DC Rebirth: our thoughts
We found it interesting that those elements that had been so obviously missing from DC New52 made DC Universe Rebirth so comforting. The return of key supporting and iconic characters, even if for only 1 or 2 or 3 pages, gave a lightness and joy to this rebirthed DC that New52 (and in some capacity, DC Comics prior to New52) had seemingly not been so effectively capturing.
We pondered how much was a deliberate plant by DC (or architect Geoff Johns) from the start way back when in the day during Flashpoint, and how much was Johns moving the pieces back in place that had been left to the side by New52. Either way, what DC Universe Rebirth (re)planted is a solid, joyful foundation to build from.
What we liked most about "DC Universe Rebirth" was the balance between up-to-date DC fan and the new reader. We’ll admit to being an avid DC reader through Crisis on Infinite Earths timeframe, through Flashpoint and into year 2 of New52, but then lapsed. After year 3, we stopped reading DC altogether. So, our reading of "DC Universe Rebirth" is that it successfully presented clearly and current;y established New52 scenarios with reflections to historic DC lineage. What Johns uses as explanation of New52-to-Rebirth is nothing short of “ah ha! That makes sense” (at least making sense until folks are able to tease into that explanation and begin to unravel it…likely efforts already underway!). Nevertheless, by the closing page we’re left with a joy about the DC heroes that had been years missing, and promise of where they are moving toward. And that epilogue…it is an intrigue we cannot wait for DC to truly dive into.
With Week 1, were left appreciating the titles on their story merits, but admit to struggling to identify the tie-in to "DC Universe Rebirth". This might be a side effect of DC's "Rebirth" branding, but we did expect that what the Flash(es) discovered in "DC Universe Rebirth" would have a through-line or continuation into the other [title]: Rebirth #1s. We found this less the case in all of the week 1 titles. We left the first reading somewhat confused as to the dangling reveal of "DC Universe Rebirth" and purpose of the #1s. After multiple readings, we think we gained better appreciation of the individualized rebirths underway, while admitting to some frustration it’s not quite a tight-nit coordination as we'd've hoped.
BATMAN REBIRTH #1
Batman: Rebirth #1 introduces a number of ideas we can only hope Tom King will pick up on. This issue confounded us the most because it was the least familiar to our familiar DC history.
Calendar Man was a true menace, something we enjoyed not only in execution but with how the villain was powered -- some creepy power attributes. We think Batman: Rebirth #1 referenced a lot of New52 storyline, most of which we were unfamiliar. Such as “Who is Duke?”, the circumstances around some Government lien on Wayne’s fortunes, the the how the Calendar Man got so amped up. If we were to summarily complain it would be at the compressed nature of much of the issue. Especially jarring is how Batman found Calendar Man’s seasons apparatus, and how Calendar Man managed to construct (or finance construction of) such a contraption. We’ll admit to some confusion on the ending, and whether Alfred threw an avocado into the cave…since Gotham is nowhere close to being able to support the growth of avocados (a nitpick, but if there's a about 2 pages spent on that sequence, we're thinking it needs to ring true). Possibly a New52/Rebirth avocado? We’re not sure how much of a rebirth Batman will be under going, but Batman: Rebirth #1 was an entertaining journey and a decent enough launch point.
GREEN ARROW REBIRTH #1
Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 re-establishes the Black Canary-Green Arrow comradery. And to steal a line from the comic: Finally. Benjamin Percy does an admirable job at capturing the personality of Oliver Queen, and all his diametric aspects. As with Batman, we had some frustration at the seemingly missing Rebirth throughline…which was somewhat amplified due to scenes presented in "DC Universe Rebirth" that seemed to being picked up on in Green Arrow: Rebirth #1, but not quite so obviously to establish linkage between the titles. It read more like Johns set a scene, and Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 added a few more story panels, but nothing too dramatically. Our concern will be further rewriting (a la New52) versus resetting, which we're sensing Rebirth seeks to do.
GREEN LANTERNS REBIRTH #1
Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 worked very well with us, and we're surprised since it shouldn’t have been so successful or effective. We had no true idea of who either Lantern was, so Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 had many opportunities to lose us. Although we recognized much in the story beats had we known more we’d’ve likely appreciated the issue a lot more; as it was we enjoyed Geoff Johns’ story and loved Ethan van Sciver and Ed Benes’ art quite a bit. Hal Jordan’s appearance was as comfort food to us as Wally’s was in "DC Universe Rebirth", and Jordan's mission was very clearly established. As with Batman and Green Arrow, we struggled to find the linkage to the Rebirth brand, but did identify with the characters and concept as undergoing a transformation (of some sort). We're excited at the prospect of Green Lanterns.
SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1
Superman: Rebirth #1 was the most effective to us, as it seemed to present an ending to many of the Superman New52 elements. The multiple Supermen were a bit confusing, but overall Peter Tomasi communicated sufficient detail to keep us aware, but not to detriment to moving the story along. Doug Mahnke remained as formidable as we recalled from many years ago. We did read Superman: Rebirth #1 as more an ending, save for the final few pages where the transformative seeds get planted.
So, an entertaining start and well worth reading each issue. But most importantly, we truly were left with a joy within and about the DC Universe: from Wayne-Lucius Fox’s interaction, to Dinah-Oliver’s banter, to Hal Jordan’s wielding of the ring, to Superman’s optimism in the face of all loss. Each key scene resonated a happiness and carefree nature that we had missed from DC for many many years. For that, thank you creative teams and DC. We’ll see how the next round does, and how effectively Rebirth is sustained as a brand and as a story, how much this positivity sustains into the #1 relaunches.
Continuing our examination of DC Comics’ Rebirth…Week 2
Week #2 (6/8/2016) releases found fans (and speculators) devouring Action Comics Rebirth #957, Aquaman Rebirth #1, Detective Comics Rebirth #934, The Flash Rebirth #1, and Wonder Woman Rebirth #1.
As some generalized observations…as with Week #1, these releases (save for The Flash) pretty much ignore the “Rebirth” story brand, opting to not continue the DC Universe Rebirth. Week #2 also read a bit more seriously, or at least it did not exude the joy Week #1 did. Although there was a lot of lightness (especially with Aquaman) and fun (surprisingly, Detective Comics Rebirth #934 was a fairly serious read with a lot of fun & adventure throughout the story), mostly these issues were more serious in tone.
By the end of Week #2 releases we’re coming to realize that most DC Rebirth one-shots are establishing the storybeats and tones for the forthcoming releases more than presenting fallout from the “DC Universe Rebirth #1” story. It might have been an effective tool to present a brief character summary and at the end of the one shot story, a “coming attractions” or recap/preview. We’re unsure how much the conclusions of the one-shots are going to compel people to return for the on-going. It also might have been helpful to reference the “DC Universe Rebirth #1” fallout in some fashion, even if in a “coming attractions” manner.
ACTION COMICS REBIRTH #957
Action Comics Rebirth #957 worked hard covering a myriad of events, making it a tough read for someone new to the DC Universe. The creative team seemed to realize that, and kept a frenetic pace. In some instances, a bit too rapid. The transformative realization of Superman comes off very abrupt, making this potentially the fastest Rebirth to date. The issue was effective in establishing the most likely foundation to Superman in the coming stories and months. Readers are left with a more than familiar cast of characters, Superman, and villainy while presented with more than a few mysteries to unravel.
AQUAMAN REBIRTH #1
Aquaman Rebirth #1 effectively established the present status of Arthur Curry. We’ll make a comment about how hard the issue worked to counter-program the pop-culture jokiness of Aquaman: we bought the issue, so don’t need reminding of the joke nor how it’s not accurate. There are a few references to New52 events that might have been further explained for new readers, but even without that explanation the issue remained grounded on going forward. We’ll make note: Scot Eaton & Oscar Jimenez knocked it out of the park with the art…this is a fabulous looking issue, enhanced by Gabe Eltaeb’s colors. Very fine artistry page after page. Aquaman Rebirth #1 effectively positions a lot of story points to build from.
DETECTIVE COMICS REBIRTH #934
Detective Comics Rebirth #934 is our 2nd favorite of the Rebirth issues to date (after “DC Universe Rebirth #1”), because it most effectively positions numerous characters for something new while effectively explaining how that will be different from New52 (or earlier) appearances. We appreciated the 1-panel explanation of Duke’s offer (from Batman Rebirth #1) that had us confused in that issue. We thought each character introduction was superbly presented. Spoiler was an interesting take, and Red Robin a good inclusion on her story, Cassandra Cain was effectively established, and Clayface introduced as a total (and wonderful) surprise. And lest we neglect to mention…we absolutely loved every moment of Batwoman, and her interaction with Batman. We’ve read Detective Comics #934 a few times, and each time find something new to appreciate, and to look forward to. This is a title, although lacking the Rebirth throughline, is establish a formidable rebirth of these characters.
THE FLASH REBIRTH #1
The Flash Rebirth #1 was more in line with what we expected from the “Rebirth” one shot brands. Many have referred to The Flash Rebirth #1 as “DC Universe Rebirth #2”, and that’s not far off the mark. Ultimately, The Flash Rebirth #1 reinforces the “DC Universe Rebirth” fallout and premise, moving the story forward a tiny bit. This issue was more about re-establishing Wally West and Barry Allen’s relationship, and giving a sense of family.
WONDER WOMAN REBIRTH #1
Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 faces the Big Hairy Question face on: what would a Wonder Woman Rebirth actually be? Which incarnation of Wonder Woman would be reborn? Which is the true hero and which is the false history? Rucka took about the most challenging course by examining the various stories around Princess Diana and Wonder Woman, and then seeming to imply future stories will verify the Wonder Woman truth. We’ll admit to being truly intrigued by where Rucka will take the character and this exploration, and expect some pains and rich experiences from the character’s 75 years. Whereas Week #1 Superman Rebirth #1 put to rest much of the New52 and recent Superman storyline, Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 embraces all of the myriad of stories and opts to race forward, at present, carrying them all. We wish Rucka well!
We’re left with a Week #2 through line that we don’t know if it’s something we picked up on or if DC intended the theme: family. Week #1 was establishing fun and lightness. Week #2 was establishing family and its importance. Action Comics Rebirth #957 was filled with the Superman family (new and old), Flash was soundly based on not only the West-Allen relationship, but Barry’s family and its history. Wonder Woman was laying its plan out for all to view: who is actually Wonder Woman’s family? Aquaman Rebirth #1 was re-establishing Mera and Curry, fathers and sons with those conflicts. Detective Comics #934 was a reformation of the classic extended Bat-family, but in a new and dynamic presentation. If this was the DC plan: well done. We could always be reading more into it all, though…
Ultimately, Week #2 of DC Rebirth remains effective, with each issue presenting a sound case as to why readers should care about the character, and where the story goes next.
As an aside: DC, the next time you decide to print most-white/all-white covers, please refrain from designing & printing hot pink back covers. There’s a lot of color bleed to the front covers pressed to these back covers from the shipping stacking. We’d appreciate a bit more thoughtfulness in your production design effort.
We'll continue to examine DC Rebirth in future E.G. Reads, updated on this page!