DC Comics to Start Over at #1

Yesterday afternoon, we saw a Tweet from Jetpack Comics relaying news that we couldn’t believe: Beginning on August 31, 2011, DC Comics will relaunch all of its superhero titles with new #1 issues.

The title leading the way will be a reboot titled simply Justice League (not “of America” or “International” or anything else). It’ll be drawn by one of favorites, Jim Lee (or at least the first issue will be), and written by Geoff Johns, a name we know mostly through his association with Smallville.

Reactions in our Twitter stream were decidedly mixed. Jetpack went on to Tweet that they were, ”[w]orried that for a lot of customers, this DC revamp will be a great jumping off point,” while Brian Michael Bendis, chief writer for DC’s main competition (Marvel), poked fun, reminding of us of another high-profile reboot DC announced that fizzled after one issue: “I haven’t been this excited since they announced morrison and lee were relaunching wildcats!! ”

Our feelings are more in line with those of our good friend, RoboYuji, who Tweeted, “What’s the big deal about the DC Universe reboot? It gets rebooted every time a new cartoon comes out!”

One of the most disatisfying things about the stories put out by Marvel and DC Comics is the so-called sliding timeline that they use. At any given time, the common wisdom goes, it has only been 10 or so years since Peter Parker became Spider-Man, since Bruce Wayne became Batman. And yet, 60+ years of stories are all supposed to have happened in that 10 year span. This is the line of bullshit that the two major comic book publishers expect us to swallow.

Listen: We here at GF5 love continuity. We love serialized drama. But there comes a point at which everything that can be done with a character in a specific version of the story has been done. And, at that point, it’s time to move on.

One of the reasons that we loved Smallville, despite its flaws (and, let’s be clear: there were many of them), was that we had an idea, from the beginning, that this version of the story would eventually end. We guessed (and, it turned out, we were correct) that it would end with Clark putting on the suit for the first time and flying off to save the day. As RoboYuji wisely points out, cartoon fans come to expect the same thing: the version of the story they’re watching will eventually end. And we are coming to that realization about Nolan’s Batman films, as well. Initially, we’re sad, but all we have to do is look over at the comics to see what happens when the obsession with continuity gets out of hand (or, if we’re solely movie-minded, we need look no further than Superman Returns, which is the result of a studio trying too hard to tie all of their movies about a certain character together).

As our fearless leader Tweeted yesterday, we’re pretty sure that this reboot will encourage us to pick up a book or two, because, while we love the characters of DC Comics, we’ve never been able to penetrate the continuity. We’re not sure whether we’re in the minority or the majority here, but it’ll be interesting to watch.

Lost in all of this business about the continuity is another equally intriguing story: beginning with this reboot, all DC Comics superhero titles will be available digitally on the same day they are released in print. For those of us who have moved on from CDs and DVDs to digital music and movies, this is a huge step in the right direction; we’re out of room in our house for new comics, but digital copies don’t take up physical space, so guess which company might be getting more of our business in the short term (Marvel still hasn’t figured out their digital policy, but according to Ed Brubaker, they’re working on it).

What do you think? Will you be picking up any of these new DC books? Will you consciously avoid their products as a result of these changes? Let us know.

For more coverage of this story, check out these articles on Comic Book Resources, Hero Complex, Bleeding Cool, USA Today, and iFanboy