Despite the fury caused by DC’s relaunch of its ongoing mainstream titles, resulting in new first issues for several long-running titles, controversial character redesigns and a salt-and-pepper approach to retaining old continuity elements, both officials with the company and its creative staff have insisted that the story is permanent.
While a handful of artists and writers have hinted that elements of the “old world” remain and that there is a remote possibility of revisiting the previous stories, they have been quickly replaced, sometimes by the second or third issue, by staff that knows to keep their mouth shut.
DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, however has become the latest, and highest profile, proponent of the reset button theory.
“These are comics. Fiction. Everything is a reset button. I could write a story tomorrow where Batman finds a can of Bat-Continuity-Corrector spray in his Batcopter and one gas attack later, Batgirl’s back in a chair and Amanda Waller’s back as the centerfold for Fat Sass Monthly. OK, I couldn’t write it, but I’d pay Grant Morrison, make it 3D and have one of the interns write a press release about the sellout,” said Lee.
An online petition in favor of Batman finding the Bat-Continuity-Corrector spray quickly gathered 47,000 signatures before Warner Brothers, parent company of DC Comics, purchased the petition’s hosting company and redirected visitors to an infamous Rick Astley clip on YouTube. This practice, once known as Rickrolling, has since been referred to as a “DC Reboot” in that both promise or allude to something worth experiencing, only to mislead the public into participating in a joke that gets less clever every time.
Several retailers have voiced appreciation for DC’s efforts to jumpstart lagging sales.
“It’s brought in a lot of new and lapsed buyers. This one guy used to come in all the time ordering a hundred copies of Turok 1 or Superman 75 or whatever the book of the month was actually came back in for a set of all our remaining first prints. The comic industry needs more people like this to survive… people willing to pick up a dozen or so extra copies of books,” said John Trumbetti, owner of Rainbow Wasteland, a comic book and zombie survival surplus store.
“There’s been a bunch of people, easily four, maybe even five, that have come in saying ‘oh, I never bought comics, but wanted to give them a shot’. Will they stick around? Hell no,” said Kasey Garnhart, owner of Facepunch Comics. “They didn’t stick with Blade, or Batman, or Spider-Man, or Superman Returns, or Ghost Rider, or V for Vendetta, or Hulk, or Jonah Hex, or Ghost World, or Iron Man, or Fantastic Four, or Hellboy, or Watchmen, and they certainly aren’t going to stick around for this crap. But you know what, I’m cool with that because at least now I can make this month’s rent payment.”
Whether or not the “real” versions of beloved characters like Superman and many others will return depends largely on sales, as Jim Lee explains.
“If you’d told me in 1995 that Wildstorm, would end up purchased by DC I would have laughed. It wasn’t possible. In ’99, if you’d told me I’d be doing character swapping stunts with the DCU for publicity, again it wasn’t going to happen. Tell me in 2004 that we’d be just another cog in DC’s 52 worlds I would have punched you in the god damn lying face. Go back to 2009 and tell me I’d be laying off close friends and shutting the Wildstorm brand down so Ron Marz could write a 20 page lap dance featuring Voodoo and you would have been waking up in a coffin surrounded by Rob Liefield’s Killraven artwork,” said Lee.
“The point I’m trying to make isn’t that you’re going to meet a messy end if you resist DC’s plans, but that the industry changes quickly. Three months before Nu-52, do you think we had any idea we were going to relaunch everything? Bryan Q. Miller is still sending me in Batgirl scripts because none of us want to tell him Stephanie doesn’t exist.”