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Why We Need Reboots

Posted on Aug 15, 2011 by in Features | 20 comments

In just a few short weeks, the DC Universe we know and love will cease to exist…again. It seems like every ten years or so we are hit with a wave of changes, and comic book geeks everywhere have to adjust to a new status quo. No, I am not happy about it either, but, just because I am not happy about it does not mean I do not need it.  Yes, be prepared to eat your vegetables comic fans, for, while we may hate them, we need reboots, and what DC is about to do will change the way we look at reboots for years to come.

Reboots are messy business. Marvel is constantly trying to reboot characters within the same continuity. Go ask Peter Parker how well that works. DC tends to be heavy-handed and overly dramatic about their reboots, refer to (fill in the blank) Crisis. And Hollywood, well they just reboot as often as possible with no care as to fans or character loyalty. So why do we need them? Well for one, to clean up messes. As much as stories like Civil War and Frank Miller’s Batman books are great, or even spectacular, they can really muddy the water of years’ worth of continuity. Poor Spidey has been dragged through so many in-continuity reboots, (Brand New Day). His story is almost as messy as Wolverine’s, need I say more? 

You cannot stop creators from coming in and adding their own nuances and episodes to a character’s bio. Sometimes they are great. Look at Scott Snyder’s current Detective run and what he is doing with Gordon, his son, and, of course, Dick Grayson.  It has been spectacular and has become an instant classic. And then there are things like JMS’ recent Superman and Wonder Woman runs, which were less than exciting to say the least. Creators create, that is what they do, and, for better or worse, we are stuck with their often misguided attempts to “re-invent” or “re-invigorate” a character.

Also, it is important to remember that comic books are hard to jump into. Ask a comic book executive what their primary daily goal is, and I would bet money they all respond “get new readership.” Gail Simone’s Secret Six is not going to be lighting up the news reels like Miles Morales or the new 52 are. It is a shame, but you need the main stream media to get the word out because that is how new geeks get caught up with all of us old geeks. And, as with all things, the more controversial the better.  People love controversy, it drives their curiosity, and if the new 52 can spike some interest then I say bring it on!

Lastly, and it pains me to say it, we need reboots because we need Hollywood. Look, comic books are epics –  long stories filled with episode-upon-episode of character definition and historic events. Hollywood cannot begin to replicate what we know and love about these characters. Their need, simply, is to define characters and stories. They have to put decades worth of information into an hour’s worth of movie reel, and, if they do not, then these characters stop making money. Comic book shops are on the decline in many places, and reading is a chore for the younger generation. Without these movies and Hollywood’s interest in these characters, our favorite books may begin to disappear.

So, as much as I hate a reboot, I cannot wait for the new 52. We do not know yet how it will turn out, but I love that DC has basically said the history is there, they are just rolling back the clocks a little bit and starting fresh. They also know that day and date digital is the future, and how wonderful for us with Comixology as our LCS to get 52 new number 1s and an easy to jump on platform. The collection of writers and artists they have lined up is phenomenal, and, as we have already discussed, creators are important. So, take it with two spoons of sugar, if you must, but this reboot is coming, and we need it.


  1. Very good insight. I would have to say that I think the comics industry needs a reboot every 10 to 15 years. Have a beginning of similar origin, then set a 10 to 15 plan of how it is going to end and tell the story of how it gets there.

    I view it like the TV show LOST: It didn't go beyond what it could and it had a definitive ending. After the cycle the characters and times can be updated to mesh with pop culture and current event. This would also help with age differences and aging of characters.

    It would be hard to swallow at first, but it is a large cycle to enjoy and you can pick up new readership more regularly.

  2. I have no problem with a reboot, it is starting over at number one that gives me pause. I started to collect comic books in 84. There were no reboots. Sure they're were number ones, this time in the form of new series and limited series. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars was great for me. I actually started to collect around this series.

    Who was Peter Parker, ok I must admit I knew who he was through his Amazing Friends….but Ice-Man was an X-men. Who is this Wolverine? And wow this little Jewish Girl an go through walls and kick but. In the 80's they gae these characters….character and it was up to us to fall in love with them.

    I for one still rally around the back issue bin trying to find a gem now and then, with a reboot what is the point? I don't have to worry how Superman came to earth, I don't have to read his adventures as SuperBoy, and why should I collect FlashPoint if it just doesn't matter.

    Yes, DC is taking a chance, and I do applaud that with Digital on the Date. I even like that idea but not as much as I would like a Action Comics #1000.

    Thanks for Reading

  3. The only main problems come when the reboot distorts the mid gen characters (Nightwing, Cyborg, Flash (The modern one), etc). Because now they have way less importance then they should (Nightwing might be the exception). The characters who have the super simplified origins though are usually the ones who get less full reboots and more this-event-never-happend (I.E. Batman, etc). Also I don't like when they try to add those lessened mid gen characters to the silver gen and mix them to the point where now they are all the same gen. Either way reboots are needed to a point after which it just becomes redundant, since for most the origins are the first defining moment and the ones that will usually make it in to film (That's why the whole Cyborg replaces Martian Manhunter thing in the new founding of the JL has me concerned since the Inevitable JL film (It probably will not be JLA due to international film release, and not JLI because that is just a long shot) might end up with the current seven as founding members over the original and that will have a negative effect over the inevitable Teen Titans movie) either way what the hell, lets see what effect you ultimately have reboot

  4. There is a difference between reboot and ignoring established history.
    It’s fine to have an even to fix certain things, Marvel’s Marvel Universe: The End miniseries was supposed to fix the whole ‘die then come back a few months later’ thing but it only works if they actually stick with it.

    I have to say I disagree with a few points though (big surprise, I know):
    Comicbooks aren’t really that hard to jump into. When I started collecting in 1990 I was able to jump into a few books, mostly because of the Infinity Gauntlet even I felt I should know about these characters some, but when I started collecting Amazing Spider-Man or Fantastic Four it didn’t bother me in the least that the series was in triple digits and I have zero trouble getting into them. This was back when “Jumping On” issues happened on more occasions. Also, through me, all my friends got into comics. We readers can being in a lot of new readers if the publishers would give us stories to rave about (Spider-Island)
    Sales gimmicks like this New 52 might have a spike for the first month or two but with the readers who will be alienated by it, bringing in a few new readers seems negated. The focus should be on giving readers something to get excited about.
    My roomie doesn’t read Amazing Spider-Man and was never interested in it but my excitement over Spider-Island peaked his curiosity and he’s reading it.

    The movies don’t effect the sales of comics. Never have and, sadly, never will. Unless the publishers get more control and are able to actually have these movies reflect the comics and actually push the comics (part of this would be to stop referring to every comic book as a ‘graphic novel’) these movies will continue to exist on their own and have no connection to the comics industry outside of the names of the characters (which is pretty much the only connections these movies have to our comics anyway)

    One of the biggest issues I have with this DC reboot is all this junk talk about how it’s hard to get new readers into a series when it’s in the triple digit issue numbers. I have never hear anyone say something like that in 21 years of collecting comics. I myself have never said that. I’ve only known the opposite. A series with a higher issue number shows how unlikely it is that the series would be cancelled. When all my books were being cancelled, Ghost Rider, Darkhawk, Sleepwalker, the Chaos! Comics line, I was looking for books with longevity. Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four for example.
    To start Action Comics over from #1 just for a sales gimmick is sickening to me. The series was close to becoming the first superhero comic to go from #1 to #1000 without restarting or renumbering and now that will never happen.

    Personally, I prefer a long running story. People who want to find out what happened years ago can search out trades or even talk to us fans who have been reading for decades. It isn’t that difficult and the history of these characters is important. If we keep rebooting and starting over then there is no room for character development and no reason to get interested in them if it’s all going to change in a few years anyway.

    Anyway, great article and one I hope creates a LOT of conversation on this topic!

    • Great article and a convincing argument. I hope for the sake of DC that you're correct. The day and date digital release is definitely a good thing (scratch that, it is an ESSENTIAL thing) and shouldn't harm the sales/distribution of hard copy comics.

      I have major doubts about the reboot though. The main doubt being this: nobody outside the realm of comics geekery cares. Nobody. None. They don't know about it and they simply aren't interested. Even the casual graphic novel fans I know responded with a shrug and a "meh, whatever". The people who do care, the people who are buying all 52 #1's are the dwindling DC hardcore. They may attract back a few fans who quit but that's it.

      I am a somewhat disillusioned fan who has largely abandoned the traditional format for buying the Trade Paperpack/Hardback collections of a series, having been too often burned by editorial direction changes and rebooting. I gave up on DC ongoings a long time ago and only purchase the better graphic novels they put out.

      The only DCnU title I have ordered is Action Comics #1. I appreciate that long running fans are disappointed about the whole 'not reaching #1000' thing but with Morrison at the helm after his stellar work on All Star Superman this could definitely work out. Even so I am totally prepared to bet that I'll get burned by nu-AC too.

      Outside of my comics-geek circle nobody I know has even heard of the reboot. Nobody cares, and if they did care in the slightest then the Diamond distribution model means that they won't ever see these comics and therefore won't buy them. The only LCS in my city is Forbidden Planet and most people think of it as an over-expensive toyshop (which it probably is) if they think of it at all.

      I might not be exactly the type that DC are hoping to attract but if my single (sceptical) purchase is representative they might have screwed up quite badly. I hope that I'm wrong and you're right. I really do.

      IMO: If Marvel or DC genuinely want a new audience then they'll need to develop a new distribution model, and fast. They will also need to make editorial decisions for the sake of the storytelling, with an eye to longevity, and not just making a quick buck.

  5. Good argument. I will admit sometimes reboots are for the best even though I usually don't want to admit it. lol I knew Skott would have a lot to say on the subject, but everyone else really put in some serious comments as well! Fantastic Article look forward to reading more.

  6. I love that this has sparked debate. We are all fans (fan= short for fanatic), and just like baseball fan (maybe less so) we are obsessed with our characters. I do not know a single comic book fan that would not love to see Action Comics 1000 on the stands. But at the end of the day can you blame DC for making what appears to be a strong business decision. For those of us who are vested it does not make sense, but for the countless others who are not…well it certainly could not hurt to try. And here is a little known secret: baseball fanatic, comic fanatic, whatever fanatic, gets angry and upset, but almost always comes back. They are not taking that big a risk and at the end of the day it may all work out.

    • They have already said that by the time the new Superman movie comes out Action Comics is going back to original numbering if the marketing people allow it (they were the ones who forced AC and DC to turn back to #1 even though everyone one else was fine with all the others going back and those two staying at current #)

  7. There are risks, yes…Comics fans are loyal but will walk away if they feel like their being crapped on. New readers aren't as reliable and to think they will be is not smart.

    Look at the cheap marketing ploys Marvel is constantly doing. Spoiling the endings of major stories just to get a cheap pop from the media. Has it improved the sales on Captain America, Fantastic Four or Ultimate anything? No, not really. Actually, I dropped Fantastic Four when they did the fake final issue and have not looked back. After supporting that book since 2002 I felt it was a slap in the face the way Marvel handled the death of Johnny Storm and when that book ended I dropped it. Never read an issue of FF and have no interest in it. They are bringing Fantastic Four back with #600, which I knew they would, but chances are I won't look at it.

    Honestly, I would have done the same thing with DC. I'm not a DC reader outside of Lobo but had I been reading their books and had to sit by while my continuity was destroyed in an attempt to get new readers I would have dropped everything DC and walked away. As it is they haven't even mentioned Lobo, without him I have no need for the DCU. (Fables if Vertigo and NOT being rebooted! YES!)

    End of the day…I'm thinking like all cheap gimmicks we'll see a bump in sales, nothing major, and then it all goes back to the norm. I don't see any break out titles or any reason to expect major sales on anything.

    Again, we wouldn't need cheap gimmicks if Marvel and DC would give us readers stories worth raving about.

  8. At first I thought this said, "Why we need robots" but I was pleasantly surprised.

  9. a good 20 years ago I sent a letter into both DC & MARVEL comics saying that it was time DC restarted things, yes i love the long history to my comics,being an avid reader/collector since the early 80's-HOWEVER- if its one thing that still drives me crazy is the * in the word balloon, for details see issue 15 or something , detailing a comic appearance from 10 or 20 or 40 yrs ago. Comic books SHOULD reboot every 10 yrs or so, retell the "classic" tales, origins, event with a new take by fresh artists,writers and bring new fans to the medium

    • It's the references to older comics that I love. They finally started doing that again in Amazing Spider-Man.

      My opinion is why even bother reading these if they are going to reboot every ten years as you say? There's no point in getting involved with the characters if everything is going to end and start over. There is no character development then.

      Someone like me loves the long running continuity. I have no problem finding the older stories, I have over 40 volumes of Marvel's Essential collections. If the publishers want to bring in new readers they need to give us great stories, you don't need to start over (I've dropped books that have done that. I no longer read New Avenger because I don't like starting over from #1, same with Fantastic Four, 99 issue run ended because they wanted a new #1). Continuity is important and should be maintained. It gives realism to these characters and gives them solidity.

      Anyway, that's my opinion, I prefer long running continuity. It actually helped me get into more characters and more back issues. That's part of the collectible nature of comics. Reboots negate that.

      Honestly, if I was a DC reader I would not be reading their books after this month.

      Again, my opinion

  10. If the comic book giants are REALLY worried about the declining market they should work to get put in the chain stores once again While I loved my local comic shop-sadly the economy has forced it to shut its doors-the only REAL way for comics to regain what they once where would be to be on a spinner rack at your local walmart where kids will find them once again. Bring out monthly self contained stories that kids could pick up and would come back to, save the EPIC story lines/ graphic novels for the direct market


    $3.00+ for a ‘comic book’ is rediculous… Its the 21st century: value of the dollar is weak, gas is going up, price of food is going up (of will stay expensive), the period of being unemployed before finding another job is longer than ever – and the rate of pay for minimum wage has not significantly kept up with all of this…>>>By the time all of this ‘gets better’ we all with have been culturally digitalized in ways that we cannot fathom >>>>>>not talkking sci-fi culture, im talking beaurocratic, monitoring, real-time plastic wireless culture that will consequently create no interest in plastic bags for little books that are flimsy and over priced…<<<<<<< UNLESS there is a global conciousness in some form that will base their culture/slang-dialect/music/cloths upon the events that develop from Marvel… or DC… or Image,…or DarkHorse… or SOMETHING NEW THAT DOES NOT TELL CHEESE DRAMA 'SUPERHERO' COLD WAR HOMO-EROTIC POWER FANTASIES FULFILLMENT STORIES THAT ARE CONVOLUTED AND BEAR NO RELAVANCE TO STORIES ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT, MATURITY VS IMPULSIVE SELFISHNESS, RELATIONSHIPS, …REALISTIC TAKE ON CHARACTERS APPEARANCES AND AGE, … the death of the super-hero comic (good-by 20th century) would mean the birth of 21st century cultural medium… not based on events and sales and creepy comic book stores and ….just the words 'super-hero' and 'comic-book' need to change, GROW UP -in order for the medium to survive. Im saying, the market base needs to expand and it will NEVER expand based on 20th century 'super-hero' 'comic' books.

    • Who writes your material? The Ultimate Warrior?

      Seriously, this is insane. No offense.

      The whole thing you posted in CAPS is especially amusing. You sound like one Fredrick Wertham with your 'homo-erotic power fantasies' stuff.

      These are comicbooks. They are escapist entertainment than have no need to me relevant to 'psychological development' and all that other stuff. But I'll tell you this: We comicbook readers and collectors are more in tune with our fantasy lives and thus more in touch with reality than just about anyone else you can talk to.

      Also, you're narrow minded here. While super hero comics are the bulk of what is published it's for good reason. The super hero concept can only fully exist in comics. Even with the advent of computer effects there is only so much a movie can accomplish. Comics can go further and be more interesting. But I'll also take you to task on your thinking that apparently only super hero comics exist. Because while they are the most popular, constantly topping sales charts thus proving the market does NOT need to drop the term 'super-hero' but there are many other great NON-super hero comics out there. Off the top of my head I have Fables, The Walking Dead and Snarked! There are vast collections of some of comics all time greatest books like The Flaming Carrot, Strangers In Paradise, Milk & Cheese, Scud the Disposable Assassin, Cerebus, Creepy and so on.

      You say "the death of the super-hero comic (good-by 20th century) would mean the birth of 21st century cultural medium" but we are a DECADE into the 21st Century and super heroes are still the norm and there is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of non spandex books for people to choose from both classic and current. I think you and others that think this way really need to open your eyes and look at the entire medium and see that there is more that just the Marvel and DC universes.

      Also, 'creepy comic book stores'? Really? I have to ask, again, where are you getting all this because, honestly, I haven't heard anyone talk about comics like this since I read the stuff people were saying about comics in the 1950's.

      • Hi, Scott! 🙂 Thanks for the reply… -The CAPS was meant to be as ammusting as it was serious though 😉

        Wertham denounced comics as a

        'corruption' -I dont see comics as a courruption, and I would never denounce 'sequential story telling', as much as I think it would make sense

        to denounce heirogliphics, the funny papers or the diagrams that one creates using MS Project. Its all a great way of combining art and prose,

        and then some…

        These are NOT 'comic' books. Reading about adventure, noir, history, politics, romance …ect are not comical nor funny pages…

        they are stories. The name 'comic book' applied to the 'sequential story telling' of super-heros is lame and misdirected and needs to eveolve and

        grow, especially if 'comics' (sequential story telling books) are to survive >>>AND if they are going to surive, they are going to need to

        increase their market share/base, >>>>AND this weill NEVER happen by marketing, selling sequential story telling books as 'comic books'.


        Sorry, the actual stories can be cool, and the combat is entertaining, but it looks gay, because it is GAY. The new superman movie… he looks

        like a blue naked guy, with boots, cape and an S on his chest… ACKNOWLEDGE it for what it is. "BUMP-ba-DA-Daaa!!!!">>>"Its NAKED-MAN!!!" :o)

        Psychologica development is interesting and depicts, indirectly or directly, in one way, why one thinks they are making a selfish or selfless

        choice… -why one thinks they are doing 'evil', or doing 'good', -why one thinks its OK to use their abilities for money gain, or for helping

        the environment or for …whatever… and then changes their mind.. or whatever can become a new dynamic that can still be applied to people with

        extra-human abiiiities that can still be a villan or a super-hero… just for some fun reading that is not the COLD WAR way of doing things that

        REALLY needs to develop and change, cuz comics is gay (frivilous -especially for paying $3+on something like a DC comic that even the people who

        work for DC are re-booting years for work that thay have invested in) -yeah that lame-in-the-gayness, man…

        There is SOME psych dev, but I think

        it sould be given more priority.

        >>>SO, WHEN YOU SAY "They are escapist entertainment than have no need to me relevant to ‘psychological

        development’ and all that other stuff." >>>> I just dont think it does not necessarily have to mean two-dimensional and lack more significant

        forms of character development. What Im talking about is what make Ditko and Lee's SPIDER-MAN more interesting and enticing, even the way Ditko

        depicted the characters were 'real', this just lost momentum -I think one comic could of stayed 'Ditko', and another SPIDER-MAN title could of

        then proceeded with Romita Sr's popy-romance look. Both are great, but the maket of Super-heros will NOT survie nor expand based on the

        singularity of the 'super-hero' (Sure Spider-man is such a recognized brand that that character-based asset is used all over, but not for most of

        the other char-based assets… IMHO).

        So yeah, dont drop 'super-hero', but CHANGE it, GROW it… CHECK OUT the Avengers animated movie DVD Special

        Features interview with Millar and Hitch, please.

        Super-hero does not ONLY exist in comics, for you to say that "The super hero concept can only

        fully exist in comics" thats kind of 'narrow minded' -I think.

        Millar and Hitch is one of the reason's why "Comics can go further and be more


        "Comics can go further and be more interesting" -Yeah, man! Thaz whum'im saying, yo!!! The successful writers and editors that have been paying

        attention to that have enabled a great series called ALIAS, which BENDIS and GAYDOS (no pun inteded) have contributed, and that book woudl not

        had been published by Marvel in a COLD WAR era.

        "but we are a DECADE into the 21st Century and super heroes are still the norm and there is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of non spandex books for people to choose from both classic and current."

        >>>>Check out the looks/appearances that have develped with THOR, CAP AMERICA, IRONMAN, HAWKEYE, and BEAST… they got no undies now on the outside of spandex… IN THIS PAST DECASE Marvel has been incorporating alot of the writers and their looks and 'atmosphere' from very examples you had given as not 'super-hero'.

        SORRY IF YOU THINK I GAVE THE IMPRESSION that only Super-hero comics exist… ITS that the other forms of sequentia story telling that are successful -why they are successful is being incorporated in alot of Marvel books, and will either be more incorporated, or not -if NOT then people will still think super-hero comics are frivilousd-gay'tarded comic books.

        • Thanks again for your response…

          I greatly apologzie for all of my spelling mistakes in my previous post.

          I just think that yeah, these 'super-hero' book are 'entertaiment', but this form of 'super-hero- entertainment can evolve, >>> just as they have from stories of Moses, Robin Hood, or the books Wild Cards (none of which initially were written as 'comics' nor something as 'comical'). Thanks again for your time.

        • Sorry, AAB, I'm ending this now. I stopped reading whatever it was you were saying after you said 'gay' the second time. I don't cater to, or entertain in any way, the kind of closed minded thought processes people like you have.

          Skimming through the rest, because I don't like reading stuff that puts being gay in a negative context, I see that there is a lot you don't seem to understand about comicbooks or the history of the industry. Perhaps if you could move beyond your homophobic stand on things this conversation can proceed but until then, I'm afraid it's concluded.

          • Wow, bummer… you are PC'ing yourself to death… Man, I have homosexual friends who use the word 'gay' to describe comic books…. Its just a word, man… try visiting Capital Hill in Seattle some time, you will realize how its not homophobic.

            PLEEEASE Scott of Fables -lighten up, man.

  12. Ok, although I do agree partially with the $3 comment because prices are sky rocketing but as hobbies go it is still a cheap one. Try coin collection or stamps. These iconic treasures are even more rare and fetch a whopping price. Of course so do comic books. Older books are fetching a higher and higher premium, I know because I am one of those paying an exuberant amount on the hopes of having the best comic available.

    The thing is AAB…and yes I agree with Skott, comic books are an escape. A way where the reader can transport themselves away ad relax and enjoy a comforting story. i am slightly reminded of A Never Ending Story where the shop keeper says that your books are Safe. Comic books are safe.

    I do miss the days of picking up my books at a seven eleven compared to the cold dingy comic book stores I go to…of wait…they are well lit and filled with people who enjoy what they sell.

    I want to go on and say that yes DC may need a reboot but not the way they are going about doing it. I am not a fan of the number one craze especially when months later they turn around to their original numbering….this is cheating. I enjoy collecting.

    I have for a very long time and I hope to enjoy collecting these books for a long time to come whether they are CGC graded copies, New releases, back issues, trades, and yes even digital copies. AAB, next time post using your real name and please come back anytime. Find me on face book at CGC Lee and we can have a pleasant conversation about the views of this fan. I am not afraid to try to persuade you on how good these books are. Skott gave some great examples. The two I will add are Locke & Key and Maus….and now. i am going outside to watch the hurricane.

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