Hey, all, this D.C. back for a throwdown. No, we’ll call this more of a rant-fest.
I had a discussion with Kay recently about how I wanted to discuss my feelings on DC’s latest revamp, Rebirth. It’s been about 4 months since DC decided to try and salvage the stink many people felt regarding the New 52 initiative, and the lackluster response from the DCYou after Convergence. I wanted Kay, who’s far less experienced with comics and with DC Comics in general, to give her own take as well. But then today, I saw that Newsrama beat me to the punch.
While I agreed with a couple of the staff’s grades, I disagreed with others, so I will still give my own insight on my feelings, what DC’s latest change left me with, and what could be points of improvement.
When the Rebirth version of Action Comics was first proposed, I was both turned off and curious about Lex Luthor being a primary character in this. I really displeased with the prior Superman taking over again as a whole because of the sheer implication of “going backwards,” “going back to basics,” “giving fans what they want,” or whatever platitude or patronizing term people choose to use. While I dislike Lex Luthor as a character, I was intrigued by seeing him trying to live up to his unearned role as a Superman.
How would Lex step up? Could Lex step up and be something bigger than his ego? Who are his supporters and dissenters? Could the old Superman help him understand what responsibilities come with the “S” of the Superman family?How will we see him fail? In what ways will we see him triumph and actually surpass Superman?
What I go out of the first arc didn’t come close to touching on any of this. And even if there were, any question was quickly subverted by the appearance of Doomsday. I wasn’t aware that I was this Rebirth was going to feature another tired, desperate battle with Superman’s killer. Was this Action Comics, or was this Death of Superman all over again?
The introduction of a powerless Clark Kent threw in an interesting element, but as stated in the Newsrama article, there really was too much introduced in too short a time.
I was even more disappointed in Lex Luthor essentially becoming a background character to the old Superman. There was too little justice given to Lex for this played out battle.
And don’t let me get started on Wonder Woman hammering home that Lois and Clark being together is more fitting than hers and the recently-deceased New 52 Superman. That was hard pandering there.
When I read the first volume of the New 52 Cyborg series, I was pleased by the evolution in Cyborg’s character, and in the evolution of his abilities and cybernetic nature.
Two issues into Cyborg’s Rebirth, and I found John Semper, Jr.’s take on Cyborg not compelling at all. For one, the upgrades to Cyborg’s power set are all but forgotten–already an egregious move when no reason is given. It would’ve been nice to see Cyborg still adjusting to those upgrades, instead of the same, tired moments of his questioning his humanity or whether he has a soul. As many times as Victor Stone has questioned that, even in New 52, you would think he’d come to terms in ways that he can move past that. It would also be nice to see him have a more extensive rogues gallery that didn’t have a focus on technological threats. Some, of course, but that shouldn’t be the norm for him.
Supergirl has become one of the more unexpected books I liked. It may help that I have little experience with the character as a whole, but I have enjoyed the sense of realism and relatability given to this advanced alien character who is forced to adjust to primitive life on Earth. Getting in touch with humanity is an old trope in comics, but it serves an honest purpose for Kara Zor-El. While the DEO’s overall purpose in Rebirth does not seem to have been fleshed out as well, I do look forward to this title developing, and how Supergirl and the DEO could tie in to the events that caused Rebirth in the first place.
Aquaman has easily been the biggest surprise to me. The character had always been derided, both in comics and among comic readers. Seen as a very limited character, I was curious to see how Dan Abnett can run with the character in Rebirth. I loved how Abnett addressed how the public makes fun of Aquaman in the Rebirth issue (mirror by many comments in real life).
I have been very pleased with Arthur’s efforts at diplomacy with a very distrusting and somewhat conniving and controlling government (isn’t that how the U.S. is always seen?). Aquaman has his work cut out for him on his path to uniting his two worlds. How he rise up against xenophobes, subversives and government all remain to be seen with bated breath.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey
I will make a confession: I could not finish the Rebirth issue of this book. Julie and Shawna Benson do a great job writing what I’d read so far. Batgirl’s introspection was well-written, if not already beaten to death in the years since New 52.
It’s the art. Claire Roe’s art is just atrocious, and every character is penciled hideously. Batgirl’s facial expressions are awful, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It was so bad that it was distracting.
It took me days to finish Starbrand and Nightmask just because of its terrible art. I know it willtake me just as long to get through this singular issue. I can’t continue this series with art like that.
I also wasn’t clear just one what this book would be about before picking up the series, which left me with more issues. Beyond this hunt for a villainous Oracle, where is this book supposed to go? How is it supposed to fit into the cause and theme of Rebirth, beyond “let’s push old series again?”
This series was already off to a bad start with me by way of Dick Grayson going back to the role of Nightwing. The first arc of his series proved why: Nothing done required Dick to be Nightwing to do it. Why, then, was he made to regress into this role? To play sidekick again? Even his Rebirth issue didn’t address that well to me.
The first arc did absolutely nothing to me in terms of enjoy Nightwing’s character. It just seemed to show he was too stuck in his ways, and that his current status only served as another way to prevent any relationship developing between Dick and Batgirl.
I don’t like regressions in a character, whether it be role or identity. Then again, I was an advocate of Dick staying as Batman, growing into the role, and developing his own rogues gallery. In many ways, I feel the concept of the Court of Owls arc would have had greater impact with Grayson as the Batman.
If there were ever a disappointing series in Rebirth, it is The Flash. As a forensic person, I was looking forward to seeing the series have a greater focus on Barry Allen’s forensic mind and how he can use that to combat crime.
What I got was a series that lacks is focus and direction. Badly written with bad logic–from Barry revealing his identity to S.T.A.R. Labs employee Meena after a kiss, to his severe lack of focus on his personal life and career–anyone who’s read Spider-Man knows that NO character who focuses more on heroics can hold down a job…how does Barry expect to keep his own?
Even his focus on teaching the growing amount of speedsters had little meaning. No focus on any of the new speedsters means that we don’t see much of an interaction between teacher and student…no development on the Flash as a teacher. Or were we not supposed to?
The first arc was just fragmented, disappointing, and lacked any sense of logic. Even though I’m excited for anti-hero the Shade returning, I can’t say I’ll continue this book.
Kay and I have differing opinions on this, I think. She was more receptive towards Peter Tomasi’s take on Superman training his son’s developing powers than I was. I’m wary of this series, because it just screams “paranoid parent of superpowered, irresponsible child who’ll get found out.” Which, unfortunately, didn’t take long to happen. I was a bit disappointed with how the Eradicator was handled, because I was hoping for a new Kryptonian ally in this alien world.
Still, this series has massive potential, and Mr. Oz’s meddling can make this series more intriguing.
It’s only two issues in, but I’m still mixed on my feelings about Superwoman. I was receptive towards two Superwomen with two very different power sets working together, but after the end of the first issue (already surprising on its own), I’m left confused: were the solicitations of this series about Lois’s powers killing her, or Lana’s? I feel I was tricked, and I’m glad I was.
If this Lois returns, I would be pleased, because that could introduce some very interest questions regarding the nature of her new powers. I just hope this isn’t another ploy at removing a character in the same manner as New 52’s Superman.
Another disappointment. In the aftermath of the Darkseid War, I would have expected the first arc to, or even the Rebirth issue, to have a bigger focus on reorganization and reevaluation of the team–especially after the removal of Luthor and Shazam from the team. At least I would’ve expected something than just a look at Superman. Perhaps that would have been a better arc than what was presented.
I need to catch up on Darkseid War, but…is there no long-term consequence from that long arc, or was everything just smoothed over? I would have expected something of that magnitude to have the Justice League take a look at themselves and what they can do to be proactive or better equipped to handle large scale threats.
This first arc just seemed like things were happening without proper buildup. Just…event after event. I’ve yet to read the fifth issue, but Brian Hitch’s take on the premier DC team hasn’t gone off to a good start.
If anything, Hitch wrote Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz far better than the writer of their duo series…
Sam Humphries has done a grave disservice on this series. Just like Justice League, Green Lanterns’ first arc failed to have proper buildup and just had things happen. Worse, it had too many things happening and being introduced out of nowhere. I don’t understand how Simon Baz can have some unknown ability called Emerald Sight, and how that can change a Red Lantern to normal in a non-fatal manner.
Humphries’ use of millennial references with Jessica is infuriating. Why would she rather be playing with Pokemon than fighting the Red Lanterns? What possessed Humphries to even write that out? Just because Pokemon Go’s been in style? Give me a break. Write like you’re writing a story, not a meme.
What is this Red Dawn that Atrocitus had an urge to start, and why on Earth? So much was left undeveloped, and the artist renditions of these characters leaves much to be desired. I’m not sure why the artists are having a problem drawing Jessica Cruz with irises.
I’ve already touched on my opinion of Green Arrow and Blue Beetle. I am hopeful of Batman, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and have little love overdone “hope and optimism” of The Titans. I haven’t read Batgirl, Suicide Squad, Deathstroke, or Teen Titans for various reasons. While I’ve had some pleasant surprises, I’ve found DC Rebirth more of a disappointment than a pleasure.
Okay, so…what would I have liked in Rebirth going forward?
- For one, I would have enjoyed progression. Actual, honest progression that moved further away from regression of “going back to basics.” Would Mr. Oz’s meddling have less impact with the New 52 Superman? Could Jaime Reyes find out the secrets of his scarab without Ted Kord in the mix? Could any of these stories progress with the Wildstorm characters included, beyond Midnighter and Apollo? That depends on the writer. That is an important thing to take note.Perhaps DC has failed at carrying new material with them. How else can we have such a strong move towards a “back to basics” approach?
- Much better development. I’m getting that so far out of New Super-Man (another surprising like), but that’s because the character is both new and a jackass. Kenan Kong has substantial room for growth and development. Development is difficult with characters with such lengthy history, but hopefully DC will move to newer elements with all the characters and let that have as much prominence as they give “going back to basics.”
- More Wildstorm and Vertigo characters. Since DC claims the Rebirth world is still New 52 (combination of DC, Wildstorm, and Vertigo universes), then we should still see these characters. Midnighter and Apollo are not enough, and I’d sooner say they’re only included because they’re a gritty twist on the gay couple. Neither is Hellblazer all of Vertigo. What about Grifter, the daemonites, Dream, Spartan or Majestic, Hawskmoor, a new WildC.A.T.s group? Something to spice up Rebirth beyond nostalgia with compelling antagonists.
- KEEP THE CONTINUITY IN CHECK. It’s bad enough that DC tried its hand at the “loose continuity” plan with the DCYou. If the company seeks to solidify things and bring back this or that, then a better handle on character history is a must. It’s bad enough that co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee gave a lazy explanation to how they’ll handle any continuity issues:“I mean, when you have 75 to 80 years’ worth of publishing behind you, every story can’t have the same weight or matter in continuity. Every story cannot be as canon as the others…Things will unravel as we go forward. Some things will be explained and some things will probably be left hanging.“
I don’t approve of their “we’ll leave it up to the reader to make up their own continuity” excuse in lieu of making a sound decision on what is or isn’t part of the mainstream history. DC is known for this, and it was still an issue in New 52/Rebirth. Point: How can 10 years be taken from the universe as a whole, when Batman and Green Lantern still have their entire histories intact–which already didn’t make sense in the 5-year span of New 52?
All in all…I’d like some progression. If DC is going to grab fans, they need to make sure they can keep them with something good. A long endgame with Dr. Manhattan and the Watchmen–long–may not be sustainable alone. They need to make better decisions in how they weave the stories and continuity, and not ride on nostalgia.
It’ll only carry so far.
Okay, it’s time to get back to reading better things.