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  1. #1

    Default Why REBIRTH failed and how it may ultimately lead to the end of DC as we know it

    So I want to preface this conversation by stating that I do believe DC Comics will survive in some capacity. I think it will be more in the line of adapted media, OGNs, and special series, and less monthlies. But they will endure because there's still too much money to be made in IPs that AT&T won't reject outright

    Having said that, I do want to talk about the failure of REBIRTH and how (IMO) its failure has pushed DC to the brink. Many DC fans will likely point to NEW 52 as this catalyst event but DC not only seemingly solved the issues created by NEW 52 with REBIRTH but had garnered much fanfare and momentum with the initial one-shot. I freely admit Geoff John's REBIRTH special is still my favorite comic book from 2010-2019, and through today.

    So what went wrong?

    For starters, DC waited far too long to get Doomsday Clock rolling, and then that series itself was plagued with delays throughout its publication. What should have been a major story in DC's history instead turned into a message board joke, and DC chose to push Heroes in Crisis and Metal in its place. Further, the hints placed in the REBIRTH special that were picked up in other titles (such as Flash, Superman, Titans, etc.) were dragged out and then eventually dropped or dramatically changed once it was clear DC lost interest in Doomsday Clock. Upon its conclusion, the series essentially has no relevance to the current DC status quo.

    Second, it's quite obvious Didio hated, hated, hated (did I say hate?) the very notion of REBIRTH. While he has admitted to poor planning leading to issues with NEW 52, he has openly called out any success that REBIRTH experienced as strictly nostalgia based and has stood stead-fast in his belief that while NEW 52 ultimately failed, it was a much more fulfilling experience for him than REBIRTH ever was. It's hard to push a company-wide initiative designed to reestablish faith from the fan base when the guy in charge detests said initiative.

    Third (and somewhat directly tied to the previous point), because Didio fell out of favor with Rebirth as quickly as it was published, he decided to change course again by developing 5G behind the scenes. This initiative, hinted at and rumored about for almost a year now, was to drastically alter the DC timeline and replace long-time heroes with replacements. DC got some of these elements off the ground before those behind-the-scenes began sabotaging it by anonymously reporting how terrible and disorganized the whole premise was. Eventually these reports coupled with other prevalent problems with editorial lead to Didio's ousting from DC. This had a domino effect where those who were less-than-passionate about Didio's traditionalist mindset with the direct market were now having DC break away from Diamond, which in turn caused many of the few remaining comic book stores around the country to shutter (in addition to the pandemic), which further cut into DC's profit margin and lead to massive layoffs in addition to rumors of the end of monthly periodicals coming down the pipeline.

    Yes...I understand the third point may be deriving too much from REBIRTH's failure especially given the pandemic but I believe had DC had faith in REBIRTH and put its full energy into it, they may have had enough good grace with fans today that Didio may still be in charge. Then again, you have fans who will state that REBIRTH had no chance for success in the bubble of NEW 52, and that the only way DC could have actually fixed things was to completely undo NEW 52.

    Anyway, I'm curious to hear some of your thoughts regarding all of this. I probably went on a much longer rant than I expected but this has been burning on my mind for a while now.

  2. #2
    Chad Jar Jar Pinsir's Avatar
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    The comics were mostly bad too.
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  3. #3
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    I think it was New52 that really set the ball rolling.
    They seemed to have had two camps competing against each other...

    Johns' Brightest Day revamping of the DCU, that was leading to multiple relaunched titles, being sidelined by Didio's New52.
    Ship started sinking so we then had Rebirth, with Johns trying to right the ship in his direction...
    Then that got sidelined again with Didio's 5G, with Johns pulled out of the comics by people higher up...

    And this is without even factoring in Convergence, Multiversity and Doomsday Clock.

    DC has been in a power struggle for the past decade.
    Meanwhile, 2020 is making 2010 look like it wasn't so bad after all.
    Last edited by Lee Stone; 08-24-2020 at 08:16 PM.
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  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Factor's Avatar
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    It clearly failed because DC is terrible at planning and keeping things consistent.
    The Rebirth one-shot showed so much potential to refocus their universe by keeping new elements that worked while bringing back the history and past relationships of their characters, but they kind of gave up along the way. Many story elements clearly changed, Doomsday Clock became irrelevant, HiC was somehow approved and the ongoing titles all lost steam. Some titles were supposed to have big connections to the Rebirth status quo (like Titans), but never really went anywhere.
    All in all, Rebirth managed to make the continuity even more of a mess than it already was and very few titles kept any momentum or quality.
    It made me lose so much hope in the abilities of their editorial and creative teams, that I'm actually way more excited about DC's future after all the enormous changes in their structure. I'm obviously not happy so may people got fired, but a new approach to their publishing line really is needed.
    Hopefully now we'll actually get the comprehensive continuity we were promised so long ago and DC can actually focus on new markets and formats too. I have no interest in a DC Universe that's just a messy regurgitation of everything that's come before. That's what Rebirth was to me.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Factor View Post
    It clearly failed because DC is terrible at planning and keeping things consistent.
    Yes.

    That's the same reason all of DC's reboots/relaunches failed.

    These events were cash-grabs... and not visions for the future.

    Their approach was always half-assed:

    • They'd reset Superman to day 1...but Batman would still have 5 Robins and 3 Batgirls.
    • The Justice League would unite today...but the Titans formed years ago.
    • The Flash would start over...but Green Lantern didn't (and all the rainbow Lantern Corps already exist).


    Then everyone was scratching their heads about what stories still exist and which were erased.

    DC didn't care about continuity. They'd gotten their sales boost.

  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member Jackalope89's Avatar
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    Rebirth had a good start, but part way through it, there was a pretty big tone shift through most of the comics. Rebirth began with the more classic, "good guys beat bad guys while overcoming odds", but then the shift happened. Back to "edgy is totes cool, yo!" for a lot of series, while others went in completely different directions (the Superman books for instance, when Bendis came on).

    It also didn't help that one of the biggest books, Justice League, sucked for 3 arcs, barring a few oneshots spread in there.

  7. #7
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    It failed because the over arching story was reliant on Johns being able to stay on schedule. DC had to stall for over a year and a half because Doomsday Clock kept getting pushed back. It was a bad plan as Johns has a million other (more lucrative) projects he was working on in Hollywood. By the time Doomsday Clock was finished, the outcome no longer had the same relevance it was supposed to. The JSA had already returned in underwhelming fashion in Snyder's Justice League and the plans for Legion of Superheroes were scrapped in favor of Bendis' reboot.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    As with all directions DC takes, they can't commit and that's likely where they all find their failures. I really enjoyed Rebirth until the direction was wrested from Johns, but what can you do.

  9. #9
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Everyone already said it so here's my personal experience
    1. I got annoyed that they're fixing the universe inside the story instead of starting fully formed so I wait until they're done
    2. They're still not done

  10. #10
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scary harpy View Post
    Yes.

    That's the same reason all of DC's reboots/relaunches failed.

    These events were cash-grabs... and not visions for the future.

    Their approach was always half-assed:

    • They'd reset Superman to day 1...but Batman would still have 5 Robins and 3 Batgirls.
    • The Justice League would unite today...but the Titans formed years ago.
    • The Flash would start over...but Green Lantern didn't (and all the rainbow Lantern Corps already exist).


    Then everyone was scratching their heads about what stories still exist and which were erased.

    DC didn't care about continuity. They'd gotten their sales boost.
    It's clear that Batman and Green Lantern weren't fully rebooted because they didn't want to retgone Red Hood, Red Robin, Damian, and the other Lanterns not named Hal. Yet they didn't mind nuking the Flash Family. Totally inconsistent. Scott Lobdell, the Teen Titans writer, is on record saying he only included Solstice in the roster because he didn't know it was a reboot. That's why the first issues said the Titans were formed years ago, which was updated in the TPB to say this was the first ever Teen Titans team.

    What they should've done is an Ultimate Universe, an alternate continuity, like Marvel had. That way, they could have the rebooted continuity, but the old continuity would still be active too. Obviously there wouldn't be 52 books in this case. It'd be about half that.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Stone View Post
    I think it was New52 that really set the ball rolling.
    They seemed to have had two camps competing against each other...

    Johns' Brightest Day revamping of the DCU, that was leading to multiple relaunched titles, being sidelined by Didio's New52.
    Ship started sinking so we then had Rebirth, with Johns trying to right the ship in his direction...
    Then that got sidelined again with Didio's 5G, with Johns pulled out of the comics by people higher up...

    And this is without even factoring in Convergence, Multiversity and Doomsday Clock.

    DC has been in a power struggle for the past decade.
    Meanwhile, 2020 is making 2010 look like it wasn't so bad after all.
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  12. #12
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    Everyone already said it so here's my personal experience
    1. I got annoyed that they're fixing the universe inside the story instead of starting fully formed so I wait until they're done
    2. They're still not done
    You must be new to DC. Ever since 1986, they've never stopped. The United States of America will come together in harmony before DC comics gets their shit together. Even the periods they're successful, they'll still muck around with continuity because they can't help themselves.

    (I know you're not new, I'm just messing with ya.)

    The company will shutter and three former editors will shamble into an empty office and start discussing who came first this time, Bruce or Clark, and how they can put together a Crisis to usher in the change.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member JackDaw's Avatar
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    DC physical comics has been in an almost inevitable spiral of decline for over 20 years. Success...if defined...as getting back to previous eras levels of sales was just about impossible. (If that was target...I think they would have needed to try to breakthrough in new massive markets like India and China.)

    Deep down I think DC management has for years regarded role of physical comics as part cash cow (charge more per issue to existing customers) and part development platform for tv and film.

    But even against this background I think Rebirth failed..it accelerated loss of sales, and it didnít develop anything useful for tv and film.

    I think the failure was two fold. I think it misread what most existing fans wanted...they just wanted better stories with existing characters and continuity rather than YET another continuity reset. And it also provided nothing really new in way of brand new characters to drive tv and film possibilities.

    Basically..as others have said...the engine that drives everything (excellent stories) was not delivered.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackDaw View Post
    DC physical comics has been in an almost inevitable spiral of decline for over 20 years. Success...if defined...as getting back to previous eras levels of sales was just about impossible. (If that was target...I think they would have needed to try to breakthrough in new massive markets like India and China.)

    Deep down I think DC management has for years regarded role of physical comics as part cash cow (charge more per issue to existing customers) and part development platform for tv and film.

    But even against this background I think Rebirth failed..it accelerated loss of sales, and it didn’t develop anything useful for tv and film.

    I think the failure was two fold. I think it misread what most existing fans wanted...they just wanted better stories with existing characters and continuity rather than YET another continuity reset. And it also provided nothing really new in way of brand new characters to drive tv and film possibilities.

    Basically..as others have said...the engine that drives everything (excellent stories) was not delivered.
    I don't know if I agree fully that there weren't any TV or film IPs developed during Rebirth. The Super-Sons alone had loads of potential for both an animated or even live-action show/movie. There were also things developed for Wonder Woman that could have translated well to one of her films.

    I will concur that there weren't enough great stories during Rebirth to sustain it but the same argument can be made regarding NEW 52 (although both are considered failures so I suppose that argument is moot). I do feel Tosami and Jurgens were doing some really great things with Superman, but they got bumped for Bendis. I also think a major issue with why DC struggled with the initiative was that Johns fell so far behind with Doomsday Clock and many of the other writers didn't really know what to do with Rebirth since the one-shot wound up tying itself to Watchmen. And as someone else pointed out, if the intent with Rebirth was to introduce the classic elements that were jettisoned with New 52 (such as JSA and Legion) then it also failed in that regard because of the delays DDC and DC's decision to bring those things back outside of the Rebirth label.

  15. #15
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    In fact that new Superman & Lois show is based on Tomasi's Superman and Super Sons. Jon's brother is clearly a Damian substitute, changed to be Superman's kid instead of Batman's.
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