As we reported earlier, DC is in the midst of prepping a massive renumbering of 52 titles, beginning at the end of August. With more news being released every day about what's to come, we thought now would be a good time to take stock of what we've heard and share what it is we like ... and what is is we don't.
Things we like:
While not an actual part of the renumbering (don't call it a reboot), this is the story that will lead up to and (hopefully) explain why so many of our favorite characters are going back to square one.
Flashpoint may only be a few weeks in, but it's already been one of the best event series in recent memory. The Flash finds himself in what, at first, seems to be a parallel world. It's not, though. The world, simply, has changed and, boy oh boy, it has changed a lot.
There's a war between the Atlanteans and the Themyscirans, and all of western Europe has already sunken into the sea. On top of that, there's no sign of Superman, and many of our favorite heroes are significantly less friendly. Batman, in particular, is far more violent, and the reason why is shocking and compelling.
Usually, with stories like these there are a lot of extraneous books, comics you really don't need to bother with, but, thus far, all 12 issues that have been released have ranged from good to excellent.
Digital distribution same day
We'll be mentioning this again, later, but having comics available digitally the same day they are released in print changes everything. The comics industry has been suffering for years, and one of the reasons is because the average person doesn't read comics. Why?
Well, for one thing, going to your local comic book shop can be a challenge. Either it's nowhere near where you live or the shop is simply a culture unto itself, one that you find confusing and a little stinky.
Being able to buy a comic anytime, anywhere, and read it on a tablet makes getting into comics easier, full stop. Being able to buy them on the same day means that even die-hard comic fans will find it hard to say no. If someone recommends a book in an article or a video, it's so much easier now to link to the full comic so people can check it out for themselves. That's great for existing titles and gives better opportunities for indie books, too.
A Fresh Start
While it may seem like a slap in the face to longtime DC fans, starting every major character over again with a #1 issue means giving new readers and ones who have fallen off the bandwagon a great place to jump on. So many years and so many side stories for every major character make trying to get into a series really difficult, even if you're already a comic fan. Putting everything back to #1 makes people feel like they can pick up a book and not be burdened or confused by what came before.
Starting with the team rather than the individual
One of the very first things that excited us about the renumbering was that the very first issue post-Flashpoint would be the Justice League. To us that sets a precedent. DC wants us to see these heroes all together first, as a group fighting toward the same goals. When you get the right team of heroes together, the story can be so brilliant, and the JLA is one of the best in comic history. Just seeing that first image of all of them together got us giddy. It's exactly how this new phase for DC and its properties should start.
The titles we're really excited for
Everyone will have particular books they are especially looking forward to. We're really hoping that George Perez will be both writing and drawing Superman (as seems to be the case). The return of Swamp Thing and Constantine to the main DC universe should be fantastic, too. Justice League Dark, Animal Man, Frankenstein, the list goes on. There will be multiple titles for people from all walks of life.
Things we don't like:
Barbara Gordon was Batgirl for a long time. In 1988, she was paralyzed by the Joker in The Killing Joke. To this day, that is one of the most defining moments in DC history and certainly the most important moment for the character of Barbara Gordon.
Rather than retreating into herself, she became Oracle, an even more powerful and important force in the DC Universe, especially when teaming up with other popular heroines in Birds of Prey.
Rebooting (that's what this one is, sorry) Barbara back to being Batgirl feels like a massive step backward for her character. Not only that, it feels like an insult to every disabled reader in comics.
Oracle was an example of how someone overcomes adversity. She was important and unique, and now a big part of who she is has been stripped away. Go to any comic shop and you'll hear the same thing—this is the biggest mistake being made during the renumbering.
Weird choices for writing staff
We won't single anyone out here, but some of the writers being chosen for certain books have us really scratching our heads. Several writers are being spread thin on multiple books as well, and it seems to us that if DC wants to rebuild from the ground up, they should make sure that their writers have the time and energy to get it right from issue one.
It also would have been nice to see some new faces attached, too. Every comic fan has mountains of respect for the old guard, but it would have been much smarter to put new writers on some these titles. If you want to start fresh, DC, why not bring in some new blood?
Even weirder titles chosen
We could probably sum this one up with one word: Firestorm. Again, we don't want to single people out, but there are some books coming out that we just don't get.
Hawkman, Vampire and Voodoo? What? We're just at a total loss. This was another chance to bring in some fresh characters in new and existing books, and it feels like DC is just missing the boat.
Trousers do not a feminist character make
Apparently there was a big memo sent out to the effect of: no underwear on the outside, for both the ladies and the gents. Practical clothing is the name of the game.
Can we just say—who cares? Trousers are swell and all, but they don't guarantee that a female hero will be written well. Stylish yet affordable boots aren't what strong female characters are made from.
When Power Girl got her own series, did Amanda Conner lose the boob window? No. She didn't have to, because Power Girl is more than just her breasts. She's a well-written, fun and smart character. What she wears is not the final word on who she is. Come on, DC.
Digital Distribution Same Day
Remember when we said this was a good thing? Well, it is, but it also means your local comic book shop is going to suffer. In fact, a lot of stores will probably close down within the next few years because of this change. Buying single issues will become something that exists only for the hardcore collector. That's a big change, and it's going to come on fast. Once DC makes the changeover, you can bet Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW and all the rest will do the same in short order.
In the long term, the optimist in us believes that this move will make the comic book industry stronger. In the meantime, though? Let's just say the industry is in for a bit of a bumpy ride.
That's our list. What's yours?