At the conclusion of Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert’s 5-issue miniseries Flashpoint, DC Comics has announced it will reboot its universe and re-number each of its titles to begin at issue #1. In a letter from DC Senior Sales VP Bob Wayne to comic retailers, Wayne explains that the publisher will perform some character alterations with regards to “appearance, origin, and age” in an attempt to bring DC’s classic group of characters into a “more modern, diverse DC Universe.” The reboot will officially be underway on Wednesday, August 31st when DC will only release two titles: Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 to be written by Johns with art from Jim Lee.
In addition to the reboot, DC announced that the August 31st release will also be a landmark date for the digital distribution of comics as it will be the first time that either of the two major comic publishers (DC and Marvel) will release new titles digitally on the same day as their physical release. For more on the reboot and what it could mean for DC’s classic cast of characters, hit the jump.
My knee-jerk reaction to the news of the DC Universe reboot is that the publisher is making a bold move in an attempt to ensure the relevancy and sustainability of the comic book industry for a younger, more digitally-minded audience. This thought is supported by the news of DC’s same-day digital comic releases and further evidenced by the aesthetic alterations pointed out by USA Today which reports that artist Jim Lee has led the initiative to redesign more than 50 costumes for the purpose of “making characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old” (some of the new designs can be seen in the above image).
While I understand the need to ensure story accessibility for the sake of growing your readership, DC has to be careful not to abandon its current readers, especially the ones who are satisfied with much of the Universe’s current state. That in mind, statements such as this one made by DC co-publisher Dan DiDio tend to scare me:
“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line. This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
Nevertheless, although DC is currently light on the specifics in regards to how individual stories and characters will be “told for today’s audience,” I can’t imagine that its iconic characters will undergo any sort of extreme modification that changes their core traits. Even though characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, etc. have undergone alterations over their lifespan (some even going so far as having new people assume the role of particular superheroes), the truth is that the timeless qualities of these characters is what has ensured their survival within an ever-changing world for decades.
Finally, I see DC’s reboot less as a way of making Batman seem cooler to 8-year-olds (although this could be an area of concern for the “Big, Blue, Boy Scout” that is Clark Kent) and more of an attempt to catapult the medium into a digital age whose page-turn will not be achieved in a literal sense but by swiping your finger across some sort of space-age tablet.