REARRANGING THE DECK CHAIRS IN THE DC UNIVERSE: PART 7 (of a series of Infinite): A Look at DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH #1
A KC Column by KC Carlson
I wasn’t really planning to take a deep dive into DC Universe Rebirth #1 until I started hearing some rumblings about what might be happening in it. (The LSH rumor would, of course, pique my interest…) Then the whole issue got leaked last Friday, which made it into a bit of comics news of a sort. (Intentional leak?… You be the judge…) My first reaction to the event (prior to reading) was that it was probably going to be one of those really bad car crashes you occasionally see on the side of the Interstate, and, as much as you don’t want to look… YOU JUST HAVE TO! So I threw my brain in the wastebasket for an hour and went looking to see what all the hubbub was about, bub…
Honest to Rao, I actually liked a lot of it. Admittedly, since I haven’t been reading any mainstream DC titles for at least four years, I also didn’t really understand a bunch of it. Most of what I didn’t understand were the few pages of single panels checking in on various “minor” DCU characters (many of whom I do not actually know, due to my DC “sabbatical”). Most of the 66-page story encompasses four main chapters (“Lost”, “Legacy”, “Love”, and “Life”) which are primarily devoted to catching up with the more prominent residents of the DCU. (Can we now say “DCU” again? It just seems so much more easier…)
The book itself is 80 pages — or 84, if you count covers, which I don’t — and the remainder of the book consists of house ads for the first couple of waves of rebooted series, as well as a handy checklist of all 21 (!) individual (or team) Rebirth first issues. This DC Universe Rebirth #1 issue is quite the bargain at $2.99 — and if you want to buy it at that price, you better act fast, as it’s rumored that subsequent reprintings will be at a significantly higher price.
The entire issue is written by Geoff Johns — the go-to writer-guy to relaunch DC Universes and franchises for more than a decade (and also DC’s Chief Creative Officer… so maybe writing these things every few years is actually part of his contract…). Artists include some great ones, such as Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez, and a whole slew of top-flight inkers and colorists.
DC Universe Rebirth #1 is filled with both huge revelations and small special moments. It’s also future “annotation-bait” with all the little hints and clues that appear throughout the book (beginning on page 1!). It’s recommended that you read Justice League #50 and Superman #52 before you read this, but I didn’t and still got the gist of what was happening. One of the first things to come up is probably going to be controversial. It’s strongly hinted that there may be more than one Joker wandering around Gotham and the DCU. Hmm…
The main hook of the story involves somebody very familiar to pre-New 52 DC Comics readers who has not been seen in-continuity since Flashpoint. His story is quite moving and tragic here, and at least one point — totally hopeless. But his being from a certain “family” of characters means that a) this must be a major turning point for the DCU, and b) survival is not always guaranteed. So this is an excellent use of this character.
There’s also a lot of recapping, catching up, and even a bit of explaining away some confusing stuff that has gone before, plus some stunning new revelations. (Wonder Woman has a brother?) In other words, yes, Virginia, this IS another Universe-bending DC EventTM. Hopefully it will be a lot better than the last few.
Some of my favorite bits: A cameo by a Legion of Super-Heroes Flight Ring, a hint that one of DC’s classic romances may be back “on” once again in the near future (after being “off” for, like, forever), another romance heading for a big step soon, Ray Palmer lost (again) in the Microverse, one Blue Beetle meeting another (and the younger one is more mature than the older one), a seeming passing on (or perhaps a return) of a legacy, and one of the most emotional “death scenes” in comics.
John Constantine arguing with a Swamp Thing just seems like old times. Yay, warm fuzzy Vertigo moments. (Five words which have never been combined in this way before… or ever again.) Hey, Karen and Shelley!
The whole thing ends with something completely out of left field, which will most likely either amaze or irritate anybody who happens to be watching (including a well-known comics creator or two). The jaded will find it an indication of just how low DC is willing to stoop to try to rescue their declining sales. The optimistic will wonder how such a legendary story, one that changed the course of the industry, will actually fit into this message of hope and rebirth.
DC has needed to go big or go home for several cycles now. Good luck to them. I’ll linger around for a bit to check out some “solo” Rebirth titles. DC’s big guns shine on DC Universe Rebirth #1, but the real test will be how the rank-and-file creators (admittedly including some up-and-comers) will move this restart forward and make it work in an ongoing format, away from the “epic event” trappings that usually excite us.
I’m also very skeptical of DC maintaining a twice-monthly shipping schedule for most of their main titles. Ambitious? Very! Prudent? Remains to be seen…
Will I still be here reading a year from now? That’s all up to DC…
KC CARLSON is having some fun with this column’s title. DC Comics has absolutely no known links to the White Star Line’s 1912 Olympic class ocean liner RMS Titanic, nor should there be absolutely no relationship implied. These days, DC should be more concerned about earthquakes than icebergs anyway.
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Like the fact that there are no Parts 1-6 for this column. Stop looking for them and go read some comic books instead!
DARWYN COOKE 1962-2016