Marc Alan Fishman: The Rebirther Movement

Ross DC

So, DC Comics is vowing – once again – to reset-ish their universe via the “Rebirth” event coming soon to a comics shoppe near you. And DC’s CCO Geoff Johns posted a heartfelt mission statement into the back of the current crop of DC comics to reannounce it, since Dan DiDio announcing it doesn’t count or something. Well, knowing that some of us snarky malcontents have long abandoned the ship, Newsarama was happy enough to reprint his plea. Let me paraphrase:

Dear Fans, remember when I wrote great books, and you loved DC? Well, pretend the New 52 never happened, and come back. We totally get that some of you got mad and left, but because of reasons… we’re making good books again. Because our creators have passion. And I wrote those ‘Rebirth’ books about Green Lantern and The Flash… so that name is synonymous with not sucking. You know, unlike ‘Crisis’ or ‘One Year Later’, or ‘Trinity’, or ‘Flashpoint’. So, come back. I swear it’s worth it this time, you cynical pricks. Love, Geoff Johns.

All my snark aside, Johns hits on some of the major cornerstones of what did make DC great for me as a fan not that long ago; legacy, a singular and understandable continuity, and solid stories that pit heroes against villains in new and interesting lights. The pre-New52 DCU was good. Maybe even great. The Flash had a veritable family. As did the Bats, and the Supes, and the multi-colored Lantern brigades. But as with all good things, the boardroom saw potential sales stagnation and slammed on the brakes. Then came “Flashpoint,” and a new universe was made. But you knew all this. And you knew/know that the entire purpose of the system shock was to place new #1s on the shelves; because that makes for temporary sales spikes. And new merch. And new opportunities for newness. Newness begets money. And so on.

Plus, Marvel kinda sorta did it too, and their movies are minting billions.

But forgive me Geoff. It’s all a bit “too little, too late”, isn’t it? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times? Well, I don’t know how the saying goes anyways. I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re doing the same dance again, and somehow expecting different results. As I stated previously, with Rebirth comes the same damned shit in new packaging. It’s enough to make me declare – ahem (and please excuse this harsh-but-necessary-language) fucking stop it.

Once again Johns, DiDio, Lee, and the lot of DC execs are cramming specials, new #1s, and semi-monthly comic drops on us under the guise of “the continuing pursuit of giving our fans what they love.” And, sure, they changed the price point (a dollar less per issue, for an undisclosed page count per book), but that won’t matter when fans of a character are asked once again to invest more money per month to enjoy the adventures of a given character! And DC knows this. Because if you are a true fan, you likely would give a chance to all the new creative teams surrounding a character you like; sort of what DC hoped fans would give nearly every New 52 title at least a starting arc to pique their interest.

Rebirth? Hardly. Consider it just another rebranding. And as always: it’s a game of Darwinian survival; those books that don’t sell X copies will fall by the wayside, lest they be an upcoming movie or animated feature.

Deadpool 13And don’t paint me a complete malcontent here, folks. I loved DC comics from the moment I purchased my first back issue of Shadow of the Bat when I was 13. I followed the entirety of Kyle Rayner’s career until Hal Jordan rebirthed himself. I purchased coffee table books of Alex Ross art, and read the DC Encyclopedia until the spine broke. But a decade worth of decline beginning in my college years through my “spendy twenties” right up until I had a new mouth to feed and a mortgage to pay left me embittered to the cheap tactics of comics-by-committee.

A part of me doesn’t even blame a true fan like Geoff Johns for winding up in this place. He wrote (and still writes) amazing stories. His heart is seemingly pure. In his lament, he mentions terms like legacy, epic storytelling, and my favorite: honoring what’s come before while looking to what will come tomorrow. It’s everything I want to hear as a fan.

But, Mr. Johns, what comes tomorrow is more of the same: a litany of new series I’m supposed to drop coin for, full well knowing we’ll be right back to retcon city long before my son is practicing for his Bar Mitzvah. You know it. I know it.

Sorry, Geoff. Your words were hollow. And much like Rebirth to come? I’m not buying it.

Stay tuned next week, when I tell everyone what I am buying in place of “The Big Two.”