Before we begin, here’s a spoiler warning: look away now if you do not want to read spoilers for DC Universe: Rebirth #1 or Justice League #50.
So, last week was a pretty momentous week for DC Comics. The publisher not only wrapped up one of the biggest and most devastating arcs – The Darkseid War – on its flagship title with Justice League #50, it also launched an all-new reboot (yes, again) of its entire comics universe with the Geoff Johns-penned one-shot DC Universe: Rebirth #1, in which it introduced a shocking and somewhat controversial twist to the tale.
As the official synopsis for this one-shot states: “It all begins here. Do not skip to the last page. Do not let a friend or message board ruin this comic for you. The future (and past) of the DC Universe starts here.”
So yeah, this is your final warning: look away now if you don’t want any spoilers.
Johns states that Rebirth is about “focusing in on the core of the characters and their respective universe” and bringing back “what has been lost: the legacy of the characters, the love and the hope of the DCU”.
In other words, this is about DC trying to fix the mess created with Flashpoint back in 2011, which led to the creation of the New 52, which ran for four years before last year’s Convergence made things even messier. It’s about going back to the pre-New 52 years, honouring the legacies and relationships that made DC’s superheroes what they were, before the New 52 essentially wiped the slate clean.
Still with us? Well, there’s a lot to absorb in Justice League #50 and the 80-page DC Universe: Rebirth #1, and so much to analyse. From what we’ve gleaned, it looks like the rebirth of the DC Universe is going to be a combination of pre-Flashpoint and post-Convergence elements, with a sprinkling of New 52.
Anyway, here are six things that got us most excited.
Flash in the pan
The last major DC universe shakeup was brought about by Flashpoint, which saw The Flash (and Pandora) being heavily involved in reality being changed to that of the New 52. So it’s a nice touch to see another Flash heavily involved at the start of Rebirth, which brings things full circle in terms of the New 52.
The entire issue of Rebirth #1 is narrated by Wally West. Not the one from the New 52, but the ORIGINAL, who was unceremoniously ignored in the New 52 reboot and has apparently been one with the Speed Force all this time.
Being privy to the Flashpoint that caused the New 52, he is also the bearer of bad news – there was another entity besides The Flash and Pandora who caused the creation of the New 52, and in the process, stole 10 years of time from the DC Universe, resulting in people forgetting one another, and relationships to be lost.
More mysteries for Batman
The World’s Greatest Detective has a lot of detecting to do. Besides working out what that mysterious item (more on that later) he finds in the Batcave really is, he also has to figure out the identities of the three Jokers plaguing his life.
Wait, what? There are THREE Jokers? As in the original one created in 1938, the one in Killing Joke, and the Scott Snyder version? Is this some kind of joke? Well, apparently it isn’t – in Justice League #50, Batman finally reveals the answer the Mobius Chair gave when he asked it what Joker’s real name is. Apparently, he was told that “there are three”, and that was the only answer he got. Stupid chair.
The Wonder twins?
Wonder Woman received a shock of her own at the end of Justice League #50, with Mynira revealing that she was not an only child, and that her mother had given birth to a pair of TWINS, a boy and a girl.
The revelation of her twin brother Jason, who was supposed to be the “Chosen One” instead of Diana, certainly shakes up the entire Wonder Woman mythology, and should make for some interesting stories moving forward. Let’s just hope Jason doesn’t end up being called Wonder Man or Wonder Bro ... because that would be awkward.
Who is Superman?
The biggest mystery of all surrounds the role of Superman. With the New 52 Superman seemingly killed after events in Superman #52, there is a big question mark surrounding who will be Rebirth’s Man of Steel. It’s an issue made even more complicated by the Justice League #50 appearance of Lex Luthor, newly crowned ruler of Apokolips, in a suit of armour bearing the “S” symbol; and the presence of the pre-New 52 Superman who is happily married to Lois Lane and even has a son. Throw in the impending introduction of a new Chinese Superman called Kenan Kong, and things are certainly getting interesting for the Man, or rather, Men of Steel.
Love returns to DC
One of the main complaints fans had about the New 52 was that it ignored long-established relationships between characters, and in the process, destroyed a much-loved part of these characters’ legacies.
Well, Rebirth sees the return of love to DC, as Aquaman proposes to Mera (in one of the best chapters in the book), and Green Arrow and Black Canary meet for the first time (or so they think).
The core message of Rebirth, at least in this one-shot, seems to be about relationships. Whether it’s the relationship between lovers, friends, mentor and student, brother and sister, or parent and child, there seems to be added emphasis on reviving the legacies and relationships of DC’s characters.
Watch this space
And so we come to THE big revelation of Rebirth – the integration of the Watchmen universe into the core DC Universe.
While it’s almost certain that Dr Manhattan will play a huge role in the story, most likely as the main antagonist of Rebirth, plans for the other characters from Watchmen are still up in air. Will we see Batman and Nite Owl teaming up? Will Silk Spectre join the Birds Of Prey? Will Rorschach and The Question form a faceless crimefighting duo? Will the Comedian try his hand at actual comedy by appearing in a Harley Quinn story? Or could he actually be one of the “three Jokers”?
Truth be told, I’m not looking forward to this at all. Watchmen is arguably THE most influential and greatest superhero-related comic book in history, and integrating its characters into the DC Universe seems like a cheap shot at trying to milk more out of the franchise. It does throw up some interesting possibilities though, but my main concern is that this move would dilute the impact and credibility of Watchmen in the first place.
One thing is for sure, though – Alan Moore will not be a happy bearded bunny.