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Friday, June 03, 2011 

NYT pays lip service to DC's abuse of property

The New York Times followed up on DC Comics' plans for rebooting their universe, but though they do cover some of the storytelling history, they seem more interested in focusing on the renumbering. First, there is one error they may have made here:
...the post-Crisis alterations to some of the characters were substantial: Superman, who at that point had been published for 47 years and had encountered enough Kryptonians to fill a couple of stadiums, became the sole survivor of the doomed planet. His career as Superboy was also erased. Wonder Woman received a new series (and a new No. 1) that presented her as freshly arrived to the world and having never been a founding member of the Justice League. The murderer of Bruce Wayne’s parents, the traumatic event at the core of Batman, was never found.
I think that actually happened during Zero Hour, that Batman's history was changed so that Joe Chill was never revealed as the murderer of his parents, and the culprit never found. At least 8 years after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Any eventual return to the status quo is a double-edged sword: both a frustration point and consolation for long time readers. A basic tenet of comic books had been established: If you do not like a change to a favorite character, or his or her “death,” wait a year, 10 or two decades and it will be like it was before. So many events, seemingly pivotal, in the DC universe have been undone or evolved: the death of Green Arrow, the death of Green Lantern, the death of the silver age Flash.
What if Identity Crisis and Cry for Justice aren't actually undone, or the victims of those ghastly stunts erased altogether as though they never existed? That won't exactly be fixing anything, and even with this latest stunt, it doesn't look like DC has any intention of apologizing for their grave errors of the past several years. Especially not if they keep on with the same staff, the main reason this isn't likely to pass muster.
While some readers have applauded the return of these Silver Age heroes, who were born in the 1960s, fans of their replacements — Connor Hawke, the son of Green Arrow; Kyle Rayner, who inherited Hal Jordan’s power ring, and Kid Flash, who graduated into the role of his mentor — have been saddened at their heroes’ being pushed out of the spotlight.
I don't know about Connor Hawke but Kyle Rayner certainly didn't inherit his role plausibly, and was the product of an alarming editorial mandate for many years, one that even cost his first girlfriend her life and trashed a considerable amount of the GL lore, like the many different GL Corps members, all so he could be the only GL in the universe (Alan Scott had to be renamed Sentinel because of this too).

Wally West is the character whom readers are certainly sad to see tossed out, and one of the reasons why sales have ultimately lost out for the Flash. Why not many seem to point out the differences between Wally and Kyle is bewildering.

Now, here's where they go into an uninformative take on the renumbering nonsense:
DC and Marvel have both renumbered series in the past to indicate a new direction for a super-hero title. In some cases – after clamoring from fans, a marketing ploy or editorial whim, they have also returned to the historical numbering. Perhaps most famously, Marvel restarted the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man in 1996. The experiment – fresh takes on their long running characters known as “Heroes Reborn” – was eventually undone. The series were restarted, again, with new No. 1 issues. Some of those series, like The Avengers, eventually returned to their historical numbering, at least until another shake-up resulted in the title coming to an end and the New Avengers were formed, along with a new series and a new first issue. In January this year, when the Human Torch, a member of the Fantastic Four, died in issue No. 587, that paved the way for a new series, FF, with Spider-Man as a new teammate.

The original series ended with No. 588, but some Marvel fans thought that if the new title got a tepid reception, it would return to its historic numbering within a year, in time to get to issue No. 600 of the Fantastic Four.
With the way they're going now, the new volume might never return to its original numbering. That aside, what they don't tell is that Heroes Reborn was a disaster, certainly the 2 of 4 titles Rob Liefeld was writing (Capt. America and Avengers). If the writing didn't sink it, his horrific artwork did. And on top of all that, the idea of separating the FF and Avengers from the main MCU just wasn't popular, so they reversed it.

As for numbering, compared to bad storytelling and disrespect for characters and continuity, that's the least of the problems, though it certainly is silly they should be doing it to begin with. At least they do hint that the renumberings are ploys, and just one of many stunts for the sake of short-term sales. It's been done so often now, it's gradually made people tired of buying number ones because ultimately, they're meaningless and not only unlikely to be written well, they're also unlikely to have monetary value in the future.

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