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DC Comics going back to square one

In March of 1937, a small publishing company led by a middle aged entrepreneur rolled out its third and final title, Detective Comics. Seeking a partnership to produce this last series, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson partnered with Harry Donenfeld and together, formed Detective Comics, Inc.

Long after Mr. Wheeler-Nicholson had left the business, Detective Comics introduced their most popular character to date, a brooding orphan with a vendetta and a penchant for bats. A year before the introduction of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego the Batman in 1939’s issue 27 of Detective Comic, Donenfeld and his partner Jack S. Liebowitz introduced a fourth title, Action Comics. This new series introduced yet another orphan to its readers, only this one was from another planet and went by the arguably arrogant nickname, Superman.

In present day, Detective Comics, Inc. is now recognized as DC Comics and characters like Superman and Batman were just two names on a roster of dozens. Many older series, such as Detective Comics, are still ongoing in 2011 or were only cancelled after getting to three digit issue releases.

However, on August 31 this will all change. In a historical and somewhat controversial decision, DC Comics will be canceling all current running series and rolling all numbers back to one. Many longtime fans are shaken by this announcement as many of their favorite characters will be pushed back to their very beginnings, erasing many important story lines and wiping out what will be years of character development.

DC argues that this is not a full reboot but instead a “soft reboot”. The “New 52”, the name for the re-launch referring to the 52 new titles that will be released, will keep some of the important story lines intact—many of which coincide with Batman, so as to allow explanations for his many sidekicks.

Even so, there has been blogging and argument from the fan base crying foul at the loss of some of their favorite characters or titles that did not make the re-launch. Fans of the recently popular Secret Six were disappointed to find out that it was cancelled indefinitely. There is also a concern regarding new costumes. Long time DC fan, VSU alumni, and newly hired Communication Arts Professor Adam Brumfield lists this as one of the many grievances he has with the new 52.

“Robin is a title/name… not a lifestyle,” he quips, referring to a new costume sporting a feathered cape that a certain former Batman sidekick will be wearing coming September.

Oracle, a popular character among young women and men alike for over 20 years, will no longer be Barbara Gordon’s place in the DC Universe as she returns to her previous outfit as Batgirl. This has gotten a degree of attention based on the fact that the majority of the comics industry is aimed at young adults in their early 20s. Being that Barbara became the Oracle in 1989, many of these young adults, having not been born before her accident and her stint as Batgirl, grew up with her as the cyber vigilante.

This has raised the question, why? Why take away what most of the readers are familiar with and out of interest, still follow? The reason may be that with a recession blanketing our economy and the growing dependency on electronic resources, DC Comics might be looking for an opportunity to rebrand and bring in new readers who were before intimidated by issue numbers as high as Detective Comics #881.

These new series will also be available online right in the beginning, answering the demands of a growing cyber economy. Regardless of the dozens of articles lamenting Wonder Woman’s new pants or lack thereof, the re-launch is still approaching faster than a speeding Superman. The only way to know if the decision was a good or bad one is by picking up an issue and taking a look yourself. On August 31, Justice League #1, the first of the re-launch, will release and seek to start anew what Major Malcom Wheeler-Nicholson started so long ago.

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