I’ve bitten my tongue for far too long. I’m tired of the silence. Friends, fellows, and pals, I don’t like DC Rebirth. I don’t like where DC is right now.
And I think DCYou did it better.
Allow me to explain.
I want to make something clear. All of my opinions here come from a deep affection for the DC Universe. I love DC. Superman is my favorite fictional character. All-Star Superman and Mister Miracle are my favorite comics. That’s why I can’t bear to see it as it is.
It’s fair to say that the problem we’re in is largely a result of the New 52. Yes, the New 52 has root causes that go deeper, but I don’t feel a need to go into those. Because those problems are in the New 52. N52 was a failure, I think most can agree. It didn’t do anything new with its characters, it kept the same, tired, ultra-dark aesthetic present in the DC books of the mid-to-late naughties, and all in all, there just wasn’t anything new. The art was all just Jim Lee imitation that somehow looked worse than actual Jim Lee art, and editorial forced a singular (and very well-worn) feeling across all the titles.
Point being, it was a creatively fallow period. Yes, Snyder was doing Batman and Morrison was doing Action Comics, but, really, outside of a number of smaller titles that, unfortunately, very few people read (Demon Knights, parts of Dial H, Earth-2, etc.), N52 was just devoid of new ideas.
And it is for precisely this reason that Rebirth was not a whole lot better than New 52. And it is also for this reason that DC is failing right now.
Rebirth is the definition of that popular ‘70s band you love trying to play the hits and not realizing that they’re sixty years old and they can’t do it like they could when they were twenty. People talked about Rebirth being a “fresh start,” and while I definitely preferred the tone becoming more lighthearted and fun, almost nothing else changed. The books had the same New 52 creators, this time simply shuffled around and put on different books. Sometimes they just stayed on the same book. The stories were mostly unoriginal, just playing on what’s come before without doing anything genuinely new or interesting.
Again, like with the start of New 52, there were good books to be found, but they certainly weren’t at the forefront. I was a defender of King’s Batman for a long time (longer than I probably should have been), but looking back, the destination didn’t justify the journey. There were good arcs here and there, even towards the back half of the run (Cold Days is a personal favorite), but overall? Just kinda lackluster. Superman had a similar feeling (up until Bendis BUT WE’LL GET THERE). The first ten issues of that run? Excellent. Everything I could have wanted. I just didn’t want it more than once. Tomasi’s Superman felt like a broken record, repeating itself endlessly and never doing anything more innovative than the first deluxe hardcover’s worth of comics. Which, I would like to be clear, are some great, great Superman comics. Justice League? I don’t think I have to go into that one. It was bad. We can move on. Bryan Hitch is a good artist but not the best writer. The best Rebirth books had to be sought out. Red Hood and the Outlaws was a surprise. Both Batgirl books were entertaining. All-Star Batman was just a ton of fun. Supergirl was solid. Green Arrow was really well done. But on the whole? Net loss.
Especially as we find ourselves in the fourth year of the relaunch.
The books have gone back to moodiness. Somehow the Watchmen stuff has managed to miss even my exceedingly low expectations. Wally West is pretty much permanently ruined. Everything just feels aimless. Except for Bendis’ corner. Again, I’ll get there.
Overall? I just want a return to DCYou.
You may be asking yourself: “What? Why? Wasn’t DCYou that failed relaunch that nobody cared about?” The answer is yes, nobody did care about it. And I’m still questioning why. Because DC during DCYou? That’s what The New 52 and Rebirth should have been all along.
DCYou was great for a couple of reasons. First and foremost? It did new stuff. It seems so simple, and yet pre-DCYou, nobody seemed able (or, perhaps, willing) to do anything new. In DCYou, creators were allowed to run wild. The books had boundary-breaking art, inventive storylines that built on the established characters they followed, and most importantly: a voice. The creators felt freed from the strings that editors had tied them up with for so long. I’m thinking of Gotham Academy, a fun YA-aimed book that explored the Batman books from a genuinely new perspective. I’m thinking of Gotham by Midnight, a cool, supernatural-flavored take on the classic Gotham Central. I’m thinking of Batgirl of Burnside, a truly modern take on the character that felt contemporary in its attitude and charmingly retro in its aesthetic. I’m thinking of The Omega Men, one of the only examples of science fiction I’ve seen that genuinely pulls off the “no one’s really good or evil” thing well. I’m thinking of Gene Luen Yang’s Superman run, the most fun and original take on the Man of Steel we’d had since Morrison. I’m thinking of Superman: American Alien, a wonderful, whimsical take on the standard Superman origin. And, hell, all the good New 52 books? They just kept coming out! Greg Pak stayed on Action Comics and did a great job. Snyder kept on doing his Batman thing. The point is: DCYou is everything I could have wanted from DC in the 21st century.
And no one bought it, so editorial shuttered it.
Okay. I get it. Economics and art are frequently at odds and nowhere is that more abundantly clear than comics. I’m just saying that what DC did for that magic year-and-a-half or so should have stuck around, and the fact that it didn’t just bugs me to my core. Maybe that’s why I don’t like Rebirth. It rebooted a reboot I liked. And DC is still just kind of meandering through its publishing schedule.
Maybe that’s why I love the Bendis-run corner of the current DCU. All of the books that he’s overseeing (whether it be the Wonder Comics imprint, the Superman corner, or the Legion) feel the most like DCYou. All of them feel like they’re actually trying to break new ground. Both of the Superman books, Event Leviathan, Jimmy Olsen/Lois Lane, the recently-finished Wonder Twins, I can go on. I say we should give him the keys to the kingdom. After all, that’s the part that seems to be working best.
Love to all,