The buzz from Comicon over the DCU reboot hasn’t been entirely positive1. Lots of people wonder why DC wants to fix something that wasn’t especially broke– something they just spent the last decade fixing. Heck, they just finished Superman’s latest origin last autumn. Now he’s got a new one, no reddy-tighties, and a deal with Mephisto that erases his marriage from continuity. Or sumpin’ like that.
Never mind. The reboot’s happening whether we want it or not so, while DC counts down, here’s the place to suggest what DC 2011 should look like. You know, if they consulted us.
1. Of Green Heroes, History, and the Good ol’ JS of A
DC’s recent sneak preview comic states that superheroes are new to the DCU, five years before the #1 issues. However, we know from the get-go they’ll eventually fly some older characters, in order to maintain the copyright.
I would keep the concept of heroic eras that mimic comic history. A handful of the more interesting JSAers fought in the 1940s, some of them openly. This includes the immortalish Wonder Woman and the Guardian’s Secret Test Lantern for Earth, Alan Scott.
The late 1960s/early 1970s would see new heroes. Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Black Canary II, and the white-wardrobed recently-returned Wonder Woman would have socially-relevant superhero adventures. And Detective Chimp. He’s pretty socially relevant.
Green Arrow would wear a disguise that would fool someone other than Helen Keller. Green Lantern wouldn’t bother with a secret identity.
In the 2000s, the ring would pass to John Stewart, the Green Lantern DC always dusts off for cartoons, in order to bring diversity to the League. Why not just make him the Green Lantern in the current JL? Alan and Hal can still have adventures in the past. Anyway, you know who makes a more interesting Green Lantern than Hal Jordan? Everybody who has ever worn the ring makes a more interesting Lantern than Hal Jordan.2
But I’d have Stewart wear Guy Gardner’s costume. That was the best Lantern costume ever, and Stewart would look totally badass in it.
As for all those other JSA heroes—maybe they don’t need to protect copyright. Trust me, DC: Johnny Quick will never be a valuable property. I’d let some things go, in the interest of keeping the DCU less cluttered and more comprehensible. Or I’d put out a low-budget special every year that features unused characters, printed on cheap paper, so that most would deteriorate and the rest become collectible. The fanboys would totally buy into it. DC Also-Rans, starring Johnny Quick of Earth-WTF!
That brings us to the present where, save for a frequently off-planet Green Lantern, the world doesn’t really know superheroes anymore. They’re something we had in the past, like silk stockings and asbestos insulation.
2. Guy of Steel
John Byrne got one thing right in Man of Steel, and it appears the reboot will follow suit. He took Superman’s power down a few levels. It made it possible to, you know, write stories about him. Then DC cranked him back up to eleventy-thousand again. Seriously, when this fails, it won’t be about Superman’s lesser power levels, so DC, don’t crank him back up. No, the Reboot of Steel will fail for two other reasons.
Firstly, Superman is a boy scout. He’s not a caged animal. He’s not dark. That’s the one immutable characteristic of Superman. You cannot change that and expect acceptance.
Secondly, DC licenses this character to death, has been doing so for decades, will continue to do so for years to come, and the Official Licensed Superman doesn’t wear armor and a high collar.
If I were rebooting DC, this is one character I’d keep as close to status quo as possible, because that’s where he’ll end up.
Yeah, I suppose I might get rid of the red underwear. And speaking of underwear….
|Supergirl in 2011.|
3. Under the Light of a Yellow Hormone
Thank you, DC, for taking Supergirl out of that circa 2000 faux-slut outfit. Awesome that she carried that momentary blip in fashion history for so long, but it was time to move on. The new outfit has potential. So I’d follow DC’s lead here, uh, mostly.
I’d keep the cranky, more alien Supergirl, too, but DC, can you possibly stop giving a fifteen-year-old outfits that indicate she uses Kryptonian bikini wax?
4. The Long Dark Knight of the Soul
I’m glad the reboot boots us five years into continuity. ‘Cause, you know what we don’t need? Another re-envisioning of Batman’s origin. Seriously, obscure tribes in far reaches of the Amazon can recite Batman’s origin in their sleep. But with only five years under his utility belt, he shouldn’t have run through every Robin in the history of DC. I’d put it at the point where Dick Grayson leaves and becomes Nighwing. I suppose Damien could be the new Robin (though how would Batman already have a twelve-year-old son by Talia Al Ghul?), but I’d just knock the others out of continuity for now. No one gives a bat’s ass about Tim Drake or Jason Todd. Robin is already a doofy character; he doesn’t need to exist in multiples at the same time. I would find a way to work in Stephanie Brown, because her Batgirl is one of DC’s few female characters carries an interesting and fun title— and about to be cancelled.
Five years into my continuity, Babs Gordon recently got wheelchaired by the Joker. She’s restarting as Oracle. Consequently, Steph steps up as Batgirl.
5. Big, Red, and Cheesy
I see that Captain Marvel, or whatever DC has to call his magazines so as not to upset Marvel’s lawyers, isn’t in the new line-up. Yeah, didn’t see that one coming. Seriously, they’ve never made him relevant. He’s too much like Superman, which is why they sued Fawcett’s four-color ass in the first place and knocked him out of the sky. The only time they’ve succeeded with him is with The Monster Society of Evil, where he’s effectively back in his own world.
Clearly, Captain Marvel should exist in his own world, written at the kid-friendly level. The other DC heroes—Lite Kiddie Version– could show up, but he’d never appear in their titles. We’d have an actual character aimed exclusively at the Family Channel crowd, a character who might draw in new readers.3
6. It’s Not All About the Tights
A whole bunch of years ago, DC did Watchmen and Sandman and like that, taking risks, challenging perceptions, and inducing Vertigo among the average reader. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell—Oh, wait a minute. They were roaring, industry-challenging successes.
I’d hire more people to do that sort of thing (like Sweet Tooth, for example). The Tights have had quite a run, but they may yet go the way of silk stockings.
7. The Circle Game
If I ran DC, I’d plan for twenty-five years for the next reboot. Characters would grow old. They’d retire. They’d die. It would be a chance to go crazy.
I wonder what DC going crazy would look like.
Maybe we’ll find out in September.
1. I’ve heard things like the following from others. Elsewhere, we have a view from someone who wasn’t there, but who represents the voice of many a fanboy. He even espouses an intriguing, if not entirely convincing, hypothesis concerning the reboot’s origin.
2. Or, if DC wanted to be really nasty, they could give the Captain to Marvel in an apparent show of good will. Let them inherit the curse of making him relevant to the twenty-first century.
And then play the Waiting Game.
3. I don’t actually follow the current Green Lantern series, which I’m told is pretty good. I do know that DC wants new readers, and non-comic-book readers, prior to the current movie, mainly knew John Stewart as the Lantern, from the various tv cartoons. Some people expressed surprise when they learned “a white guy” was playing GL on the big screen.
4. There was no four, so here’s a link to the current Full Frontal Nerdity.