Back in 2011, DC comics relaunched their line with “The New 52.” It was essentially 52 new comic book series featuring the characters you know and love, only you didn’t know them all that well anymore. It spun out of the timeline-altering Flashpoint crossover which resulted in a younger universe. Superman, Batman and the rest were gifted (or cursed) with altered origins and their histories selectively compacted into five years of heroing. It sold a lot of comics, but the excitement wore off and left long-time fans questioning “how were all these Robins trained in just five years?”
Now we are heading into a course-correction to The New 52 called Rebirth. Its precursor was last year’s Convergence, an event comic in which it was revealed that the pre-New 52 DC still exists. What we know of Rebirth is still spotty, but it appears to be a way to bring back the sense of legacy that was lost and return fan-favorite heroes and teams to their classic status-quo. Let’s get into the good and bad of what we can expect.
Fear: Continuity Continues to Suffer
DC had a long rich history of stories that were known canon until recently. Sure, this isn’t the first time things have been confusing at DC, but between Crisis on Infinite Earths and The New 52, I had a decent grasp on the publisher’s continuity. The New 52 left the first 5 years of pretty much every character’s life untold with the promise that much of their pre-New 52 history did, in fact, happen in those 5 years. Well, that had to be a busy 5 years. As new glimpses in the New 52 character’s past were made evident, some conflicted with what we thought existed before. The more devoted DC fanboys no longer knew what happened with the heroes with which they grew up. DC wants to have it both ways with Rebirth. They want to more explicitly bring in the pre-New 52 stories while keeping the post-New 52 stories as well. It would be cleaner to wipe out the existence of the New 52 and return to the pre-Flashpoint timeline or stick with the New 52 and admit that those first five years are up for grabs. As it is, story arcs may be superpositioned on top of each other. I don’t know how else this will go.
The pre-New 52 Superman is my Superman. Convergence gave us a glimpse of his continued existence with stories of his life as if his universe was never overwritten. Then, surprisingly, Convergence ends and we learn that the pre-New 52 Superman, Lois and their son have all been placed retro-actively in this new continuity. This Clark works in secret and plays family man, at least until Rebirth makes him Superman proper. Yes, the pre-New 52 Superman seems to be taking over the Superman mantle in what otherwise remains The New 52 universe. Won’t the other heroes have questions? Will Wonder Woman know that her love interest no longer has those experiences and now has a long history with a wife he didn’t have a few days ago? As much as I like that Superman, I imagine I will like him less if his history is only a memory and not the real happenings of this DC. Oh, and what of the New 52 Superman? Does he die? Rebirth is reported to have another Clark Kent, another guy with Superman powers, a super-powered Lois Lane (who may be the pre-New 52 Lois, the post-New 52 Lois, or another Lois) and a Super-Lex Luthor. Move over Green Lantern Corps, we might as well have a Superman Corps, and it may be overkill.
Hope: Returned legacy connects to main characters
I started reading comics when Kyle Rayner, Wally West and Conner Hawke were Green Lantern, the Flash, and Green Arrow. Kyle has never really stopped being some kind of Lantern and has kept most of his history, but I miss those guys the way they were. Speaking of Green Lantern, I miss Alan Scott. He’s gay in another universe last I checked. I know it’s politically incorrect to wish someone wasn’t gay, but I do here only because I miss his kids. His daughter Jade was an important part of the aforementioned Kyle Rayner’s history who, along with any recognizable version of his other girlfriend Donna Troy, doesn’t exist anymore. And Scott, in another universe, played no role in the acceptance of superheroes in DC proper. This goes for the entire Justice Society.
Rebirth is bringing the Justice Society back. I hope this means they are back in a way connected to our primary heroes. Alan Scott should have a connection to Hal Jordan. Jay Garrick should have a connection to Barry West. It’s too late for them to be meeting in parallel words. We know their lives and histories are intertwined. I hope Rebirth makes it so once again.
The pre-New 52 Superman is my Superman and he’s back! This is what I secretly wanted from Convergence and it certainly looks like my wish will be granted with Rebirth. When the New 52’s Superman and Wonder Woman kissed, DC made it a point to show character reactions. The consensus was that this wasn’t right. Cosmically, the romance wasn’t right. The relationship of Clark Kent and Lois Lane is really the only relationship in fiction I am emotionally invested in. I’m glad they are back with all the memories that I have. Oh, and a kid. That didn’t really work in the 2006 film Superman Returns, but maybe it can here. Superman should be the best dad and with Batman also in the father business, it’s a whole thing. I figure this too will be rebooted one day, but I’m excited to see what new stories this now family-centric comic has in store.
Steven is a relativistically-locked time-traveler. Follow him on Twitter for insights from the present.