Well, this week certainly had some unexpected surprises didn’t it? For those who don’t know, two of DC’s releases this week, Superman: Doomed #2 and Booster Gold: Futures End had some very big teases related to their upcoming April 2015 event. If you haven’t read these books I warn you this article contains *FULL SPOILERS* for both, so read ahead at your own discretion. First, let’s tackle Superman: Doomed.
Following Brainiac’s defeat towards the end of the issue, he is pulled into a black hole before being rescued by a mysterious robotic voice, one that sounds an awful lot like post-crisis Brainiac. New 52 Brainiac is then deemed a failure and is then “acquired”, ending our comic on the following image:
As you can see, the image includes several post-crisis characters such as Ted Kord, the JSA and red trunks wearing Superman (huzzah!), it also strangely enough has an image of the flashpoint continuity. This would seem to suggest that the different DC timelimes do exist somewhere in the multiverse, an idea that is giving further support in Booster Gold: Futures End. The future version of Booster tell our Booster that he’s not a future him but instead “a future version of you, from a world you’ve never known”. He also seems to believe that the kiss between Superman and Wonder Woman is not from his universe
Combining these facts with the knowledge that DC’s 2015 event coincides with the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths would seem to indicate DC are planning a new crisis involving post-crisis and new 52 continuity. Adding more fuel to the fire are the recent statements by Dan DiDio that after March;
“we take a little break from our line”
This suggests that the event may not be set within the new 52. This has caused excitement among many fans who aren’t fans of the new 52, to put it lightly, and who are now expecting (as they knew all along) that this will mean a return to the DC universe they know and love. Today I would like to take a look at the possible logistics of bringing back the old universe as well as asking what I feel is an important question, should they?
Let’s start with that last part first, as I know it may be controversial among some readers. Go on any comic forum or comment section related to DC and you’re bound to find several comments related to how the new 52 has ruined DC forever and destroyed many of their favourite characters. While I can understand fans being upset about how some of their favourite characters have been handled and I do often miss the idea of a large DC history, I feel there are some things the new 52 did right that shouldn’t be forgotten.
When the new 52 launched I was struck with the wild amount of variety in the line, books like I, Vampire, Animal Man and Swamp Thing became the talk of the town, with the last two even becoming quite big players and a hit with fans, something which I feel wouldn’t have been possible without the relaunch. This is where I think the new 52’s strength lies, it allowed new books an entirely new audience and took effective risks. Even among the popular characters, I felt the entirely new takes on characters and removal of continuity was a risk that hugely paid off in some cases, particularly Wonder Woman, the quality of which I feel few fans can argue with. Really, the problems only started for me as the new 52 progressed and their original goals became less apparent; due to fan backlash many of the books kept their previous continuity but had it all crammed into a 5-10 year period, Batman and Green Lantern being the key examples. I can’t blame DC for this, they were trying to find a way to keep things accessible for new readers while not angering long-time fans. While this balance may have been a problem in the past, this week’s revelations offer up a possible solution; take full advantage of the multiverse.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to think of the idea to split the new 52 and post-crisis universes into two separate publishing lines in a similar fashion to Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, some fans even suggested this from the beginning, but now seems like the perfect time to do so. I know many fans who got into DC comics with the 2011 relaunch, so for them new 52 is the only continuity they know. It seems highly unfair that the characters, stories and events they’ve grown to know and love should be deemed as less important or simply cast away. I could easily see Geoff John’s Justice League or the previously mentioned Azzarello’s Wonder Woman working as an ultimate universe type book, throwing off the chains of continuity and allowing the new universe to continue to grow and evolve while simultaneously allowing classic fans to enjoy the types of stories they like set in the continuity they’ve grown accustomed to.
Another avenue DC could explore if they don’t want to split the fanbase is to amalgamate the two universes into some sort of “all-new 52” (though with a much less cringe worthy name). Seeing as there are already books that kept the original continuity it wouldn’t be too hard to just say “everything counts again” while simultaneously picking and choosing what parts of new 52 continuity worked and keeping those around. While this situation seems a bit less favourable to me I could see DC choosing this option for the previously stated reason of not wanting to split the fanbase but also so as not to invalidate their Earth One line of books. Having two different lines of new, accessible stories may be counterproductive to that very goal and be confusing to new readers. I would argue however that the Earth One releases are so few and far between that this could be an easily avoidable issue and that the books could instead be marketed as Elseworld tales, although DC may view it differently.
Of course, there’s one other option that we haven’t looked at, one which might irk the fanbase but is no less probable; the old universe won’t return at all. This could all simply be intended as a tip of the hat from DC to the long-time fans who want a return to their favourite continuity and nothing more. While I would bet money that the April 2015 event will be a Crisis event crossing over pre and post Flashpoint continuity there’s no indication whatsoever that the old universe will be returning beyond this event. Many fans complained Flashpoint wasn’t a suitable ending for the post-crisis continuity when compared to Crisis on Infinite Earths, so perhaps DC are simply trying to appease those fans by giving them the closure they want on the 30th anniversary of the original crisis. 30 years is a long time, perhaps it’s time to let go and let a new universe run its course and find new readers along the way.
Right now, all of this is pure speculation and we won’t know for certain until the event actually hits but for now it’s fun to speculate on what may happen and it’s nice to see some positive hype being thrown DC’s way. While many fans are salivating at the prospect of the return to post-crisis continuity I think simply eradicating the new 52 is a lazy solution as there is still so much potential and so many readers that, for them, view it as their DC Universe.
Let us know your thoughts of what will happen to DC next year in the comments section. And head over to our Facebook fan group and discuss further with nerds alike.