As we drift ever closer to the one-year anniversary of the start of DC Universe Rebirth, now seems like a pretty good time reflect on the craziness of DC’s line-wide reset. (Just don’t call it a reboot.) Since the infamous one-shot released, DC Comics characters across its universe returned to their roots, bringing with them oodles of continuity and character from years of comic history.
Characters like Green Arrow and Black Canary were brought back together after a long time apart, Superman became a husband and a dad once more, and the Green Lanterns returned to their main universe. Each book has been brought to life by a new creative team, and DC has made a huge push toward locking down its top talent. Who would have thought we’d go from a powerless Superman to the Big Blue Boy Scout we all know and love in just under a year?
It’s been a wild ride so far, and while plenty of what’s happened has been more than exciting, let’s take a look at the 15 most WTF moments of DC Rebirth so far.
WARNING: The following list contains spoilers for several DC Comics titles in the “Rebirth” era.
15. BANE SENDS A MESSAGE TO BATMAN
One of the first major WTF moments of DC Rebirth’s “Batman” came in “Batman #16,” as Bruce Wayne was knee deep in a battle of wits with Bane. After a successful infiltration of Santa Prisca by Batman and co. to retrieve Psycho Pirate in hopes of rehabilitating Gotham Girl, Bane sets his sights on Gotham and, of course, to break the Bat. When Batman catches wind of Bane’s approach, he turns to his closest allies, the current and former Robins, and tells them to get out of dodge.
Of course, Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin (Damian Wayne) don’t heed Batman’s wishes, and when Batman returns to a broken-in Batcave, he sees the bodies of his three Robins strung up, with nooses around their necks, and the words “I Am Bane” sprawled across their chests in blood. Talk about shock value. Of course, Bane hadn’t really killed them, and it was merely a threat. In response, Batman takes the three to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, where Supes puts them in cryo until this Bane barrage has passed.
14. LOIS LANE GETS POWERS (AND THEN IMMEDIATELY DIES)
One of the biggest surprises leading in to DC Universe Rebirth was the revelation that some of the New 52 Superman’s powers went into others, including Lois Lane. As one of the first Rebirth series to kick off, Superwoman seemingly followed the exploits of this newly powered Lois Lane and her mission to continue what her Superman had started. That was, of course, until she died in the series’ first issue.
Of course, the whole thing was a misdirect, and the Superwoman moniker would be picked up by Lana Lang in the issues to follow. But, how much of a tease is that? A Lois Lane not beholden to Superman and with a power all her own? Sounds great, but when we look at the events that have happened in recent Superman issues, we can understand why she was killed off. But we’ll get to that.
13. NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN
One of the first important crossovers of DC Universe Rebirth came in the form of the Steve Orlando-scripted “Night of the Monster Men,” a story that saw citizens of Gotham transformed into grotesque, giant monsters by Hugo Strange and a monster serum. The crossover took over the pages of “Batman,” “Detective Comics” and “Nightwing,” and really just got weirder from there.
Though, the weirdest part would have to be when Nightwing himself is transformed into a disgusting beast, and in his vicious rage turns on his allies. He’s cured, of course, but not before readers are treated to page after page of wonderfully nasty monsters slobbering and sliming all over Gotham. Sure, the concept was out there, but the execution and feeling of importance in the miniseries brings across the whole point of DC Universe Rebirth, for us to care about these characters again. And what better way then to crack a Hugo Strange story from “Batman #1” wide open? Yes, that “Batman #1.”
12. DEATHWING AND HIS PUPPET PALS
Speaking of Nightwing, he can’t really catch a break. In recent issues of his solo series, Professor Pyg creates Deathwing, a puppet assassin version of Dick Grayson, sporting the infamous red suit from his New 52 incarnation. While Deathwing as a concept isn’t new to Rebirth (the character appeared as an evil, future version of Grayson in past “Teen Titans” series), this version is particularly, well, as grotesque as the Monster Men.
Deathwing has a sidekick, too, in the form of a doll-ized version of Damian Wayne, and the former Batman and Robin duo team up to take down Pyg and in turn these new clones. Deathwing sees a soft side to the Damian doll and, of course, kills him, revealing his more violent nature to the duo and sending Nightwing in a continued fury on Pyg, led by the fact that he had captured his new (possibly pregnant) girlfriend. We feel for you, Dick.
11. BATMAN BEYOND: BRUCE WAYNE AND THE JOKER ARE ALIVE
While the current “Batman Beyond” series is fairly removed from the general DC continuity, it still calls back to things from its past, most notable of which is the dynamic between Bruce Wayne and The Joker, despite the two being seemingly well into their elderly years. The first arc of the series had Terry McGinnis returning to the cowl to take down the Jokerz gang’s plot to revive the original Joker who was actually Bruce Wayne dressed up and made to look like The Joker, in an attempt for the Jokerz leader, Terminal, to fool his entire crew and retain power.
That’s all well and good, but when Terry rescues Bruce from the clutches of the gang, he learns that The Joker is actually still alive, pulling the strings on everything once again. Here’s hoping for a slow, but surely badass confrontation between the retired rivals.
10. JAIME REYES LOSES THE SCARAB
After learning the true origin of the scarab that sources his powers in “Blue Beetle” #7, courtesy of Doctor Fate, Jaime Reyes gets the Scarab ripped from his back, leaving him vulnerable and powerless. The surprising event follows a plot thread that’s been present since the Rebirth relaunch, with Reyes working closely with Ted Kord to find a way to remove the Scarab without killing him, something that seemed impossible.
Unfortunately, with his mother and friends wrapped up in the conflict with The Mordecai Cull, Reyes can’t really do much without his powerful deus ex machina. There’s some good news, at least, with Reyes donning Kord’s original Blue Beetle costume, something fans have been waiting for. Still, though, it leaves us wondering who Jaime Reyes really is without the power of the Scarab.
9. THE GREEN AND YELLOW LANTERNS JOIN FORCES
Probably one of the biggest cosmic shakeups to come out of Rebirth, the Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps have officially joined forces in the name of protecting and policing the galaxy. With special thanks to the commanding leadership of Lantern John Stewart, the two crews have started working together in a sort of harmony.
The biggest example of this team-up came after a grueling fight between Lantern Guy Gardner and Sinestro Corps’ Arkillo. Gardner ignores direct orders to work with his Yellow Lantern partner, and sets off to beat the snot out of Arkillo to make a point. Of course, Arkillo is almost as stubborn as Gardner, so the result was a pretty badass fight and an even more badass reconciliation where the two made peace, showing that even the most stubborn and arrogant of Lanterns can work together.
8. CLAYFACE BREAKS BAD
Another one of the first revelations post-Rebirth, Batman’s legacy rogue Clayface decides to break bad and join the forces of good, namely the team of “Detective Comics,” including Spoiler, Orphan, Red Robin, Batwoman and The Dark Knight himself. While the new leaf for Clayface means we have to forget a bit about the character’s tattered past, a lot of “Detective Comics” time with Basil Karlo is spent helping him repent for his wrongdoings and doing some pretty wild stuff in the name of the good guys.
This includes an X-Men-style danger room called the Mud Room, where Clayface splits himself off and takes the form of any number of enemies and scenery, etc. He’s also proved pretty useful in plenty of scenarios, including fending off monsters in “Night of the Monster Men” and playing a distraction in a recent arc with The League of Shadows. While WTF in typical nature, Clayface has become one of the best parts of “Detective Comics.”
7. TIM DRAKE “DIES”
Easily one of the most WTF moments of early Rebirth issues happened in “Detective Comics” #940, when Tim Drake sacrificed himself to save the rest of his team, including love interest Spoiler. However, seemingly milliseconds before his ultimate demise, Red Robin was snatched by none other than Mr. Oz, the mysterious overarching character who appeared in the Rebirth one-shot and has shown up in a handful of other series. Readers were left with the sad image of Drake locked in a cell, not able to tell his loved ones that he’s actually fine.
The impact of Drake’s “death” resonates throughout the Batman family of comics, as Bruce deals with its fallout, his own shortcomings and Spoiler’s departure from the “Detective Comics” team. It’s one of those times where we maybe wish we didn’t know more than the characters in the book, because it makes things all the more frustrating. Fortunately, things with Mr. Oz may be coming to a head here pretty soon.
6. REVERSE FLASH IS ALIVE! (AND THEN KILLED)
Another interesting misdirect came in the form of the recent “Batman” #21, kicking off “The Button” mystery, where Batman and The Flash attempt discover the origin of the Comedian’s button, found in the Batcave during the “DC Universe Rebirth” one-shot. Fans were pumped to see the return of the real Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, The Flash’s greatest rival and bane to the Speed Force.
Oddly enough, his time alive didn’t last long, as he attempts to flee to the origin of the button and is subsequently spit back out onto the floor of the Batcave as a charred skeleton, claiming to have seen “God.” Eagle-eyed fans and theorists think the culprit could be Dr. Manhattan, since radiation is mentioned numerous times while referring to the artifact. Poor Thawne. All of this after wiping the floor with Batman and destroying a lasting piece of evidence from his father, the “Flashpoint” letter. Oh, by the way, Thomas Wayne (as Batman) shows up too, but that’s not nearly as surprising.
5. CHEETAH IS CURED (AND THEN ALMOST IMMEDIATELY UNCURED)
While much of writer Greg Rucka’s run on “Wonder Woman” has been spent helping Diana find Themyscira and return home, another major arc has been Diana’s work to purge Barbara Ann Minerva, the Cheetah, of her ancient curse, ideally returning her humanity to her. And it works! The Cheetah is cured and her re-assimilation is put up against the story of “Year One,” retelling the early exploits of Diana and crew, including Minerva.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long. When Wonder Woman finds herself up against a pair of gods and a woman who will do anything to have her daughter returned to her, Minerva sacrifices her newly found humanity to protect Diana, much to Wonder Woman’s dismay. This leads to another showdown between Wonder Woman and Cheetah, and as disappointing as it is, what’s a Wonder Woman rogues gallery without the vicious Cheetah?
4. THREE JOKERS
Probably the second biggest revelation in “DC Universe Rebirth” #1, Batman’s discovery that there are actually three Jokers while sitting in the throne of the Mobius Chair (see “Justice League: The Darkseid War”), one seemingly taking the form of each era of Batman’s history, shakes the very core of the DC universe. While the story has not been explored as of yet, one can only hope that the minds at DC are prepping something big with the discovery, especially after the New 52 incarnation of the Joker may be hard to top.
With The Joker going to war with The Riddler in a few months in the pages of Tom King’s “Batman,” it’ll be interesting to see which incarnation of the Joker shows up for battle. Interestingly enough, we may have already gotten our glimpse of one of the three Jokers, thanks to “Harley Quinn” #13, which shows someone named Edwin who changed himself to look like The Joker. Hmm.
3. LOBO JOINS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
OK, so this one is just unbelievable. When the roster for Steve Orlando’s “Justice League of America” came to fruition via a silhouetted image online, we all waited with baited breath to see who’d be joining the team. The Ray, Atom, Vixen and Black Canary were each welcomed with open arms, offering an interesting makeup of legacy DC characters and those who’ve found more recent prominence. Then there was Killer Frost, whose story from Suicide Squad made her appearance all the better. A supervillain repenting for the past? Who doesn’t want that?
Oh, and then Lobo showed up. While it’s an absolutely wild choice, we’re leaning on the side of loving it, as Batman’s ties to the Main Man seem fairly respect-based. Lobo owes Bats a favor, so Batman, in typical Batman fashion, is gonna use that to have Lobo do a little bit of good. Plus, he’s consistently one of the best parts of this new “JLA” series, and one can only hope he sticks around.
2. NEW 52 AND PRE-CRISIS SUPERMAN BECOME ONE
Did anyone see this one coming? After plenty of back and forth in the pages of “Superman” and “Action Comics,” the memories of New 52 Superman and pre-Crisis Superman have officially become one, thanks to some interested meddling from Mr. Mxyzptlk, Mr. Oz and a few other unidentified forces of unknown motive. The recent “Superman Reborn” story arc had Supes, Lois Lane and Jon all kidnapped by Mxyzptlk and sent to play a game, one that ended with the mind-melding of the two Supermen.
What may be the most interesting part of this is that everyone in the world is no longer aware that there were ever two different Supermen, and the powers and memories of each have been combined. Sure, Superman is a bit skeptical as he misremembers certain events, but it allows DC to do some cleanup on the leftovers from the New 52. After all, Lois Lane (the New 52 version) is dead too. Fortunately, we think we might know whose to blame for everything.
You all knew this was where’d we’d end up, right? Straight from the pages of the one-shot that kicked everything off, readers were treated to the knowledge that the Watchmen, one way or another, would be making their way over to the main DC Universe. This seems to be happening in two main ways. The first is the button of The Comedian, mentioned before, leading Batman and The Flash on a quest to find out where it’s from and why it’s there.
The second is the origin of the New 52, which has been explained as being manufactured by an outside power. Wally West, Superman and Batman all get inklings of this, and with Eobard Thawne’s death by the hands of “God,” we can only assume that Dr. Manhattan is the architect behind it all. This will surely become clear in the coming months and issues, including who Mr. Oz is (Ozymandias?), so until then, let’s all appreciate the wacky, the weird and the WTF of “DC Rebirth.”
“DC Universe Rebirth #1” and the rest of the “DC Rebirth” lineup is now available. Let us know in the comments which titles you’ve been reading!