DC Rebirth

DC RebirthWelcome to my first column. My goal is to write an entertaining column reviewing new comics, comics which you may have missed, books, movies and pop culture. Since I’m the oldest guy here in the BoroughCon offices, I’ve been getting a lot of grief about this.  I’m told that I’m too old, uncool and just plain nerdy to write this type of column. And the titles that have been suggested are just downright insulting.

Despite the nasty comments, I assure you that I didn’t buy the first issue of Action Comics in 1939. Admittedly, I’m old enough to be the father of Matt, Courtney, Preeti, Victor, Rid and Jonny, but Bill, Jeff, George and Tony are just a few years younger than me. And while Preeti loves to point out my theoretical hairline, and my occasional forgetfulness, my occasional grouchiness, and my occasional forgetfulness,  I haven’t reached the point of standing on my porch wearing only a bathrobe yelling, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” (Yet – Preeti).

This first column will be my take on the DC Rebirth Event. I’m sorry, but is everyone getting a little tired of the Crisis of the Infinite Secret Civil War on Battleworld yet? Back in my day, we had 3 Earths (four if you count Earth Prime which Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates were from) and one Marvel Continuity. But, as things got messy, DC had the Crisis and Marvel played with alternate universes to explain continuity flaws.

At the time and even now, Crisis of the Infinite Earths made a lot of sense. It was the first, and greatest rewrite of comic book continuity. All the heroes in the DCU were given complete makeovers. John Byrne’s reimagining of Superman was brilliant, and led to the fondly remembered diamond sequences, where Superman’s story was told on a weekly basis. George Perez’ reworking of Wonder Woman was similarly breathtaking.  There was no question that this was a new golden age of comics and DC became the Microsoft of the industry. The Death of Superman, KnightFall, and even Emerald Twilight were masterpieces.

The problem, for even such great characters found in the DC stable, is how to keep the stories fresh for new generations while not alienating the loyal base. In the mid-2000s, 52 was launched. This was a fine tuning of the Crisis Universe. Alternate Earths were reintroduced, 52 of them. The “original” Earth was tweaked, and some characters rewritten or killed. My older two children and I eagerly awaited each installment of 52.

This tweak lasted only three years until DC decided on the most ambitious overhaul since the Crisis in 1986. Starting with the richly textured Flashpoint, DCU launched the New 52. Ollie was no longer poor and fighting for social justice, supported and sustained by Black Canary. Ma and Pa Kent were gone, again, Lois was not with Clark, and Clark was again a social misfit. The New 52 gave us a mix of the earlier 1940’s Superman who fought for social justice and a new, grimmer, version. Barry Allen was back, and Wally was gone, literally. Damian was still Robin and Tim was Red Robin. And a host of other changes, designed to renew and revamp the characters for a new generation, were introduced.

I liked Kyle Rayner and really enjoyed Connor Hawk’s run as Green Arrow. But, I found this new 52 to be a joyless universe.  While I grew up with Lois snubbing Clark, I loved the Lois and Clark relationship born out of the Crisis. I was there when Dinah’s husband died and she moved to Earth 1, and then into Ollie’s arms. I was moved by Wally’s growth in maturity, and then his marriage to Linda.  All this was now gone.

DC it seems realized that “mistakes were made.” Enter Rebirth. Less of an overhaul but more than a tweak.

The jumping point is Rebirth, authored by fan favorite Geoff Johns. The premise, as most fans know by now, is that Something has been re-writing history. In fact, Barry and Thawne were not the real causes of the Flash Point, it was this “Something”. It is seeking to remake the universe in order to weaken the heroes. Wally West, existing outside of space and time, living in the speed force, has seen it, and is trying to get back.

As Wally traverses the “New 52” he comments on what a loveless place the universe has become and this lack of love is weakening the heroes.  Meanwhile, Wally can only be saved from becoming consumed by the speed force if he can make a connection with someone from his past. In the end it’s Uncle Barry who recognizes him. The love and bond between this Uncle and a former troubled nephew redeems Wally and brings him back into the Universe, to be continued in Flash Rebirth and Titans Rebirth.

I’ll confess, while I started reading comics back in 1971, and Barry was “my” Flash, I loved Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn’s run. Their Wally was great, and they created a strong supporting cast. So, I was very pleased to see Wally make his return to the DCU. There is no question, that Wally will be taking a strong role in this new story line “destined to change the DC Universe FOREVER!” Sorry for the snark.

Johns does a good job channeling the Waid and Augustyn voice as we listen to Wally’s inner monologue. The art is as good as the story and is told in 5 parts, with the majority of the work done by Gary Frank, (Chapters 1, 2,,4, Epilogue and cover) with Ivan Reis on Chapters 3 and co-credited on the Epilogue. Phil Jimenez is co-credited on Chapter 4. Inkers are Frank, Matt Santorelli, and Joe Prado. Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Reis and Gabe Elteas handle the colors.

The comic is gorgeous. The sequences of Wally trapped in the Speed Force are particularly vibrant thanks to a wonderful blending of art, ink and color. There is no question that modern technology available to colorists make the work of pencilers and inkers look fantastic.

The next step is the “Rebirth” tie-ins to be followed by the publication of the regulation titles. Here’s the checklist for those keeping count:

DC Rebirth, written by Geoff Johns, and the artists are Gary Franks, Phil Jimenez and Ethan Van Sciver.

Flash Rebirth, written Joshua Willisons and drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Titans Rebirth, written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Brett Booth.

Batman Rebirth,  written by Tom King and drawn by Scott Snyder.

Batman #1 , written by Tom King and drawn by David Finch.

Detective Comics, #934, written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Eddy Barrows.

Superman Rebirth, written my Peter Tomasi and drawn by Doug Mahnke.

Superman #1, written by Peter Tomasi and drawn by Patrick Gleason.

Action Comics, #957, written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Patrick Zircher.

Wonder Woman Rebirth, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Liam Sharp.

Wonder Woman #1, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Liam Sharp.

Green Arrow Rebirth, written by Benjamin Percy and drawn by Otto Schmidt

Green Arrow #1, written by Benjamin Percy and drawn by Otto Schmidt

Aquaman Rebirth, written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Oscar Jimenez.

Supergirl #1, written by Steve Orlando and drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, written by Shawna Benson, Julie Benson  and drawn by Clare Roe.

Suicide Squad #1 by Rob Williams and drawn by Phil Tan

Blue Beetle #1, Keith Griffen and drawn by Scott Kolins.

Deathstroke #1, by Christopher Priest and drawn by Carlo Pagulayan

Justice League #1, Written and drawn by Bryan Hitch.

Hellblazer #1, written  by Simon Oliver and drawn by Moritat.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #1, written by Robert Venditti and drawn by Ethan Van Sciver

Green Lanterns, written by Sam Humphries and drawn by Robson Rocha.

Nightwing #1, written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Yanick Paquette

Red Hood and the Outsiders #1, written by Scott Lodell and drawn by Dexter Soy.

Harley Quinn #1, written by Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by Chad Hardin.

Superwoman #1, Written and drawn by Phil Jimenez

The New Superman, written by Gene Luen Yang and drawn by Viktor Bogdanovic.