DC Rebirth: One Year Later

DC Rebirth: One Year Later

DC Rebirth: One Year Later

Pros

  • Way more pros than cons as we tie the bow on year one of Rebirth
  • Quality creative teams telling meaningful stories
  • Superman matters again
  • Batman might be better than ever before
  • The elevation of Wonder Woman
  • The Watchmen are coming

Cons

  • The Watchmen are coming?
  • Acumen still can't hang with the Trinity
  • Seriously, though...the Watchmen are coming?

DC Universe, Rebirth - Cover 1

Comics are weird. More specifically, time passing in comics is weird. How long does a story arc take, from start to finish? Is it a day? Three? A month? And how much time passes between the end of one story arc and the beginning of the next? Comic book time is elastic, and the books we read month in and month out are more like living documents than they are fixed pieces of fiction. Unless, of course, the writer sets up a story in a very specific time period. Like, say, One Year Later, or Zero Year.

But as time passes (our time, I mean), those stories become antiquated. Anachronistic. And that’s one reason, I think, that stories and arcs like One Year Later tend to fall flat, especially when looked at in the rearview mirror. What we have with Rebirth, however, is something a little bit different.

These are stories being told, essentially, in “real” time, taking place right now, and coming out twice a month. That fact alone keeps the stories fresh and current, and makes Rebirth seem more…important, somehow.

Sure, give it a couple of years and these Rebirth tales may well seem about as old-fashioned as Steve Rogers shopping at a Hot Topic in a mall in the late 90s. But I don’t think so. I think these Rebirth stories might just stick, years down the line.

DC’s been nothing if not surprisingly consistent in the stories they’re telling, and in the quality of the stories they’re telling. It’s one year later, and not one–not. one.–Rebirth title has been cancelled. Compare that to, say, New 52.

And, so far at least, there are some big takeaways from the first year of the Rebirth era of the DCU, and they’re all pretty major talking points. Let’s take a look at some of them:

–First, Tom King, in my opinion, is writing some of the best Batman stories ever. Period, no asterisk. He’s telling Dark Knight tales that feel new, and different, and truly weighty. The “I Am Bane” storyline was nothing short of operatic, and this week’s issue 25 featuring part one of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” has set the stage for a truly epic Batman yarn.

I’ve alluded in the past that Tom King might, in fact, be Batman as he’s managed to follow an al-time great Snyder/Capullo run on the character with something else, entirely. And, I dare say, something better. Take a look at some of the more under-the-radar books he’s written, like the Eisner-Nominated short he scripted in the Batman Holiday one-shot, or even this week’s genre-bending crossover between Batman and Elmer Fudd. Seriously. King is magic.

Or he’s not. He’s just Batman.

–And what about Superman? Well, Big Blue has been returned to a greatness he hasn’t seen in a very long time. What’s more, thanks to Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, Superman is once again utterly readable and–dare I say–relatable, thanks to the addition of a family to protect and a son to teach. The Lois/Clark relationship is so, so vital to the character, and to the overall feel of the DCU, and having it back just makes so much sense.

Add in Superman’s trials and tribulations with a son, and you’ve got something special. And, frankly, that’s exactly what Superman should be–something special. The Man of Steel’s adventures have also spun out into the excellent Super Sons series, which brings a smile to my face every month.

Superman 10 cover

–Rounding out the Trinity, Greg Rucka has once again elevated Wonder Woman to a worthy place in the DCU, telling an epic story on two fronts and giving that title–and that character–the gravitas she so greatly deserves. Bolstered, for sure, by the incredibly positive reaction to the Wonder Woman film, the sky is the limit for this character.

But, here’s the thing–the sky has always been the limit for Wonder Woman. Sadly, few creative teams have been able to get her there. With Rucka back at the helm, though, the trajectory seems to be continually on the rise for Diana. Now here’s hoping we’ll see a similar elevation for some of her rogues gallery in this new DCU.

–And then there’s the Watchmen factor. Starting way back in Geoff Johns’ brilliantly plotted DC Universe Rebirth one-shot, the hints have not-so-subtly dropped that, at the very least, Dr. Manhattan will be making his way into the DC Universe proper anytime now. What’s more, there’s the ever-dangling thread that Alan Moore’s bluest creation may have been pulling strings in the DCU for a very long time.

image

Listen, like a lot of you out there, I’m a bit conflicted about having the Watchmen Universe enter the DC Universe. But it was going to happen eventually–that’s just too much prime IP for a company to sit on for so long. I’m glad that, now that the time has officially come, it seems to be carefully plotted, carefully planned, and well-crafted.

What more could we ask, right? (I mean, aside from Alan Moore dropping his beef with the publisher and coming back to write new Watchmen stories, of course.)

–Events within the event. Surprisingly (because, let’s face it–this is comic we’re talking about, folks), DC has done a great job setting up, planning out, and delivering quality “event” books that sometimes tie in to Rebirth (The Button–holy crap, The Button!) and sometimes veer off into their own thing (All-Star Batman, or even the oft-maligned Dark Knight III).

So that’s the good. Let’s take a look at some of the not-so-good, shall we?

–Despite best efforts, Aquaman is still…Aquaman. One of the few titles that I’ve simply stopped caring about, Aquaman keeps chugging along without ever seeming to impact anything important in the DC Universe. Some things just never change, I guess.

–Let’s talk about Young Animal, shall we? Ugh. Okay, here we go. I like everyone involved in this line of comics. Seriously–every creator and every editor. I like them all. But I’ve had a really hard time finding my groove with titles like Cave Carson, Doom Patrol, and even Mother Panic, which started off really strong. I’ve argued that just maybe, we aren’t really supposed to understand everything that’s going on in a book like Doom Patrol–Grant Morrison, anyone? But I’ve managed to completely lose the thread of the storyline in Gerard Way’s efforts, and that bums me out.

Doom Patrol 1

–Now down to some business of comics stuff. The twice-monthly shipping schedule is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that I love reading my favorite books every other week. A curse in that there just may not be that many quality Green Lantern stories to tell on such a constant basis.

It’s hard enough to pick all-time great stories for characters like Aquaman–now think about how hard it must be to tell quality Aquaman tales on a twice-monthly schedule. I think, at some point, DC will alter the course on the twice-a-month titles, but so far they’ve managed to do so without sacrificing a ton in the way of art quality. They’ve also managed to keep their price point at $2.99, which still gives me (reverse) sticker shock every time I checkout at my local comics shop.

As with any big-change-to-everything “event-not-event” in comics, Rebirth is still very much an experimental work in progress. So far, it’s shined over the course of its first year. Maybe some of that luster has to do with the fact that across the way,. Marvel has had some problems among their base of adult readers. They’ve shied away from some of the characters and themes that have resonated with people over the course of generations. DC, on the other hand, seems to be (joyfully) going back to those things while also telling new, fresh stories for today’s post-modern audience.

I’m not going to flat-out rate Rebirth at its one-year birthday, but I think it’s safe to say that the experiment is a success, and one that should have long-term legs.

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