There’s nothing more confusing than a relaunch that’s not actually a relaunch. That’s what DC Rebirth is: a “sorta” relaunch of its monthly comic book series (with some titles becoming bi-monthly). More than anything else, DC wants us to view it as “The New 52 Rebirth.” As Geoff Johns described it, ‘Rebirth isn’t about throwing anything away … but it is’.
Rebirth feels more like a mulligan. This “booster” sees a good portion of the universe going back to events prior to the “Flashpoint” storyline—you know, the event when the DC Universe suffered yet another alternate crisis, except Barry Allen was the only one aware of the changes— while still keeping some aspects of The New 52 in tact. Some.
When Geoff described the initiative as DC “re-laying the groundwork for DC’s future while celebrating the past and present,” it actually reads “we didn’t like where The New 52 was going, so we replaced the stuff that sucked with stuff that worked.”
In the end, the things they kept should’ve been dumped and what they dumped should’ve been kept. Here are 15 reasons why DC Rebirth feels more like a rebirth of undead freaks than anything else.
15. “Ray Palmer, the Atom, Starring Ryan Choi”—Atom
You’ve already heard our rant about why “celebrating the past” doesn’t feel right. In an attempt to “revitalize” the brand, DC created the allusion of taking a few (or many) steps back, not forward.
Unfortunately, both Atom (Ray Palmer) and Ted Kord’s series pretty much spearhead the ridiculousness, with their stories and characterizations reverting back to the pre-Flashpoint days. Out of the two, Atom got the short end of the already shortened straw.
What’s ironic is that Atom isn’t even featured in a comic that’s named after him. He’s “missing.” After a while, Atom’s friend and apprentice, Ryan Choi, decides to look for his mentor. Ryan learns that after investigating a universe called the Microverse, Atom subsequently got himself in a nasty predicament and needs help.
The irony is that Ryan learns this from a video Atom made. It’s not a live transmission; it’s a recorded message Atom created before the actual events of the comic.
14. “Taking The Thrill Out Of His Return”—Wally West
Fans who prefer Wally West as The Flash (especially over Wally West II) undoubtedly rejoiced after the first week of DC Rebirth (Wally came back). For them, The New 52 was some sick, twisted joke. It was written as though Wally never existed. But with Rebirth, it was revealed that he wasn’t just a figment of our imagination; he’d just been lost for a decade… in the Speed Force.
While intrinsically awesome, it’s a shame Wally got lost in something we’re familiar with. Yah, Wally’s ostensibly faster than ever before and his white lighting contains all the colors from the Speed Force, which is cute, but isn’t really “rebirth” material. Why not get lost in an unknown universe and come back with strange new powers that aren’t related to speed?
13. “When Less Is More… More Crap”
One of the “perks” behind Rebirth was the “consolidation” of some titles, creating “mega” stories.
Dan DiDio said they did this because some of DC’s phenomenal stories from their lesser-known titles were going unnoticed. So, he’s essentially saying that by putting stuff from a non-popular series into a popular one, more people will read it. Plus, it will beef up the successful comic.
This doesn’t make sense. There’s a reason why some titles aren’t as popular as others. Usually, it’s because the non-popular stories aren’t that great. Why put events from a story no one’s reading (because people don’t like it) into one fans actually enjoy? It’s like moving a bunch of rotten apples into a pile of fresh apples because it would make the rotten apples fresh.
DC did this with Gotham Academy: Second Semester and Earth 2. They’re no longer considered Rebirth titles, and are acting as continuations of their New 52 names—Gotham Academy and Earth 2: Society. The elements of Second Semester and Earth 2 will then “hopefully” transfer to the main titles.
12. “Overdose of Suicide Squad”
The accepted relationship between comic books and the film industry has always been: a comic book is made, and then there’s a horrible movie adaptation. It’s just the way things are. Flipping that dynamic defies the laws of nature. But that’s what we’re seeing now: the success of the film adaptation Suicide Squad (you know, with Will Smith as Deadshot) has lead to the proliferation of similar content in the comic book world.
In Rebirth, we have the main story, Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1, Suicide Squad Director’s Cut #1, and Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1–6.
But there’s more. Now Tom King has brought a new “suicide squad” into, yes, the Batman comics, where the Dark Knight creates his own team of villains. Just check out Batman #9. It’s true.
By going down this path, DC is diluting the Suicide Squad. After a while, the very things that made Suicide Squad stand out will become a standard affair, nothing more than listless vestiges of their former glory.
11. “Creating A Lame Hero Instead Of An Amazing Villain”—Jessica Cruz
While it’s upsetting that Rebirth is establishing both Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz as Earth’s two new Lanterns, our beef is more so with Jessica, due to the sheer intensity of her backstory. It’s so profoundly scarring that if she’d become evil because of it, DC would’ve created a stunningly rich character.
Yes, Jessica, as a Lantern, can still freak out to the point of no return (which we’re hoping for). But by making her a Lantern, she’s no longer “innocent.” Her descent is only a possibility, and would be portrayed more as a superhero going rogue. DC could’ve painted a much darker portrait instead: where no one, not even civilians, are safe.
Here’s the story. While on a hunting trip with her friends, Jessica and her buddies accidentally find two men “wrapping up” a murder. The criminals, not wanting their cover blown, attack the group. Jessica is able to escape, but her friends are brutally murdered, leaving Jessica traumatized.
The Ring of Volthoom, attracted by fear, manages to not only find Jessica, but forces itself upon her (this is a first) and tortures her.
But she’s saved by Batman, and now she’s learning how to cope with her fears.
10. “We’re Going Forward, Not Backwards… Right?”—Wonder Woman
Okay. The fact that some of the comics, including Wonder Woman, are now bi-monthly is pretty cool. But the way Rebirth is approaching Wonder Woman is backwards.
The concept of Rebirth, while celebrating the past and present, is meant to repave the future, too. However, Wonder Woman’s story is putting as much emphasis on the backstory as it is the present (and far less on the future).
How? The odd-numbered issues will take place in “the now” and the even-numbered issues, the past.
The purpose of this is to create stunning juxtapositions between “a bright-eyed, optimistic, naïve” young woman with a more mature, jaded b*tch.
But the delivery is all wrong. Comparisons are more profound when you can see them together (like, in the same book, not in two different issues, two weeks apart).
9. “Super Lois? More Like Lame Lois”—Superwoman
Lois Lane was pretty useless in The New 52. She was always in a coma. Even though she gained some pretty rad powers in the series, she ended up losing them and, after her second coma, forgets she did.
Well, in Rebirth, she’s gained new powers and, consequently, her own comic book.
It’s a shame though. Even though Lois was hella lame, the way she gained her ephemeral abilities in The New 52 was cool (twenty hostages who were captured by Brainiac developed meta-human powers, and one of the twenty transferred his to Lois). The root of her new-found abilities was evil or, if not evil, intriguingly ambiguous… in a sketchy way.
Yah, in Rebirth, the more Lois uses her power, the more it drains her life force. But that’s not even new. There are other characters on this list who are plagued with the same enigmatic condition. Heck, she’ll probably just fall into another coma and forget everything anyway.
8. “Batgirl And The Horrific Change”—Batgirl and the Birds Of Prey
Everyone knows The Killing Joke—the critically acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. So everyone knows what happens. Barbara gets a bullet to her spine, leading to her becoming an incredible character. But The New 52 destroyed it.
Before DC could ruin it, Barbara, while wheelchair-bound from the spinal injury, adapted like a champ by becoming the omnipotent, omniscient, omni-everything Oracle. She was like the female version of Marvel’s Charles Xavier!
But then The New 52 came swooping in, giving us a Barbara who somehow went from being on wheels to running around as Batgirl.
Now we’re stuck with a bland(er) character. But that wasn’t enough. Rebirth is giving us an additional story starring the non-Oracle Barbara… Batgirl and the Birds of Prey… which only reminds us of the character we lost.
7. “Taking More ‘Man’ Out Of Aquaman”—Aquaman
There’s nothing more powerful than a story about a guy who’s torn between two worlds, but isn’t accepted by either of them. That’s what made Aquaman so compelling. He didn’t belong anywhere. The New 52 augmented this phenomenon by making him the butt of everyone’s joke, even by those he saves.
But now Rebirth has given Aquaman a home. He’s a king and diplomat. Sure, it’s cool that he opened an Atlantean embassy in Amnesty Bay. But, come on! He’s always acted like a diplomat and failed every time because no one liked him. Now people have to listen. Why take away the one thing that made Aquaman’s character worth the read?
6. “Out With The New, In With The Old”—Superman
Rebirth’s Superman is basically the personification of everything wrong with this relaunch. We saw hints of it in The New 52’s “The Final Days Of Superman” story, and DC, unfortunately, followed through in Rebirth.
Part of what made The New 52 so cutting-edge was that it was inherently modern, transforming the overly retro heroes into rad dudes and dudettes. Heck, Superman wore blue jeans and a T-shirt! And even though he sometimes donned Kryptonian armor, it was armor that looked like a collared suit. Collared!
During the final day of this hip Superman’s final days in The New 52, his eventual demise put a spotlight on the 1980-90s Superman, an old, bearded has-been, married to Lois Lane.
5. “Less Non-Powered Vigilantes”—Batman: Incorporated
In what only exacerbates Rebirth’s horrific move with its new rendition of Batman (see #4), we’ve lost two highly engaging stories involving Bruce Wayne. The first is Batman: Inc. The absence of Inc. is a major blow to the comic book industry as a whole since it put the non-super-powered heroes in the limelight, a rarity in and of itself.
It saw Bruce creating a team of heroes, much like he did with Robin, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, etc., except doing so on a global scale, adding a much-needed sense of diversity to the DC universe (and, no, the new Super-Man isn’t enough). But it’s gone.
4. “Loss Of A More Emo Batman”—Batman: The Dark Knight
Batman: The Dark Knight masterfully illustrated the inner turmoil of Bruce Wayne after having created his world-wide “franchise” of vigilantes (Batman: Inc.), shrouding an already jaded character in yet another layer of darkness and depression. Batman, a damned man, has, once more, sacrificed his happiness, all for the sake of mankind.
In the story, Bruce Wayne, now forced to travel the globe to manage his collection of heroes, leaves Gotham in the very capable hands (err, gloves) of Dick Grayson. However, despite this, Bruce Wayne struggles with his new self-“inflicted” position because he has to leave his corrupted home behind, depicting him as a man unable to free himself of the beast that is Gotham. It was irony at its most potent. And yet, Rebirth has taken that away.
3. “Infecting The Dark Knight”—Batman (Gotham and Gotham Girl)
Part of what made the Batman series so unique was it provided comic book-goers with a break from the extraneous amounts of superhuman fluff that saturates DC and, well, the entirety of comics in general.
If we wanted to see the Dark Knight work alongside the insanely (some might say excessively) powerful, we had the option of reading the Justice League. But these worlds were separate. We could always escape back to Batman.
For Rebirth, DC decided to bring super-powered kids into Batman, Hank Clover (Gotham) and Claire Clover (Gotham Girl). While new characters can enhance a plot, these additions only divert our attention from the more “realistic” and creative uses of hand-to-hand combat with more “flash” and “flair.” See, these two delinquents purchased a set of powers, and Batman has, of course, decided to tutor them.
Yes, using their abilities does come at a price—it drains their life—but it sounds an awful lot like the new Superwoman’s “situation.”
2. “A ‘Safe’ Harley Quinn”
We don’t know whether to blame Margot Robbie’s interpretation of Harley Quinn or the countless articles either championing Harley as a feminist icon or damning her as being the physical manifestation of men’s power over women. Regardless, she’s changed, and for the worse.
All in one issue (Suicide Squad #4), Harley loses everything that made Harley, Harley: she’s tamed (now more hero than villain) and ostensibly freed of the Joker (and, therefore, no longer a tormented, masochist soul). What made Harley such a stunningly tragic and equally controversial figure was that the Joker could do anything to her and she’d still come crawling back to him.
Yes, it was a bold step for the writers to change Harley, but, through this reinvention, they have essentially killed one, to create another. And we’re afraid the former was the one who should’ve lived.
1. Taking The Schizo Outta The Joker
It’s common courtesy not to blame (or kill) the messenger, but Justice League #50 and DC Rebirth #1 relayed something truly atrocious that will forever stain their contents (and the issues that proceed them): they revealed that there’s now not one, but three versions of the Joker, causing fans to speculate whether they’re the Joker in The Killing Joke, The New 52 Joker or Jerry Robinson’s version.
This is sacrilegious.
Despite all of the universe’s Crises, the Joker, while altered in each rendition, somehow transcended it all; there’s always been one, making him unsullied. By making multiple versions of the mad jokester, you’ve, in turn, made him perceptible to the same forces that affect everyone else.
The idea is interesting but, at the same time, we have to wonder why they had to split these personalities into different facsimiles of the same man. He’s insane. Why not have him suffer from extreme manifestations of schizophrenia, causing various “states” to take over at random times? It would not only have made Joker more intriguing, but further exemplified his mental instability.