Rebirth’s Big Bad Could be the Best Thing to Happen to DC in Years

by EC Yi

After a friend told me the big reveal from today’s premiere release of Rebirth this morning, I went the closest comic shop during my lunch break and gave DC money to read the issue firsthand. This friend was bent out of shape over today’s news that the force orchestrating the recent changes in DCU was none other than…

(Seriously, if you haven’t found out already, I’m about to spoil the Big Bad reveal here. Last chance.)

…Doctor Manhattan.

So, I’m not wholly against this. I’ve been pretty vocal in my opinion of DC’s direction for some time, and while it is the third reboot in five years, given the state of things, maybe that’s not the worst thing. Geoff Johns has always (mostly) been good at focusing in on the heart of the character. This is why Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth were so good. This is also why Flashpoint and the New 52’s Justice League were not so much.

Most of the not-so-coincidentally titled Rebirth follows the original, pre-Crisis Wally West trapped inside the Speed Force, touring the current, post-Convergence New 52, and explaining how nothing is as it should be. He comments on events repeating themselves while watching Aquaman and Mera, and realizes that love had been taken from all of the New 52 heroes. He eventually gets to see Barry doing his hero thing, smiling the whole time because he is enjoying himself so damn much. Wally decides that if Barry’s found some happiness, then that, at the very least, is enough for him to accept his fate.

Their exchange alone is worth the price of admission, and I won’t spoil it for you.

On the subject of spoilers; the reveal that Doc Manhattan is responsible for the current state of things is actually kinda genius… provided that the resolution won’t be a bunch of heroes simultaneously punching him into submission.

The reason I say this is that I think we can all agree that comics in the western superhero genre, particularly in DC, have gotten progressively darker since 1986. Back through the Carmine Infantino/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Jim Aparo days, Batman used to smile a lot. Then, The Dark Knight Returns happened. And while it was indisputably groundbreaking, it was influential to the point of being a detriment to the very character it was about. Batman kept getting darker and darker until we got the incomprehensible shouting of Baleman and the Batfleck’s movie about Murder Man, who has no problem killing people with guns.

It wasn’t all just DKR, though. Watchmen was published in the same year, and was an even more significant and influential deconstruction of the genre.

Casting Doctor Manhattan as the force behind the recent reboots in an experiment to see what life is like without hope, love, and faith is not just a move to bring Watchmen’s characters into regular continuity. Or is it meant to parley the influence and success of Watchmen into a compelling antagonist for this reboot. It’s also the most fucking meta commentary on the current state of the DCU I’ve seen to date.

I’m actually kind of impressed with Johns, this is the sort of high concept storytelling I’d expect from someone like Grant Morrison, but not him. This could be cool, and have a cool result…

Provided the resolution is not punching the naked, blue guy really hard.

IMG_3791EC Yi is a Washington-based freelance illustrator and co-creator of the indie comic The Adventures of the GWF, from Boston’s Bad Kids Press. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruceLeeMC and Instagram @s133pdead.


3 thoughts on “Rebirth’s Big Bad Could be the Best Thing to Happen to DC in Years

  1. It’s been said so many times already that Rebirth isn’t a reboot.

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