I thought last week was pretty crazy for DC with #DCWeek in full effect but it turns out that was just the tip of the ice burg.
On Friday, the DCU got flipped upside down by a series of rumors followed by a mysterious promotional image posted by Dan Didio and Jim Lee. Let’s break down the timeline of events first.
Bleeding Cool’s first article was specifying that DC was planning to “relaunch” (that’s a purposeful avoidance of the word “reboot” for those of you playing along at home) in the summer with new #1s and a “film/tv” bent. You can read the full article here but I’ll paraphrase it for you since there really isn’t a ton of information there.
Basically, the idea is that DC is going to essentially re-try their New 52 reboot scheme from 2011, by canceling titles and restarting them to fit more in line with the current DCTV/DCEU mythology. There’s no real substitution or source provided for the rumor, but that’s not that unusual. We’ll get to why I think this is probably not (strictly speaking) true in a second.
The second article spoke about Teen Titans being relaunched and changed to just Titans, with a new team and line up that would fall more in line with the team in the current book Titans Hunt. There’s certainly some precedent for this. Before the New 52, a book called Titans ran concurrently with Teen Titans (and Young Justice) for two separate volumes and was essentially DC’s way to ear mark the age groups of their teams. Teen Titans was the younger line up featuring characters like Tim Drake, Cassie Sandsmark, Bart Allen, and Conner Kent while Titans was made up of the older, “classic” line up of characters including Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, Wally West, Roy Harper, and so on.
Now, Titans Hunt is for all intents and purposes a book with the sole purpose of retcon’ing the lack of Teen Titans history in the New 52. After the reboot, Dick Grayson’s bracket of Teen Titans were erased from history and the concept was started up by Tim Drake, meaning that the “first gen” Titans (the ones from the Titans book team line up) never actually functioned as a team, or, in most cases, even knew each other. Titans Hunt is setting out to fix that (kind of, the line up is a bit different) by telling a story about, surprise, mind control and brain washing and memory removal. Turns out the original Teen Titans did exist, we just never got to see them and they didn’t remember each other, so their relationships never factored in to any of the story arcs that have happened in the New 52 already.
I bring this up because this method of retconning is going to be something I talk about a bit more after we take a look at our third article.
Bleeding Cool then reported that Scott Snyder was planning on leaving Batman to write for the “less event focused” Detective Comics after issue 52. I indulged in some wild speculation about what the post issue 52 DC world might look like, especially for Batman books, last week when I talked about the April solicits, so this news wasn’t exactly a major surprise to me.
What became interesting is the fact that Snyder responded to these rumors by…well, not responding to them. He took to twitter to deflect attention to his long team artist Greg Capullo, who is going on “hiatus” from Batman after issue 52. I’m actually not critiquing this move on Snyder’s part, it was an extremely classy way to dodge the rumors, but it’s still a bit strange . The vibe I get from this exchange, as well as the rumors about Snyder’s departure in general, coupled with the creative team swaps in April, is that DC…might not actually know what they’re doing for sure yet.
Things might not be nailed down. And no one can talk with any certainty about it because no contracts have been signed yet.
At least, that’s the impression I’m getting.
Capullo, for his part, did confirm via twitter that Snyder is leaving Batman, but provided no information about the validity of the Detective Comics swap.
— collin corbean (@CCorbean) January 23, 2016
— Greg Capullo (@GregCapullo) January 23, 2016
But anyway – Now for the final piece of the puzzle.
After all three of these articles had been published, Dan Didio and Jim Lee took to twitter – Not to assuage them or talk about them, but to post one single image with no context.
This is when I really started to freak out. Even as I’m writing this a week later, I’m getting anxious. Because the bottom line is, even when you look at all three of these rumors together and put them next to this teaser image, we still don’t know what any of it means. Or even if any of it’s legit.
But for the sake of wild speculation, here’s what I think are the three major possibilities:
- “Rebirth” is a renumbering of issues at #1, but not a continuity or universe reboot like the New 52 was. This will mean major creative team shifts with Scott Snyder taking over Detective Comics, and a team like Tom King and Tim Seeley taking over Batman proper. Books like Titans will start, but Teen Titans will likely not be completely phased out but instead feature some creative gear shifting.
- “Rebirth” is a major continuity reboot like the New 52 was and DC will earnestly scrap the work done in the New 52 and head in a completely new direction with “a film/tv bent”. Creative teams will change, issued will renumber at #1, titles will be canceled, and the last 5 years of work on an already new universe and continuity will have been for nothing.
- “Rebirth” is a mix of the two. A “Titans Hunt-style” effort at retconning and reshaping the lackluster (or totally lacking) New 52 history into something a little richer and easier to reference in a uniform way. Creative teams will switch, books will start again at #1, and the continuity will be in flux between brand new, current, and preboot until something shakes out. We’ll see a lot of stories following the Titans Hunt model of explaining the lack of history and relationships between characters as the product of magic or mind control or brainwashing, and so on.
Obviously, I’m really, really hoping for the first option, or the third option, but I can’t in good conscious say that the second isn’t a possibility. DC doesn’t have a history of patience with their experiments and tends to value the “burn it down, start again” school of storytelling which… Is terrifying, quite frankly. As someone who quit comics for four years thanks to the New 52 reboot the first time around, I don’t know if I could stomach having to do that again.