[Comics] Does Restoring Pre-Crisis DC Make Things Easier Or Harder For Superhero Comic Newbies (Like Me)?


On the periphery of my news feeds I picked up a revelation that DC Comics has apparently restored an old status-quo where its continuity consisted of various separate continuities and different versions of superheroes. This comes after repeated attempts to reboot all DC continuity since 1985. I barely have any idea what it means and just see this as an opportunity to ask for help with my confusion with superhero comics.

The only reason I’m even aware of the significance of the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths is because a few years ago I wasted an entire week reading Wikipedia in an attempt to catch myself up on DC comics canon. What I learned only put me further off superhero comics.

Generally I don’t read the ongoing comics for a fundamental reason — they’re tossed around between various writers who make their own storylines with different interpretations that all must link to each other. It creates what I see as a very chaotic continuity that’s daunting to any outsider. If I just want to read Batman, I don’t think I should also have to keep abreast of what’s happening in Green Lantern. Right now the only indefinitely ongoing comic I read is Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog (yep, I’m admitting it here and now), and I constantly resist its efforts to get me to also start buying Sonic Universe and Mega Man. That’s just three interlocking series (well, just two and another that occasionally crosses in).

I imagine that’s why not many people who get into these huge comic book movies transitions to the comics. As soon as they walk into a comic shop many are probably blindsided by what looks like hundreds of comics and decades of continuity. What I understand is that continuity got so convoluted for DC it fell into a habit of rebooting it every 10-20 years. I don’t even know what’s going on with Marvel. There’s “regular” Marvel and Ultimate Marvel right? But then there’s Spider-Gwen. Is that it’s own separate thing? What’s the difference between X-MenUncanny X-Men (or whatever), and X-Force?

I can’t say this without sounding like a Japanophile but this is one reason I mostly prefer manga. Sure a manga might continue for 600-1,000 chapters, but all those chapters are usually from the mind of one writer and one artist — usually the same person. Sure those stories can get crazy, but at least they stay consistent with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end. That’s the other thing: Manga end. Naruto may have a highly-criticized story that went on for 700 chapters over the course of 15 years, but it ended. If I want to start One Piece, it may have over 1,000 chapters at this point, but I know the right place to start is chapter one. If I do read western comics they are almost always isolated series, usually imprints like DC’s Vertigo. Those are basically the same deal, they’re self-contained stories that begin and end instead of going on for 50 years. I followed DMZ, and intend to read all of Northlanders.

Superhero fans have however told me these comics do have “arcs” or “runs,” usually taken over by a single writer each. Like, a writer will take over a character for a set number of issues, doing their story, and that could be considered its own thing. I guess I could accept that. I just don’t like how those stories technically still affect later stories and are affected by earlier stories as well as concurrent stories from other comics. They should do monthly anthology magazines or something like 2000 AD or Shounen Jump. Or do they? I don’t know.

At first glance, the recent happenings in DC seem to make everything more confusing since the company has effectively brought back canon that started in the 1930’s. It could also be seen as an apparent admission that all those reboots since 1985 were basically failures, or maybe DC trying to keep everything neat and tidy was the failure.

I’m already seeing other people however say it should make things easier for people confused about all the continuity. Theoretically, now if a writer wants to do something with a character they can just section off their own tangent universe for a self-contained continuity without worrying about other comics. Since DC is bringing back all the different universes, readers can also technically just pick their favorite and stick with it. I wonder how DC will advise new readers on how to choose which continuity to follow.

Maybe if writers do start using this as a way to make self-contained stories I might check out some of those. I still don’t see myself parachuting into any of the separate ongoing storylines though.


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One thought on “[Comics] Does Restoring Pre-Crisis DC Make Things Easier Or Harder For Superhero Comic Newbies (Like Me)?

  1. volvocrusher says:

    I’m not that familiar with DC comics outside Captain Marvel (Shazam) a few one offs like Dark Knight Rises, but I can answer all those questions on Marvel.

    1. Regular Marvel is the one that’s been going on since the beginning. Ultimate started in 2000 originally to reboot Spider-Man after the Clone Saga damaged the comics and start from scratch with a new origin story and updates to characters (like how Aunt May and Uncle Ben are former hippies or it’s a genetically modified spider rather than a radioactive one). They then expanded to X-Men, Avengers (renamed Ultimates), and other heroes, but overall Spider-Man was the only one consistently good. The universe got pretty convoluted too after Cataclysm and is now ending.

    I’d actually recommend going there if you want to check out a Spider-Man comic as it deals with your two biggest gripes. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, (one of the best comic writers in the game now) handles the entire series while it has the same artist up until issue 111 when they had a few shifts and a name change. Peter Parker also has an end which is what led to Miles Morales picking up the torch. If you want to see if you can deal with the continuity as well, then Miles is a good way to go since his series should be your kind of thing and is fantastic.

    2. Spider-Gwen is its own thing in its own universe. So far Gwen is shown to be the only superhero there, but there’s hints Daredevil may be on the streets as well. Her series starts with Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 and then continues with Spider-Gwen. It mostly doesn’t have any continuity from the Spider-Verse series though outside her imagining a pig with Spider powers is talking to her every now and then. It’s…..exactly as weird as it sounds.

    3. X-Men series mostly indicate a new writer with a soft reboot. Uncanny was the original, but it didn’t get popular until Giant-Sized came, which replaced them with the X-Men team people are most familiar with, after which regular X-Men came until it was rebooted a few times. X-Force is a grim and grittier spin-off.

    If you want to see if you can deal with the idea that things came before and will happen after with other writers’ stories, then I’d go with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. Both are fantastic reads, but Astonishing does rely on you to have read New a little too much to jump straight into there. The only thing you really need to know about for New is Genosha and who the members are (Wolverine, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, and the Professor) other than that it’s pretty easy to pick up and read.

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