Really I blames James Bond more than anything else. Casino Royal threw out everything about James Bond that came before and started from scratch. The result was so epic that it started a trend, giving us us JJ Abrams’s Star Trek, and Chris Nolan’s Batman. Though Marvel’s Ultimate imprint predates the latest sets of reboots, it followed the theory if something didn’t work start over from scratch. Its worked to varying degrees of critical and financial success. Now DC comics is rebooting their universe. I’m not gonna judge the (comic)book by its cover, but I’m very leery of this. It seems like a cheap sales grab, especially when DC comics. Though they can simplify and streamline everything, there is always the risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Why this worries me:
In the 1990 the comic book industry almost died. Everything was given a grim and gritty makeover. Characters became rip offs of the Punisher and Cable. Characters were dawn with high intensity, overly detailed, grossly exaggerated body types. Consumers were told that comics were a good investment. Alternate “collector covers” were published to pump up sales, but with so much, for lack of a better term crap out there the readership no longer cared. Who wants to read the same story over and over? The people buy comics as a n investment found the market flooded and books were completely devalued.
Instead of grim, dark, and extreme stories repeated at nauseum, the current trend is now reboots. It runs the same danger of becoming boring and repetitive. DC famously created the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to cull down their extensive multi-verse in the 1980’s. Recently DC revisited the Crisis with Infinite Crisis, which re-established the multi-verse and re wrote the origin of several characters. Lets look at Superman alone. Post Crisis “Superman: Man of Steel” (1986) was the definitive origin for the last son of Krypton. In 2003 this was updated with “Superman: Birthright” partially to bring the storyline closer to Smallville. In 2009 DC created another definitive origin with “Superman: Secret Origin”. This isn’t including recent alternate continuity stories like “All-Star Superman” or “Superman: Earth One”. If anything DC seems to be getting a little reboot happy. The readership will get tired of the conflicting origins. Changing the background dilutes the characters iconography. Recent story lines that were great now face being erased. Whats the point of having any emotional investment in these characters if its all going to be rebooted continuously.
Why this has potential:
So many of DC characters are great characters but need to have new life breathed into them. Wonder Woman is the first that springs to mind. She has a lot going for her, with Greek mythology as a background, and stranger in a strange land personality. What she lacks is a definitive story of mythic proportions or a good villain. Characters like Hawkman and Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl, have interesting backgrounds. Star crossed lovers who are reincarnated every generation to find each other and adventure. Are they Thanigarians, humans, spirits, or something more. A reboot could make them or all of the above. Rumors say that Hawkman will be an archaeologist who researches ancient alien ruins on Earth. That sounds cool. Aquaman is a joke, the reboot could change all that. Truth be told I haven’t been able to crack some of DC’s events like “Final Crisis”, because they were to continuity intensive and confusing.
Does the entire universe need a reboot to compensate for these deficits? Probably not. They could have done something new by simply retooling their characters. Reboots aren’t necessary when a franchise is still actively popular and has good stories. They could have done this on a much smaller scale. A total restart will guarantee more sales. I don’t feel excited, its just more of the same,… sigh whatever.