So, here we are. It’s finally happening. We’re finally getting information about Rebirth straight from the horse’s mouth.
In an exclusive interview with CBR and video presentation at ComicsPRO yesterday, Geoff Johns confirmed that Rebith is not a reboot, or even really a mass retcon, but an event focusing on “bringing legacy” back into DC comics without fully removing the developments made by the New 52 relaunch back in 2011.
Take a look at the video, and if you’re so inclined, read the interview. And, while you’re at it, check out the full list of Rebirth titles here.
Now, here’s the million dollar question: What does any of this really mean?
Let’s break it down, bulleted list style.
Let’s start with the technical bits.
- Most obviously and unsurprisingly: books are being canceled and new books are being launched (or relaunched) as issue number 1s.
- Many of the canceled books are clearly being folded into new titles and teams. (Red Hood/Arsenal > Red Hood & The Outlaws, Grayson > Nightwing, Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonderwoman > Trinity, etc.)
- Many of the canceled titles are not being obviously folded into new titles or teams, which is a huge concern, especially for books like fan favorite Midnighter which was a front runner for DC’s diversity initiative.
- The exceptions to the “new number 1s” rule is, surprisingly, Detective Comics and Action Comics, both of which are being returned to the pre-2011 numbering scheme which places them back in the triple digits. This is pretty cool from a comics history standpoint and will certainly be eye catching to have numbers pushing the thousands on shelves where it’s rare to see an issue numbered past 20.
- A handful of new books are becoming bi-weekly.
- These books include: Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lanterns, Superman, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Justice League, Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps, Cyborg, Harley Quinn, Justice League of America, Suicide Squad, and Deathstroke.
- Another group of books are maintaining a once-a-month release schedule.
- These books include: Batgirl, Batgirl & the Birds of Prey, The Hellblazer, Red Hood & The Outlaws, The Super-Man, Titans, Batman Beyond, Blue Beetle, Earth 2, Gotham Academy: The Next Semester, Supergirl, Superwoman, Super Sons, Teen Titans, and Trinity.
- All books are being priced at $2.99
- All new books are getting a “Rebirth” one-shot issue to prelude their new #1s.
- “Rebirth #1” will be an 80 page one shot book that kicks off the event on May 25th.
- The first line of Rebirth #1 will be “I love this world, but there’s something missing.”
And now, on to the more speculation based bits:
- Creative teams are slated for announcement at Wondercon which means we’re unable to substitute any rumors about who is writing what.
- However, DC has been rolling out press releases about exclusive contracts being signed with writers and artists. Among those recently contracted is Tom King which does lend some credence to the rumors about him taking over Batman.
- Many of the new books are team based and we have no team rosters to work with currently.
- It’s highly likely that many of the canceled and unaccounted for characters (Midnighter, the We Are Robin crew, and so forth) will be joining up to these new teams but we can’t know for sure just yet.
- It’s also highly likely we’re going to see the return of some old fan favorites that were removed or otherwise unused from continuity during the New 52 for these new teams.
- Three new titles in particular are stand outs in terms of no one having any clue who or what they’re going to include, “The Super-Man”, “Superwoman” and “Super Sons”.
- For a brief period today there was a rumor that Superwoman was actually a Lois Lane book written by Meredith Finch. This rumor has since been debunked as false.
- Johns calls out to his former “Rebirth” projects, Flash: Rebirth and Green Lantern: Rebirth as influences on the Rebirth event, which seems like a clear connection, but exactly what, how much of, and how, the historical pre-2011 continuity, legacy and history is going to be folded into the current books has yet to be defined.
- A big reoccurring theme in recent DC books has been the loss and return of memory. We’ve seen this motif crop up in Titans Hunt, Batgirl, Secret Six, and Batman & Robin: Eternal to name a few. So if there’s anywhere to really start speculating on how and how much is going to get brought back into the fold, those titles are a good place to start your cork-board-and-red-string conspiracy maps.
- Johns specifically calls out and makes reference to the Justice Society Of America, and yet no JSA books or announcements have been made.
- It’s entirely possible that we’re not doing hearing about upcoming (or continuing) titles.
…So, that’s it. That’s the quick and dirty run down of what we know and what we don’t.
That’s Rebirth as we know it as of this present moment.
For as much as it feels like a ton of information was hurled at fans to day, the bottom line is, we still don’t know that much. The combination of the vague and subjective language about legacy and “something” being missing and “getting to the heart” of what makes us love characters, coupled with the totally undefined team rosters (both creative and character), added to the already strongly muddled and constantly shifting New 52 continuity, doesn’t really leave us with much firmer ground to stand on than we had last week.
Also, the roster of bi-weekly books is much larger than anyone anticipated prior to this announcement. This is concerning on multiple levels, not the least of which being sustainability and quality. The pressure to turn out two books a month is no laughing matter and the strain that can put on writers and artists to maintain deadlines is pretty concerning. Also, the pledge to maintain a $2.99 price point for all books is a pretty cold comfort when so many books are now being bumped up to twice a month publication.
But I won’t lie, parts of Johns’ interview grabbed me by the heart. Things like:
And every single character matters — from Batman to Cassandra Cain to John Stewart to Saturn Girl to Blue Beetle to Lois Lane — everyone is someone’s favorite. And in comics, anything’s possible.
So although I won’t spoil the story of “DC Universe: Rebirth”, I will say it’s a mystery that explores what I think is perhaps the central element that’s gotten lost: legacy.
Had me clutching my chest and nodding frantically to myself because that’s something I’ve felt and expressed as a frustration with the New 52 time and time again.
So, at risk of sounding like Two-Face here, Rebirth is still a coin toss for me. This could go either way. As a fan who both loved preboot DC comics and has become deeply invested in New 52 comics, it’s a very delicate thing and one I want very desperately to work. I want to be optimistic about this. I want to be excited about it.
And I genuinely hope that I can be soon. But I’ve gotta have more to work with than what we have right now.