With the conclusion of Convergence #8, DC has now officially retconned the ending of Crisis on Infinite Earths and brought back the Multiverse and their pre-Flashpoint continuity in the process. Also, with the conclusion of Convergence, DC is dropping the “New 52” banner from all of their titles. The question is where is DC heading now? Are we in store for a serious shift in continuity or is DC merely paying lip service to their pre-Flashpoint continuity in hopes of enticing lapsed readers to return?
DC has rolled out a ton of “Divergence” sneak peeks giving teasers about the new directions for existing titles as well as brand new upcoming titles. These were all inserted in the various Convergence tie-in issues. What was odd is that DC was clearly trying to give lapsed readers, who came back for the Convergence tie-in issues, a taste for DC’s current regular titles in hopes of recapturing those readers that DC has shed during the New 52. However, it certainly appears from all of the sneak peeks that all of the post-Convergence titles are still set in what was called the New 52 universe. So, I am unsure why DC would think delivering sneak peeks that read just like their New 52 offerings would interest any of the lapsed readers who left because of the New 52. But, who am I to argue with DC’s consistently insane logic?
Add on top of all of this the fact that DC’s new DCYOU campaign has taken the place of the old New 52 campaign. However, this seems like a superficial change designed to make readers believe that DC is actually entering a new phase when in reality they are not. The belief that this is just a superficial name change only is supported by the fact that all of the DCYOU promos feel just like an extension of the New 52. Nothing looks or feels different at all with the DCYOU campaign.
Upon examining the Divergence sneak peeks and the DCYOU campaign, DC’s current direction hardly feels like anything “new.” None of it points to a new shift in DC’s direction and philosophy. All of these facts lend credence to the belief that DC is just paying lip service to their pre-Flashpoint continuity in hopes of winning back some lapsed readers. That all of this is nothing more than an attempt to soothe over hurt feelings over the abrupt transition from the pre-Flashpoint DCU to the New 52.
Still, despite all of this evidence, I cannot help but wonder if DC is engaging in something subtle, yet very important, with their continuity and the direction of their comics going forward. Various comic book news sites have run articles like this one by Newsarama where Didio has stated that the ending of Convergence leaves every door open. That writers can use any of the Multiple Earths in the Multiverse as a source for a story. Didio has been quoted as saying the following:
“It’s a celebration of all the generations of DC characters; it’s a celebration of everything that DC represents in terms of character and story. It really touches upon so many keystone moments in DC history and finds a way to bring them all together in a way that’s exciting for everyone — long-time readers, returning readers, and brand new readers.
There are so many things here for everybody. If you were ever a DC comics fan, you’ll find something in this that you love.”
If that quote does not scream “New 52 caused us to hemorrhage readers at a faster rate than we could attract new readers! Please! Come back to us! We love every reader!” then I don’t know what does. This quote demonstrates DC’s desire to be everything to everyone. That is a difficult task.
Didio was also quoted as saying:
And ultimately, you know, we’re leaving every door open everywhere. We want to see what the reaction is, where the excitement is… because our goal is to reach as many people as possible. So the more people who get excited about ideas, the more that we’ll go back and see whether or not there’s this viable option on how to really capture whatever interest they’re showing in those characters.
“I think one of the things we talk about is this need to catalog or number every world. Or understand where they sit next to each other, and that’s something that people push for more these days.
“But what we do is, if there’s an important story to tell with our characters that can’t be told in the normal confines of the way people perceive them right now, then we want to be able to give our writers and artists as much freedom as possible to tell those different interpretations.”
It seems that Didio wants to impose some type of order on the Multiverse so that readers (and editors) properly understand the inhabitants of the Multiverse and how they relate to each other. I do agree that it is a wise idea for DC to enter this “new” direction with a clear sense of order, strong planning and cataloging. One of the greatest weaknesses of the New 52 was the complete lack of planning and foresight involved in the entire endeavor. DC hastily rushed into the New 52 with a reckless abandon and the result was that the New 52 universe felt slapdash, incoherent and completely lacking internal logic.
So, it is a good thing that DC wants to take their time and properly plot out the Multiverse and the new direction of DC’s universe. Of course, talk is cheap and Didio has a history of constantly changing his mind. After all, look at how many “new” and large changes DC made under Didio spanning from Identity Crisis-Infinite Crisis-52-Countdown-Final Crisis-Flashpoint-New 52. It is hard to keep pace with Didio!
There is also the fact that the Pre-Infinite Crisis Booster Gold and Blue Beetle returned to the New 52 over in the pages of Justice League 3000 #11. DC was unequivocal about the fact that this was the real Pre-Infinite Crisis version of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle and not clones or anything like that. This is certainly a huge indication that DC is interested, at least in limited cases, in utilizing characters from the pre-Flashpoint DCU.
And then there is the sneak peek for Justice League United that came out this week. The last page of that sneak peek offered several clues that DC might be pulling in characters from the Multiverse and pre-New 52 continuity.
All right, take a good look at that one page splash shot. You have Captain Carrot in this scene. There is Dr. Manhattan from Earth Charlton. The Wonder Woman in this splash shot is not the New 52 Wonder Woman. This Wonder Woman in this picture has a costume much more like the classic pre-New 52 costume. And it is radically different than the new costume DC is giving New 52 Wonder Woman post Convergence. There is also a character that looks like Guy Gardner in his classic Green Lantern outfit.
Is Justice League United going to be where DC firsts tests the interest in characters from the Multiverse and the pre-New 52 continuity? Justice League United would be the proper vehicle to do so given the format of the title. The question will be how far does DC go with this?
Clearly, based on Didio’s own words, DC wants to be everything to everyone. Is that possible? Sure. As a comic book publisher you can publish as many different styled comics as desired targeting as many niche audiences as possible. However, this approach comes with a downside. Publishing niche titles that target specific groups of readers will result in smaller sales numbers for those titles. Also, DC runs the risk of confusing new readers if they have characters from various Multiple Earths and continuities all running around on numerous titles without any rhyme or reason.
Are Didio’s quotes taken along with what is going on in Justice League United and Justice League 3000 and with the jettisoning of the “New 52” banner all a sign that DC is dipping their toe into the water in order to gauge the temperature? That DC is going to see if more non-New 52 drive increased readership and sales numbers? Is this DC’s Coke Classic moment? I am curious to see if DC proceeds cautiously and slowly brings back a few characters within only a certain select titles like they did with Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.
I hope that DC has bigger plans in mind. I hope that DC publishes stand alone titles that focus solely on non-New 52 characters. The last thing I want to see is for DC to simply pay lip service to the pre-New 52 continuity by only rolling out an odd mini-series by older talent like Larry Hama or Jerry Ordway every other year or so. Instead, I want to see DC publish an entire line of pre-New 52 character books that are created by up and coming new talent. I want something fresh and exciting done with these pre-New 52 characters. I want my Coke Classic from DC.
In the end, no matter which direction DC goes, I must admit that DC has at least piqued my interest. And that is something that DC has failed to do since the beginning of the New 52.