Hat tip to most excellent writer Gail Simone for referring to this move by DC as a”course correction” on her Twitter.
So welcome to the new DC (again). Or, perhaps more accurately, welcome to the second attempt at getting the reboot right by doing all the things they should have done 3 and a half years ago.
One of my biggest problems with the New 52 was that it was a lot like staying friends with an ex that broke up with you. You might hang out and even enjoy their company, but you still remember what it was like before, mostly because your ex never lets you forget it. If you’re going to give us new versions of characters, DC, then give us new versions of characters.
Of course, the other huge problem with the relaunch was that it was supposed to be a modern take on the DCU and apparently the modern DCU was a great place for straight white dudes and no one else. I suppose a line of comics that ostensibly started in 1938 would consider 1950’s sensibilities as modern.
If the original Crisis on Infinite Earths (and even the New 52, really) could be considered the Marvel Effect on DC, I think we can consider this new mini-launch to be the Image Effect. Suddenly, DC realizes that you can tell great stories that are new and exciting and not at all bogged down by continuity. There are scores of Image comics out there that create fully realized worlds and do so in a single issue each month.
Yes, it would have been crazy for DC to give up on continuity all together; there are still a lot of people who read comics for such things (I’m often one of them). But the rigid guidelines imposed on titles to maintain a sort of shared identity appears to be gone. This is the Gotham Academy/Grayson/Batgirl-ification of the DCU and it couldn’t happen soon enough.
Freed from draconian continuity and, one would assume, the draconian editorial interference that comes with it, DC was actually able to entice a wider range of creators, some of whom probably never thought they’d ever work for DC. And guess what happens when you reach out to creators who don’t just work for the Big Two? You find a whole bunch of people who aren’t straight white dudes and who also happen to make great comics.
Suddenly, fresh, modern takes on characters aren’t that hard to find. Suddenly, your universe just got a lot more inclusive and your characters way more interesting.
Strangely enough, I’m looking forward to DC’s next big event, because I’m eager to see how they keep it contained to the roughly two dozen books that still appear to be continuity heavy. Will they actually leave books like Midnighter or Constantine: Hellblazer alone? And what happens if the sales dip on those? Is it crossover to the rescue?
Still, the simple fact that DC is making these moves gives me some hope for the future of corporately owned comics.