Monday, February 15, 2016

Let's Discuss Rebirth

So, with May solicits due tomorrow, I'm going to guess the earliest we hear about what Rebirth is tomorrow as well. Is that a guarantee? By no means, but, it would make some sense for DC to solicit their last round of the regular titles and then go "also, here's a tease of what Rebirth is." So with that in mind, buckle in for a long post of my thoughts, predictions and concerns as we venture into yet another new direction in the DC Universe.

May Solicitations

First thing is first, what to expect tomorrow with solicitations? Well, everything will probably be cancelled. If you didn't already know, May is when the original New 52 titles hit #52, and with DC's number fetish, having them go past that mark and then relaunching would hardly make any sense. So, while not traditional, everything is going to probably have a "FINAL ISSUE" attached to it. We already know Starfire is ending with #12. Of course, there are some mini series like the ill-conceived Gang of Harleys book, but they're minis, who cares? Also, Little Black Book will probably keep its numbering, as will books like DKIII for obvious reasons. 

What else is there to expect? Well, I'm going to guess we'll see a mix of things. For books like Starfire, they'll end on whatever note is normal for them. But then there are the larger titles like Batman, which we know will not have Scott Snyder listed in the writer credit. In those cases, I'm going to guess we're going to get a lot of similar Flashpoint/just Pre-New 52 type books... Remember those? No? Well that's probably because there's nothing to be remembered about them. DC was rebooting their continuity, all their A-list talent were prepping for the relaunch and had left their regular books, and we were left with scraps for the last couple of months, with a notable exception being "The Black Mirror" in Detective Comics. There's a high chance of me looking at a good deal of what's offered in May and thinking "well, I don't need to read that" because it's either fill-in or generic inventory issues that are being published just for the sake of being published.

On the other hand, we may get issues that are meant as precursors to what's to come in rebirth. So maybe we see Tom King write Batman #52 to set up his rumored run on the title. But, I have a feeling we may see a different sort of Rebirth set up mechanic coming in the future months.

What is Rebirth?

Well, that's the big question, isn't it? Initially, my thought that "Rebirth" is the marketing term that DC is going to slap on the top of the covers for all the shiny new #1s they'll be publishing, but others have different opinions. Some believe it's a Geoff Johns mini series, which could be true, he could be doing a Green Lantern/Flash style Rebirth story for the whole DCU which has been bent over and screwed real hard, and five (or six? is it six now? I can't tell anymore, jesus) years in, feels nowhere near as cohesive as it once was. Certainly a possibility, and potentially Scott Snyder and Tom King could be involved, as King had mention there was some big plans for Dick in the DCU following his and Seeley's departure from Grayson, specifically mentioning those two writers, iirc. All that being said, while I think for sure it's going to be a big marketing term, that's a given, I do think there will be a little more too it, who here remembers Convergence?!

This won't come as a surprise to anyone who reads my twitter late at night for some reason. A couple of nights ago, for whatever reason, right before I went to bed I had a revelation... What if Rebirth is a Convergence style event? That's right. We pause regular books for a month or two while DC publishes a whole bunch of books that serve as primers to their new line while there's some event weekly running through it, written by the likes of Johns and company? It'd make sense for a few reasons... Remember Zero Month, Villain Month, Futures End, and god, I feel like I'm forgetting one. Well, YEAH. With DC's tendency to do this sort of thing a lot, I have no difficulty believing that Rebirth could end up like this. There's also the issue of marketing and lead-time. Going from May's final issues to June where it's all shiny new #1s seems insane. It'd be like jumping out of a hot tub and immediately into a pool, just jarring and not a good time. Take a look at Marvel, sure, Secret Wars is still going on, but they used that to stagger the release of their new series, it wasn't everything all at once. Publishing a month or two of "Rebirth" one shots or whatever would market the hell out of the thing that DC wants to market, that's for sure. Also, a bunch of place holder books would give writers and artists lead time to get ahead of schedule, if rumors of books going bi-weekly are true... and DC needs all the time they can get to put issues in the bag, but more on that later. 

So yeah, my hot pick is that we get a month or two of of Rebirth titles, maybe tied together with an event mini series. That thought is sort of supported by tweets like this, just throwing that out there. What I do not think Rebirth will be, is a total reboot in continuity. For fuck's sake, I hope it's not, because I don't know if I'd be able to care again. 

What Kind of Books to Expect?

I buy into the notion that DC wants to go back to meat and potatoes.  DC You was a thing... that's about all I can say about that initiative. DC was saying shit like "these books are about YOU these are the heroes for YOU" but what the fuck did that even mean outside of typical marketing nonsense? Turns out, no one really knew, and the market didn't really respond all that well. I haven't paid attention to comic sales in some time, but looking them up after all these was announced, yeesh. DC lost some ground, that's for sure. Whatever DC You is or was, some great books like Midnighter and Omega Men came out of them, but the market just didn't respond. Maybe it's DC's fault for their constant shake ups giving the market fatigue, maybe it's the market's fault for claiming to want quality products but never supporting them, who fucking knows, but I'm betting the top of the food chain guys like Bob Harras and those above him at WB are saying things like "Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. Justice League. Green Lantern. Flash. Harley Quinn. Suicide Squad." We'll probably see more traditional books along those lines as well. Titles like Black Canary, which writer Brenden Fletcher has recently said has plans that take it to 2017, could potentially be spun into something like Birds of Prey, with characters like Batgirl, who will probably keep her same book going through the relaunch... even when this new direction should have gotten a #1 to begin with.  Other fringe titles may be safer than you think. I get the sense that while not burning up the shelves in comic shops, Gotham Academy is more valuable to DC outside of the LCS. I also believe that I just saw Didio mention that the second half of Prez will be hitting around the elections, which would make sense. So there's hope for some less than spectacular sellers yet.

Then there's the big question in terms of Batman. It's probably going bi-weekly, Scott Snyder isn't writing it and Tom King is probably the writer. I said King should write that sucker well before it became an official rumor, so I'll buy in. Read Vision, read Omega Men, read some more Grayson. I'm down for a Tom King Batman book. But what about Scott Snyder? Popular theory is that he moves to Detective while Capullo is off in the Millarverse. Snyder has responded to fans on Twitter saying "I never said that," because of course he didn't. But he's also said he's got stories for other characters and has mentioned Two-Face a lot. Maybe he gets his own book, maybe he is on Detective and is under NDA. Who knows. All I do know is that unless something big changed between now and a couple months ago (which is a long time), I have every reason to believe Snyder will continue to write stories in Gotham, and there's a good chance it will be amazing. All I can say, because I'm working on some old info, so we'll see. 


Here comes the fun part, because boy do I have some concerns. Chief among these concerns is the prospect of a lot of DC's books going bi-weekly and the normalcy of DC publishing visually unappealing work for the sake of sticking to the schedule. Marvel does multi-week publishing pretty well. The get artists working on books well in advance and have pretty decent back up artists working on future scripts for issues that will be published when the main artist is working on more new issues. Take a look at Extraordinary X-Men, we got a good chunk of issues from Humberto Ramos in a row within two months, and they looked great. Ramos is now on a break, and Victor Ibanez has stepped in and those issues look pretty good as well. Now, I don't know how DC works, but I get the sense that because there's always a possibility of shit changing, they don't require scripts to be handed in as early as Marvel would, thus can't give them to the artists months in advance, thus can't build up a buffer of issues in the bag, thus shit like the last four pages of Batman and Robin Eternal #18 happens a lot. DC likes to stick to schedule and for the most part they do, but every now and then you get the surprise fill in within the middle of an issue from an artists whose work is just not up to snuff. I try to remain diplomatic and polite when it comes to these things, because I sure as hell can't draw and understand the world of tight deadlines, but for the sake of honesty here, I'll be perfectly blunt: Sometimes, DC's books look like total shit. From an artistic standpoint and from a consistency standpoint. Solicited artist draws a full issue? Great. Solicited artists draws 13 pages, with three different inkers, two colorists, and an entirely different artist or two drawing the remaining seven pages? Fuck that noise. Granted I don't read nearly as much Marvel as I do DC, but I can't think of any Marvel books that are delivered as half-baked as DC tends to give us. So add a bi-weekly schedule to that mix, and while books may look good for a month or two, I have every reason to believe by month three or four, we're getting some subpar fill in and consistency mixed with quality will be a thing stretched few and far between. 

As a side note, DC's been hemorrhaging great and unique artists lately to places like Marvel lately with names like Andrea Sorrentino, Kenneth Rocafort and Jesus Saiz all jumping ship in the recent months... So they're working with a depleted stable to begin with in my eyes, now get them to commit to bi-weekly books, right guys?!

Along with bi-weekly schedules come bi-weekly price hikes. I'd be shocked if anymore than ten new titles are priced at $2.99 anymore. Even Image titles are hitting the $3.99 price point with regularity these days... but those books don't come out every two weeks. $3.99 twice a month, multiple by how many books you read adds the fuck up, especially for guys like me, who tend to read a lot to begin with, not even counting all the Image and Marvel stuff I read... "BUT FHIZ! You just said you read Marvel books, most of those are bi-weekly!" Well yeah, but here's the dirty secret, I read digital and buy codes for 50% off, because I'm trying to at least be somewhat sensible for with my money. So with the increased price commitment and years of mental abuse from their usual publishing nonsense, my tolerance for bullshit will be at an all time low, and will have zero problems with dropping anything I feel isn't immediately up to snuff, because I don't have the time, patience, or money to waste on subpar messy material.

Then there's always the possibility of of New 52 flashbacks. What do I mean? Well, remember that time Gail Simone got fired from Batgirl via email? Remember when Andy Diggle left Action Comics prior to have a single issue published? Remember when Jim Zub was announced as the new writer of Birds of Prey only to be replaced prior to a single issue which lead to the biggest bullshit ever of Starling, the best fucking new character, to be unceremoniously booted out of continuity because she's fucking Mr. Freeze's BFF for some reason!? I MEAN WHAT THE FUCK!?

GOD DAMN IT, DC. Still hurts. So much that I just went on a big old twitter rant, further delaying the completion of this post. 

So yeah, more of that bullshit could happen, and we could see books with constantly changing directions and pissed off creators leaving titles in droves.

Other bullshit that could happen is a forced sense of unity between Warner Brothers big cinematic universe and the comics. Sure, every now and then someone comes out and says "No, no, no..." but then we got this:

Followed by this...

Which leads to a horrible visually conflicting mashup of the two:

So yeah. They can say they're keeping everything separate as much as they want, but don't come crying to me that they lied when Killer Croc is the newest member of the Suicide Squad in their new #1, while Deadshot is all the sudden wearing his eye scope on the wrong fucking side of his mask.

On the topic of Harley Quinn, I'll echo what I said here... fucking cool it with the Harley... or at least give us some variation from the Palmiotti/Conner work, whose charm has worn well off with the pure saturation of content. I swear to god, I won't be surprised when The London Legion of Super Heroes or whatever the fuck they're called get a mini series with Harley down the line, for no good reason other than "We want... more money!"

Getting back to meat and potatoes, I like me some meat and potatoes, but you give it to me every night for dinner, then I'm going to get tired of it. Some of DC's risks and changes in directions really payed off well, Grayson being my key example. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in this case any opinion other than this is flat out wrong: Grayson is the best thing to happen to Dick since his time as Batman under Grant Morrison's guidance. It was new, it was fresh, it was fucking interesting. If DC was to say just make Dick Nightwing again and just put him back in Gotham as just another mask dealing with a villain of the month, HOLY SHIT, that would be such an awful regression. Nightwing sucks in comparison to Grayson. FACT.

Final concern: DC relies too much on the old guard and friends of some specific hire ups. Look, I know people like Dan Jurgens' Clark and Lois book, but if Rebirth rolls around and DC is heavily relying on the old guard instead of fostering new voices that could potentially carry the company for years to come, then they fucked up. They've been better about this in the past year or so, but they could still do better... Also, if Scott Lobdell is given three books again or is still writing Red Hood, I swear to god I will lose my shit.

What Happens if it Goes Wrong?

Given how cynical the market can be these days, given how hit or miss and messy the New 52 was, and given that DC just tried to rebrand themselves a number of months ago... there's a good chance that this could all blow up in their face. I don't want anything to be bad, I'm the poor sap paying for this stuff, but from a scientific point of view, I can't help but wonder in the same sense of how fun it is to watch shit blow up in slow motion, what would happen if Rebirth failed? DC's been trying to get things right for a while, and by all accounts, Rebirth means they're still trying. I've got a feeling if this is a total miss for DC, Warner Bros. might step in and we could possibility get some shake up in the executive levels. Again, I've got nothing to base this off of, just pure speculation. WB is trying to build this DC brand real hard, and while they're always going to own the properties regardless, it ain't going to look good if they're trying to put out all these TV shows and movies, yet the source material is just getting trashed. Now, if we're thinking "editorial shakeups," I'm willing to bet the first person the internet puts their crosshair on is Dan Didio, which I believe is a bit unfair. I like Dan. Sure, he's a troll, but he and Jim Lee are for better or worse, the faces of the publishing branch of the company, along with Geoff Johns, whose role in that respect has diminished in the recent years, as his attention has been pulled elsewhere. Throwing these two out just doesn't seem like a smart move to me, especially with Lee, who is an industry legend. Both those men are pretty damn personable as far as execs go, and Warner would be left without any interface between the higher ups and the consumers if they were to go "Well that sucked, you're out." If the worst case scenario happens and this is a total bust, the people I'd guess would get replaced would be the likes of Bob Harras and those above Jim and Dan, who we don't hear from publicly a lot. From what have come to understand the past couple of years, a lot of the shit that the internet blames people like Didio for, well... their blame is misplaced some of the time. So, sit on that possibility, I guess.

In Summary

I don't know man, I just want these books to be good. Is that so hard to ask? I've been getting increasingly cynical over the past couple months and for good reason, because DC will continue to take missteps, no one will read the good shit they publish and then they try to fix, they end up trying to fix the shit that shouldn't need fixing, which usually turns out poorly. I'm tired. I feel like an old man (I'm in my late twenties, just saying) when it comes to caring about this shit anymore. Rebirth could be great, it could be total bullshit, it'll probably be a mix of the two, I just really want less of the bullshit. 

Man this post was long. Watch nothing about Rebirth be said tomorrow. Watch not all the books be cancelled and they start new arcs at #53 or something. Just watch this was all wasted effort. Boy that'd be fun.


  1. I am with you and I have a long comment to go with your long post.
    I have no idea why DC is being so coy about Rebirth. Everyone knows it's happening and has a pretty good guess of what is going to happen. It's a little ridiculous to have the only info be a picture of a curtain and a word for something that is likely a line-wide relaunch. It would be insane for Rebirth to not be a massive shake-up at DC. Their line is sinking and they need to do something different. If I was them I would get the ball rolling on what exactly Rebirth is. Brand it as a jumping on point, but not a reboot, more of a refocus. Have their 1-2 month Rebirth where the new creative teams (or at least new writers if they need some more lead time) do their intro story. Use the month to form the foundation of their publishing focus. Make these the characters, events, and history that are the building blocks of their universe. Make sure each book gets its own press time. It's no wonder niche books like Omega Men and Midnighter die out so quickly. I hear nothing about them from comic news sites after their initial announcement. Maybe have an interview with the creative teams when they start new arcs. Put ads for all new series in the appropriate books. Don't leave the books out to dry and blame the market for not buying them.
    As far as the bi-weekly thing goes, I totally agree that DC needs to get their art teams lined up and solid. Rotate art teams every arc. Or do it similar to Marvel where you get only a few months out of the year where extra issues come out in a month. Whatever it is, I don’t want to see cobbled together books. Nothing is more annoying to me than 4 artists, 6 inkers and a couple of colorists all working on a 20 page issue. It's also frustrating that DC’s solicits are (almost) never adjusted when these art and writing changes happen. I don't want the 1st time I see that there are 12 creators working on one book to be when I have the issue in my hand. At least try and get the updates out before the issue is released. Hell, I'm not even asking that they do it before FOC, which seems more honest to me. I mean why has every recent issue of Secret Six been solicited with only Dale Eaglesham on art? We know Tom Derenick will be on it too, just fess up. Even if the issues had the exact same content, mish-mash art and all, I would be a lot less annoyed and upset if they just were upfront about it.

  2. "Throwing these two out just doesn't seem like a smart move to me, especially with Lee, whose an industry legend."

    being a industry legend doesn't mean he have to take the editorial decisions. Just let he be a embassador for new talent, draw some covers and special issues. I don't think new generation give a damn for him.

  3. Well, the teasing for Rebirth has started

  4. Gotham Spoilers, i totally agree. DC has screwed up so many times, i wish they wouldn't. DC You is what made me love them again, but how can i when they screw it all up? all i hope is that the content is good, Harley goes down in quantity but up in quality, and there is more freedom.

  5. I bet when they finally decide to announce it they are going to post pictures of the curtain opening up slowly and revealing something new every time it opens. Like every day for a week they are going to post a new photo of the curtain open a little more each time with some WTF image behind it.