Following 2011’s “Flashpoint” event, DC Comics rebooted its entire publishing lineup with the New 52. The then-new initiative featured a refreshed version of the DC Universe, full of familiar, decades-old icons now free of past continuity. The historic, and to be honest, controversial reset took the comic book world by storm as it replaced many beloved and familiar elements with a new fictional world full of storytelling possibilities. While not all fans embraced the new direction, and some characters and books fared better than others creatively, DC remained steadfast in its desire to make this reboot much more than a gimmick.
Late last month, DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee posted a cryptic teaser image featuring a single word: “Rebirth.” A flurry of speculation began from fans and journalists alike, including numerous rumors about what DC might be planning. Given all the possibilities, could “Rebirth” be a return, at least partially, to the pre-New 52 days of DC? While DC has remained tight-lipped, save for a little teasing about the possible creative team behind “Rebirth,” as expected, speculation has only grown.
With that in mind, CBR takes a look some pre-New 52 aspects of the DC Universe that could be welcomed back with open arms if “Rebirth” restores any old aspects of DC history to the modern publishing lineup.
The Classic Teen Titans
The Teen Titans underwent arguably the most significant change in the New 52. The team’s entire history was overhauled, with new characters replacing old legends. Gone were the days of founding Titans Aqualad, Speedy, Robin and Wonder Girl; also gone was the classic era of New Teen Titans, including Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven and Starfire. The New 52 take featured some daring new and reimagined favorites, but the familial vibe that defined the Titans became a thing of the past. With some of the classic Titans returning in the pages of the currently unfolding series “Titans Hunt,” perhaps DC is building towards a rebirth to the classic Titans family.
A Bright Future
In the pre-New 52 era, the DCU was home to fantastic visions of multiple timelines. From the dystopian futures of Kamandi and the Atomic Knights to the promise of a better tomorrow as represented by Booster Gold and Rip Hunter, the old school DCU had no shortage of speculative visions of the legends of tomorrow. But the brightest future was perhaps the one inhabited by the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The myriad heroes of the Legion not only forged their own legendary place in the DCU, they were also pivotal to the worlds of Superman and Supergirl. In the New 52, Superboy’s friendship with Mon-El and Brainiac 5’s romance with Supergirl were no longer in continuity, and with those relationships went much of the uplifting future of hope and peace the Legion represented. While the New 52 attempted to return the Legion of Super-Heroes to prominence, the team’s glory days and the countless stories that built them are greatly missed, and the series has been absent from DC’s lineup since 2013.
A Universe of Friendships
Could the coming DC event refer to the rebirth of some classic friendships? The pre-“Flashpoint” DCU was filled with timeless bonds strengthened by decades of gripping stories. Superman and Batman; Flash and Green Lantern; Green Lantern and Green Arrow; Supergirl and Batgirl; Atom and Hawkman; and so many more. When the New 52 began, the altered timeline meant fresh takes on DC’s players, and as a result, much of that shared history was no longer in continuity. Even generations-long romances like Green Arrow and Black Canary’s were discarded in favor of a clean slate. Some of these friendships were ingrained into the very fabric of pre-New 52 continuity, and while some readers were ready to embrace the new, the loss of these iconic friendships has created a void in the heart of the DCU.
The Golden Age
The historic legacy of the super hero began on the front lines of World War II. Maybe it’s mainly nostalgia, but there’s something inspirational about the idea of so many masked legends taking up the fight during the days of the Greatest Generation. The New 52 changed that, establishing that the superheroic age began with the arrival of Superman. While it makes sense for DC’s super hero fountainhead to be its greatest icon, the Golden Age Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman, Doctor Mid-Nite, Hourman, Wildcat and other members of the Justice Society of America and All-Star Squadron enriched the DC Universe by creating a long lineage of superhero history.
SecondÂ GenerationÂ Heroes
DC has always been defined by its legacy heroes. From sidekicks and partnerships to the passing of the torch following a heroic sacrifice, like Wally West taking over for Barry Allen after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” In the New 52, that’s largely absent. Classic DC characters like Jade and Obsidian (the children of Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern), Atom Smasher (the son of the original Atom) and Connor Hawke (Oliver Queen’s son), who helped cement the legends of yesterday while extending their legacies into the future are gone or completely re-imagined. Heroes like Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom and more were represented in different decades, creating a connection to every point in DC’s timeline via multi-generational heroes and a grand sense of tradition. Perhaps that tradition will resume and be sparked anew via the upcoming “Rebirth.”