Some Thoughts on DC’s New World Order
In 1986, as the Crisis on Infinite Earths was winding down, Marv Wolfman made the radical suggestion that DC indicate the universe had truly changed by altering the numbering on all the titles and restart everything with a #1. For a number of reasons, it was a great idea but the timing couldn’t allow the move. Years later, Dick Giordano indicated it as one of his greatest editorial regrets. However, he can’t be blamed since the Crisis was wrapping up while DC was still negotiating to relaunch its flagship heroes. At that time, only Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli had been lined up for Batman: Year One while John Byrne was still being wooed for Superman, and very late in the process, Greg Potter and George Perez were circling Wonder Woman.
Had the stars aligned, it could have avoided two decades of constant revisions to the reality.
It now seems DC’s executive team has spent the last year moving the stars around. Today’s bombshell announcement indicates the rebooted line will kick off in September, with Justice League #1 previewing the new order on August 31.
I can only hope that DC has its house in order and can avoid embarrassing fill-ins and radical creative team changes early in a title’s run – problems which have plagued the core titles for the last few years. The worst example may well be Batman: The Dark Knight, written and drawn by David Finch. After debuting in November, the fifth issue of this monthly series is not coming out until August and only then with a fill-in artist.
That aforementioned new Justice League book is coming from DC’s two busiest executives: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Sure, it’ll read well and look great, but will it be a monthly and for how long will the talent remain intact? At minimum, these new titles, all 50 of them, need consistent talent on board for at least the first six issues and fill-ins need to be carefully integrated.
Purists will cry about venerable titles such as Action Comics and Detective Comics returning to #1, but once the newness wears off, at some point in the next decade, as both books near their 1000th issue, I will bet good money right now that the numbering reverts. (Count on Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and Adventure Comics to follow suit.)
A new number on a title has to mean something other than a digit. It should also promise readers clear, coherent, entertaining stories set in a shared universe. The shared part means characters need to be consistently written and drawn across the line, something that also has been missing for some time now. One can presume the post-Flashpoint reality may give DC yet another opportunity to restart the continuity and again, we need consistency (I’d prefer fidelity but recognize I’m outvoted here). Editors, writers, and artists need to do their homework and make certain the use of the characters makes sense against the context of what has come before. Head-hurting storylines such as the current mess in Detective Comics should never be seen again.
New number ones offer lots of promise and opportunity and we can just hope that the publishers, creative staff, editorial staff and freelance community are ready to deliver.