Positive Cynicism – The five worst things about the DC Comics reboot

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

Well, we’ve survived the first-issue onslaught of the DC Comics line-wide reboot. It’s been far from a success thus far, and I grant that we only have first issues to talk about and the stories haven’t had time to breathe yet. But will that stop us from complaining about things that are stupid? Of course not! Because they’re stupid! For example …

5. Now I have to pretend that Grifter and Voodoo are important characters.

People point out that in previous events, DC has added other characters into its mainstream universe. The Crisis on Infinite Earths, for example, codified the long-term existence in the DCU of characters now owned by DC, but originally created and published by other companies: Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, the Freedom Fighters and all kinds of other characters now being ignored by DC.

My argument is: those were Captain Marvel and Plastic Man and Blue Beetle. Those were great characters. This is Jim Lee’s stripper and Punisher rip-off, and they suck.

4. Okay, has Batman been rebooted or not?

Reboots only happen because — other than the marketing gimmick — someone decides that continuity needs to be streamlined. When you do that, you do nothing but call attention to all of the holes in your continuity. Batman and his plethora of supporting characters are constantly referencing stories that happened before the reboot, especially the “Return of Bruce Wayne” and Dick Grayson’s stint as Batman (and the continued existence of Bruce Wayne’s McBatman franchise, Batman, Inc., which suffers from, among other things, the delusion that Africa is a country).

When this whole enterprise was announced, it was clear that everything that had come before no longer counted because this was starting over again. That’s always code for “until some writer comes along and finds a clever way to make an old story he liked part of continuity.” Usually that takes a couple of years. Here it took a couple of seconds. Someone in charge of Batman made the conscious decision to just ignore that the reboot had happened and just keep moving forward with the story. Oh, but Commissioner Gordon has red hair. Reboot!

The same thing is also happening in the Green Lantern comics. For all intents and purposes, these are just new issues of an ongoing Green Lantern comic and not a reintroduction of the concept or a reboot. You can’t have a universe remaking reboot when half of your titles are ignoring it. It’s just sloppy.

3. It’s the return of Image Comics.

I was going to add, “and I don’t mean that in a good way,” but seriously, what’s the good way to mean it? I’m not even the hundred and fifty-seventh person to point out that DC’s new comic books are as bad as Image Comics were almost twenty years ago, and in basically the same ways. But every time someone points it out, some other idiot points out that those comics made a ton of money and “shook up the industry,” as if those are indicators of quality, or anything other than good marketing.

It wasn’t exactly a risk, Marvel’s biggest rock stars forming their own company and then doing thinly-veiled versions of whatever they were already doing at Marvel (but with far worse writing, since they were doing it themselves). Those overrated one-trick ponies could’ve all gone to Archie Comics and gotten the same results, except then they wouldn’t own their characters and be able to merchandise the shit out of them.

And that’s all Image Comics really was in the 90s: a triumph of marketing. Yeah, it made a lot of money, but let me ask you guys who are comparing the new DC to Image a serious question: are you really putting Spawn, Grifter, Shadowhawk and friggin’ Badrock in the same league as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? Name the one memorable, lasting character that came from the original Image Comics lineup. Who’s the one character you still give a damn about? Another question: when was the last time you actually read any of those shitty comics? That’s right, not in almost two decades, because they suck. They don’t hold up at all. Image sucked.

I think the fact that DC is now actually giving Rob Liefeld work shows what they think about quality.

2. Rampant sexism.

I’m not remotely the first person to point this out, but it needs to be repeated again and again and again. The new DC Comics are very sexist. They might as well print “Comics for Bro’s” at the top of every cover as a slogan. The new DC comes from the same school that produces Maxim and Family Guy and Axe Body Spray and every other product aimed at boys who are afraid of women, too scared to buy porn and dreaming of the day they’ll finally be old enough to pledge a fraternity. These guys are easy to identify — they’re the ones out there leaving idiotic comments on any Internet post that dares to point out DC’s new pattern of turning women into soulless sex objects.

Seriously, the first time we see Catwoman, we just see tits and ass — not even her face. The first time we see Starfire, we see her ass while Red Hood brags about tappin’ it. The first time we see Wonder Woman, she’s naked in bed, before leaping out of it to defend a girl who spends the entire issue in underwear and a tee shirt. The first time we see Voodoo, she’s on all fours in a strip club while men throw money at her. The Shining Knight is the only medieval warrior who basically wears a bikini made of gold and chains. We get an upskirt shot on Supergirl that looks like a relief map. We see Batwoman changing out of her costume. Forget what else any of these women do in the meantime: this is the first thing we see of each of these characters. When we first see Wonder Woman, she’s not doing something selfless or saving someone’s life: she’s naked. No matter what else ends up happening in her hastily-written comic, she’s still the naked chick.

What impression is DC trying to give its readers of these characters? For the Maxim guys who are seriously terrified that white males are going to become an underclass, it’s reassuring; see, Wonder Woman’s powerful, but I’ve seen her naked, so I’m not as afraid. For women readers, it sends a different message: you’re not wanted here; we’re not writing comics for you. For any reader, man or woman, with a functioning brain, it’s as disheartening as it is ridiculous. This is the ultimate regression.

Much and more has been made of Starfire’s transformation from loving, heroic character to personality-free fuck doll. Good. People should be making a big deal out of that stupidity. It’s the worst thing DC has done with its reboot so far. It’s a direct insult. It’s DC standing up and saying “This is what we think of our tradition of female characters.” Starfire gets turned into a no-strings-attached sex toy for Red Hood and Arsenal to bump fists over like the standard issue douche bags they are; Cyborg gets to join the Justice League.

1. DC assumes its readers are dumber than children.

Last week, Cartoon Network aired an episode of its best show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, that had the Atom on it. Not only that, but it had two Atoms; a man who was the Atom in an earlier incarnation, Ray Palmer, and the latest man carrying on the legacy of the Atom, Ryan Choi. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is rated TV-Y7.

DC Comics, however, thinks that its readers are so stupid that there can only be one version of every character. So the old Justice Society of America will probably never be heard from again, because it’s supposedly confusing to readers that there are two (or more) characters who are the Flash. Meanwhile, an episode of The Brave and the Bold featured three Flashes. And no one cried that it was too confusing to understand.

See, when DC Comics announces that they need to streamline continuity because it’s too confusing to readers, what they really mean is they need to dumb it down because they think readers are too stupid to catch up (while simultaneously killing demand for back issues and trade paperbacks reprinting older stories). Never mind that there are still all these versions of Robin running around; the prospect of having to explain why there have been so many different versions of the Flash is apparently terrifying.

So not only does DC assume you’re afraid of women, it also assumes you’re an idiot. Reboot!

DC has had its marketing stunt. And there will probably be more marketing stunts to come with all of this silliness. Telling stories hasn’t exactly been of the biggest concern so far, so it’s hard to comment on the direction the stories are going in (if any); so far it’s all just marketing and endless, frustrating stupidity.

I think DC’s best hope right now is to give this a couple of months and then do what Marvel did with Heroes Reborn and just pretend this whole thing was some kind of anomaly in time-space that can be fixed and refolded back into the old continuity. Because if these are really the stories DC wants to tell now, they have shot themselves in the foot and guaranteed the irrelevancy of their books.

Not that it matters, because these things are only there to keep copyrights alive between terrible movies …

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com

Comments (1)
  1. Dar October 5, 2011

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