There’s a term I’ve kind of grown tired of when concerning comic books. It usually is applied to an upcoming big event series and always states “the landscape is going to be changed forever”. It’s just such a trite and tired expression because forever in comic books is a very brief window. Just ask any character, who isn’t Uncle Ben, that’s died. No one stays dead in comics and no changes last forever.There are constant reboots and course corrections that wipe out years of stories out of continuity. It can be exhausting and one of my least favorite things about comics. Take Spider-Man for example. When I first got back into comics and started reading Amazing Spider-Man I thought the book was fantastic. I thought J Michael Straczynski was doing wonderful things with the character and the stories he was weaving (I loved the “Back In Black” story line), and then… then they retconned the marriage to Mary Jane. That’s when things fell apart and fell apart hard. I still think, to some degree, that Spider-Man is recovering from the One More Day event (essentially Peter and Mary Jane make a deal with the Marvel equivalent of the devil to save Aunt May’s life and forfeit their marriage… yes this is a thing that actually happened), so when I hear that these event comics are going to change the landscape of the universe I become a little apprehensive. All these words feel like are temporary promises and an opportunity to bring in new readers, which isn’t a bad thing but there are ways to do that without pissing off the main staying fan base.
About five years ago DC did one of these revamps with an intuitive titled, The New 52 and it flopped hard. Suddenly years and years of continuity was erased or became foggy. Did it happen or did it not happen? What happened to the stories I loved? Are they all gone now? Why is Oliver Queen so young? Did The Killing Joke never happen? These were just some of the questions that got raised during the New 52 campaign and die hard DC fans felt a bit shunned. Now granted there were some comics that were putting out stellar material, looking at Scott Snyder’s Batman series as the shining beacon of hope, but for the most part this new relaunch isolated the fan base. I understand what they were trying to do here though. DC is not an easy comic company to jump into. There are years and years of history and multiple earths and time travel and deaths and returns to dig through that the idea of “jumping” into a DC book becomes daunting. It seemed that you needed a five year history lesson on all things DC and Multiverse before you could even think about picking up a comic. The New 52 was supposed to make it easier for outsiders to come in by pissing off those who had been loyal most of their lives. Kind of a dick move.
This summer DC decided it was time to move on from the New 52 and approach a new age for the comic label. The only problem was they didn’t want commit the same errors that the New 52 had. Instead of isolating the fan bases, DC wanted to bring them together; create a universe that incorporated both the New 52 and the Pre-New 52 while embarking into a new territory. The very idea of it sounds exhausting and like a gamble, so when I heard about DC Rebirth #1 I was curious to see what exactly the company had planned.
I can honestly say that Rebirth #1 is the best individual comic book I read all year. Hands down with no doubt what so ever, and as you know, I’m a Marvel kid so that’s a big deal for me to say. Rebirth #1 not only helps re-establish the threads of the Pre-New 52 but also doesn’t erase anything that happened during the New 52. Instead Geoff Johns (who claims this is his last comic book) writes a masterful story that explains why the New 52 exists and how it affected everything that came before it. It was a novel way to approach a relaunch and they stuck the landing beautifully.
Telling the story through the eyes of Wally West (a character that had sat in limbo because of the New 52) Johns was able to establish a tie to the past as he searched for a spot in the future. The whole issue rang of importance as Wally tries to remove himself from his Speed Force limbo so he can warn the other DC heroes just what happened five years ago. Time was taken away from everyone within the DC universe and know one knows about it. They’re all blind to it and Wally is coming back to wake them up. Think the sixth season of LOST and the Sideways world when characters would have flashes to their life on the island. Very similar to that.
What proceeds is a terrific comic that bridges the gap while bringing in a new threat which melts your face. SPOILERS AHEAD it turns out that the entity responsible for messing with time is Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen !!!!!!!! When I read that I kind of lost my shit. It was such a fantastic twist that opens the door to soooooooooo many possibilities while establishing The Watchmen as a part of the DC universe. I was floored. There’s a great scene where Batman discovers the Comedian’s smiley face pin in the walls of the Batcave (comes out of the speed force as Wally tries to make contact) that I’ve used as the wallpaper on my phone for awhile. Putting Dr. Manhattan as the possible villain responsible for the New 52 is such a creative idea that makes my geek heart skip beats. Just picture Batman interacting with any of the characters from The Watchmen. Ugh, I just can’t. Now the confrontation with Dr. Manhattan hasn’t happened yet, they’re slow burning this and milking it for all it’s worth, but it’s looming over titles like Titans and Flash. At some point this story thread is going to come to light and that’s when I expect all hell to break loose. END OF SPOILER
What makes Rebirth #1 such a great comic, to me any way, was how excited I was about it. I was telling any and everyone about it and the twist that occurs. This included people I know who don’t even read comics. I felt that people needed to know about this. That DC found a jumping point for new readers as well as old bitter readers and presented them something exciting and fresh. That’s actually the one word that keeps coming to mind when I think of this issue. Refreshing. Rebirth #1 is a refreshing story that opens the door to tons of different possibilities and stories, and has established characters, long loved, back to the form they deserve. If you don’t believe me pick up a Green Arrow or Titan comic. Or even a Superman and Wonder Woman (this book is straight fire) and tell me that these books don’t have a new life in them that wasn’t present during the New 52. I don’t think you’ll be able to. If you’ve ever wanted to get into DC comics but weren’t sure how to then Rebirth is just the ticket for you. I promise you you won’t be disappointed and your pull list will grow because of it. DC clearly turned a corner this year and it’s books have been shining ever since.