With the news of DC's revamp or relaunch of its series in September with 52 #1s, readers have been very vocal. The panic has died down a little but there are still moments of hatred as we've seen the titles, characters and creators that will be on store shelves in a few months. It's natural to fear change or the unknown but from what little we've seen, there is a lot we can say.
Let's be clear that this is not a reboot. The decades of comic book history isn't going to be erased. Characters will not be magically changed into new versions, at least that clearly is the case for the majority of characters. The announcement for Batman and Robin #1 tells us that Bruce will be teaming up with Damian. That means Damian still exists. Nightwing #1 mentions Dick coming off of wearing the Batman identity and returning to his Nightwing persona. Tim Drake is still Red Robin. The only curveball will be Barbara Gordon returning to being Batgirl. But as many have observed, it appears as if she might have some sort of cybernetic suit that could be assisting with her paralysis. Nothing is being erased.
I mentioned decades of comic book history not being erased. That's actually not true.== TEASER ==
We're not talking about decades of continuity here. The Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman we currently have are not the same characters and do not have the same exact history as the original Golden Age versions. They are not even the same as the Silver Age versions. I've mentioned before how Alfred's first appearance in Batman # 16 indicates that Bruce Wayne was not raised by Alfred. That has changed.
The biggest recent change was Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. That was a reboot. The entire universe did change. That was actually when I first started reading comics (just out of coincidence) so it didn't make a bit of difference to me. I still bought back issues of Batman and Superman and didn't notice a huge change even though some big tweaks were made.
I should make it clear that I do not have any insider information. Everyone involved has been sworn to secrecy. Some of my beliefs on this might come down to wishful thinking but there is also a matter of common sense. Why is DC doing this? The answer is they are trying to attract more readers. While there is a business aspect to it, it is also something that is crucial to DC and to the comic industry. Simply put, we need more people to read comic books otherwise the industry will suffer. We've seen too many quality titles get canceled due to low sales. If the top selling titles barely reach one hundred thousand copies sold, that's a pretty scary thought.
What I have heard from a lot of people is they are excited about this. This is coming from non-DC readers. It's not necessary to start reading a series at issue #1 to understand what's going on but there is an appeal to starting at a lower number.
For us existing readers, it's looking like we're still going to have the same characters but with a glossier package. Characters will get redesigned looks or costumes. The information released, for the most part, is telling us that these characters are not going to go through magic changes between August 31 and September 1.
Even if some things were changed or brushed under the carpet, how much would it really matter? I brought this up before but many things that have happened in the 80s or 90s are not acknowledged. They happened but unless it was a major event, it's pretty much just ignored. When was the last time it was mentioned that Lex Luthor faked his death when suffering from Kryptonite poisoning and transfered his brain into a cloned body? There's been no mention of Batman having Ace the Bathound live in the Batcave with Harold, Hal Jordan used to have grey sideburns, there used to be someone named Linda Danvers that had the Supergirl identity. There hasn't even been any mention of Bruce Wayne having his back broke and that was a huge story arc. All these things happened. They are part of the characters' history.
These past events just aren't necessary parts to their current storylines. Sometimes a new arc will build on a past event. For the most part, they are set aside and almost forgotten. We know characters don't age like we do. Getting a fresh start once in a while keeps the characters fresh. For all the adventures Tim Drake has gone through, you would expect him to be in his 30s by now.
The main thing is, DC Comics, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Dan DiDio and anyone else making these decisions know what they're doing. They have stories they want to tell. They have books they want to sell. They aren't looking to piss of loyal fans and lose readers in the process. That would be a poor business plan to have. A lot of the negative comments have been over one image and a sentence or two. I would be willing to bet that there will still be some changes made before the first #1 (Justice League) is on sale. We need to be patient. People need to actually read the first issue and then decide whether they think it's good or not. Some people may not believe that Barbara Gordon should be able to leave her wheelchair but read the first issue then decide. If you think it doesn't work, don't buy more issues. That action will speak louder than making complaints.
I do understand that we all have our favorite characters. The idea of a crazy drastic change happening to them is enough to piss anyone off. It was Amazing Spider-Man #252 (Spider-Man's first appearance with the symbiote suit) that got me buying and reading comics week after week. When Brand New Day happened, I wasn't happy. What I did was read the issues that followed and found the stories were interesting and entertaining. It was still Spider-Man. Only some things had been changed. I'm still upset but I have enjoyed most of the stories that have followed and I'm not going to throw away the experience of reading a character I truly care about.
DC is not doing a Brand New Day. We've heard rumors that Superman and Lois's marriage will be gone. We'll have to wait and see on that. If nothing else, these past two weeks have shown that people are excited. We have seen different media outlets reporting on this. Having more new readers is great. The excitement we've seen from the creators involved tell us we have good things to look forward to. Not all of these redesigns/revamps will be to our liking. Some might even fail. But change can be a good thing. Why settle for the same old stories again and again when the publisher as a whole has decided to add a little spice to things. There's no reason to panic right now. Check out the books in September and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised.
To hear the other side of this, check out Mat's article about why the revamp is a bad idea.