The impending DC Reboot has lots of fans up in arms, as absolutely every sea change ever in comic books always does. Comic fans are an irritable bunch, and we all have our pet peeves, or as George Carlin called them, "major psychotic fucking hatreds." However, since people are still able to enjoy Spider-Man comics despite selling his marriage to Satan, maybe we can fathom the idea that DC will still produce enjoyable comic books in the future, even if they're not exactly the same as they've always been.
Of course, I'm still holding to my theory that the fact that there are exactly 52 #1 issues planned (with 52 being the number of universes in the DC multiverse) is a clue suggesting that this whole exercise is just DC's way of launching their own Ultimate-style universe, getting national attention by claiming it's a full-on reboot. Or, even if it isn't, they have that option to fall back on if it doesn't pan out.
With all that in mind, it might be a helpful exercise to go through some of the DCU's major characters and examine what they might change, or perhaps just what could stand to be rolled back, reimagined or even just tweaked a little. We did some of that in this week's Book Report podcast, but since the reboot is all that's on anybody's mind this week in comics, it's worth examining a bit further – or at least engaging in wild speculation a bit more. So let's take a crack at this, shall we?
All we know so far is that they seem to be turning the classic 'red underpants worn over his pants' thing that gets so routinely mocked into a much less mockable red belt, judging by the Jim Lee's image of the new-snazz Justice League. What's heavily rumored is that they're going to have Superman sell his marriage to Satan as well. Okay, Neron likely won't have a hand in it, but breaking up Lois & Clark seems quite possible. Is it specifically so he can go bang Wonder Woman? That would be pretty tacky. However, there's an old Justice League story from years ago where Superman and Wonder Woman get transported to some other dimension and wind up fighting a lonely war side-by-side for a millennia or so with no expectation of ever returning home, and there's a tender moment between the two of them that could have led to something, but Kal-El withdraws, quietly insisting that Lois Lane is still the only one, even after a thousand years of misery and fighting. Was that just an example of Super-Devotion or Editorial Mandate? It always seemed a bit off, that.
So Clark Kent as a single man. Do we get Lana Lang action? Will he start something up with Diana instead just to liven up the fan art in Google image searches? Does that aspect of Clark's life even need to be changed? At least with Peter Parker, you kinda understood it, given the amount of dating around he managed to do before he got married. But with Clark, it's kinda only really been Lois. Will having him play the field a bit just constantly feel like he's cheating on Lois, or will we get used to Single Supes after a while?
In that vein, maybe Lois Lane will be getting a revamp herself to step out of Superman's shadow. They seem to be boosting her profile by giving her her own spin-off series during Flashpoint. Maybe she'll be a hardened war correspondent, perhaps part of a team with a less goofy, more adult Jimmy Olsen – and hell, maybe that pocket full of kryptonite will work its magic and they'll be hooking up themselves. How many heads would that detonate?
There's also the question of the Super-offshoots. Supergirl, Superboy, Steel, Eradicator, Cyborg Superman, etc. If they're de-aging Superman, what happens to the younger super-types? That's the question that's got a lot of younger fans panicking, because these younger legacy types are the ones they most identify with. However, spending so much time franchising that big red S into all these characters doesn't seem like something DC would want to undo. Chances are they young 'uns will just be made closer to Superman in age, although he'll still predate them by a little while just to keep his seniority. Will they get rid of Krypto as being too super-goofy? Yeah, but they tried that before, and some guy with a love of the classics will always bring him back.
That's the thing to remember with all this – no matter how much they try to put stuff behind them, eventually they'll find ways to bring the old stuff back a few years down the line. It's amazing how worked up we can get about big changes like this at the same time we get super cynical about event ever meaning anything, saying 'oh, he'll be back eventually, what's the point?' if someone gets killed off. We are hard to please. Thus, it makes a certain amount of sense that DC wants to find new people at whom they can take a crack by dishing out a bunch of #1s.
Intuitively, it's hard to think that there's much that needs to change about Batman. He's so classic, iconic and cool-looking that he's kinda DC's hook to newbies. But when you take a look at what's actually happened to Batman lately, you start to see where there's some messes that could use some squeegeeing.
First up is Batman Incorporated and the general dilution of the Bat symbol. Bruce Wayne is now publicly known as the financier of the Batman, which seems to be as big as Peter Parker outing himself as Spider-Man. How hard would it be now to make the mental leap that Wayne is Batman? How easy would it be for the government to force inquiries into his connection to Batman, discover all sorts of tax fraud and shell games to cover up the expenditures, force congressional hearings to try to get him to name the illegal vigilante he supports, yadda yadda yadda. Just seems pretty darn stupid. But at least Bats doesn't have to sell his sidekicks to Satan to roll this one back. Let's hope they make with the rolling.
Speaking of sidekicks, there are 400 Robins and 400 Batgirls. Ricky Grayson (betting that calling him 'Dick' is going to go by the wayside, as it's fairly antiquated at this point) is currently wearing the Bat symbol, too, which sort of seems like a natural destination for him, although striking out as Nightwing sorta implied that he wanted his own identity. Now, with him in the cowl running around solving crimes with the other 399 Robins and a few scattered Batgirls, it feels like the Batmobile might as well be the Mystery Machine sometimes. They've even been hinting at somehow making Barbara Gordon return as Batgirl, even though Oracle is one of the most ingenious reinventions of a character of all time, doing so much more good overall than any one Batgirl ever could.
If I had my druthers, Bruce Wayne would be the only Batman, and Ricardo Grayson would be Nightwing, and he'd have all the Junior Trainee Little Rascals to run with. That way, the one and only Dark Knight could work separately from the Boy & Girl Wonders. Maybe they could be Nightwing & The Gotham Titans. The young sidekick idea was never one I enjoyed for this particular Caped Crusader, but I know there are some passionate Robin fetishists out there, and who am I to deprive them of their fun? Just keep it out of my Batbook.
Here we go. There are some who might cynically say that this whole reboot thing is a way to revamp the origin of Diana of Themyscira to make it more movie-ready without looking like that's what they're doing. The quandary is understandable. It's always seemed difficult to make 'perfect woman sculpted from magic clay on a magic mystery island' relatable, but given the success of Thor this year, that kind of far-fetched mystical warrior-goddess-style nuttiness somehow seems a bit more workable. Audiences will apparently buy another realm of gods and giants a lot easier than they'll swallow Diana Prince, CEO of Themyscira Inc. who cries about men over ice cream, as was David E. Kelley's rejected television take on the most famous female superhero in the world.
So perhaps they can split the difference when they reboot her. The island-out-of-time isolated from humankind – particularly mankind – full of completely badass warrior women nonetheless dedicated to peace is a great and fascinating concept that should be preserved, but the whole 'building her out of magic clay' thing probably needs to go. If we're keeping the Justice Society as the heroes of the World War II era, maybe we can keep Diana's mother Hippolyta as that era's Wonder Woman, who came out to explore the world at large and had some kind of relationship with somebody, which could maybe make something fun of deciding who among the original JSA or All-Star Squadron or what-have-you would be Diana's secret father. That would certainly blow some minds. Hippolyta comes back to Themyscira after being burned somehow by humanity (perhaps Plastic Man breaks her heart by betraying her or something) and that's where Diana is raised.
Or, if you don't want to live in a world where it's possible that Dr. Mid-Nite Charlie McNider is Wonder Woman's father, maybe you could make it Steve Trevor, leaving Diana free to get with anybody. That might get into a weird area though, considering the recent and fantastic animated Wonder Woman film. Actually, come to think of it, how about you just make THAT movie into a live-action feature? Don't change anything. Just let her keep the pants.
On that note, let's knock a few more of these out rather quickly.
EVERY FEMALE CHARACTER POINTLESSLY WEDGED INTO A THONG
Let's get that beard back.
If anybody needs a costume revamp, it's this guy. He's an assault on the eyes.
Okay. Back to the meat.
No changes necessary. Geoff Johns has been tearing down the Lantern establishment for years now to rebuild it in a new way, so this'll just give him a little jumpstart on that.
Considering Barry Allen is the source of all this change, he'll have carte blanche to reinvent his past and what-not. Johns seems to have a soft spot for Patty Spivot, so is he going to roll back Barry's relationship with Iris to make that hook-up happen? Will that negate Bart Allen? Where's Wally West in all this? Will he be stuck in the banana-yellow Kid Flash outfit again?
I'd prefer to go back to Wally as the Flash, but with Johns running the show, that's not going to happen. Again, at the risk of harming their franchises, they'll probably just make Barry a little less 'elder statesman.' Somehow. Maybe get rid of Wally's twins/marriage etc., because nobody likes happily married people in comic books, I guess – although if they mess with Jay and Joan Garrick, that'll be a problem.
Seeing as how Johns has been writing Flash as well, we might not get too much changed here – probably just a tweak or two.
Well, we've already seen what they're doing here – seemingly tossing out the alien version and the Egyptian eternally reincarnating version and just going with Carter Hall: Archaeologist Specializing In Alien Ruins. Bleh. Just relegate Carter and Shiera Hall back to the JSA's past and give us back the Thanagarians Katar Hol and Shayera Thal from John Ostrander's pretty cool Hawkworld series, which was the first post-Crisis Hawkman anyhow.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
Another huge question mark. We know that Mr. Terrific's getting a blue unitard, "Fair Play" tattoos and "eligible bachelorhood" in his own series. What we don't know is what this new "everything's young again" world is going to have in store for the old guys. True, half this team is made up of young upstarts and legacy characters, but it's mainly known for being those relics from the 40s who are still inexplicably alive and spry enough to keep up with this cape malarkey. Is this reboot going to open the door for the classic heroes to 23 skidoo gently into that good night?
Well, we know that Alan Scott definitely confuses the origins of the Green Lantern Corps. We know that Jay Garrick does a bit of the same, but not to the same extent, for the Flashes. And, uh… how exactly is Wildcat still alive again? He doesn't have powers, he just punches people. That's completely badass, but it doesn't explain how the hell this ex-boxer isn't scootypoopin' around a retirement home by now. I like having these old crotchety guys around to play elder statesman and show the young 'uns how it's done, but if the overriding goal of this reboot is to streamline concepts to make them more sensible and less confusing, maybe it's time to let the original JSA take its curtain call. Use that vanishing point back in the 50s during the McCarthyesque trials be their mysterious end, and maybe the younger characters take up their mantles nowadays and try to reignite the flame of the Justice Society and carry that torch. Maybe Alan Scott's kids Jade and Obsidian aren't so young, if they were born before he disappeared. Maybe they're the elder statesfolk now. Wildcat's son, too, even though we just got him introduced a couple of years ago.
I know, that's a bit radical, and even I couldn't bear to knock off Ma Hunkel. It would require a lot of rejiggering of ages as well. Where does Stargirl stand if her stepfather was the original Star Spangled Kid from the 40s? Should Pat Dugan be her step-grandfather now or something?
Oy, this is a headache. Maybe they'll just reintroduce each JSA member as their own individual hero, like Mr. Terrific, and form a new JSA organically once each new person is established and made less confusing.
Well, we'll leave it there for now and – oh, wait.
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
Give us Ted Kord back at once.
Now we'll leave it there, and just wait and see what the heck DC's thinking.