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Should DC Have a Plan for The New 52?

Here we are a year later, and while the question of if they do has been answered to some extent, the question of if they SHOULD is still up for debate.

The story goes something like "Tim Drake never was Robin. He went directly to being Red Robin and had, seemingly, much more operational independence from the Dark Knight." This was, at least on the surface, a tactic designed to give DC some breathing room on the number of Robins that Batman could have had in the extremely nebulous five year period that precedes Batman issue 1, particularly as it comes to Bruce's mourning time for Jason Todd.

We've never been shy about our thoughts on the paradox-inducing nature of this five-year limit, and books like GREEN LANTERN CORPS issue 0 ,which take place in the much more sliding-timeline friendly era of "Before," are giving creative teams some breathing room, but it now seems like DC is rewriting their already young history in order to accommodate it with edits and full-on excisions happening in the trade paperback of TEEN TITANS. There was a very simple, elegant solution to this problem: have a looser idea of what you wanted to do with the relaunch. Which is what DC seems to have realized and seems to be the direction they're going in

Upper dialog changed

I'm not going to bury DC's decision under a pile of derisiveness and cries of creator oppression because, frankly, I think a little wiggle room is exactly what they've needed since JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 introduced the whole 5 years ago notion. What I am going to do is point out that in order to avoid what they believed to be a massively alienating move, they claimed that was always was and is a reboot/relaunch/retcon...wasn't.

As a result, fans were left with nothing to believe but that 10-20 years of continuity were being flushed and many were...vocal about their dislike of it, to say the least. Those same fans, by and large, accepted the New 52 with open arms, making the first several issues the highest selling single books in the industry. I’m also not going to argue that DC was in any way openly deceptive when they inserted references to Tim Drake being Robin or founding an incarnation of the Teen Titans, I’m going to say that they honestly hadn’t considered the ramifications of their plan.

While editing a book to fit a new narrative may seem duplicitous, even despicable, the first thing to keep in mind is that this is a “for hire” project, and the owning company can legally make any changes they deem necessary, particularly if it serves their new narrative. Fortunately, the book’s own writer appears to, at the very least, be on-board with the changes as he’s still writing TEEN TITANS (and is filling the writer’s role on SUPERMAN) as well as promoting DC’s narrative that Drake was always Red Robin, going into details on this very site as to how Tim Drake’s role would shake out in DC’s relaunched product.

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There's been much made of the role of editors in comics over the last month or so, with some high-profile resignations causing a stir in a group of people who may not have even known precisely how much power editorial wielded over the creative teams whose names appear on the covers of the books, and the editors are assuming the roles, at least in the court of public opinion, of the ever-loathed "studio executives" who focus-group and edit movies from artistic works of unbridled brilliance into an inoffensive gray sludge. But ironically, studio heads have also intervened and saved movies that are considered classics, most notably the original Alien, which not only starred an impossible giant worm as the titular beast, but lacked the character Ellen Ripley, instead casting a male lead. That's right: one of the most powerful female characters in the male-dominated sci-fi realm as well as an enduring feminist symbol, almost wasn't even in the movie but for the studio demanding it. So too can "The Editor" bring a sometimes-much-needed outside perspective on what isn't working in a title.

Again: I'm not thrilled with the practice of changing dialog from issue to trade, though this is nothing new for the industry, but if DC had been a little looser with the timeline in the first place, it wouldn't have been necessary, so the notion that they somehow need a plan and must stick to it regardless of external or internal motivating factors has already proven to be a ruinously poor idea. The appearance of Pandora, the mysterious woman-in-red, would seem to imply that DC had given themselves an out if the whole New 52 hadn't taken off, but now that it has, she's getting more involved with proper storylines. It never hurts to give your creative teams an out should they find themselves painted into a corner, whether through their own negligence or, much more likely, happenstance and unfortunate timing.

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Posted by sethysquare
"Tim Drake never was Robin. He went directly to being Red Robin and had, seemingly, much more operational independence from the Dark Knight."

THis is not true. There wasn't a panel that stated he had seemingly much more opertional independence from dark knight? You mean you have read TT #0 ?

If you had then, its fine to say that after all you guys get an advance copy. But if not, what makes you say that he went directly to being Red Robin and had more independence from Dark Knight.

Posted by The Stegman
They should ditch that stupid five year limit idea.
Posted by Lvenger

Yeah not gonna lie, editors are the bane of modern comic books nowadays. This ordeal with Tim Drake being chnaged not only from just being Red Robin from Pre to New 52 but also changing Tim's status as Robin within the New 52. Was there another mini reboot that rendered Batman 1 and Teen Titans 1 defunct?

Posted by carnivalofsins00

We all know DC messed up by saying it all happened in 5 years, but in a perfect world, we would all be able to just not care about "continuity". I'm enjoying my books so much more now that I don't have to worry about it, and in the end, it's really all about the story the writers and artists are tying to tell.

And I just think Lobdell brought up the whole "Tim wasn't Robin" deal to take the focus of his lacking story in Teen Titans and give the people something else to complain about.

Posted by dmkicksballs13

I don't understand why editors feel the need to make timelines make sense. I always assumed that each hero would barely age or not age at all. It's comic books, the main characters have super powers, I don't read them for realism.

Posted by Shamelesslysupportinaznballers

DC just need to have writers retreats like Marvel do. Love or hate their stories but at least Marvel seems to have all their creators with a single unified goal & they seem to know what each other are doing which allows them to collaborate & share ideas with each. DC's editors on the other hand are looking like a bunch of amateurs which makes some of their writers look like hacks.

Their respective movie verses seems to be a direct reflection of how their 2 current companies are being run. The Avengers line even though it's by different writers, directors all have a single end game goal and they're all connected. DC movies look exactly like what it would look like when a company doesn't have any inter office communication. They even originally had plans to have different actors play the same characters.

Posted by Beast_in_the_Shadows

Did they also change the page where Tim is looking at all the monitor feeds? Originally is showed several screens featuring green animals saving the day, leading many of us to think that in this universe Gar was still originally green. However, Ravagers #0 showed that now he was never green and never even had powers before N.O.W.H.E.R.E. kidnapped him.

Posted by Vincie_Pooh

Don't like it. Tim Drake was one of the BEST Robin's ever. And I miss his Red Robin outfit before the whole NEW 52. Its getting confusing.

Posted by lorex

I think the bigger problem is that in their rush to make Batman younger they forgot that there needs to be some time for all of his traveling the world to learn the various skills he employs as Batman.Not did they alloy for a realistic amount of time for the number of Robins to have come about and develope. By stating there were no hero's before 5 years ago is they may have thought they were making their universe more accessable without decades of continuity but in a way they ave reduced the amount of creative freedom the writers have with such ridgid timelines.

Edited by BushidoBlack

Honestly, this whole thing should've been better planned from the start. It seems like many of these changes are literally being made on the fly. The ordeal with Stephanie Brown being taken out of the Smallville issue is proof of that.

Posted by JCT45

I was a DC cheerleader most of my life.. To a long time fan the new 52 is utterly heartbreaking .. i've heard all the arguments pro and i simply do not agree with them.. Towards the top of that list being Tim Drake was never robin .. the role of Robin was important to the character and the character was important to me ( and many other fans ). DC mishandled all of this..I almost feel embarrassed for them that they clearly don't have there stuff together, You have writers dropping out left and right , you have current writers who are long time fans who want to make fans happy but are unable to b/c the higher ups won't allow it ( Steph Brown is a "toxic" character and yet a large amount of people want to read about her ? ) and now you have this... i get it they want to make changes , younger readers this and that but damn.. they've really screwed over those that have been with them for a long time.. I went from buying 15 different titles a month... down to 5 after the New 52 and now i'm down to 2. If anything DC has pushed me into the hands of other comics/companies....

Posted by danhimself

@sethysquare said:

"Tim Drake never was Robin. He went directly to being Red Robin and had, seemingly, much more operational independence from the Dark Knight."

THis is not true. There wasn't a panel that stated he had seemingly much more opertional independence from dark knight? You mean you have read TT #0 ?

If you had then, its fine to say that after all you guys get an advance copy. But if not, what makes you say that he went directly to being Red Robin and had more independence from Dark Knight.

interviews with Scott Lobdell

Posted by Teerack

Tim Drake was still Robin him going straight to Red Robin was a panicked rumor.

Posted by G-Man

@sethysquare: I've publicly made my stance on the Tim Drake thing clear. But I have to say, given the five year time frame, it unfortunately makes sense. Robin/Red Robin...Lobdell said everything else remains the same.

Staff Online
Posted by the_fallen11

Honestly I was upset about the whole Tim not being Robin thing but I read an interview with Lobdell about his issue 0's coming out. In it he explains why Tim never took the Robin mantel and they way he explaines it compleatly makes sense. After reading it I'm compleatly okay with the idea (Link to the article http://www.newsarama.com/comics/scott-lobdell-death-of-the-family-red-robin.html)

Posted by Mbecks14
frankly, I think a little wiggle room is exactly what they've needed since JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 introduced the whole 5 years ago notion. What I am going to do is point out that in order to avoid what they believed to be a massively alienating move, they claimed that was always was and is a reboot/relaunch/retcon...wasn't.
As a result, fans were left with nothing to believe but that 10-20 years of continuity were being flushed and many were...vocal about their dislike of it, to say the least.

OH YES! This is exactly it! They promised us all our favorite stories still happened and still mattered and then they throw them all away. More and more stories and backgrounds are being altered and changed and in some cases it's alright but in others it just makes no sense and is VERY ALIENATING.

I was totally ready to embrace the 52 and I've enjoyed a lot of it. But i've become increasingly frustrated by stupid things they keep "fixing." The 5 years is way too limiting.

DC seemed to have thrown the New 52 together in a weeks time and they've suffered for it. I don't know how long they actually had been working on it, but it wasn't enough time. And they needed to branch out beyond Jim Lee as the sole character designer.

the editors are assuming the roles, at least in the court of public opinion, of the ever-loathed "studio executives" who focus-group and edit movies from artistic works of unbridled brilliance into an inoffensive gray sludge.

THIS. So true. Some books, you can tell when the writer has more freedom. And some you can tell that they are being watered down and edited to death. The industry is being so infuriating right now. Between overpowered editors and low-talent creators who aren't very interested in their jobs, and are vocally admitting that they don't care about creating a good product, just any product at all, the industry is no longer a place I aspire to join.

Posted by wowylied

I don't really think DC is trying to make the new52 universe live very long...

Batman still have his dad letter from flashpoint and him and the flash know what happened. Even the legion are aware of it (they are naming it flashpoint in one of the first issue...)

Posted by Outside_85

I still don't like it, it's just so messed up that they start off with him having been Robin and then go back on it and finally take steps to retroactively change it so that things fit their opinion today.

Now Scott has admitted he doesn't make big plans that span years and that's fine...I just wish there was a plan somewhere in DC, since right now its a recipe for disaster.

Posted by Green ankh

I have been reading comics for about 30 years. It has always got me how crazy readers can be. Lighten up !!! it's a comic book !! For fun !!

Edited by Emperormeister734

there were some question that went unanswered, some stories that still needed to have closure

Posted by Nefilim927

Soooo what's going to happen when Batman Inc starts catching up with the other New 52 Bat titles? Does Batman RIP/Black Glove and all that madness still fit in this New 52? (Probably not but just puttin it out there)

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Just because Pandora is getting more involved with the proper storylines as you say doesn't mean she still can't be the fail safe to the New 52 should the need to revert back to the old order of things come. In all honesty sales are plateauing, and the Batman family titles are really, at least in my own opinion, what is keeping the New 52 afloat, and of those titles, lets be honest...its really only Snyder's Batman run that is hitting the real home runs. No, the fact is there was no plan on their part in the beginning, only a wish to appeal to younger audiences while marginalizing the established fans of the pre-Flashpoint reality, shows that they were flying by the seat of their pants but realize one year later they should have been sticking to something concrete. Not wanting to be overly critical but this is just how I feel. I'm on board always with DC no matter what they do, but still, the writing's on the wall here.

Posted by daredevil21134

I have just about given up on everything DC

Posted by BatClaw89

Everyone is making a big deal out of Red Robin. All you need to know is He SUCKS and

 DAMIAN IS KING!!!

Posted by pspin

I always thought the five year thing was just for the Justice League. In issue 1 the heroes were clearly already active if not well known and for heroes like Batman, he could have easily been active for years before being "confirmed" and not just a myth. So it is very possible that they could have all been Robins and it was just Scott Lobdell making a statement that threw everything off and if that is true there is a myriad of reasons why not everyone was on the same page.

Posted by SolthesunGod

The very premise of this article is hilarious. It's basically should DC know what they are doing. This is not a question that should need to be asked. lol

Posted by Or35ti

DC definitely needs a more consistent plan. That's what part of the New 52 was about wasn't it? I just wish there was more communication between writers and I wish they'd thought somethings through in the long term and how they would affect the universe. Things like the 5-year gap is cool for the Justice League book but really screws up the Batman books. A 7-year gap would have been much looser.

Posted by Grim

DC made a HUGE change in how they do things for the New 52, and that sucks. DC used to plan years in advanced. Remember when solicits for the year long event 52 showed up like 6 months before the title, and it was full of hints? And the comics during that time were laying the foundation for a thing that wasnt stating for 6 months?

THAT was the DC way. 2+ year plans with small amounts of wiggle room in an otherwise per-determined story.

The New 52 however was thrown together in less than a year. They made titles that where obviously leading to something awesome wrap it up early, and they threw together a very rough idea of what this new Universe would look like. It was only once they were already committed to the idea that they realized the shit they would have to deal with. No one wanted to re-start their world.

And i remember being irritated that writers of one book had NO IDEA what was going on in another. batgirl and birds of prey for example. DC was trying so hard to keep things hush hush and rushed that they took away one of the key elements to the continuity aspect: communication between talent.

The new 52 is 90% smooth. But its not the well oiled machine the old 52 was. And Tim Drake is the mascot of this failure. The first Robin to change the costume, get his own gear, and work alone. The Only detective. The Robin who in the last few years was the linchpin to everything in the Batfamily from convincing Dick to be Batman to saving the entire family from Ras to being the ONLY reason Batman was brought back without ending the world.

Now? he's a "hard to explain situation". .....no. Boo.

Posted by obscurefan

DC absolutely needs to make a plan. That to me was what frustrated me with the New 52 the most, that they very clearly were just making it up as they went along and there was no set of rules or an origin to this world. Like let me give you an example of what I mean. In Stormwatch number one, they very clearly say that Martian Manhunter is a member of the Justice League. Then a few months later in the Justice League book, they flat out say that nobody besides those seven characters has ever been a member. Then there's all the questions of how some things can be the same when so many other things have changed. Like how is it that Kyle and Natu are still broken up, when Jade, the thing that made them break up, doesn't exist in this world anymore?

Posted by kid Apollo

i feel that the 5 years period works for the Justice League, but it shouldn't have been the guideline for every book they put out. each property should have its own scale of time because lets be real, Batman, the Flash and Aquaman didn't debut on the same day, same week, and same year. i can see a guy like Batman and by extension all the robins/batgirl/etc being around for longer then 5 years, where as some characters such as Cyborg haven't been around as long

Posted by takuy

1. disregard fans

2. disregard 70 years of history

3. ???

4.profit

Posted by Lvenger

Wow lot of New 52 haters on here already. I'm only picking up a few of the better New 52 titles. Well maybe not Justice League but that's my 'big things' title.

Posted by Zeeguy91
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:

Just because Pandora is getting more involved with the proper storylines as you say doesn't mean she still can't be the fail safe to the New 52 should the need to revert back to the old order of things come. In all honesty sales are plateauing, and the Batman family titles are really, at least in my own opinion, what is keeping the New 52 afloat, and of those titles, lets be honest...its really only Snyder's Batman run that is hitting the real home runs. No, the fact is there was no plan on their part in the beginning, only a wish to appeal to younger audiences while marginalizing the established fans of the pre-Flashpoint reality, shows that they were flying by the seat of their pants but realize one year later they should have been sticking to something concrete. Not wanting to be overly critical but this is just how I feel. I'm on board always with DC no matter what they do, but still, the writing's on the wall here.

That's kind of untrue. Last time I checked the numbers, which wasn't long ago, Aquaman, Justice League, Green Lantern, etc, were all outselling the other Bat-Family titles like Nightwing or Batgirl. To be honest, the New 52 injected a lot of creativity into these titles, and they're much better than their Pre-Flashpoint counterparts. Wonder Woman before the reboot was just...dull. Now Wonder Woman is one of the best titles over at DC.
Posted by Lvenger

@Zeeguy91: But the New 52 hasn't been kind to everyone. The Suicide Squad, Superman (by this I mean the title Superman not Action Comics), Resurrection Man, Hawk and Dove, Static Shock, Mr Terrific and more. A lot of titles have suffered for the others to have renewed creativity behind it.

Posted by lukin42

I would just like to point out that comics continuity has never made much sense and it likely never will. Too many characters with too many writers; it's impossible for everything to match up. Even Marvel who are arguably dong a better job keeping things straight have a clusterfuck of nonsense as a continuity. It's best to just forget about it, read the stories and enjoy them for what they are, 10 minutes of entertainment. I get that it's fun to bitch and complain, I mean that IS what it is to be a modern comics fan, but lets just try to remember it's suppose to be fun. If you're not having fun reading these new 52 books then try something else and stop filling up every single online comics message board with your complaints, rage and negativity.

Posted by DarthShap

I still do not understand why they felt they needed to get rid of most of the continuity. It just causes so many problems and it just was not necessary. I mean, it is not like people are complaining about Batman and Green Lantern keeping most of his continuity. It did not exactly hurt their sales.

Again, a relaunch would have been far better. What we have now is just a big blurry mess.

Posted by Zeeguy91

I honestly think that people put too much emphasis on continuity. Were there a lot of stories that I wanted to still be there? Yeah (especially some of the JLA continuity). Am I going to whine and pout and scream at DC for "mishandling" the characters? No. Just because a character isn't the way I want them to be doesn't mean they're being "mishandled". Its just...not what I would expect. Basically what I see from people who bash the New 52 is that they try to inject what they want into the characters and enforce the stories that they want when that's not the way you should be looking at it. Part of the appeal of comics (for me at least) is that characters can be reintroduced reimagined, retooled and remade multiple times, but at their very essence they're still the same characters.

Reboots and retcons happen all the time. Every time DC retold an origin of Superman from John Byrne's Man of Steel to Waid's Birthright to Johns' Secret Origin, they were in fact rewriting continuity and history, erasing what had come before, yet nobody screamed when they did that. I remember less people screaming when Marvel erased Peter and MJ's marriage from continuity, therefore erasing several story elements that should have transpired in the Spider-Man books. If he and MJ were never married, then what motivated him to come back during Kraven's Last Hunt? How did mist of Straczynski's run play out? MJ was a huge part of those stories. 
 
And bottom line...this is comics. Past stories don't have to be in continuity for me to enjoy newer stories. And we can even pretend that some of them did still happen, just not in the same way.

Posted by Zeeguy91
@Lvenger said:

@Zeeguy91: But the New 52 hasn't been kind to everyone. The Suicide Squad, Superman (by this I mean the title Superman not Action Comics), Resurrection Man, Hawk and Dove, Static Shock, Mr Terrific and more. A lot of titles have suffered for the others to have renewed creativity behind it.

I'm not saying that it was, but I feel that more good came out of it than bad. And Suicide Squad actually...isn't bad. Mr. Terrific and SS were awful, but that's more so because of the writers not caring about being on those titles than it was about the reboot.
Posted by Derangel

@lukin42: The problem is the DC claimed the whole point of the reboot was to make it easier to bring in new readers by simplifying the continuity and erasing problems like this. Not only as DC failed on every level they have made it even worse than before. The five year timeline and over-all lack of any kind of plan turned what could have been a very good idea into a huge mess. I hate people that get on fans for complaining, its stupid to say we shouldn't get attached to these characters. Many of us have been reading comics since childhood and as adults we've grown to love the characters and the worlds they inhabit. For all the stupidity and insanity that comes with comic books it's the characters and their journeys that are important. DC had a great chance to create an amazing new world with new stories to tell, to do something that could bring in new readers and could give older readers a chance to follow the character's they love through new adventures and watch them grow and change based on the new universe. In some cases DC has done a good jobs in others it feels like the 90s all over again. In contrast, I think Marvel is onto something. Some really moronic character redesigns aside, it seems like Marvel is going into their relaunch with the right idea. Don't reboot, but plan out an event (as opposed to doing what feels like piggybacking off of some event that otherwise felt like it didn't matter) and use it as a way to reshape the teams and at the same time simply relaunch all the books. I'm not entirely happy with all the changes, but I find myself a lot more interested in Marvel NOW! than I was a month out from DCnU. That said I fully expect Marvel to screw it up somehow, but oh well.

Posted by neiliusprime

The only real problem I have with the New 52 is the "5 year" gap.. I honestly don't mind having a gap between Justice League and the main story arcs, but DC should've have done it longer than 5 years.

So far, the zero issues so far have done an ok job of answering some questions that extremely needed some answers.

Posted by feargalr

That Alien thing is super interesting.. Makes me want to watch Alien again..

Posted by fodigg

I'd rather they'd have just cut Jason and Tim and not have to deal with this mess. Then they could introduce the middle children of the Bat Family as new characters.

Posted by Lvenger

@Zeeguy91: I didn't like it. And don't get me started on what Lobell's done with the Outlaws and the Teen Titans.

Posted by Zeeguy91
@Lvenger: Don't like what? Suicide Squad, SS, MT, or the New 52 in general?
Posted by Lvenger

@Zeeguy91: Suicide Squad. I quite like the New 52 in general but it's not the well oiled mechanism that it was prior to the reboot. They've sacrificed continuity which adds to the confusion in exchange for better creative titles. Overall it has given the comic book medium a sales boost and kept it alive though I know a lot of people on here who are ****ed off with it.

Posted by eiderglast

Cracks in a weak foundation. I've been reading DC comics for quite awhile now, and just like the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the new 52 may once more be retconned, re-booted, re-hashed. If Pandora is the scapegoat or the key in bringing back everything before the Crises events, I'm in!

When I say before the Crises, before all those changes, but with some of the good stuff left over to stay... they should have simply had an online survey as to which character should have been re-booted, or which book should appear and which should never have seen print.

Would you retcon a Harry Potter book just to bring in new readers? Would you re-make a classic movie just to show you can put your own twist to an established icon?

Would you sacrifice old fans in place of new, but untested readers?

They did, and sadly, history will repeat itself. More retcons, re-boots, re-hash.... and so on.

Posted by RedOwl_1

Honestly, their f*cking timeline makes less sense than the 30th of February (which does not have any sense at all)

Posted by fotocub

Corey, where did you get the quote "Tim Drake never was Robin. He went directly to being Red Robin and had, seemingly, much more operational independence from the Dark Knight." from? It's not in Scott Lobdell's interview with Comicvine and all I can find when I google it is this article.

What Scott did say there was:

"He still essentially deciphers Bruce's secret identity (though, this is Bruce we are talking about here) -- he is still Batman's sidekick (though, maybe more of a partner) for a year or so between Jason and Damian. He just opts to not call himself Robin for reasons we see in the story."

http://www.comicvine.com/news/interview-scott-lobdell-on-superboy-jason-todd-and-tim-drake-not-being-robin/145050/

That doesn't imply anything about much more operational independence.

Posted by cagedleo730

@wowylied: Actually, Batman and Flash know about the Flashpoint universe, but don't know about the old DCU before Flashpoint. Therefore, they don't think the new52 is the wrong timeline. Pandora and Phantom Stranger are the ones who know about the change.

Posted by TheSmallvillefan12

DC should have given the timeline more years

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