What we know as “Future State” was the surviving elements of a leaked plan for what then DC Comics Editor-In-Chief Dan DiDio planned for the new status of the DC Universe. Known as “5G”, standing for “fifth generation” rather than the wireless network, it would have created a new status quo had the full plan been initiated. Just the parts we heard about was not sitting well with many DC fans, myself included. It was part of his brand new timeline that would have made Wonder Woman, not Superman, the first modern superhero of the DC universe and would have been yet another reset of the DC timeline, which apparently DiDio couldn’t stop doing.
Recently, Bleeding Cool dropped a multi-part article series examining the plans of 5G and what was eventually used in Future State and more recent stories. Future State became a story arc of an alternate future using elements of 5G because they didn’t have anything else at the time. Just at the leaked conception of the 5G event the backlash was huge and may or may not have led to DiDio’s long overdue departure. Now he’s working with Frank Miller to create a whole new comic company.
I didn’t read the whole series because just listening to Comicstorian’s video below was enough to annoy me. Having to read the finer details would probably have ticked me off and I’m trying to reduce the angry rants. So let’s listen to his summary, his review of what we got and why 5G would have killed DC Comics outright, and then I’ll chime in with my thoughts. No, using Comicstorian videos on this site isn’t going to be a weekly thing. If anything the last one was a few weeks old before I used it.
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As a reminder, Bleeding Cool isn’t always an accurate info source. While it does (or did until things got political over there) have truthful information it also has its share of gossip. At the very least I’m not accusing him of lying because lazy writing isn’t exactly new, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did raid story ideas from 5G to create other stories as they did Future State. Personally, I don’t buy the idea that the 2020 Plague lockdowns were responsible because while no comics were being published it would have been the best time to decide how to toss out the 5G nonsense and create something new that might make more fans instead of less. Maybe even some of the stuff I complain about around here like toning down the Eventitis and EPIC story addiction, perhaps even something that would bring younger readers back into the fold while not alienating adult readers who don’t need gore and sex to enjoy a story. If anything this should have led to a new direction, not scraps of what was tossed out. Considering how long it went until Diamond was ready to distribute again you could have fixed almost everything that had gone wrong in addition to tossing out the whole 5G idea.
It also doesn’t surprise me that DiDio wanted to toss out the whole DC universe…and yet it does. This is they same guy who brought back Barry Allen from the dead to, along with Geoff Johns, give him a darker origin that tossed Barry’s parents under the bus. He also hated the legacy characters, especially Dick Grayson…and ignoring that both Barry and Hal Jordan ARE legacy characters. On the other hand, I call this period DiDio’s Darker DC for a reason. Starting from Identity Crisis DiDio was trying to make our heroes less heroic, bring in a darker tone, and remake continuity the way he thought because he believed his tastes in storytelling was better than the fanbase’s and the New 52 was a failure to make that happen he couldn’t handle. So when Rebirth was done without him in control and made things more of the light and fun we expect from DC it didn’t take him long to ruin it the moment he was foolishly allowed control back. Again I remind you this is the guy responsible for Beast Machines: Transformers removing as much of G1 and Beast Wars that the writers couldn’t sneak past him because that’s just how he is.
I always thought 5G was his plan to completely replace the iconic DC characters in the hopes that he could have a better chance of proving his view was right by tossing out the classic characters under the delusion that they’d stay for the brand while making the type of stories he wanted made. This meant using “diversity” as his shield, which is further shown by the supposed non-binary Flash even while that movement hadn’t pushed nearly as hard into politics as it does now and killing the concept of “tomboys” in fiction. Superjunior was still white but now the Amazonian was from the actual Amazon instead of Themyscira. The new Batman was black, and curious how DiDio was trying to protect his co-creation like he’s Ken Penders. With all new characters using a popular brand I believe he thought he could get away with what he wanted and fans couldn’t complain because, to paraphrase his “defense” of Barry’s return and Wally West’s removal, these were our DC characters now.
Instead DiDio got his older and less fun Jon by artificially aging him and I couldn’t tell you what became of Yara Flores. Benny really didn’t mention a whole lot about what would have happened to Wonder Woman or the Green Lanterns or most other DC heroes outside of their being tossed aside for DiDio’s replacements, just Batman and Superman’s fate and what made them disappear. That could be the case for the articles as well, so let’s look at the stated plans for Kal-El and Bruce Wayne…because they suck!
It’s bad enough that Alfred was killed, and sadly this was still allowed to happen. Then they wanted to ruin Bruce’s character by allowing Joker to kill Bane. That’s using the Joker as a weapon, and is counter to Bruce’s personality. I’m reminded of Harlan Ellison wanting to have Kirk let Edith Keller live despite how it would rewrite the universe because he loved her, but as a man who puts duty and responsibility first Gene Roddenberry thought that was out of character and so his grief comes from not stopping her from being hit by a car. Batman does not kill because he doesn’t want to go down that path, and using the Joker of all villains as his hitman is still killing Bane, just by proxy. There’s a reason it’s illegal to hire a hitman, even against another criminal. Plus Bruce going into semi-retirement in London rather than staying to mentor his replacements Batman Beyond style would have been a mistake. Unfortunately, enough of Batman’s story remained in main continuity (Alfred’s death, Batman versus Robin, at least the London stuff is Elseworlds material) that mistakes were still made.
Superman’s desecration was even worse. There were already jokes near the end that DiDio really wanted to work for Marvel Comics and not DC Comics, and stealing some of their ideas like the exposed identity thing just adds to that speculation, as does his own Civil War, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they were more into recreating Kingdom Come since there are writers obsessed with making that DC’s canon future instead of another Elseworlds story. Spider-Man didn’t have to reveal his identity to the public as the rules of the act, inconsistent as it was because there was no official listing of what the act said for writers to build on, was that they had to register with SHIELD. Superman demanding the DC heroes revealing themselves would make Superman more of a fascist depending on whether or not they would enforce that somehow, and given DiDio and company seem to hate secret identities because they’d rather write gods instead of people with superpowers I totally believe they would. I guess then I shouldn’t be surprised that DiDio’s working with Miller, given he writes Superman as a fascist anyway. Also, what’s with Superman and Batman both leaving the country?
Of course we did get older Jon and the tossing out of the secret identities thanks to Brian Michael Bendis, probably DiDio’s biggest ally in tearing the DCU apart. We also have the end of the Justice League now, only recent reports say that we’re getting this as well, only instead of some “Justice Alliance” team we’re getting the Titans as the new premier superteam. I guess is because they have a show–if you want to call that a Titans adaptation–and the movie didn’t do as well for the League. So we have another idea that may well be a 5G leftover. It’s like DiDio’s acolytes that remained are still trying to get elements of his story out. Plus we would have diversity being used to protect his whole thing. You know the moment someone complained about these replacements we wouldn’t have known were coming had the leak not happened that they’d be called racist and sexist. DiDio didn’t care about that. He just wanted to replace the DC Universe with his own stuff, become the new “god” of the DC Universe at the expense of the heroes that the readers wanted. Readers didn’t want what he was offering, which should have been obvious when DiDio himself was complaining that reprints of old DC material was beating his all-new all-different DC stuff we were already getting.
As a “five year experiment” I think this would have failed miserably. I have nothing against trying to play with the status quo. I liked Superman having a son, I have no problem with Batman having a son as well. Heck, give Diana a baby with Steve, let’s go for it. The problem is I do not believe in change for the sake of change. Some changes are good and some are bad. These would have been bad changes. Like it or not, DC missed their chance at an evolving universe where characters could get older and have a new generation come in. Even the Phantom screwed that up, and generational heroes are literally part of the history of the 21st Phantom who has somehow remained active since World War II. I don’t think you can replace these characters. Even outside of comics Superman is Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne is Batman, both live-action Flash shows used Barry Allen…and he was dead when CBS did their version in the 1990s so Wally West has only appeared in animation (as it is the DCAU gave him Barry’s job). This is what has become locked in the culture. If you’re going to change things this isn’t the way to do it.
This either would have killed DC Comics or forced them to hit the reset button early. Five years is way too long and even the current Warner Brothers owners, who seem to care nothing about the comics, would have taken notice and not in a positive way. I wish they had tossed everything out and maybe just work on telling stories rather than forming years long epics. It’s one of the reasons DC is failing.