DC Universe Rebirth 1

dcu rebirth 1

Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing DC Universe Rebirth 1, originally released May 25th, 2016.

Spencer: To me, one of the most interesting things about the mythology surrounding DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, despite its being touted as DC “canonically admitting that they screwed up the New 52,” DC didn’t take this opportunity to reboot or return to their old continuity. Instead, writer/creative director/all-around DC miracle worker Geoff Johns is using Rebirth to course correct their fledgling universe, making a concerted effort to turn away from the darkness that largely came to define the New 52 and instead embrace the ideas of love, hope, and legacy that DC was once famous for.

It’s an effort that warms my heart. I’ll admit to feeling maybe just the slightest, tiniest bit cynical (the upcoming “war” leaves a back-door open to restore the pre-Flashpoint continuity should Rebirth falter as well), but that barely matters. My favorite character in all of comics is back, and thus, I couldn’t be happier.

Wally West

Even putting all affection aside, there is not a more perfect character to reintroduce the ideas of legacy, hope, and love than Wally West. First of all, a Flash has always led DC into each new era — the debut of Barry Allen marked the beginning of the Silver Age of comics, while his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths ushered in DC’s first big reboot — so of course Rebirth will uphold that tradition. More importantly, Wally absolutely embodies the qualities Johns and his bosses want to bring back to the DC universe.

sad kid

There’s always been an element of fan wish-fulfillment to Wally’s character. Like many comic readers, he was a sad kid who found inspiration in superheroes — unlike us, though, he actually gets to work alongside his heroes, and eventually succeeds his mentor, becoming one of comics’ most recognizable icons in the process. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s DC was defined by the concept of legacy, by the idea that the universe’s heroic history spanned back for decades, and that its heroes actively worked to pass those values onto the next generation. Wally West — the sidekick who “made it” to the next level — was quite literally the living embodiment of this idea, and The Flash, which regularly featured three generations of speedsters (Wally, the JSA’s Jay Garrick, and Young Justice’s Bart Allen), was the title that brought the idea of legacy to the forefront of DC.

That’s what makes Wally such a perfect character to center the Rebirth one-shot around. Not only does he remind readers of the qualities DC wants to restore to their comics — inspirational, aspirational, iconic heroes backed by decades of history — but his very existence in this new DC Universe seems to start bringing these ideas to fruition. The same goes for another quality DC’s hoping to push, something Wally also has in abundance: love.

Love’s been in short supply in the New 52. Sure, there’s been romance, but very little in the way of long-term or stable ones. In fact, DC stirred up quite a controversy a few years ago when they essentially banned marriage from the pages of their books, not allowing Batwoman to marry her girlfriend and demoting Aquaman and Mera from “married couple” to “long-term partners.” Heck, Gail Simone was barely allowed to let Barbara go on a date during her Batgirl run. Wally West, though, is a character whose title was often a “love story disguised as a superhero story” (to paraphrase Mark Waid), and the focus on his love for Linda allows Rebirth to focus on rekindling other relationships as well. I’ve seen a lot of excitement about Green Arrow and Black Canary, but, at least symbolically, the most important relationship here is obvious.

aqua proposal

Aquaman and Mera having never been married was a major point of contention among fans; including this moment in Rebirth, then, sends a clear, direct message that DC is embracing love, families, and relationships again.

It really is remarkable to me how well DC Universe Rebirth works as both a character-focused narrative for Wally West and as a mission statement for DC Comics going forward, and the fact that the direction DC is taking is such an inspired one — and that they candidly admit the flaws in their much-touted New 52 initiative — fills me with hope. Still, as I mentioned at the outset of this article, it is just a bit difficult to suppress my inner cynic here; like I said, it’s hard not to see DC hedging their bets against Rebirth with the upcoming “war,” and as much as I love seeing the likes of Ryan Choi, Jaime Reyes, and the “new” Aqualad again, I can’t help but remember the last time DC pushed these new legacy characters only to abandon them for their “iconic” predecessors. Comics are cyclical, and that can be frustrating, but you know what? Rebirth seems like it will be a fun cycle to live through, and I plan on enjoying it while I can.

Another aspect of this issue worth noting is the art. I’m used to these specials — especially ones featuring multiple artists — being artistically bland, but Rebirth bucks that trend, not only featuring A-List artists with history with Johns, but giving them room to assert their own style as well. Van Sciver, Frank, and Reis all put in fantastic work, but I’m most enamored by Phil Jimenez.

barry and wally

Not only is Jimenez’s Wally a dead ringer for George Perez’s — leaving this sequence to deliver twice the emotional punch to this old-school Titans fan — but his design work here is impeccable, juggling storytelling and symbolism masterfully. If Rebirth means that DC is putting this much thought into selecting artists for their upcoming line of titles, then it’s a smart move.

Michael and I have been tweeting each other excitedly about this issue — and this piece! — since its release, so I’m pumped to see your thoughts, brother. Are you as happy to see Wally as I am? What’s your favorite Rebirth teaser? (I gotta admit, the Constantine/Swamp Thing panel really made me laugh.) And I hate to dump perhaps Rebirth‘s most bizarre revelation on you, but: What’s your take on the Watchmen crossover?

Michael: Oh I willingly and eagerly accept your Watchmen crossover hand-off, Spencer. I could feel DC Universe Rebirth 1 wrapping up after the Barry/Wally reunion, but Batman discovering The Comedian’s trademark smiley face pin in the Batcave totally caught me off-guard. While the opening sequence of the watch had to have made me think of Dr. Manhattan, I must’ve simply thought it was an homage and nothing more. I had been riding high on the joy of Rebirth’s story up until that very moment, when I was filled with dual tingles of hope and fear. I feared that DC was trying to co-op Rebirth’s promise with finally shoehorning Watchmen into the DC proper; which gave me pause. After some brief reflection however I theorized (and later confirmed via Geoff Johns’ numerous interviews) that this inclusion of (the visibly absent) Dr. Manhattan etc. was an apology of a different sort.

Rebirth is being promoted as “the return of hope, optimism and legacy to the DCU” and by placing Watchmen as the antagonist of all of that, Johns calls into question the legacy of Watchmen. Stating the obvious: Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns completely changed the comic book/superhero genre — for better and for worse (see Zack Snyder’s filmography). While we’ve certainly had amazing and joyous superhero adventures in the 28 years since, there have been plenty of books that want their superheroes to wallow in morbid seriousness and angst.

I love Geoff Johns. I love Geoff Johns so much that you could probably go back in the Retcon Punch archives and note me apologizing for the soullessness of his writing in any Justice League write-up I covered. And though I might be more comfortable with my other comics love, Grant Morrison, covering such a grandiose meta-commentary about comics’ tone, I believe that if Johns follows his heart and stays true to what he loves about these characters, this whole Rebirth will be a worthwhile endeavor. I’m excited.

Speaking of digging into the Retcon Punch archives, I was having a spot of deja-vu as I read Spencer’s lead and was preparing my response. A little over a year ago, Spencer and I were covering Convergence: The Speed Force (you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here). In those pieces, we talked about what we loved/missed about Wally West and it is essentially everything that DC Universe Rebirth 1 has given us: legacy, love and family. Barring a handful worthwhile tie-ins, Convergence was pretty much a shit show, but it allowed DC to dip its toes back into the classic DCU waters. And here we are, straight-up jumping back into the pool! (More or less.)

I have no qualms, disagreements or counterpoints to make for everything Spencer has said about Rebirth thus far. I will say however that I was jazzed that he didn’t use my absolute favorite page of the book:


Oh my god you guys. Every time I look at that image I get goddamn goosebumps — I had to stifle squeals of emotions while I was on the train to work reading it. It’s such a simple layout by Phil Jimenez, but it doesn’t need to be more complicated than it is: a father and a son/two brothers reuniting after a lifetime apart — and we get to see the teary-eyed joy from each perspective. I think it’s such an emotionally-resonating sequence that you can map any relationship with a loved one on top of it.

The series of people that Wally visits in an attempt to tether himself to reality are Batman, Johnny Thunder, Linda and finally Barry. In a less powerful story, I might criticize the structure and say that obviously Wally should’ve gone to Barry in the first place. But Johns’ script really makes you feel the necessity of those transitions — especially as Wally goes from crushed by the fact that Linda doesn’t remember him to at peace with dying, as long as he can say thank you and goodbye to Barry.

While some of the teaser scenes were simply just that, it didn’t seem to be as much of a commercial for individual comic book series as past events were. The whole “Mr. Oz” bit seemed to tie in to what Johns had hinted at during his brief Superman run, but I still have no idea what the new ongoing Superman will be about. The Justice League Darkseid War epilogue was just OK for me, as I am hoping to never have to focus on the particulars of that again; though I’m cool with Darkseid being a baby.

I think that the Ted Kord/Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle dynamic is very interesting: you have a kid who wants nothing to do with the powers he’s been given while the grown man scientist seems to be having the time of his life. Gary Frank is a master of giving child-like wonder and enthusiasm to his characters.


Stray thoughts on the Damian/Jessica Cruz/Aqualad teaser page: I like that Damian is growing up (though I don’t understand why he’s so jazzed about blowing out his birthday candles alone.) The Jessica Cruz scene greatly sets the stage for the conflict between her and Simon Baz in the buddy cop Green Lanterns; also Jessica is bougie because she’s slicing up cheese. Finally I love how Johns indicates that Jackson is gay — not in some big press release reveal, but in a quiet conversation with his mother. Jackson’s mother is more concerned that her son is interested in boys than the fact that he has super powers.

There are bound to be books and creative teams that I won’t love under this banner, but until further notice, I am 100% on board with Rebirth; it’s been a long time that I’ve said that about something with this kind of scope at DC. As I said, I’m most worried about the Watchmen stuff — but if the execution is as good as the intent of DC Universe Rebirth 1, I’ll be just fine. To misquote The Long Halloween: I believe in Geoff Johns.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

43 comments on “DC Universe Rebirth 1

  1. You know, there is a lot of good stuff in this issue, but, for better and for worse, what sticks with me is the introduction of Watchmen. I have been mulling it over for awhile, what precisely it means, and I think I have a theory as to how Johns is going to connect the two.

    In DC Lore, the beginning of the Universe is often presented by a big blue hand bequeathing existence. Now, maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I think Johns is retconing the entirety of the DCU so that it was created by somewhere else who is famous for having God like powers and a big blue hand; Dr. Manhattan. After all, at the end of “Watchmen”, when Adrien asks him what he is going to do next, Dr. Manhattan says he might create human life. Maybe he basis his creations off of comics from his own world–after all, the first Nite Owl cites the appearance of Superman comics as the inspiration for the costumed vigilante fad that Watchmen portrays.

    I’m not sure how I would feel about this, should this actually come to pass. I’m a little hesitant, honestly, about anything that has to do with Watchmen that isn’t a part of the original series. But what do you guys think? Is Johns setting up Dr. Manhattan as the God of the DCU, the God, presumably, responsible for all of the changes and retcons that have occurred in the DCU’s history?

    • I also subscribe to the theory that the hand that Kronos witnessed was Dr. Manhattan’s hand, but I don’t think that it’s him creating the universe, I think it’s him altering it to be more dark/cynical in his own image. I think this is what will be undone to restore the universe at the end of this meta-narrative.

  2. I love this as much as you guys. It’s loveable.

    A few comments:

    Rebirth one-shot appears to just be the opening salvo to a long meta-story that will restructure the DCU. This mission statement points out the directive, but a simple Watchmen crossover is not the ultimate goal here. Like you’ve touched on, Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan is set up to be the metaphor for the grim tone of storytelling that they’re abandoning, but there are several plot points left open involving time. I don’t think the upcoming war with Dr. Manhattan is so much a hedging of bets or a backdoor loophole as it is the setup for our ultimate outcome, which I’m predicting to be the merging of Golden, Silver, and Modern Age characters and concepts into one uberverse in a storyline that will be akin to Marvel’s recent Secret War. The 3 Jokers present on Batman’s view screens are from 3 different eras of comics, and Reis’ variant cover for the one-shot shows Golden, Silver, and Modern age characters separated in to 3 separate hourglasses, meanwhile 10 years of time have been plucked from reality by Dr. Manhattan. This is the set-up for the outcome, this is not the outcome itself. I think these 3 eras will be merged into one reality which restores the previous history of the DCU once Dr. Manhattan has either been defeated or has been made to see his own error. Also, the popular theory is that “Mr. Oz” is Ozymandias, which is likely to be important to the on-going meta-narrative that starts here and likely ends with a big line-wide event a year or two for now. I’d be shocked if that’s not what the Snyder/Capullo secret project is.

    • Also, digging a little deeper on the speculation, the death of the New 52 Superman jibes with my prediction that 3 eras of comics will be merged into one new era with a full history of legacy: Every other character can be explained away as memory magic “See: Wally/Barry/Linda etc in this issue) but since they had physically brought back the pre-Flashpoint Superman and he was co-existing with the new Superman they need a work-around, which is why something funky is going on with New 52 Superman’s body that it can’t bee seen clearly after he’s dead. Ozymandias may have had something to do with the construction or creation of the New 52 Superman, because that’s not really Superman.

  3. Boy, I’ve been pretty down on Johns for the last five years, but this issue REALLY worked for me. This has all of the fun of his best mythmaking, but compressed enough to be a satisfying chapter unto itself. The satisfaction I get from this more hopeful turn probably isn’t worth half a decade of needlessly grim comics, but I’ll be damned if that context doesn’t help sell the hopefulness. I’ll echo Michael in being excited about DC in general in a way that I haven’t been for a long time.

    As for the Watchmen tie-in, I actually think it’s a brilliant choice. I know, I know, it’s the closest thing superhero comics have to a sacred cow, but I think it’s time for DC to openly fight its legacy. Alan Moore designed Watchmen to kill superhero comics, so it only makes sense that superhero comics would fight back. They’re clearly not going for cheap synergy — I honestly don’t think any Watchmen fan actually wants these worlds to cross over — but for a way to address the misstep that was their darker tone. I hope they keep a lighter touch on those elements (the last thing I want to see is Ted Kord teaming up with Dan Dreiberg or whatever), but simply saying this is what Doctor Manhattan did after the events of Watchmen doesn’t bother me at all.

    • Yup. In that way, the introduction Doctor Manhattan is almost the same of Cap saying “Hail Hydra.” We need to challenge our idols, whether they’re the Greatest Generation or the Greatest Graphic Novel. I think Drew’s point about Watching being a sacred cow actually makes it a perfect candidate for sacrifice. And not just in the name of rejecting darkness, but in asserting a real identity for DC comics. Of course, time will tell how this actually plays out, but it feels well handled here – especially because Johns et. al ARE taking advantage of the aesthetic lessons of Watchmen in a lot of those cool panel layouts in the first and final pages of this issue.

      • For my part, I reject the idea of Watchmen being a sacred cow entirely. Firstly, they’re all ripoffs of Charleston characters created by Ditko and the likes, and the original story featured characters that Moore did not create himself; On top of this, within that story, he did terrible things to rape and kill these characters that he didn’t make. If DC hadn’t intervened he’d have been fine publishing it way. Secondly, the idea that somebody would create the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and then try and claim that his comic book characters are more sacred than the literary icons that he used without permission, is absurd to me. And this is coming from a huge Moore fan.

        • I feel this is a poor representation of Watchmen. Yeah, Moore was originally writing the story with Charleston characters, but when in changed into something original, the characters turned into something truly new. Rorschach isn’t the Question, Niteowl isn’t Blue Beetle. When you actually look at the range of influences that came together to make Watchmen (Last War of Albion, which I mean to read more of, has done a great job of exploring those influences recently), treating it as derivative of the original characters from the very first iteration of the project is very unfair.

          As is complaining about the rape and death of Watchmen, in that Watchmen actually is using it purposefully. There are complaints to be made, but dismissing the fact that Watchmen is using those tropes much more meaningfully than most stories is something that needs to be acknowledged. They are actually important to the story and themes of Watchmen. If you want to complain about the sexual assault and violence in the Killing Joke, you are right. But I feel attacking the use of that sort of content in Watchmen is ignoring what Watchmen is supposed to be about.

        • I’m not alleging that his hypocrisy is evident in the final work, just that it’s common knowledge that he had written the entire story as having starred the Charleston characters, created by the likes of Steve Ditko and other creators, and that his finished scripts raped and killed these original characters to the point of not being usable after his story, thus DC forced him to alter them into original characters. Alan Moore had zero qualms with doing all the horrible things you read in the Watchmen comics but doing them to the Charleston characters that he hadn’t created. He also had no qualms turning treasured literary figures like H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man into a serial rapist with no support from anyone involved with the Wells estate, etc. The idea that Moore’s work is more important than the work of others that he’d ran roughshod through is pure hypocrisy on his part, and he mostly sounds like a baby whining about having signed a contract which wasn’t entirely in his favor.

        • To be clear, I’m not suggesting that the subject matter of Watchmen is inappropriate; It’s in fact pure literature. But the idea that he was going to have these horrible things done instead to pre-existing characters which weren’t his is of course endlessly more drastic than DC making one of his characters the big bad in a PG-13 crossover. What’s good for the goose is, as always, good for the gander. Also, any argument that Moore’s characters are untouchable is also an accusation in the direction of the late, great Darwyn Cooke for having made a Before Watching prequel using his characters despite Moore’s loud protests against doing such.

        • If you have the rights to characters, and have a great story to tell with them, I don’t have too much of a problem with writing it. THe fact that he wanted to write a masterpiece with the Charleston characters isn’t a bad thing (even though there is nothign wrong with DC saying ‘Actually, we want them usable at the end, please make your original stories’).

          I’m not the biggest fan of what Moore did with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but that’s largely because I don’t like pilfering the public domain as a concept, regardless of what you actually write. But if you have permission from the owner of the rights to write the story, do what you want.

          And while we can discuss creator’s rights during the early ages of comics and all the problems there, DC owned the rights to those characters, and got to make the decisions. And just because that’s not the sort of story that was told before isn’t a good reason not to do it now. Many franchises have benefited from people saying ‘I’m going to do something completely different’ instead, and makes the franchise richer. Watchmen’s original conception is just a more extreme version of that.

          And as much as I love Darwyn Cooke’s work (he has done some of my favourite stories), I believe Before Watchmen was a mistake. Yes, DC legally have the rights, but I think out of respect for Moore’s wishes (especially considering the fact that the contract backfired on him), it would have been better not to do that.

        • Drew, I did notice that and thought I should explain more, but thought I should try and keep it relatively short. I believe DC have the right to make both. But, with Before Watchmen, there is a distinct difference. Unlike Dikto, Moore was very clear how offensive the idea of Before Watchmen was, and how hurtful it was.

          The difference is that when the original creator is discussing how hurtful and offensive the idea is, you are a jerk when you actually do it

    • I wouldn’t say that Watchmen was designed to kill Superhero comics, but Watchmen is the perfect thing to act in opposition to Rebirth. Watchmen’s reverberations throughout the comics world are exactly the thing that led to this loss of optimism. It is the perfect symbol to represent everything that went wrong, everything that DC should stand against. Hell, the entire point of Watchmen is that this isn’t what Superheroes should be, and writing a comic that positions itself opposite to Watchmen like this is exactly what Watchmen would want.

      I just hope that they don’t have Doctor Manhattan actually crossover. Doctor Manhattan, experimenting in universes, screwing over the DC one then leaving it alone is a much better way of doing things, in my opinion. And now that the culprit has been identified, let’s fix the damage and move on.

      Though honestly, unlike everyone else, I don’t know if I do want to continue with DC. I’m not excited in a general way at all. I was excited for Tom King’s Batman, and I was excited to try many of the comics. But I’m really not now. I like the stand against cynicism. But while I always knew that Rebirth was going to be looking backwards, I was surprised just how backward looking it was. It just traded one problem for another, and now I’m just tired

    • Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Personally, I’ll leave the industry politicking to people who work in the industry. I have major issues with the business ethics of Stan Lee and his prior efforts to suppress the creative importance of Jack Kirby as the driving force behind Marvel’s early success and the creation of its wellspring of characters, but contractual dealings in the world of commercial storytelling are never going to make any difference to what I buy, read, or see at the cinema. No actual world problems of import register to me in these types of situations. In my opinion, DC provided Alan Moore the platform he required to become an important figure in the world of commercial storytelling, which he used to propel himself to pseudo-fame, and he refused to do further business with DC after they used the letter of that contract to protect their financial interests. I personally don’t think it was wise, because I think Moore would have continued to produce profitable and creatively successful stories for them, but each side enjoyed their prerogative on the matter and none of it has anything to do with me as a reader. I own all of League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen for the same reasons. It often times seems to me that Moore would like to have things both ways.

      • I have major issues with the business ethics of Stan Lee and similar people as well. But unfortunately, that’s the hand that has been played, and we have to accept that today, the rights for those characters are owned by DC and Marvel. And I have to argue that because those rights were sold to DC and Marvel, they have control over it, as I have to be consistent on my beliefs about how copyright should work.

        In my opinion, DC gave Moore a fantastic platform, but Moore was also interested in creator ownership. Watchmen blew up in his face due unexpectedly changing the medium, which provided a major rift in their relationship. Moore shouldn’t have stayed with DC, as he didn’t need them, and going creator owned lets him do what he wants how he wants. This way made everyone happy (except possible Grant Morrison, who I believe wanted the chance to overthrow Moore only to learn Moore had abdicated the throne. The Last War of Albion is fun), and so that’s how it should have gone

  4. It is hard to know where to start discussing DC Rebirth, so I’m just going to start at a random point and wonder round what will be the most interesting comic released this year. So let’s begin with Avengers Forever.

    There are many, many reasons I don’t like Avengers Forever (and reading an interview at the back of the Thunderbolts comics that they did celebrating 15 years of Thunderbolts, I learn more reasons to dislike it). But the nadir of Avengers Forever is, of course, the fact that two issues are spent on whether or not the Human Torch’s body was used to create the Vision and other meaningless continuity minutiae. This was unbearable for many reasons, including the terrible idea not to have the Vision and Scarlet Witch involved in a story that involves Immortus manipulating the Vision and Scarlet Witch’s life to stop the Scarlet Witch from having children, but the biggest problem is that it throws any sense of a story to the wind in order to desperately explain everything. And that’s what Rebirth’s big problem is. Is it better than Avengers Forever’s nadir? Yes, because it has actual emotional beats. And honestly, many of the emotional beats work. The dialogue in the Johnny Thunder scene isn’t flash, but the art is so great when he says ‘It’s all I’ve been trying to do’ the beat lands. So too does Aquaman proposing to Mera (again the art helps. The art is amazing, DC House style done right). As someone who doesn’t really know Wally West that well, Linda and Wally’s relationship is built up so well it really stings, as is the other Wally West’s sheer joy at getting powers (even as I am going to savage this section later). And Wally and Barry hugging really takes advantage of the page count. But it doesn’t change the fact that a good portion is about explaining meaningless continuity things about missing decades instead of being an actual story. About giving random teases to Saturn Girl or Tom King’s Batman, exposition on what Green Arrow and Black Canary or ‘why you thought what happened in Flashpoint didn’t really happen’ stuff without any of the elements that make it meaningful as a story (which is only revealed at the end)

    But as a story, this was always going to be the problem. You have to treat this comic less as a story, and more about what it represents. So let’s talk about the blue naked man in the room. Of course, there are major ethical issues involved with having Doctor Manhattan in this comic. From my understanding of the contracts involved, Alan Moore was not cheated. He was given a, for its time, very generous contract with regards to the rights of Watchmen that blew up in his face when he created a masterpiece so good and so popular, he accidently engineered the exact situation that would prevent him from ever getting the rights from DC. But that doesn’t change the fact that out of respect for Moore, the ethical thing to do is not use the Watchmen characters. And yet that doesn’t change the fact that the reveal that it is Doctor Manhattan’s fault is actually a great choice, fitting what they want to say.

    Watchmen is a masterpiece, but it is also a book that has had a major effect on the medium in a not entirely positive way. Moore fully committed to the idea of what a superhero is, taking it to the logical extreme and in doing so, redefined what could be done in comics. To quote Jurassic Park, Moore and Gibbons ‘were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should’. Deconstructionist comics like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns actually did great harm on superhero comics, as people took the wrong lessons from those books as they worshipped the mantle of Dark and Gritty. The lesson should have been ‘comics can be literary’, instead it was ‘comics can be really dark and pointlessly violent’ (not that Watchmen is pointlessly violent). Both of the Big Two have suffered, but I think it is fair to say that DC is the company who at this moment show the most wounds from this. As a metatextual representation of what went wrong, Doctor Manhattan influencing events and changing things is a great representation of this.

    Honestly, this sort of thing I am generally pretty cool with. I got spoiled early, and the basic idea honestly sounded great. A big part that has let Marvel succeed recently was understanding that need to move on, allowing them to then broaden their line and create new spaces. If Rebirth was focused on just that, it would be great. But while ‘DC Universe got fucked by the influence of Watchmen’ is a powerful admission of fault, Rebirth suffers from then connecting this to the other major story discussed, Flashpoint. Because what Rebirth should be addressing has nothing to do with the New 52.

    Everyone wants to make this about the New 52. The comic certainly does, and so do many fans. A common criticism of this book, in fact, is that Johns and Didio made the New 52, and blaming Alan Moore for Johns and Didio’s mistake is passing blame. And it is easy to see why. The New 52 provides such a fantastic symbol for the problems Rebirth is addressing – so fantastic that I wouldn’t actually complain if it wasn’t used as an abstract symbol of the problem. Except DC Rebirth does believe that the Reboot was the problem

    But the problem wasn’t that DC rebooted their universe. It is easy to look at Marvel, who have never rebooted their universe, and say that’s what DC should do. But there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with a reboot. Crisis of Infinite Earths, from my understanding, went pretty well (Hawkman notwithstanding). I would love to see either of the Big Two do a well-planned reboot in today’s world, starting with a complete blank page (unlike the New 52, which kept many elements of the prior universe as still canon). Here’s the thing. Marvel have been in similar positions, where they have messed up and needed to fix things. They didn’t need to reboot to get into the same position DC is at the moment.

    The problem with DC was the use of meaningless darkness, like the rape and murder of Sue Dibny. It was the useless cynicism, like the constant, exhausting treatment of Batman as highly paranoid and distrusting of his colleagues or just as some sort of psychopath just like his bad guys. It was the poor treatment of supporting cast members, like when Batman forgot to invite his daughter to a family dinner or Wally West disappearing when Barry Allen became the Flash. It was when brutality became seen as something necessary, like the death of Ryan Choi. All this was what Rebirth wishes to address, and it is for good reason that all my examples were before the New 52. The problem had been around for much longer than Flashpoint.

    That isn’t to say that the New 52 fixed things. The New 52 was something that happened. Something that produced great works, and something that produced bad works. Some things were fantastic, like Snyder’s Batman, while others were terrible. Some things were direct refutations of the very thing that Rebirth is accusing The New 52 of being, like Batgirl of Burnside. I mean, the example they give of a love returning in this comic is a relationship that has existed throughout the New 52 (I do understand the meta context of a marriage proposal, considering Didio’s stupid no marriage policy, but that doesn’t change the fact that Aquaman and Mera’s love has been a throughline throughout the New 52 and not something being reborn)

    Now, in all hope, the fact that they have misdiagnosed the New 52 as the cause won’t mean they won’t fix the problem. Let darkness have its place – this week also had Omega Men, the darkest comic the Big Two release, conclude and Omega Men is a masterpiece. But let’s hope that the darkness is approached in more intelligent ways, like how Marvel are currently doing it.

    But the big problem is the misdiagnosis has caused DC’s other big problem to get worse. The problem that led to things like Zatanna mind wiping Catwoman to get rid of Brubaker’s character development, Ryan Choi being murdered and (unsurprisingly considering this comic is called Rebirth) the returns of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen in their own Rebirth series. Except DC have made clear that there current position is that this stuff isn’t a problem – in fact, they believe that their refusal to do more of this is the real problem. They believe that part of what needs to be fixed for DC to be reborn is to give the fans what they are entitled to. But the fans aren’t entitled to anything. They are entitled to jack shit.

    It is a hard truth. Fans are not entitled to anything. They are not entitled to having the comics be like they were. It doesn’t matter how much you love Post-Crisis Superman, or Green Arrow and Black Canary’s relationship, or the white Wally West or any of the other stuff Rebirth is promising. You are not entitled to it. Just as I’m not entitled to Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, or an X-Men comic about Surge, or Catwoman as the protector of the East End or any of the other stuff that comics would be like if I got everything I want. And honestly, it doesn’t matter if things are marketed to you.

    There was a fantastic article lately a couple of days ago on the AV Club about fan entitlement, looking at Ghostbusters and Frozen. Frozen’s #GiveElsaAGirlfriend was referenced (and the same thing applies to #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend), as an example of something that can very quickly turn from positive messaging to entitlement. And for good reason. While the idea of explicitly making Elsa gay is a good one (though not the only path for her, as what makes Frozen so successful is just how broad Elsa’s story of self-actualization is, such that it can represent a range of different things to different people), the idea that Disney has to do this, as opposed to, for example, keeping Elsa as a broad one size fits all character for a range of different self-actualizations and making other characters of similar importance gay, is not a good one. The idea that fans should dictate to creators what they are entitled to is wrong. It is anti-art.

    And the problem with feeding that entitlement is that we know what it leads to. The article discussed how the new Ghostbusters is currently suffering a major misogynistic hate campaign, because it chose to target women. And therefore, a bunch of men who feel entitled to Ghostbusters can’t accept that a Ghostbusters movie isn’t being targeted at them. GamerGate is another example of entitlement, creating one of the worst harassment campaigns ever largely because of an industry that fed their audience a sense of entitlement. And yet, this is what DC have done. A big part of DC Rebirth is ‘the fans are entitled to the DC Universe they grew up with’.

    I could make the comparison with Marvel, and discuss how books like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Black Panther have been great successes by ignoring core readers and what they want to target new readers. Ignoring what fans want and finding great success because of it. But I don’t really want to make this into a business thing. Because look at things from a creative level.

    I mean, in one of the worst scenes in this comic, Black Canary and Green Arrow meet for the first time and we are treated to a bunch of stupid love at first sight shit. What makes it so bad is the suggestion that neither of these two characters can feel complete without each other in their lives (which is especially hilarious because Green Arrow was romantically involved with this Black Canary’s daughter, traditionally). But you want to know why they drifted apart? Because lots of effort was put into removing Black Canary from being ‘Green Arrow’s love interest’, where she didn’t really get to exist as a real character and was generally poorly treated by the narrative, and building her own space in the DC Universe. Creators like Gail Simone spent effort in establishing Black Canary as her own character with her own life and her own connections (and, if Gail Simone had her way, her own love interest with Barbara Gordon). This independent Black Canary created better stories than her previous treatment as Green Arrow’s girlfriend, and when attempts were made to bring them back together, things went wrong in part because Black Canary, Bird of Prey is a better character than Black Canary, Green Arrow’s girl. So the New 52 decided to commit to the good version. There was some major problems, caused by the fact that they didn’t know what the Birds of Prey was without Oracle, but eventually the New 52 Black Canary settled into a good place with Batgirl of Burnside. And yet now we are sending her back to Green Arrow, a relationship that has never really worked well, because that’s what it was like when the core fans were young.

    Hell, in a truly baffling decision, we are replacing the New 52 version of Superman with the Post-Crisis Superman, largely out of a nostalgia. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the new Superman, Morrison’s run was well received. All you needed to do to fix this Superman was to consistently write Superman with the same promises that Rebirth was already promising – hope and optimism.

    And of course, there is the new Wally West. Until the new Captain America comic actually came out, I expected that my comment for that book would be exploring the unfortunate fact that Sam Wilson will always be the lesser Captain America. Yet it feels more important to write about that stuff here. Partly because the new Captain America comic apparently requiring me to explain the apparently complex idea of what a beginning is, but also because of Wally West’s return. I mean, it is one thing to say that the black Captain America will never be the ‘real’ Captain America. But this is a comic where the black Wally West isn’t even allowed to be the ‘real’ Wally West.

    Nothing better represents DCs bowing to fan entitlement than this. I mean, so many characters have successfully been reintroduced to the DC universe during the New 52, yet one of the few examples of taking one of those characters and making things more diverse has to be pushed down into ‘not as important as the white guy’. I almost want to make it a joke where I constantly refer to the white Wally West as somehow secondary, and treat the black one as the default.

    But it is hard not to treat this new Wally West as a step back. I mean, this comic does reintroduce Ryan Choi and Jackson Hyde. But Ryan Choi gets reintroduced as secondary to Ray Palmer, the white guy (Ryan Choi doesn’t even get to wear the Atom costume), while Jackson Hyde is written with an approach to writing gay characters that feels a decade old, especially when you see what something like Patsy Walker does these days. And unlike Wally West, Jackson Hyde isn’t on the poster at the end. Hell, Ryan Choi may not be on the poster in the end, since there is every chance that that Atom is Ray Palmer. And with the exception of those two, the major rallying call seems to be ‘the white guys are back, the white guys are back’. I mean, we can’t have Jaime Reyes without Ted Kord, for some reason.

    I just wish DC’s return of hope and optimism didn’t come with the sense of going backwards. With the idea that any positive thing coming from the New 52 was a mistake. Especially when those positive things are important developments forward. Like Midnighter and Batwoman having series. Like Mark Doyle’s ‘a Batman book for everyone’ initiative. Like Wally West being black. Like the fact that there was, even if it was far too slow, a shift away from straight white men and towards a diverse DCU that reflected today’s world

    Is this what fans wanted? Yes, it is. But we needed something better. We needed something that was going to return the missing optimism from the DC universe without disrespecting the positive changes that were actually made. But who cares about that? Because fans are entitled to the version of the DCU they grew up with. We have a white Wally West again.


      • And Sam Wilson is just as equally Captain America as Steve Rogers. And Miles Morales is just as equally Spiderman as Peter Parker. Except they aren’t.

        All three of them have asterisks next to their name. They can never be the real one. Because the real one will always be the white guy. You say Captain America and you see Steve Rogers. You say Spiderman and you see Peter Parker. You say Wally West and you see the white guy

        DC had the opportunity to make the real Wally West black. They just had to keep using the one they had. You could write any Wally West story you want with the black one. Now, black Wally West won’t even get sole ownership over his real name. Because DC have replaced cynicism with feeding fan entitlement instead

        • I mean, I don’t have sole ownership of my name, either. I’m named after a family name. It’s a rather realistic plot device. The idea that people want more stories about a character they have an emotional attachment to and there’s a good reason in the world of commercial storytelling to provide more of that product doesn’t preclude that people won’t build an emotional relationship with the younger Wally. Indeed, any reticence to do so is an issue with the reader and not the publisher. If anything, freeing young Wally from his own giant asterisk of deleting a different character that people were attached to is probably highly beneficial to his character.

        • It is realistic, but the problem is, this is art, not real life. So we have to ask what the effect of this decision is on the art as a whole.

          And the effect is that if you went to a comic book store with that DC Rebirth poster and asked which one is Wally West, everyone’s first thought would be the white one. And that will never change.

          If they kept with the black Wally West, eventually, that would be accepted. Eventually, a decade of stories and the combination of things like the Flash movie would mean that black Wally West is official. The old stories would still exist, and it would be an interesting trivia fact that he used to be white, then they rebooted. But the Wally West everyone knew would be black.

          Instead, there will be two Wally Wests. And this comic is very clear on which Wally West is the main one, the real one. When you say Wally West, the white one will always be the first one people think of. And with the two different Wally Wests, when it comes round to the Flash movie, they may decide not to be as progressive as the TV show and choose the main Wally West.

          That’s the tragedy. We could have accepted black Wally West as the real Wally West. But while we still have white Wally West as this big, important character Rebirth wants him to be, black Wally West will never be counted as the ‘true’ Wally West. No matter what emotional connection readers have, the black guy will always be second place

    • That AV Club article was killer. It really got me thinking about the way narratives should really be working to challenge the things we think we want, because if we already think we want them, then what’s the point of seeing your desires realized on the page? They’re your desires which means you’ve already imaged them. Reading (or watching) anything means giving up creative control to a writer or artist or storyteller you trust. OR NOT, and going along for the ride. When story beats or developments are dictated by fandoms, shit get stale fast. I love love love that Nick Spencer is more or less making himself a whipping boy for this very point. His Sam Wilson / Steve Rogers stuff is probably going to be remembered as much more experimental and dangerous and awesome than people are giving him credit for now. Dude’s been getting DEATH THREATS, which tells me that he’s hitting a real emotional vein, and that’s fucking rad.

      Also, for every fan that you make happy with the return of Wally West, you have fans totally indifferent to the character’s appearance. LIKE ME. I know he means something to Spencer and Michael and a bunch of readers, but I don’t really give a shit and I’d be willing to wager that Taylor and Shelby and some of our other writers wouldn’t give a shit either. I do think this issue does a good enough job of telling Wally’s “Lost” story in a universal way – that sense that something is missing is non-specific enough to be meaningful even if you don’t know who he is.

      • I have so much to say about Nick Spencer’s Captain America, and for all those reasons and more. I’ve seen the response to Nick Spencer, and it is sad that this is the response to creators pushing things out of comfort zones. Because we need more people willing to challenge readers instead of giving them exactly what they want. Because you can end up finding something greater when you focus on challenging readers, instead of giving them the same old, same old.

        With Wally West, I am indifferent to him as a character, like you. And I agree with you that as a story, the emotional beats land and the narrative is good enough. My problem is not with the story itself, but what it represents. And what it represents is very important when it is supposed to a statement on DC’s future. The simple fact is that there is honestly very little that could be told with this Wally West that couldn’t be told with the one they already had.

        The problem is that things being returned to the DC universe not because they are needed, but because that’s what happened before, and that’s what fans want. I’m glad that optimism is returning, but that can happen without making Black Canary Green Arrow’s girlfriend again. That can happen without returning the white version of the character we already had. I just wish hope and optimism could return without taking steps backwards.

        On the same day the white Wally West retuned, Captain America was revealed to be an agent of HYDRA. One gave readers what they wanted, the other challenged readers. I much prefer the second one, and DC have made a statement dedicating themselves to the former.

        • Yes, exactly.

          That’s why, even though I loved THIS issue and am optimistic for the future, the whole Rebirth initiative has me on my heels a little bit.

  5. I loved this issue for every reason you folks have brought up, but am cautious about the whole Rebirth initiative in general.

    The idea of giving fans what they want is generally unappealing to me. Even if the New 52 and DC YOU were ultimately failures (and there’s no doubt they were), they were at least attempts to broaden DC’s readership.

    My worry is that by catering to “fans,” DC will appeal to a continually smaller and smaller group of readers, readers who grew up reading these characters and don’t want them to change from their perceived idea of “good.” Basically the same assholes who are upset about the new Ghostbusters movie and busy themselves with Gamergate bullshit.

    That’s my worry, but at this moment I am hopeful. Johns has talked up returning optimism to the DC universe, and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I’ve dutifully read DC stuff the past few years, even as the number of quality titles has dwindled down to a handful. I’m finally excited for what comes next. Hope they don’t fuck it up.

    • Nice to see I’m not insane.

      And yeah, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt with respect to optimism. This comic did a great job at proving that commitment. And there are many titles that I am excited about, and so many others I want to give a chance.

      And yet, unlike you, my excitement isn’t as high. Because I’m tired of things going backwards.

      I really need to ask myself if the promise of optimism, of Tom King writing Batman, of Snyder’s All Star Batman and everything else makes up for that promise to go backwards.

      I’ve tried cheerleading DC, and that was largely because of things like DC YOU and the Batman line pushing things forward. Even when they weren’t good, they were going in the right direction.

      The single thing that kept me interested in DC during the bad times now seems to be gone… I really don’t know if everything else makes up for it

    • It’s sorta the Nintendo dilemma right? They have a hardcore group of dedicated fans, but they also found some commercial success by ignoring those fans for broader audiences. And now that the broad audience (i.e., everyone they picked up with the New 52 or the Wii, which was commercially successful) has wandered away for greener pastures, they don’t really know who to appeal to any more. In both cases, I which the messaging focused more on the amazing stories the creators were going to tell and NOT on how they anticipate the audience reacting to it. I get that these are entertainment PRODUCTS and as such are necessarily marketed to readers and players, but it’s hard to pretend it’s not just about moving units when the message is SO FOCUSED on appealing to the people that will pay for it.

      • Not entirely sure that’s the best metaphor. The New 52 had short term success, but unlike the Wii, I don’t think it ever found new audiences (things like Static, Blue Beetle, Sword of Sorcery, Demon Knights and the Movement didn’t get treated right, and never found those new audiences a book like that should have found, due to either creative or marketing problems). Meanwhile, Nintendo’s current issues probably have more to do with the advent of mobile gaming as it does with trying to target a more ‘core gamer audience’ with the WiiU (even though this was a poor choice on Nintendo’s end)

        DC made the right choice conceptually with rebooting to create an easy entry point and using it as an opportunity to attract a broader audience, and they consistently made right choices conceptually with the creation of things like Sword of Sorcery. And yet, they kept messing up the execution, ending with the unfortunate disaster of DC YOU.

        Quite simply, unlike Marvel, when they tried to broaden their audience, they failed. Batgirl of Burnside and Gotham Academy seem to be the only successes, so they have given up. Marvel haven’t perfected the system (Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and, unfortunately, Weirdworld seem to be on the chopping block), but have done a better job.

        Honestly, what DC really need is a Rebirth in how they market stuff. Just as for every Moon Girl there was a Ms Marvel, for every We Are Robin! there was a Sword of Sorcery. That’s where the change really needs to happen. DC needs to learn how to market something other than meat and potatoes.

        And yet, who here really expects characters like Duke Thomas, Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, Midnighter, the Demon Knights, Static Shock, Jonah Hex, Sgt Rock, Frankenstein, Dial H, the Movement, Klarion, Doomsday or the Omega Men to get their own books in Rebirth? All of these were great examples of books that could have attracted a broader audience. Half of them actually had talent behind them making great books. And DC have decided to stop making those books instead of learning how to market those books

        The best metaphor is (unsurprisingly) Warner Brothers, whose decision after things have gone wrong with their film division this year is to reduce the number of smaller movies that they make so that they can keep focus on their blockbusters. Hell, it even has Geoff Johns coming out and talking about the importance of optimism. Both sacrificed the broader audience for the chance at the core. Which is tragic, even if the new Batman book, or the new Harry Potter movie is great

  6. Also let me just say that the discussion happening in this comments section is why I appreciate Retcon Punch and its readers so much!

  7. This comic sold DC some extra comics. I’ll follow at least one or two more comics than I originally planned. I’m not a DC guy (I didn’t even know there was more than one Wally West), but this got me ready to read more.

    I hope my DC pull list stays robust longer than it did during the New 52 excitement.

  8. I just realized…why would Barry Allen remember Wally West? Wally seems to indicate that this is the same one he always knew just with :”five years stolen” from him, but….these characters are definitely NOT the ones Wally would have known considering the Pre-Flashpoint Superman still exists. If the Superman of the NEW 52 Universe were the same person as his predecessor–but made younger–then this wouldn’t be an issue, but that’s not that case. As such, New 52 Barry Allen shouldn’t remember this Wally West, because it was the Pre-Flashpoint Barry–a separate person–who was the one who knew him in the first place.

    …or am I missing something?

    • I’m not sure I have this worked out 100%, but I think the implication is that the pre-and post-Flashpoint characters are the same, but the New 52 characters had 10 years of memories erased. That is, the Barry we see here is the very same Barry who died in COIE, but returned again decades later. There being multiple Supermen definitely throws a wrinkle in this explanation, but I’m willing to accept it as time travel, rather than inter-dimensional travel. I mean, Convergence included different periods of the pre-Flashpoint continuity, so I’ll buy that the New 52 was also part of that same continuity.

      The real question for me is: why is Wally in the Kid Flash uniform? Like, he recounts Barry’s death and return, as well as his own ascension to the role of the Flash, so shouldn’t he be dressed as the Flash? Maybe he was de-aged like everybody else, and the Speed Force simply preserved his memories, but still, wouldn’t he continue to dress like the Flash?

    • The way I interpreted it was that there actually was no reboot. What we thought was a reboot was Doctor Manhattan removing history from characters and in doing so changing things. So New 52 Barry Allen is Post Crisis Barry Allen, just with five years of history literally removed. Superman is the single exception, explained by the fact that Mr Oz walked up and said some weird stuff about neither Superman being what they thought they were (which makes me thing that Post-Crisis Superman is not a refugee, and the New 52 Superman has a greater mystery that will be explained).

      This does not make a lick of sense if you look at characters like Black Canary (apparently removing five years of Black Canary’s history made her disappear, and made her mother return to life young) or Cassandra Cain (who has new biological parents), but as a general rule, it works. And the Superman thing seems to be a major plot point in in one of the new Superman books

  9. My two cents on the whole Watchmen thing:
    1: Why can’t DC introduce it’s own versions of the Watchmen characters in the DCU instead of using Gibbons and Moore’s? That way Watchmen could still stand on it’s own and we could also have all the DC/Watchmen team ups fanboys have been dreaming of.
    2: Why is DC doing this in 2016 of all times? Why not earlier? If DC had integrated versions of the Watchmen characters into the DCU back in say 1993, would there have been as much controversy?
    In all honesty, the Dr. Manhattan plot could be really interesting and cool, but DC has turned good or decent ideas into really stupid and lame comics before, so who knows?
    (On an unrelated note, why couldn’t DC have just got rid of the New 52 continuity right off the bat instead of making it really confusing and convoluted again? If we wanna go with the whole Grant Morrison-esque idea of “everything being canon” why can’t we return to pre-NU52 continuity, but have everyone still remember what happened so that people who liked the NU52 don’t have their favorite comics rendered pointless? I don’t know it just bugs me.)

    • I don’t think the Watchmen characters are in the DC Universe. In fact, I think the ending specifically wanted to make clear that the Watchmen characters were influencing the DCU, but weren’t apart of it. The whole point of Doctor Manhattan is that the reason DC needed Rebirth was that they had let Watchmen overly influence their output. That’s what the Doctor Manhattan stuff represented. Watchmen accidentally breaking the DC Universe that it needed Rebirth. Their presence is 99% metaphor

      You’ll see very little Watchmen characters in the DC Universe going forward, I assume.

    • I’d be among the comic fans a little miffed about having the N52 continuity thrown out entirely. Before Justice League 1, I was a trade reader, more interested in the greatest hits and specific runs (I had read all of Johns’ stuff from GL Rebirth onward, again in trade). But the N52 motivated me to get to the comic shop every week and start subscribing to series on-line and eventually start this site. N52 did work to pull new readers in – at least me, but I assume others. 🙂

  10. Matt, I get what you’re saying about this crossover but I wasn’t technically talking about THIS Watchmen/DC crossover specifically. I was just talking about crossovers in general between the two. I’d rather have them do what they did with Kingdom Come and have them introduce their own versions of the characters to play around with instead of using the originals. But thinking back on it, it does make more sense from a metaphorical standpoint to use the actual Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen the way they did, if they were going to make a point about Watchmen influencing the Dark Age of comics.
    Unrelated to this but I really hope DC actually has a plan in mind for all this Rebirth stuff instead of just making it all up as they went along again.
    Cheers, Austin.

    • My point is that I don’t think DC have had plans for Watchmen/DC crossovers for a long time. The nature of Watchmen quite simply doesn’t work alongside a more traditional superhero universe, and I believe DC understand that. They don’t want Superman fighting Doctor Manhattan, and I think after whatever DC Rebirth plans they have, the characters will disappear again. If they ever want to milk Watchmen, they’ll do something like Before Watchmen, when they get a bunch of creators to try their best writing Watchmen style characters

      The only reason they used the Watchmen characters here is that the metaphor only works with the actual Doctor Manhattan, instead of trying to say it was a multiverse twin of Captain Atom or creating ‘Oppenheimer Man’

      Whatever your opinion of DC (and I’m not happy at them at the moment), I think they understand that you can’t just simply have Watchmen crossover with the DC universe. And whatever their plans with the Watchmen character, I think they understand that there can’t be a traditional crossover between Watchmen and the DC Universe

      • It is worth noting that, even if we want to say that this is a LITERAL Watchmen crossover, the in-universe logic dictates that this is a universe Doctor Manhattan created, and therefore isn’t the universe that birthed him. Comedian’s button is really just further evidence that this universe is inspired by the events of the Watchmen Universe. Even if Doc does will a Nite Owl / Rorschach duo into the DCUniverse, they would necessarily be different versions (or iterations) of those characters. Which, duh – this isn’t being written by Alan Moore – but I think it helps cognitively to have an in-world author in addition to the real-world authors.

        But Matt brings up the question of what’s the best business move, and I think I agree that they only know the value of Watchmen as a prestige property and so that’s probably where they’ll keep it.

        • I hadn’t really considered what the Comedian’s button meant in the context of the issue, but I like your reading that it’s more symbolic than literal. That’s the symbol that encompasses Watchmen as a whole, and specifically the image that kicks off the events of that book. It’s a symbol literally embedded in the New 52, but is now kicking off a different story that’s bound to go in a different direction.

        • I don’t believe the DC Universe was created by Doctor Manhattan, simply that he reached out and experiment with it, changing a few things can keeping the underlying structure the same.

          And I actually wasn’t discussing the difference between Watchmen and the DC Universe on a business level. It was more the fact that Watchmen is a universe where superheroes don’t work. That’s the point. Everything that makes the characters work is rooted in the fact that they exist in a universe that is ordinary.

          So if you are going to make more Watchmen (and I’m not saying you should), having them crossover with the DC Universe, where superheroes are a necessity to the world functioning, will not work. And I believe that DC understands that, which is why they treat it as a prestige property separate from everything else (unlike Year One or Killing Joke, which also get called masterpieces and DC will happily have as part of the main DC Universe).

          With the Comedian’s Button, I treated it as an artefact unintentionally generated when Doctor Manhattan manipulated everything, kind of like Doctor Manhattan’s signature. Like Drew, I see it more as symbolic therefore treating its diegetic purpose as essentially non existant

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