Yes, you read the headline correctly. After four years of the “New 52,” and a year of “DC You” attempting a soft revamp, DC’s trying yet another reboot… or revamp… or something. DC released this image on Friday via the Twitter accounts of DC honchos Dan DiDio and Jim Lee:
— Jim Lee (@JimLee) January 22, 2016
What’s involved in this revamp/reboot/whatever is as of this writing unclear, or even whether it will be a wholesale reboot. (“DC You” last year was just a revision/change in marketing.) The website Bleeding Cool offers these few details:
- Rebirth is designed to tie the DCU line of comics closer to the film and TV versions.
- A few comics getting new titles; specifically, the “Teen Titans” will become (again) just the “Titans.”
- Like what Marvel’s done with some of its comics, “Batman” will become a biweekly book. Its popular writer Scott Snyder will be switching to the still-monthly “Detective Comics.”
- Bleeding Cool implies that certain other DC books (Superman, etc.) will become biweekly as well.
- Closer ties to the TV and movie versions of characters. Admittedly, this might come off as “the tail wagging the dog” to some, and beg the question why do they need to publish comics at all. However, I think having the characters resemble versions the public are more familiar with might have some appeal to newer readers, compared to the New 52 status quo for Wonder Woman (her people are murderers?) or Superman (dating Wonder Woman instead of Lois Lane?).
It’ll be nice when full details on Rebirth come out, as well as whether it’s a full-fledged reboot or another “DC You”-style change of direction. Given the abysmal sales of DC, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a reboot.
But other than more familiar-to-the-general-public versions of their characters, the above few details doesn’t sound like it’ll help DC’s situation much. I’d imagine soaking fans for double the monthly spending on Batman can only go so far. (Although it’s one way around increasing cover prices, I suppose…for now.) It also doesn’t fix what’s fundamentally wrong with DC’s comics business, if it’s not accompanied by actual changes in how they do things.
What changes should DC implement, in my opinion? Here’s a list:
- Fix their problems with sexism and diversity, which I’ve previously written about. Put more effort into hiring more minorities and women, not only for creative staff, but also (and especially) among editorial and management. Among other benefits, having more diversity on staff and management might help prevent some of DC’s more embarrassing or tone-deaf aspects in recent years.
- Set up a digital comics reading service similar to Marvel’s Marvel Unlimited. Even if nearly all of DC’s comics published before 2011 aren’t canonical anymore (unlike Marvel), there’s decades’ worth of classic stories worth reading. It’d also keep with recent media trends such as Netflix and Spotify.
- More all-ages-friendly titles, and a more varied tone in their books. Since it’s clear that just doubling down on Batman and his books’ tone isn’t working, allowing actual variety in the company’s books would be nice. Also, do a much better job of selling what few kid-friendly titles DC does have.
- Fixing the broken nature of the 22-page “floppy” comic business model somehow. Fewer titles and more anthology-length books with backups? Go digital-only with print trade paperback collections? I’m pretty sure the inevitable and eventual $5 an issue cover price isn’t feasible.
We’ll soon find out what the new DC titles will be like, since June solicitation are due to be released in March. What do you think of this “Rebirth?” Let me know in the comments.