Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is a Soft Reboot Possible?

With the DCnU approaching one of the biggest questions that fans are facing is which stories are included in this new continuity and which aren't. We know that Batman is mostly untouched except that Barbara Gordon is now Batgirl and her time as Oracle is up in the air. We know that the Green Lantern franchise is also in tact. That still leaves tons of questions. For example: if Superman is the first public superhero and he debuted about 5 years ago in the DCnU, then does that mean he never met Dick Grayson as Robin? (It's been said that Batman has been operating in secret for longer than 5 years, which is actually current continuity as Batman has been a hero longer than Superman. Batman has been operating this long so that we can fit his current continuity into the DCnU) If Superman never met Dick Grayson as Robin, then does that mean he was never able to inspire him to don the mantle of Nightwing? Then why is Dick now Nightwing? If Lois Lane and Clark Kent never dated, then which parts of the aftermath of the Death of Superman story actually happened? Are we as readers supposed to accept the general story but ignore the details? Still for Blackest Night to remain in continuity, all the Black Lanterns had to have died first. How many heroes died in five years? Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Batman, Superman, Superboy, Flash, Hal Jordan, Martian Manhunter, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Aquagirl, Hawk, Firestorm, Jade, Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-2, Terra, Azrael, Blue Beetle, Kid Flash, Donna Troy, Animal Man, Ice, Damage, Doctor Midnight, Sandman, Mister Terrific, Johnny Quick, Question, and Swamp Thing. That's just a short list in fact. Not all these characters played a major role in that story but many of them did play pivotal roles int the story.

Speaking as someone who only entered the magical world of comics about five years ago, Wikipedia is a new reader's best friend. Yet I remember my frustration after reading a lengthy article on a character's history only to have to run into something called Crisis on Infinite Earths. Having to go back and figure out which parts of the character were changed was a bit of a headache. Eventually I stopped reading a characters Pre-Crisis story and just skipped ahead. If the DCnU is about accessibility, then shouldn't the characters and their history be less complex, instead of more? I'm picturing the new reader of the future trying to read previous stories of a hero I enjoys and running into Pre-Flashpoint continuity, some of which matters and some of which doesn't. Picture the new reader trying to get a backstory on a character and hearing about stories that still happened except for Character X no longer existing. And I thought Crisis was confusing!

On a side note, DC still hasn't said whether the Multiverse has been changed by Flashpoint or whether only the "main" Earth has been changed. We do know that Grant Morrison is continuing with his Multiversity project so I think we can assume that the Multiverse still exists in it's entirity but that's pure speculation.

If DC wanted to update their characters, how bout doing it the Marvel Way? Marvel subtly slides their characters origin dates forward without making a mess. Which war did Tony Stark get captured and become Iron Man? It's moved from Vietnam, to not a war, to the Gulf War. They're slowly updated their characters and yet no one really complains about it. I can see why DC might not go this route, their characters have become so symbolic and so iconic that it's hard to make subtle changes. Look at Grant Morrison's work on Batman. Everything from the bell that Bruce uses to call Alfred after his first night of crime fighting to the movie that he watched with his parents has now become an important part of Bat-history. Try updating that!

In my opinion, a soft reboot is nice and comfortable in theory but for a company like DC Comics,  they have to go with a hard reboot, or no reboot at all. 

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