By Caitlin Gardner
In May 2011, DC Comics announced that each of its fifty-two titles would shortly be rebooted back to Issue #1.
“The New 52,” as it was dubbed, ranged from archetype trademarks of the DC Comics, including Batman and Superman, to more cult icons like Swamp Thing and Animal Man.
The official re-launch of the series began this month with bated intrigue and fear as to how far each title would go to recreate the characters as more contemporary, accessible, and identifiable.
Thus far, nothing has been done to make fans incredibly furious. Superman’s origins did not really change beyond basic reinterpretation by comic book demi-god Grant Morrison, even though the new presentation of Superman’s costume caused some quarrels.
Furthermore, Batman continues to be up to his usual cat-and-mouse games with his ever-lasting foe, The Joker.
And although paralysis became a defining and controversial part of her character, Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl rather than Oracle. Most importantly, she’s back to walking. Yet, the paralysis history is still part of her canon and how it is told by the legendary Gail Simone in Batgirl’s next issues should be quite interesting.
Part of this reboot leaves comic fans cynical about “The New 52.” There is always a vicious cycle involving timelines for superheroes in comics; many have died and many have come back to life within a few months time.
The fact that this reboot is happening after a summer movie season where Marvel Comics’ Thor and Captain America succeeded critically and financially—and seeing as DC Comics’ Green Lantern barely broke even with its budget and box office—leads to speculation as to whether DC and its Warner Bros. overlords simply want to raise the Q ratings for their superheroes not named Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
For “The New 52,” the ceiling for a collective success rate in the re-launch is pretty low, while a collective fall on its face for DC Comics is still very possible and more probable.
No doubt DC sees the bigger picture of merchandise, movies, and television, and is hoping to strike gold with a few of “The New 52.”
But is a new start for all really worth it in terms of honoring the characters’ legacies beyond simply capturing buzz for the moment?