DC Comics to re-start from number 1

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Lew Stringer
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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Lew Stringer » 30 Jun 2011, 22:19

Phoenix wrote: I realise, of course, that text to pictures is not the same as pictures to pictures but the decision by DC to adapt old stories for new readers thirty-five years on is essentially no different from Thomsons' in 1961.
True. Thing is though DC have rewritten the histories of their characters several times already without so much fuss. (Superman in particular.) It's become accepted that the backstories need some tweaks to refresh and update them for each generation. I don't see this as being much different to that really.

As I understand it, even the new continuity will be explained in Flashpoint No.5, which comes out a week before the new launch begins. If that comic bridges the gap between old and new continuity then it might placate readers somewhat as, effectively, the new continuity will be a continuation of the old.
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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Raven » 30 Jun 2011, 22:57

It seems to me that the big mistake DC is making is to stubbornly stick to the failing superhero model. They want new, younger readers, but younger readers just don't seem interested in superhero comics - it's a genre their dads read, and which presumably mostly sells to the dwindling band of forty-plus fanboys.

The manga bubble has somewhat burst now, probably due to oversaturation of the market, but DC are ignoring the huge surge of popularity in manga with those younger readers over the last few years - comics which were not superhero titles, but widely different in subject matter. Despite this, of their 52 new titles, about 49 are superhero ones, and those that aren't mostly sound like superhero titles; the Western comic is even to be set in Gotham City; why, when a strength of Jonah Hex is that he's a bounty hunter who can travel far and wide; is it so continuity references to Batman can be fit in?

Do DC really think they can stop the plummeting sales of their comics by bringing out a whole new glut of Bat titles, a new glut of Super titles, of team titles ... ? This is exactly the problem right now.

This could have been a good opportunity to take the emphasis off the superhero genre to expand and utilise DC's wider range of characters; from Adam Strange to Challengers of the Unknown to Phantom Stranger, to romance, their prehistoric and jungle, Western, war, sword and sorcery, and science fiction characters, to Kamandi and ... Prez! (Could see that one as a manga title, actually!)

But, instead, it's a whopping 52 new titles coming out, almost entirely consisting of the kind of superhero stuff that younger readers just don't seem attracted to. The idea that giving them all 'number ones' will somehow attract that new generation seems very misguided to me.

(I know the best selling floppies - if not necessarily collected editions - do tend to be superhero titles, but their sales numbers have dropped radically over the last few years, and they don't seem to be attracting the next generation of comic readers.)

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Phoenix » 01 Jul 2011, 02:24

Lew Stringer wrote:True. Thing is though DC have rewritten the histories of their characters several times already without so much fuss. (Superman in particular.) It's become accepted that the backstories need some tweaks to refresh and update them for each generation. I don't see this as being much different to that really. As I understand it, even the new continuity will be explained in Flashpoint No.5, which comes out a week before the new launch begins. If that comic bridges the gap between old and new continuity then it might placate readers somewhat as, effectively, the new continuity will be a continuation of the old.
I don't pretend to understand how repeatedly going back to the beginning, or starting again, to put it another way, can possibly be a continuation of any description unless it is some sort of infinitely-repeating circularity with changes, and development out of those changes built into it. I am somewhat hampered in this area though, as you well know Lew, because I don't recall having read any American comics since I was at primary school. I do, however, know something about one previous updating. I was having a couple of jars with a friend of mine, who I'd originally met as a teaching colleague, and who knew I collected comics/story papers, and he asked me if I was interested in buying his American comic collection as he had become very disillusioned over some sort of restructuring of the DC universe. I've just dug out the list of numbers and dates, which suggests that I bought this collection in April 1987. The reason I think this is that in January, February and March of that year DC seem to have produced issues 424, 425 and 426 of Superman, but at the same time they also issued numbers 1, 2 and 3 of what may well have been that new beginning. You will know better than I because I'm just guessing, but those are the last issues my friend bought. There are several hundred comics in the collection, the earliest of which is issue 136 of Superman from 1960, but the bulk of them are from 1971 onwards, and include Action Comics, Superboy, Jimmy Olsen, Superman Family, Lois Lane, Supergirl, DC Comics Presents, Adventure Comics, World's Finest and some Mini-Series. There are also some Special Issues like 100-page Giants, Batman's 500th appearance in Detective Comics 526 from May 1983, Supergirl's death in Crisis On Infinite Earths etc. I have a cupboard full of these, perhaps I should get them out and read them!!

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Lew Stringer » 01 Jul 2011, 07:48

That'd probably be the Man of Steel mini-series which rewrote Superman's history around 1987-ish Phoenix.

The histories of DC and Marvel characters are being rewritten all the time. Iron Man's origin originally took place in Viet Nam, now it's been retconned to Afghanistan. Two of the Fantastic Four were said to have fought in WW2, then Korea, and now who knows? Bizarro, Krypto, Kandor, and other characters and settings were written out of Superman's history, then later re-introduced in a different way.

That's why I don't understand the upset over this latest retooling. The continuity has never been linear for long. Besides, although the numbering of the comics restarts from No.1, some of the old continuity will remain (specifically in Batman and Green Lantern as those comics were already selling well). The revised origins of Superman and the Justice League will take place in the past.

I think readers need to try the new comics before they dismiss them. They may or may not be good comics, but if they are well crafted and entertaining why avoid them just because they might not fit into the continuity of stories from the past 20 years or so? (Personally I like the late 1950s Superman stories, particularly those drawn by Wayne Boring. They haven't been part of "continuity" for decades but it doesn't stop me enjoying them.)

Anyway, back to the drawing board and my own Lewniverse. :lol:
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tony ingram
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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by tony ingram » 01 Jul 2011, 08:01

Lew Stringer wrote:
tony ingram wrote: Speaking as a DC reader of 35 years standing who was basically drawn into it in the first place by fascination at the rich and complex history of the company-if all of that, and espacially Golden Age characters such as the Justice Society, are being dumped (as seems to be the case), I can't see any point in continuing to buy any DC books after the reboot. DC have already cancelled virtually every title I was still reading, anyway.
I must admit I don't understand people's animosity towards this relaunch. It's not the first time DC have done something like this. (Albeit not on such a grand scale.) As long as the script and art entertains I don't see any problem. The main characters are remaining, so fans can still follow them, and the JSA (canceled due to poor sales) will return eventually.
Thing is, I'm not that emotionally invested in the main characters, mostly in the WWII era characters and their legacies, and these are the ones that seem to be getting written out altogether. Even in 1986, the first big line wide reboot, they diudn't do that-they removed the JSA from the modern era for awhile by sticking them in Asgard or somewhere, but they kept the history intact. That's what matters to me. They can retool Superman all they want, it's been done at least four times before anyway. But for the company to ditch its oldest established characters after 76 years and renumber the world's longest running title in the bargain just reeks of desperation and will alienate longtime fans. As for the poor sales thing-JSA was outselling JLA a few years ago when Geoff Johns was writing it. Sales have fallen because the new guy's run was universally hated. So change the writer-don't cancel the book!

Look on the bright side Tony. In August, after 35 years you get to see how the stories end! That's better than following a soap that will probably continue long beyond our lifetimes. :)

I'm interested to see the stylistic changes they're bringing in/back to appeal to new readers. It's a fascinating time for American comics and I'm intrigued to see how this impacts (or not) on other publishers.
I can't see it having any impact, long term. Most comics readers are collectors, so the digital model will not appeal-you can't bag, box and keep a download. And while there will undoubtedly be a huge sales spike in September due to curiosity over the new line, by about the fifth or sixth month that will have fallen back to its current level (or lower, as some of the older readers will have jumped ship and I doubt enough of the new ones will stick around to replace them).

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Raven » 01 Jul 2011, 08:34

tony ingram wrote: I can't see it having any impact, long term. Most comics readers are collectors, so the digital model will not appeal-you can't bag, box and keep a download.

You can't really collect digital music downloads the way you did vinyl and CDs, or have lots of attractive bookshelves full of ebooks, either, Tony, but that doesn't seem to be bothering younger people; perhaps that collecting gene has changed. The comics really need to appeal to a wider readership than the baggers and boarders (do most of them even read the titles beyond a quick skim of the artwork?) anyway - to a much broader, general readership.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Lew Stringer » 01 Jul 2011, 09:35

tony ingram wrote:Thing is, I'm not that emotionally invested in the main characters, mostly in the WWII era characters and their legacies, and these are the ones that seem to be getting written out altogether. Even in 1986, the first big line wide reboot, they diudn't do that-they removed the JSA from the modern era for awhile by sticking them in Asgard or somewhere, but they kept the history intact. That's what matters to me.
The JSA is only being "rested" according to DC. They'll be back.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by tony ingram » 01 Jul 2011, 10:02

Lew Stringer wrote:
tony ingram wrote:Thing is, I'm not that emotionally invested in the main characters, mostly in the WWII era characters and their legacies, and these are the ones that seem to be getting written out altogether. Even in 1986, the first big line wide reboot, they diudn't do that-they removed the JSA from the modern era for awhile by sticking them in Asgard or somewhere, but they kept the history intact. That's what matters to me.
The JSA is only being "rested" according to DC. They'll be back.
And yet their solicits are suggesting that the JLA is now the world's first super team and Superman the first superhero (though they also imply that Batman has been around longer). It's all very confusing and they seem not to want to make any definitive statement on the matter. Which is infuriating.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by paw broon » 01 Jul 2011, 10:23

The one thing DC can be proud of in all this is having introduced a great topic for many fans. This is a good exchange of many differing views, most having their own merits. By the way, I also love those Wayne boring Superman stories, in fact, one of the best periods for me for Bats and Superman titles is the late 50'2 - early 60'2 World's Finest, Batman Detective, Action and Superman. Corny, silly nonsense for the most part but hugely enjoyable.
While we still have local comic shops, I'll certainly be having a look at the new product. Let's see.
It's just that it's all too complicated, violent and generic for me at the moment.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Phoenix » 01 Jul 2011, 10:28

Lew Stringer wrote:That'd probably be the Man of Steel mini-series which rewrote Superman's history around 1987-ish Phoenix.
That is certainly one of them, Lew, in six parts, apparently from 1986. There are several others. World Of Krypton (1979), Untold Legend Of The Batman (1980), Secrets Of The Super-Heroes (1981), Krypton Chronicles (1981), Phantom Zone (1982), Superman: The Secret Years (1985), and Lois Lane (1986). There are also Superman Specials 1, 2 and 3, Superman Annuals 9, 10 and 12, and DC Comics Presents Annuals 1, 2, 3 and 4 from 1982 to 1985. As we are both linguists, I also acquired from him a good number of adventures in their French, Spanish and/or Italian versions. As he was a careful collector, the entire collection is pretty much in Fine condition. I feel I might be on the brink of opening the cupboard. Stop me someone! I really don't have the time.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by Lew Stringer » 01 Jul 2011, 10:43

tony ingram wrote:
Lew Stringer wrote: The JSA is only being "rested" according to DC. They'll be back.
And yet their solicits are suggesting that the JLA is now the world's first super team and Superman the first superhero (though they also imply that Batman has been around longer). It's all very confusing and they seem not to want to make any definitive statement on the matter. Which is infuriating.
It's not like it's the first time the JSA have been written out of modern continuity though is it? They were totally ignored when DC revamped their comics in the 1950s. (DC even replaced the heroes with new versions of The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern etc.) They later reintroduced the originals as residents of "Earth-2". Then years later DC retconned that to put the JSA back into Earth-1 continuity.

As in the 1950s, DC are trying to attract new readers. They rested the original Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman back then to avoid confusion with the modern versions, and I imagine that's the reason they've done it this time.

No doubt the whereabouts of the JSA will become clear again eventually. DC aren't going to give everything away up front or there'd be no point in buying the comics. :)
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tony ingram
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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by tony ingram » 01 Jul 2011, 14:57

Lew Stringer wrote: It's not like it's the first time the JSA have been written out of modern continuity though is it? They were totally ignored when DC revamped their comics in the 1950s. (DC even replaced the heroes with new versions of The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern etc.) They later reintroduced the originals as residents of "Earth-2". Then years later DC retconned that to put the JSA back into Earth-1 continuity.

As in the 1950s, DC are trying to attract new readers. They rested the original Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman back then to avoid confusion with the modern versions, and I imagine that's the reason they've done it this time.
When they revamped those characters in the 60's though, they originally had no intention of bringing back the originals. They didn't rest them-they replaced them, and only brought them back a few years later because fans more or less demanded it. I think that may be what they're doing now, too. I'm not sure they'll be brought back unless there's a real outcry about their disappearance.
No doubt the whereabouts of the JSA will become clear again eventually. DC aren't going to give everything away up front or there'd be no point in buying the comics. :)
well, that's why I want to know-if they've reset their continuity to that extent, I don't want to buy the books in september only to then find out what's happened and feel I've wasted my money on the first issues of books I won't buy issue two of, if you see what I mean. I want to be able to make an informed choice.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by paw broon » 01 Jul 2011, 17:52

It occurred to me on the bus this morning that all this re-launch, reinvention, going back to #1 malarkey is a cynical ploy and one which didn't happen to many British heroes and series. These are text series, of course but Bunter just kept rolling along, never going up a year and always being in the same class for Latin. Same with Nipper & Co, in Nelson Lee and at Rookwood etc.
Nelson Lee, Sexton Blake, Dixon Hawke didn't need reinvention, although Blake sort of moved along with the times and some of the females became a bit more siren like. In comics and strips, it's only relatively recently that The Broons, D.D, etc, even looked a bit more modern. These were all very popular. And many of the stories were recycled. Perhaps it's that American comics started, continued and relied on continuity, so fans were aware of time passing in the real world and not in the comics (remember when Marvel or DC suggested that comic time was much slower than real time?). Unfortunately, that couldn't go on and it became obvious that Batman must be ancient. Why not simply disregard it and go back to less incredibly serious stories?
I'm sure someone will want to correct me/argue with me but I have had a good lunch and a couple of glasses of Italian red and It seems a good point to me.

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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by chrissmillie » 01 Jul 2011, 21:15

If you mean less serious stories like 1960s Batman, they disappeared due to the more serious Marvel upstarts selling out their runs and eclipsing these stories with their 'what if superheroes were real' schtick. The Brit comics characters like Billy Bunter were also very dated at the end of their run and now are nowhere to be seen.
Comics aren't really bought by kids these days and they won't be with the distribution system. No point writing for fans that aren't there (and won't be anytime soon). My favourite period is the Bronze Age. Modern comics are good but they are just written for the trade. The floppies tend to have a lot of filler. Therefore, I'm glad DC have stated that they've instructed their writers to write for the issue. So if an arc is naturally 4 issues, it isn't spread out to 6 artificially.
I was more of a fan of the JSA, Plastic Man, Shazam, Freedom Fighters (even before I knew anything about comics history - don't know why), so the reboot doesn't do much for me. I'd be more interested in Firestorm but the other one of interest, Green Lantern, seems to be over-complicating things. Red Lanterns already? The Ultimates were surprisingly great for Marvel, so let's hope the new DCU works as well...only...give us an Earth-2 or something?
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Re: DC Comics to re-start from number 1

Post by stevezodiac » 01 Jul 2011, 21:31

I loved anything by Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino and am enjoying the Elongated Man Showcase volume. DC did some classic war stuff with the Haunted Tank and the Unknown Soldier and wasn't there a title called the War That Time Forgot? The Captain Action drawn by Kane and inked by Wood is sheer heaven for me.

I remember a few years back when Marvel did Heroes Reborn and Heroes Reunited, I bought them all as I thought it was a good way of "starting again" after having lost touch with the superhero stuff when I got married.

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