This was supposed to set the record straight to old readers on what the new continuity was, but it served the dual-purpose of educating an eager new reader like me on just what the DC Universe was. The two-issue series set out a timeline and gave little origins to most of the main players that I had seen in Crisis. Best of all, this follow-up was not a throwaway but was done by the same Wolfman/Perez-team that had hooked me in the first place.
And while Who’s Who actually started a month before Crisis, it became an invaluable tool in exploring the DC Universe. I picked up all the back issues and spent numerous hours poring over Perez’s detailed group shots in Crisis, trying to locate each character in the story. It became as obsession with me to be able to name from memory every character on the covers.
I think if it had just been Crisis, without these two supporting series, I probably wouldn”t have gotten as involved with DC. The whole package really brought me into the DC Universe.
Those New #1s
Does re-numbering the issues matter? In my case, yes, it did. I picked up the re-numbered Superman starting at #1, but I had a hard time getting into Action Comics which followed the same continuity but kept the old numbering. Somehow, that giant multi-hundred number on the cover made it intimidating to buy. With a new number one, I felt like I was getting in on the ground floor.
It also helped that The Man of Steel re-launch was being handled by John Byrne. I knew Byrne on both Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four, and his presence was a powerful lure. The series was incredibly well-done, and got me reading a character I had mocked for years.
George Perez’s Wonder Woman was another hook series from me. Just like Superman, I got to start at ground zero at issue #1 and with story and art by George Perez who had done Crisis. Perez did a fantastic job telling the story of Wonder Woman to someone who had never really heard it before.
I dabbled in a few other DC series at the time, but I never really got excited about the titles that weren”t launching with new number ones. I never became a Green Lantern reader or got into The Flash. It wasn’t until after the follow-up series Legends that I started reading Justice League. Again, it took a new issue #1 to lure me onto the title.
Excited about the Re-boot?
And now DC is going to reboot again. I confess to being out of the loop with DC again. I haven’t been keeping up on my DC comics for a cou
ple of years. The same thing that pulled me into DC comics pushed me out. Final Crisis killed it for me. A bad series, with pointless character deaths and a mish-mash of continuity and storylines that consumed the DC Universe. All of my favorite titles were either canceled or transformed beyond recognition. After Final Crisis, I dropped more and more titles, until by the time Blackest Night came out I wasn’t getting any more DC comics at all.
I haven’t the slightest idea who’s who anymore.
I am tempted to see what is going on with DC. But I am wary. The commitment doesn’t seem sincere. If DC was truly going to do a restructuring of Crisis-proportions – if I thought this was an actual reboot rather than just a re-shuffle – then I would be more into it. This doesn’t really seem like a chance to start at ground level again, and DC isn’t doing the coordinated attack they did with History of the DC Universe and Who’s Who.
But who knows? Maybe lightning will strike twice, and we will see a whole new crop of reboot babies getting into DC, like I did. I hope so.