DC’s New 52: Escape Hatches Don’t Matter

DC editorial insisted repeatedly over the weekend that there’s no escape hatch, no trap door, no possible way for the old DC Universe to return after the New 52 establishes itself post-Flashpoint.

This is, to put it mildly, an exaggeration.

If the last decade at DC comics has shown us anything, it’s that a determined writer with a supportive editor (or a determined editor with a willing writer) can undo any change he wants, no matter how set in stone it was before.

There was no back door put in place during Crisis on Infinite Earths to bring back Kara Zor-El as Supergirl, or Krypto, or any of the Silver-Age elements of the Superman mythos that were removed by the “Man of Steel” reboot, but they came back anyway. Emerald Twilight was deliberately written to make it impossible to bring back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, but we not only got Hal back, we got the Guardians and the entire Corps. Neither the reboot nor threeboot Legion of Super-Heroes set up a way to go back to the previous version, and yet the pre-Zero Hour Legion is back in action.

Marv Wolfman actually did write a trap door into Barry Allen’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The idea was that, since he was running through time at the time he died, he could be plucked out of that run at any point for more adventures, but would live always knowing that he would eventually have to go back and sacrifice himself. It sat there, unused, for over 20 years, and when DC eventually brought Barry back to life, they did it another way, without using the trap door.

Trap doors don’t matter.

What matters is editorial direction.

When Dan Didio, or Eddie Berganza, or Jim Lee stands up there on stage at Comic-Con and says, “There’s no escape hatch,” they don’t mean they’ve set up the premise so that no one can go back. If they really want to, they’ll find a way.

It’s just an “in-story” way of saying that they’re committed to the new direction and determined to see it through.


9 thoughts on “DC’s New 52: Escape Hatches Don’t Matter

    1. Savitar

      I’ll second that. Comics is nothing if not fluid and with the right creative teams & effort, anything can be done and/or undone.

      As long as Dido is charge though, we may be stuck with the DCnU for awhile.

  1. papa zero

    If sales fell to a few thousand for each title you can bet escape hatches would crash land from Krypton, spring from utility belts, drop ship from invisible planes, spontaneously be conjured into light constructs, and expand on contact with air from hidden compartments in rings!

  2. Phantom Stranger

    I think the “reboot” is largely a publicity stunt to advertise the fact that DC is now selling digital comics. They are hoping new iPad readers who have never bought actual comics will jump at the chance.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to find out the entire thing is an alternate universe in about 18 months and we revert back to the regular DC universe. Marvel and now DC have shown all they care about are the next quarterly sales reports for their comics

    1. YraniGami

      Digital comics is the primary reason for this reboot (of course) anything else is incidental. As Kelson said; Trap Doors Do Not Matter. I predict that DC will tuck their tails between their legs before the end of the first year and this whle reboot thing will become an event better left forgotten. Like that awful 90’s, long-haired Superman.

      1. papa zero

        “anything else is incidental”

        I believe that fundamentally DC is transitioning from a publishing company business model to a property licensing business model – which means they are reframing characters to optimize their “universal media appeal” value. For some characters this means going back to the basics… for others it means combining what they think worked through the ages. So, to your point, digital comics are part of the equation but probably the least of DC Entertainment’s concerns since Hollywood, TV, and merchandise will account for billions in revenue.

  3. Kyer

    I’m still not convinced it’s pure marketing and not a huge dollop of ‘I want to make DC “Didio’s Comics Universe rather than Detective Comics Universe”

  4. Lia

    Well said, although I fear that even if they do go back, the damage to the characters will remain. It’s unlikely, for instance, that they’d drop everything from the rebooted characters if they did go back. So we could end up with pre-Reboot characters, but with post-Reboot elements still in there.

  5. Fastest

    I was at a convention one time and someone asked Didio how he would have handled the DCU after Crisis, if he had been EiC at the time. His response was that he would have insisted that every editor and every book stay with the new directions following crisis, and that everyone in the DCU had to maintain the new status quo, otherwise what is the point of doing it at all.

    Anyway, because of that response, I know that as long as Dan Didio is publisher, the DCnU continuity will be in, no matter what.


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