I definitely have a love/hate relationships with reboots/remakes/revamps. On the one hand it inhibits development of characters people care about and also says to everyone who spent so much time, work, and heart making these stories “sorry not good enough let’s just completely undo all the work you did”. I specially hate how Hollywood treats original works like they’re only the first draft. But on the other hand, treating it like a first draft allows you to make the second draft better. Also being free from continuity can spur amazing creativity. Marvel’s Ultimate Universe did a fantastic job, when it started, of re-imagining characters and stories. Plus some properties do transcend their creators and take on a new status in the eyes of our cultures. There has been many retelling of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures and there will be many more. Most superheros have definitely reached that status and will live on longer than any writer, artist, director, or actor.
By far the best reboot I have seen must be Star Trek. Not only did they take an old franchise and reinvigorate it to bring in a new audience but they managed to add creative visuals, action, comedy, and emotion that I never really saw in the original series. They added something that was missing. As long as you add something to it instead of just retell the same story that makes it interesting. James made a great point about the importance on gaining a new audience. Really I have no problem with DC or Marvel cleaning house with their titles, trimming the fat to make things easier. It’s definitely not something to do lightly since this needs to last decades for them. I just don’t see how this move brings in new customers, sure you’ll have a spike in sales from curious readers ranging from old to new and whether it lasts depends more on the quality of the titles. But the problem is you won’t be getting many new readers because the only people who know about this stunt are people already in the circle of comic fans. If you tell someone outside the circle, “Hey they’re rebooting DC” it doesn’t really mean anything to them. The way to draw in new readers isn’t with stunts, or starting from square one. It’s with advertising. As long as I can remember the only time I’ve ever seen an ad for a comic book was in another comic book. If you want to get the word out about your product to new customers you can’t just spread it among your current clients you have to reach out. If they can make a commercial for books (which I find weird) you can make them for comics. Get them on tv, buy internet ads(hint, hint), run them before comic book movies. You want new people pulling off stunts that can potentially piss off you base won’t help.
My major concern with this particular reboot is that it just seems… unnecessary. Sure doing a full reboot allows the company to paint a specific creative path for the universe as a whole and can give all creators better direction. The thing is, if you want to portray Superman younger, then just portray him younger. No one says you have to draw him like he’s pushing 40 or write him like he’s going through a mid life crisis. You don’t want him in trunks? Then just change it to a belt (though their new belt is god awful). You think having two Batmen is too confusing? Then have Dick decide to be Nightwing again. You don’t want Wonder Woman to be in star spangle panties? Just put pants on her. The point is nothing here needs a reboot to happen, hell most of it doesn’t even need that much of an explanation. This all just feels like a drastic step to fix simple problems.
None of this would really bother me that much if it wasn’t for the news of Barbra Gordon walking again. I have no problem with letting the character get up from that wheelchair, but having it happen as a do-over cheapens what has been done. I was never fond of Batgirl because she never really had any real reason to be a superhero other than “why not” and really she was just for the most part: female-Robin. As Oracle she not only became infinitely more interesting she also became useful and unique. Masked crime fighters are a dime a dozen in DC but her talents had her helping more people and leaving a bigger mark for herself than anything she could have in tights. Plus she was Batgirl for 22 years guess how many she was Oracle? Yep 22 years, she’s been Oracle for just as long and is a huge part of her identity. The story of a woman being cripple and metaphorically getting back up is beyond great and makes her more of a hero than any other crime fighter. But as I said I have no problem with her standing on her own two feet as long as it’s done with meaning. Instead of rebooting a whole universe you can tell the story of a new surgery, a difficult rehabilitation, and a triumphant return which is a story that not only can be told, but should be told. If this is covered in the first few arcs of Batgirl I will not consider this reboot a failure, if they just pretend it never happened I will be… perturbed…
Though the more I think about it the more pointless it seems to get vocal about it. Because the decision has been made and no one from DC will ever read this. But on the off chance one of them do I would like to offer some advice because rebooting the world isn’t enough, you must ensure the world you create is a lasting one:
1. Keep Stories Small – One trend you see in all on-going storytelling is escalation, you hero must be challenged by stronger and stronger opponents. The problem is eventually you will hit a ceiling. Once Batman takes down Darkseid and traverse time itself, fighting some goons in an alley isn’t going to seem like a challenge and gets boring. You must keep the villains and threats proportionally small and make the stories more intimate and involving. If you don’t constantly up the ante you won’t have to constantly think of stronger threats. This is most important for Superman.
2. Keep Heroes Separate – I love the idea of a shared universe but these days they seem too shared. Besides team books I don’t want to see heroes crossing over every other week. Bat family book should try to stay in the bat family. Every character has a great supporting cast that could really use some development. Plus the more often they meet the less special it becomes.
3. Don’t change the Status Quo! – This is something that caused me to get turned off to Marvel. It seems like every two years (if even that) Marvel has an event that “changes the status quo forever) Which usually, the new status quo is great a very interesting direction for the universe. The problem is each one is rushed, they don’t take advantage of it, and the next event doesn’t bring it to a good closure just simply creates a new status to replace the current. You’re doing a hell of a lot setting up this status quo so you need to take full advantage of it for as long as you can.
4. Pull back the Events – James had brought it up, it’s annoying to have an event book happen so often and have it effect every title. I shouldn’t have to read Green Lantern to get what’s going on in Batman. Tie ins can be fun but they should never be necessary to understand another book. Also apply tip #1 here, your last few events have dealt with a universe wide zombie attack and with the very fabric of reality there’s really no where to go but down. Keep you event small in scoop and small in cast. Then once in several years you can pull of a company wide event and have it be awesome. I would like to see something with Aquaman and a war with Atlantis.
5. DON’T KILL GOOD CHARACTERS!!! – If you’re just going to bring them back then don’t kill them! Dead is dead, the more we see a character die the less we’ll care, death is now meaningless. This is so obvious to me it’s painful.
But this is just details an editor tells the writers which brings me back to my main point. No matter what they change: Superman will be Superman, Batman will be Batman, and Wonder Woman will be Wonder Woman. They make look a little different their histories might change but their core will remain faithful.
So it’s just… unnecessary.
For James’ Thoughts.