Since its establishment in 1937, DC Comics has published countless stories based on the immense number of characters it has collected under its belt throughout the decades.
All these characters are kept going by new writers who are brought in to reboot their storylines by creating a crisis that changes their world. These reboots work sometimes, but they can frustrate long-time fans.
There’s no doubt that DC’s rich narrative catalogue contains numerous classic tales involving its star superheroes (such as Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke), however, what follows is an abundance of stories that don’t age well. It’s not the comic book Goliath’s fault though, as many writers have come and gone over the years, each with their own unique take on DC’s flagship characters.
This has become a problem among both writers and fans alike because, over time, the narrative history becomes convoluted with each new addition written in the lore. As a result, DC has attempted to solve this problem by rebooting its continuity several times each decade, dubbing these reboots ‘Crisis’.
The formula of resetting the status quo began with 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and it worked, sky-rocketing the popularity of comic books as well as ushering the industry into a new era. It’s clear that DC has been trying to replicate this magic with the proceeding events in order to attract new readers. But it’s been at the cost of longtime fans.
With that being said, one question remains; do these reboots actually help solve DC’s complicated continuity problem?
Fans don’t seem to think so. The main issue with these ‘Crisis’ events isn’t the narrative aspect of it, as great stories have emerged from them (with Flashpoint being one of the greatest Flash stories ever told), but the lack of clarity in which elements of the lore remains intact.
The culmination of years’ worth of stories and character development have been thrown under the rug in order to boost sales as fan-favorite characters are either killed or wiped out of existence. DC has grown none the wiser though, with their most recent attempt at rebooting the universe, Heroes in Crisis, gaining criticism from both fans and critics.
Though some of the stories may be out of date, it’s necessary to acknowledge the continuity’s history as it retains a certain charm towards the characters moving forward instead of constantly rebooting the established lore every 10 years. Maybe it’s time for DC to find a new approach in keeping its properties fresh for new readers?