You know, some of us saw this coming. I wasn’t ready to embrace Rebirth not because I thought it was a bad idea. It was something long needed in the DC Universe, but knowing the same people were still running the DC Universe I knew it wasn’t going to last.
Sometimes I hate being right. It happens so seldom and when it does it’s about things I want to be wrong on.
Heroes In Crisis is the latest example of a return to the New 52 style of DC storytelling. Actually, we should call it the “Crisis” style because the darkening of the DC Universe has been going on since Identity Crisis, a story that could have been interesting if it didn’t screw up so very much. And in this latest crisis more dead have been added. Most notably Roy Harper and the original Wally West. Meanwhile, Nightwing was shot and is near death. And all of this is fine with Dan DiDio. Killing Flashes, hating the Titans (odd, considering the kickoff show for DC’s new streaming service), and wanting Nightwing dead is nothing new for the DC Comics publisher. In case you missed this morning’s article link Professor Geek has the latest on this event, but this isn’t a filler video. I have my own thoughts on the continued mistreatment of my favorite comic universe.
Considering the DC Universe I grew up with is part of the reason I want to be a writer, DiDio’s remake sits poorly with me as a writer as well as a fan. You don’t need to deconstruct what it means to be a superhero. It’s all you’ve been doing lately, and it’s why many fans are unhappy with the DC movieverse and its deconstructing of Superman and Batman, especially Superman. We love the DC universe for a reason but DiDio apparently doesn’t and wants to change what fans have loved and lose those fans in the hopes of replacing them with…what? People who don’t like superhero comics? They’re busy writing for Marvel.
People don’t go to DC for dark stories. DC is the place of hope and aspiration, of larger than life heroes against larger than life threats, overcoming those threats, and giving us a bit of catharsis for all the things out of our control. It used to be a place for kids to see heroes to aspire to be but they’ve tried hard to push kids out of their path, despite so much evidence that kids love superheroes. (Just look up any hospital event where people dress like superheroes, or Make A Wish type events involving superheroes because sick kids love it so much. But that’s a whole other argument.) But most of all DC is the place I always went for fun action and adventure filled sci-fi stories and lately fun has been the antithesis of what DC puts out.
At least until Rebirth.
When Rebirth replaced the New 52/DC You era all the fans I knew were happy. It was a return of the DC style even though they had already tossed out the DC Universe they had known. Unless you’re from my generation, in which case they did that in the 80s with the first Crisis. And the more Crises they put out the more I start hating that story even though it’s a really good story. But so is Watchmen and I hate that comic because of what it did to superhero comics. Although really it’s neither of their faults. Moore didn’t expect his deconstruction to become the new default for superhero stories.
And yet we have Tom King telling us that Batman “needs his pain” because it’s what drives him. I’ve touched on this before.
They’ve also tried to say Batman is as mentally unstable as the criminals he fights because he wears a costume and wages a war on crime. Well that must be true for characters like The Phantom Detective, Columbo, any crime show really, or every superhero in comics. (And I’m sure there are writers who do think all superheroes are mentally unstable. THOSE people shouldn’t write superhero stories, especially ones featuring cultural icons.) The whole point of the bat costume was to scare criminals, using psychological tactics to unnerve the criminals of Gotham City. He is also a master of stealth, a detective, and an inventor. Batman may be one of the most SANE people in Gotham.
Meanwhile, Tom King teases a marriage we didn’t ask for and then totally brush it away just as we became intrigued with the idea. He’s had Bruce undergo a crisis of faith and promises things will get worse in 2019, while we still aren’t done with 2018. And he’s the writer of Heroes In Crisis, where he had a number of heroes get killed off. Like Wally West, a character fans demanded come back after he was replaced by a pallet-swapped namesake when the New 52 came around and still hasn’t reunited him with his wife or brought back their kids. Although given what was done to Lian they might be better off. Speaking of which, he’s also killed off Roy Harper because he hasn’t suffered enough. And he killed a bunch of other minor heroes, including Lagoon Lad, who made a big splash (pun semi-intended) in the Young Justice cartoon, which is also coming back on the DC streaming service for a long-awaited third season. (And that’s more likely to drawn people in than Titans but I’ll get to that tomorrow.)
Dan Jurgens is a writer who probably best understands Superman, his cast, and how to write them. The only story I never liked was Future’s End, which started for me right at concept. Everything else he’s written that I’ve seen are great superhero stories, albeit with that dark edge that crept in during the 90s and DiDio ramped up as high as he could get away with. So naturally he’s replaced with Brian Michael Bendis, a man who care little for continuity. And what does he do as soon as he gets in? Blames the destruction of Krypton on some character he created, send Lois and Jon off to who knows where, and has Superman build a new Fortress Of Solitude in the Bermuda Triangle for no good reason whatsoever. This is the same person who turned the Scarlet Witch insane, had Luke Cage swear, and had Doctor Doom call a woman a “cow”. We also kept Geoff Johns, another good writer (to be honest so is Bendis most of the time, just not when it comes to continuity) when he isn’t retconning himself to play havoc with Green Lantern lore or other origins because he thinks his idea is cooler, and is no stranger to the darker stuff himself. Remember, this is the guy who turned Billy Batson into a brat.
When that #FireDiDio hashtag hit Twitter I made a commentary suggesting the problem was bigger than that. I stand by that. Even the more cheerful DC TVerse still has its share of darkness. Heck, Supergirl was originally on CBS apart from the CW DCU and they still gave Supergirl a darker outfit. The “Arroverse” DC characters and Black Lightning (segregated from the rest of the DC TVerse in its own reality) have the same lack of bright colors. The DC Expanded Universe is only recently giving us brighter colors and a bit more humor but they had to be dragged kicking and screaming and I don’t expect them to stay on this path any more than DiDio and the Darker Creators have. They’re already trying to ease back to the torment of heroes, stronger interest in villains, and the basic ruination of what made the DC Universe great to their fans, the ones who wanted Rebirth. Well, I hope you all liked looking at the lollipop because Danny and his buddies are here to take it away from you again.
It was fun while it lasted. But if I get money coming in again I’m just completing my Bronze Age DC books. The ones with the actual superheroes and fun stories. I may get the Rebirth period of DC but I’ll gladly leave when we still have son of Superman, a Wonder Woman who isn’t a Kratos/Xena hybrid, and…Batman really hasn’t gotten any lighter during this period, has he? Now he’s about to lose his surrogate son, other heroes are dead, and if ever wanted to write with those characters, sucks to be you, and this is just issue #1. We’re promised more dead characters. Because that’s what the DC heroes are to Dan DiDio and the Dark Creators: cannon fodder.