Unlike my last DC-specific post, this is almost completely non-snarky (sorry, I can't get rid of all the snark)! With Final Crisis hurtling toward a conclusion (although "hurtling" might be a poor verb, given its schedule) and January's solicits out, it's germane to ask, "What next?"
For those of you who haven't been reading your DC Nation columns at the back of your fine National Publications (shame on you!) or haven't picked up your latest copy of Previews (double shame!), DC's plans for January are interesting. Final Crisis #7, originally planned for December (at least a monthly comic with the skip month built in starting when it did would have come out in December), is now coming out in January. Many of the other mainstream DC superhero books are part of the "Faces of Evil" event. What could this be, you wonder?
Well, DC is publishing a bunch of comics focusing on their villains. Interestingly enough, they occur in the regular series, not in specials. Therefore, Cheetah is featured in Wonder Woman #28, not a "Cheetah Special" (this issue was chosen at random, by the way, and should not be construed as an endorsement or rejection of Wonder Woman #28). Why is DC doing this? Well, I don't have last month's DC books in front of me and therefore don't have the DC Nation column handy, but DiDio wrote something about how interesting the villains are, so why not have a whole month of them?! This speaks, on one level, why DC's superhero comics are so fucked up right now, but I'm not going there, I swear (see? only a bit of snark!)! I'm more interested in what will happen in February, after the "Faces of Evil" month has run its course.
Bear with me: Final Crisis is ending. DC is publishing what amounts to a month of books that regular readers can skip with impunity (which I plan to do, as none of the books interest me at all). Everyone assumes the God of All Comics will somehow show the heroes winning against Darkseid by shooting the Atom into his brain (wait, he wouldn't do that again, would he?). But what if we're wrong? What if G-Mozz does the (relatively) unthinkable and has Darkseid win completely? What if the Anti-Life Equation simply destroys the DC Universe? This is FINAL Crisis, after all. And as DiDio has sold a portion of his soul to the Mozzer (the other portion he saved for Geoff Johns, presumably, although Winick may have gotten a piece), why wouldn't he let him do whatever he wanted, including destroy everything?
So what does this mean for February? Well, my theory is that DiDio is going to simply reboot the entire DCU. That means everything ends on 31 January. That means new #1 issues. That means new versions of classic DC characters. Absolutely everything is different. How would this work, you might ask? Well, I would argue there are very few things in the DCU that need to stay the same. Superman and Batman would have to be Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, and their origins would need to stay the same. Wonder Woman would probably have to be an Amazon. Everything else can be thrown out. Sure, you'd probably need to name the Green Lantern character "Hal Jordan" just so some crazy people don't organize a boycott, but nothing else, ultimately, matters. If I were DiDio, I would put new creative teams on every book and tell them to go nuts. I suppose you would probably have to have a character called "the Joker" and one called "Lex Luthor," but again, why would they have to be anything like the characters before the reboot? I would also make it clear that you're not getting a book unless you want to play by the rules of the sandbox. That means if Batman happens to guest-star in Superman's comic and gets his leg broken, the writer of Batman better make sure our hero has a broken leg in the next issue or explain why he doesn't. If a writer doesn't like that, screw him (or her). Don't write superhero comics. DiDio is paying you good money to be a corporate tool. Write poetry in your attic if you don't like it.
I've ranted before that this is what DC needs, but it's interesting that they're publishing something where "evil wins" and then taking an entire month off to focus on villains. My theory (and it's only a theory, of course) is that because Final Crisis is late, DC had to come up with a plan so that Final Crisis wouldn't come out after the reboot. I believe that if Final Crisis had come out as planned in December, the new year would have seen a completely new DC. DiDio is keeping everything under wraps in order to stun the hell out of us. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if DC published nothing from their mainstream superhero line in February and then hit us with stuff in March, just to raise expectations. The only things that would survive are mini-series that have already started and might not finish until after February (they would survive as a cute relic of the previous age) and, of course, Vertigo books and even WildStorm books. But if you're a DCU mainstream superhero book, you're done. Everything sets up for it: Batman is "dead," a bunch of books are getting cancelled, Darkseid has taken over, and, let's face it, the DCU could use a huge shot in the arm.
You might claim that DC has done this before, with the first Crisis. Well, yes and no. They did a reset, sure, but they didn't go far enough. If this is what DC is planning, there can be no integrating Batman's 1950s history into his present. Nothing prior to February 2009 would be allowed. Make up your own damned weirdo robot-alien-giant typewriter Batman story, Grant-O! If any writer didn't like that, see ya! Go work for Marvel.
Of course, DC will never do this. It's just a theory, based on the way Final Crisis is going, the weirdness of the Bald Scottish One, and the fact that DC seems to be hitting the "pause" button in January. The reasons DC won't do this are idiotic, too. "The fans wouldn't like it." You know, screw fans who think like that. If fans are buying your books just because they read Batman when they were 12, they're idiots. Fans will buy your damned books if they're good comics. "We don't want to end our huge numbering system on our Batman and Superman books." You know, I think this might a major hurdle, as moronic as it is. DC and Marvel seem inordinately proud of the fact that they have high numbers on their books, so much so that Marvel has now renumbered Thor (more on that in another post). Keeping the numbering system in place, if that's a reason to not do this, is just another reason why DC is childish. "Fans want a sense of history with the character." I would argue that most fans want two things from their DC comics, other than them being, you know, good (I'm probably wrong, but bear with me): a sense of closure, and a sense of continuity. I know that last word is a dirty one among the comics literati (and the fact that there's a comics literati makes me chuckle), but these are mainstream superhero comics we're talking about here. If Morrison is allowed for the heroes to go heroically, that's good. If DiDio slashes and burns 70 years of messy continuity, he could start fresh and build a new continuity. Yes, in 50 years it will be hopelessly convoluted again, but then you just slash and burn again. Nobody says you can't do this over and over. Well, the crazy H.E.A.T. people do, but they're, you know, crazy.
So that's my theory. What do you think will happen after Final Crisis? Will DC have the cajones to do anything radical? Or will it just be the same old same old and they'll continue to lose readers? Any thougts?