Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Justice (Society) in the DC Relaunch

The big news of the past week has been the upcoming relaunch of DC Comics, commonly referred to as DCnU.

In the wake of the current Flashpoint event, the DC Universe will undergo a major change, with established characters getting sometimes drastic makeovers in both appearance and circumstance. Last week's buzz surrounded the slow unveiling of the 52 titles that will make up DCnU, all of them starting at #1 (even long running series like Batman and Superman are starting over).

The purpose of the relaunch is to appeal to a younger audience, thereby attracting new readers. One striking casualty of the relaunch (so far) is the Justice Society of America (JSA), DC's revered heroes from the Golden Age. The implication is that heroes who fought Nazis cannot be expected to appeal to today's youth.

I have always believed that the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths would have been more stable and successful if the changes had cut across all titles equally. Rebooting some (like Wonder Woman) while leaving others relatively unchanged (like Batman) has led to a convoluted mess that DC has never been able to straighten out. So maybe DCnU will work where other crisis events have failed.

The JSA always seems to bear the brunt of DC's periodic resets (most notably Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour) only to come back stronger than before. Should DCnU prove to have real staying power (I cannot help but think of Marvel's Heroes Reborn effort in 1996/97), will DC find a place for the JSA? With Superman once again being described as DC's first super-hero (and presumably not first active in 1938), prospects seem grim. Even a DCnU version of their wartime adventures would be off the table.

Maybe now is the time to revive their status as Earth-2's premiere heroes -- assuming the Multiverse has survived the onslaught -- and separate them from the ever-growing turmoil of the mainstream DC Universe.

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