As the new year continues to march forward, the wonderful people at DC Comics seem set to bring the world even greater comics than what have already come out of their “Rebirth” initiative. While Marvel may show some mild promise with its “All-New, All-Different and Now!” stories, DC has continued to outperform Marvel in sales, and a lot of the success they have experienced stems from their return to familiar and beloved concepts within the established New 52 universe, catering to both old and new fans alike and further deepening an already rich mythos. Tey have truly abided by the old saying: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
The DC creative team has genuinely catered to its longtime audiences by respecting desires to see old favorite characters as they are remembered, while Marvel continuously reboots its core characters within the main universe instead of within alternate realities where only the most dedicated readers will be able to find them. While this is admirable from a certain perspective, in that many of the new imaginings of characters provide role models for minorities, it can be a potentially devastating business model for the constant shifting in main characters that will continue to lose fans as often as they are removed from main canon. Tat is, Marvel fans would be done a disservice for losing characters to whom they grow attached.
However, the biggest way by far that DC will remain the king of the comics industry is with its multiple crossovers, or storylines told across multiple titles, that are set for release in the first half of this year. Te year began with a resounding thunderclap as the event “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” the first since “Rebirth,” began last May, which was continued from its beginning at the end of December to give a solid start to this year.
In this story, the master manipulator Maxwell Lord IV, an enemy of Superman and leader of Checkmate, the U.N.’s peacekeeping force, frees the original Suicide Squad—composed of the unkillable alien bounty hunter Lobo, the insane magnetism master Doctor Polaris, the futuristic foe Emerald Empress, the unhinged and ghostly Johnny Sorrow and the international terrorist Rustam—for a plan of revenge against Task Force X commander Amanda Waller. Lord seeks the Heart of Darkness, which can awaken in everyone it touches their darkest desires. Together, only the Justice League and Suicide Squad can stop him, which seems to have been planned by Waller to gain legitimacy for her group in the eyes of the World’s Greatest Heroes. Te effectiveness of the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” event lay in the fact that only Batman (of course) knew of the Suicide Squad’s existence, and the fact that many of their greatest enemies had been hired by the government to carry out black ops missions in return for lessened sentences did not sit well with the rest of the League. However, the teams managed to overcome their differences and achieve a mutual respect for each other.
The events set the stage for the new Justice League of America series, a team that looks to be the most racially and gender diverse lineup yet. Batman and the gay superhero, the Ray, who can manipulate all forms of light, are the only white men on a team comprised of the freezing meta-human Killer Frost, who showed her good side in the fight against Max Lord, longtime member Black Canary, Lobo, Vixen—an African-American fashion designer and animal rights activist who can assume the powers of any animal she wishes—and Ryan Choi, who has taken up the mantle of the shrinking hero, the Atom.
The next major crossover, “Superman Reborn,” finally begins to unravel the mystery surrounding Mr. Oz, who told Superman he was not who he thinks he is. Combining tales from the main Superman series, as well as Action Comics, it will integrate the Lex Luthor Superman into what is already being teased as an emotional thrill ride.
Finally, in what is set to be the most important crossover of “Rebirth,” Batman and the Flash, the two greatest detectives, team up in “The Button” to find out what the mysterious, bloodied smiley-face button that showed up in the Batcave when Wally West returned is.
Longtime readers will know that this is the Comedian’s button, and that this story could finally introduce the Watchmen into mainstream DC continuity, a moment fans have been eagerly anticipating since they discovered Dr. Manhattan was behind everything. We’ll just have to see what comes of these stories, but one thing is certain: Marvel heads will roll.