DC Comics announced a reboot of each of its core series at WonderCon this weekend. Many of the new #1 issues, revitalizing character, among them Batman, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Suicide Squad, are expected to hit stands in June. Though re-starting character arcs is not novel for the publishing company, the central theme of “DC Rebirth” appears to be stories coinciding with characters featured in DCU films and television.
DC’s renewed Trinity series, for example, will follow Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as a superhero unit, just as they appeared in Batman v Superman, and Wonder Woman will also appear in twin solo runs. This tripling down on Wonder Woman is linked to the fact that the solo Wonder Woman film will hit theaters next year. Relying on their freshest, most popular cinematic character as the driving force of several comics is a smart move.
DC will also emphasize Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn in new comics, pegged to the interest in this summer’s Suicide Squad film. While Harley Quinn’s writing and art team will remain the same, it’s unclear whether this iteration of Harley will change her opinion on The Joker, who has recently been characterized as annoying and dangerous, in her solo comics. It’s likely Harley and the Joker’s relationship, whether romantic or antagonistic, as it appears in June’s series will mirror their interactions in Suicide Squad, which means comic book readers might get an early scoop on DC’s master plan.
DC’s most surprising announcement was the company’s plan to reveal The Joker’s identity. Though Batman himself found out in a previous issue of Justice League, the comics haven’t revealed the answer to readers. It’s a move many fans are worried about, and as ScreenRant pointed out, the Joker as he appeared in The Killing Joke had the following to say about defining his backstory:
>I’m not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!
Including comic book series in conversation with superhero films has been the primary strategy of recent Marvel comics, whose Civil War series we unpacked earlier this month. As Comics Alliance points out, comic book sales have only received a minor bump in popularity despite the sustained public interest in superhero films — so DC’s linking of its comics to its films and television hits is a smart marketing move.
If the publisher can entice the large swath of superhero fans who see each film but aren’t already comic collectors, DC may tap into a new demographic. In order to encourage crossover, the DC Rebirth comics will have to offer storylines and character details only hinted at in films. Comic book publishing, and superhero stories in particular, has never been a friendly enterprise for newcomers.
DC will focus its attention on other characters integral to its developing cinematic universe, including Aquaman, Deathstroke, non-Super Lex Luthor and Cyborg. The Green Lantern Corp will be explored in new series, leading up to DCU’s 2020 film, which means DC is entrusting the long con, through comics, to erase 2011’s Green Lantern film from our cultural consciousness.