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CSBG Archive

Lorendiac’s Lists: The DC Reboots Since Crisis on Infinite Earths

Here is the archive of the lists Lorendiac posts here, and here is his latest!- BC.

Three years ago I requested help from my fellow fans in compiling a list of all the reboots DC had done of characters or entire teams in the years since COIE. Recently I repeated that request on a few forums, asking for help in listing anyone who had received the Reboot Treatment within these past three years. Here’s how I think it stands at the moment, for anyone who was wondering.

Before I offer my current list of DC Reboots, I want to talk a bit about what I mean and what I don’t mean when I use that word “Reboot.” This has caused a bit of confusion in the past. Different fans had different definitions in their heads when they saw and used that same word in their responses. Let’s see if I can explain myself clearly this time, using what I honestly believe to be the same definition commonly used by a majority of those fans who really worry about “reboots” and what does or doesn’t qualify..

What is a Reboot?

Reboot = Everything from before gets thrown away!

All—or very nearly all—of a character’s previously published stories, that had him at the center of the action, get erased from continuity, leaving a clean slate for a fresh start. In the new continuity, they never happened and the other superheroes in that same comics universe don’t remember anything about them. Now a writer is “starting all over from scratch” with the essential character concept. That is a reboot.

If some bits and pieces of a character’s history get changed on the spur of the moment, that is a retcon. But if a lot of his old adventures are still supposed to be valid, allowing for some changes to various details, then he has not been rebooted.

Things that Aren’t Reboots

1. The character’s origin story gets retold with some new twists, but all of his subsequent adventures are still supposed to have happened, just about the way his veteran fans remember them.

For instance, Frank Miller’s “Year One,” published as four issues of the “Batman” title shortly after COIE, was a retelling, with new details and a grittier tone than usual, of Batman’s “origin story” and his first several months on the job as a costumed crimefighter in Gotham City. However, most of the old Earth-1 continuity from the Silver and Bronze Ages (lots of previous clashes with Joker, Two-Face, Riddler, etc.) still appeared to be canonical in the Post-COIE era, so Batman and all the associated characters (such as Jim Gordon, Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth, etc.) hadn’t been utterly rebooted.

2. The old character dies or retires and someone else puts on a costume and starts calling himself the successor with the same name.

For instance, Barry Allen (the Silver Age Flash) died in COIE. Wally West took over the role of being the Flash. That was a big change, but not a reboot, because most of Barry’s old Pre-Crisis stories were still in continuity. People in the DCU still remembered that those things had happened.

3. A new writer comes along and makes some changes, giving the hero a new supporting cast, giving him a different attitude, telling his stories with a whole different style, but we are expected to assume that most or all of the previous stories still happened before this.

This happens all the time in the comic book industry. It isn’t a reboot; it just means different writers will have different stories they want to tell.

4. The hero’s old series got cancelled; he gets a new series with a new #1.

That isn’t a reboot unlessall the hero’s past adventures from the old series have just been erased from continuity, the way Wonder Woman’s were twenty years ago when her old series got cancelled and then a new one started up later. Most of the time, this is simply a Relaunch.

5. Changing the exact roster of the “Founding Members” of a team, but saying that the team actually still had most of the same adventures from its old series, is not a reboot.

For instance, in the Post-Crisis continuity regarding the original JLA, the official version said that Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman had not been Founding Members of the League. The second Black Canary had been, however, “replacing” Wonder Woman. Superman and Batman were apparently admitted to have lent a helping hand to the old JLA on various occasions if opportunity permitted. That was a major retcon to JLA continuity, but we weren’t being told that all those stories from the JLA title of the 60s, 70s, and early-to-mid 80s had “never happened at all.” They had just happened with a somewhat different set of members than we previously thought. That was not the same thing as tossing out the old JLA series and saying, “All that stuff never happened at all!” (It was a rather obnoxious thing to do to veteran JLA fans, however.)

The DC Reboots Since COIE

Superman. Rebooted in 1986 after COIE. All previous Superman-centric stories (Earth-2, Earth-1, or any other version) effectively got thrown away and forgotten. Although, because that same treatment was not being given to most of the other heroes who were formerly of “Earth-1,” it was kept in continuity that he had been a superhero for a few years already as “Superman #1″ (vol. 2) opened up, and that he had already become well-known to other heroes, and generally respected by them. (For instance, when Post-COIE Superman teamed up with Cyborg in an issue of “Action Comics,” it was clear that they knew each other from past experience, although I don’t believe we were given any details on just what that past experience had been!)

Wonder Woman. Rebooted at about the same time as Superman, around early 1987, shortly after COIE. Unlike Superman, she was rebooted as “I am just now appearing in public for the first time in the modern DCU, where the Justice League and the Teen Titans and others have already been household names for years before anyone heard of me!”

Note: Last year I saw a fascinating online rumor that when George Perez started plotting the initial story arc for the Post-COIE “Wonder Woman” title, he thought it would be the functional equivalent of Byrne’s “Man of Steel” mini or Miller’s “Batman: Year One” story, a retelling of her origin story which was mostly happening as a “flashback to several years ago” when Diana was just making her debut in the public eye, and then the title would subsequently “fast-forward” to “here and now,” with Diana already a well-established heroine with years of seasoning in the later stories in that series. However, the person mentioning this rumor didn’t cite any sources I could check. At any rate, some of what was done to Wonder Woman at that time has now been undone by her recent restoration (post-Infinite Crisis) to her old role as a Founding Member of the original Justice League, meaning she once again has about as many years of experience in superheroics as do Superman, Batman, and various other DC heroes.

The Legion of Super-Heroes. Rebooted in 1994 after Zero Hour. Rebooted again in 2004.

Note: I have not read the miniseries “Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds,” but I am told that the general effect of it seems to be to shunt the two “rebooted Legions” aside into other timelines and “restore” the version of Legion continuity which had previously been featured in DC publications from 1958 to about 1985 (the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths). If I’ve got this right, however, the subsequent 9 years or so of “original Legion continuity” (published from COIE to Zero Hour) does not apply to this “un-rebooted” Legion (or whatever it should be called).

The Doom Patrol. Rebooted in 2004. One rumor says that John Byrne did not “ask for permission” to reboot the Doom Patrol from scratch, but, on the contrary, was told that rebooting was the way DC had already decided it wanted the DP handled by anyone who did a new series about the “Doom Patrol” concept. Take it or leave it. I’m also told that within

On the other hand, I’m told that the reboot was thoroughly un-rebooted within two years or so of the reboot, with the events of Infinite Crisis serving as a convenient excuse, and I also hear that Dan DiDio has allegedly said that this was the Master Plan for the Doom Patrol all along.

Starro the Conqueror was apparently rebooted by Grant Morrison in 1997 in “JLA: Secret Files and Origins #1,” clearly set around the time of the early pages of “JLA #1″ (the first issue of the series which began around that same time). There’s this giant alien organism resembling a starfish, which uses miniature versions of itself to cling to people’s faces and place them under its mental control. It’s referred to in dialogue as “the Star Conqueror.” Various superheroes in this story (including Wally West and Wonder Woman) say things which make it clear they feel no sense of recognition at what they are seeing, despite the fact that Starro the Conqueror had used the same schtick in several previous stories (usually against one incarnation or another of the “Justice League,” beginning in the original team’s first published adventure). If they did remember meeting Starro or hearing about Starro from other heroes, then it would have been more logical for someone to say: “This sounds like Starro or one of his relatives. Refresh my memory: How have various incarnations of the League overcome Starro all those other times?”

Note: I just now checked, and saw that the Wikipedia entry on Starro simply asserts that Morrison’s “Star Conqueror” villain in “JLA: Secret Files and Origins #1″ was simply a different member (a green one) of the same species as Starro (usually purple). However, that interpretation of events does not fit with the way the heroes fighting “the Star Conqueror” are obviously drawing a complete blank as far as “recognition” is concerned. On the other hand, reading the Wikipedia entry gives me the impression (possibly inaccurate) that other writers working for DC in the past 12 years have not felt the obligation to write about Starro and/or “Star Conqueror” as if all the Starro stories from before 1997 had never happened. Perhaps this qualifies as a case where Grant Morrison tried to do a subtle reboot, but everyone else at DC just ignored the implications?

The Warlord. Rebooted in 2006. His previous regular series had lasted 132 issues back in the 1970s and 80s (and I have all those stories in my collection), plus a bunch of annuals, a six-issue miniseries, and all sorts of guest appearances in other people’s titles over the years. All of that is now gone with the wind.

At least some of the Charlton Comics characters were “rebooted” when they were integrated into the post-Crisis DCU.

For instance, Captain Atom started over from scratch in a series written by Cary Bates, in which he was becoming the superhero Captain Atom “for the very first time” and none of his old Charlton adventures had ever happened. I believe the same thing happened to Peacemaker.

I am told, on the other hand, that the Blue Beetle and the Question kept a fair piece of their pre-DC continuity (allowing for the fact that it had now happened to them as part of their retconned participation in the mainstream DCU instead of some other parallel world).

I believe that all of DC’s Impact line in the early 90s constituted “Reboots” of characters owned by Archie, since these heroes were generally being presented as people just now getting their special powers, etc., instead of seasoned veterans who had survived the events of all the stories previously published about them by another company or companies. That would include the following characters: The Shield, The Fly, The Comet, The Black Hood, The Jaguar, The Web.

I have heard that DC has once again acquired permission to publish stories about the Archie-owned stable of superheroes, but I haven’t seen any of those stories yet and I don’t know if any further rebooting is contemplated. (Likewise, I hear that the old Milestone characters are scheduled to be integrated into DCU continuity, but I have the impression that all of their old published stories will not simply be thrown out the window; ask me again in a year or two and I may know more about it by then.)

Captain Marvel—meaning the guy in the red bodysuit with a big yellow thunderbolt on his chest who keeps yelling Shazam!; not any of the heroes Marvel Comics has published using that same alias—got rebooted in the miniseries Shazam! A New Beginning in 1987 (written by Roy Thomas). Six years later, in 1993, Captain Marvel got his Second Post-Crisis Reboot in the graphic novel The Power of Shazam! by Jerry Ordway.

Note: Since I first wrote that entry, the idea that Ordway’s graphic novel (and the subsequent monthly title “The Power of Shazam”) qualified as a Second Reboot has been seriously questioned. For instance, someone pointed out to me that in the late 80s Captain Marvel spent some time working with the Justice League International in the early days of the Giffen/DeMatteis run, and he assured me that this was still supposed to be “in continuity” as something that had previously happened to Captain Marvel after the events of Ordway’s graphic novel and before the events chronicled in the later monthly title “The Power of Shazam.” The first issue of the monthly title plainly stated it had been four years since Billy Batson first gained the ability to transform by saying his magic word, and apparently Captain Marvel’s brief stint as a Justice Leaguer had occurred during that four-year gap. The person telling me this did concede, though, that just about anything and everything in the four-part mini by Roy Thomas got flushed down the toilet as “never happened; never could have happened” in Ordway’s retelling of Billy Batson’s origin story. I don’t think I had realized (or much cared) that it was still in continuity that Billy Batson had been part of the JLI back around the late 1980s. Although I now doubt that Ordway’s work qualified as a “full reboot, ” I decided to leave this listing in here (with this lengthy note) to explain what happened, rather than simply omitting any mention of Ordway’s work and then having other fans yell at me for “completely forgetting” about the putative Second Reboot of Captain Marvel.

Rip Hunter, Time Master got a big Post-Crisis reboot in the 8-part Time Masters miniseries published around 1990. I have heard that the rebooted version has been retconned and replaced by a different version, but I could have some of this wrong. Aside from reading that miniseries, I am no great expert on Rip Hunter’s continuity—and time travelers in general are prone to run into alternate versions of themselves, etc. (Think of Marvel’s “Kang,” for instance.)

Hugo Strange is a Batman villain who got rebooted, even though Batman himself didn’t. As near as I can tell, none of the story arcs that ever featured him as a villain in the Earth-1 Batman’s continuity have survived as solid historical facts in the Batman continuity of the Post-Crisis DCU. They have been replaced by various Post-Crisis story arcs. (Note: since I wrote those previous lines 3 years ago, I have seen some contention over this point in online discussions, and I have almost finished another post which attempts to outline my reasons for believing that the Post-COIE version of Hugo was a full reboot. The picture is complicated by the fact that his first Post-COIE appearance was one of the early arcs in the “Legends of the Dark Knight” title, and those arcs were notoriously “not necessarily in continuity,” so at the time the arc was first published, it was not at all clear if Hugo Strange’s Earth-1 continuity was “really” being changed or not!)

The Crime Syndicate of America (Superwoman, Ultraman, Owlman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick, characters from Earth-3 in the pre-Crisis Multiverse) first got heavily retconned, and then later got completely rebooted in Grant Morrison’s graphic novel JLA: Earth-2 in 1999. The earlier retcon had said that the oldtime JLA had still fought a Crime Syndicate of America, but they weren’t from a parallel Earth; they were from Qward. In Morrison’s graphic novel, however, the JLA met his version of the CSA for the first time without anyone ever saying, “Gosh, don’t these people remind you of that time when some of us fought five bad guys with the same codenames back in the early days of the JLA?” Thus we can deduce this was a reboot and the older Post-Crisis version no longer existed in continuity.

Supergirl is a very difficult case to analyze. By my count, there have been 16 Supergirl characters in stories that were “in continuity” in either the Pre-Crisis or Post-Crisis DCU. For the moment, let’s just recognize that the “classic” Silver Age, Earth-1 Supergirl—Kara Zor-El—died in COIE and then was retroactively erased from continuity, adding insult to injury. The Kara Zor-El Supergirl who popped up a couple of years ago in the Superman/Batman title was Jeph Loeb’s “Total Reboot” of the old Kara Zor-El character concept. We’ll just ignore all the other Supergirls for the time being. If anyone really is dying to know about the other 14 Supergirls on my list, just follow this link! (Bearing in mind that someday, after certain mysteries are resolved in the current comics, I’ll be updating that list yet again! I imagine I’ll post the Fifth Draft right here on CSBG when the time comes!)

I am told that Grant Morrison has effectively rebooted Klarion the Witch Boy in his “Seven Soldiers of Victory” stories published in 2005. Word has it that Klarion’s previous appearances, particularly the “Sins of Youth” crossover event from several years ago, simply never happened. Note: I wrote the previous lines of this entry three years ago. I hear that since that time, the new version of Klarion has met Robin in the latter’s series, and that Robin (Tim Drake) was written as obviously having no recollection of any previous encounters with anyone called “Klarion the Witch Boy.” This strongly supports what I had heard before, re: the “erasure” of the “Sins of Youth” event from the modern continuity of the DCU.

Hawkman. Initially the Silver Age Hawkman, Katar Hol of Thanagar, was believed to have survived COIE without any noteworthy changes to his continuity. Ditto for his loving wife, Hawkgirl (who had changed her preferred alias to Hawkwoman in the early 1980s). I’ve seen them in a John Byrne Post-Crisis Superman story when they used their starship to help him go get a close look at the remnants of his native world of Krypton, and I remember seeing them get some appearances in the earlier issues of the Giffen/DeMatteis era of the JLI, wherein Katar would complain about how the clowns now calling themselves the Justice League couldn’t hold a candle to the old-school JLA of the good old days. But then, in 1989, Tim Truman started doing Hawkworld. I think it was first a three-part mini, then an ongoing series, and the general idea (for awhile) seemed to be that all the old Silver Age/Bronze Age appearances of Katar Hol were now being tossed out the window.

I have never been a regular collector of any of the various series about Hawkman, Hawkworld, etc., so I’m going to leave it at that and hope my second-hand understanding is “correct” as far as it goes. I have no intention of delving into subsequent Hawkman-related retcons right now! (Do I look like a masochist? You don’t have to answer that question, actually.)

The situation of Jason Todd (Robin II) is ambiguous. He definitely received a brand new (and bad) origin story after COIE, but my definition of a reboot requires more than just “one origin story got replaced with another one.” I realized a couple of years ago that there is not a general consensus among Batman fans regarding how much (if anything) of his Pre-Crisis adventures as Robin (and of Doug Moench’s entire first run as a Batman writer in the mid-80s) managed to carry over into the Post-Crisis Bat-continuity as having presumably “still happened” to him at some point. I am inclined to believe that the Post-COIE Jason Todd, the guy who died pretty soon in “A Death in the Family,” was a rebooted version with none or almost none of his Pre-COIE adventures (as written by Gerry Conway and Doug Moench) having any validity in the DCU of the late 1980s, but I’m not sure if any of the Batman editors of the late 80s and 90s ever explicitly addressed that point.

The Creeper got the reboot treatment in 2006 with a miniseries in which Jack Ryder became The Creeper “for the very first time, right here and now, in the modern continuity.” Thereby erasing all previous stories of Jack Ryder being the superhero known as The Creeper and occasionally teaming up with other heroes.

The Yellow Peri had a total of 4 appearances in Pre-COIE continuity in the 1980s, meeting Superboy and later Superman (the same character in those days, remember; at different times in his life). Then she went for a little over 20 years without being seen or heard from. Since she basically had “only existed” in the Pre-COIE continuity of Clark Kent, it was a very safe guess that she had been erased from existence at the same time Superman was rebooted in the Post-COIE era. However, she has recently been rebooted in the DCU—as far as I know, her new stories have not referred to any of her appearances from the Pre-COIE era as still being in continuity.

I am told that, within the last few years, there was a story in the “Superman/Batman” title in which Doc Magnus and his Metal Men guest-starred, and Batman claimed to have never met these people before. This would imply a recent reboot, since Batman had previously met the Metal Men (and their creator, Will Magnus) on various occasions in the older continuity; and the Post-COIE Superman has also bumped into them before. On the other hand: When I was asking for feedback about recent reboots, at least one other fan argued that other comic books’ portrayals of Magnus and his Metal Men in the last couple of years have not been consistent with that “Superman/Batman” story’s implication that all of their previous adventures never happened. I haven’t been reading any of their recent appearances, so I can’t swear from personal observation which interpretation is more likely to be correct—”they got rebooted recently,” or “someone may have tried to reboot them by having Batman not recognize them, but the attempted reboot isn’t really sticking”?

Isis. I still haven’t bothered to read “52,” but I am told that it introduced a new girlfriend for Black Adam; a woman named Adrianna Tomaz who has gained supernatural powers and calls herself Isis. She was effectively a reboot of the heroine called Isis (Andrea Thomas) who had a TV show in the 1970s, and—more importantly for our purposes—a DC series which lasted 8 issues. Apparently the 1970s version never happened in modern continuity.

General Zod. I’ve heard that in the wake of “Infinite Crisis,” the editors of the Superman books announced that Superman had never met anybody named “Zod” in his revised history, and thus would be taken off guard by the events of the “Last Son” story arc. In one fell swoop, that declaration erased several stories about four different Zods from the Superman continuity which had developed in the two decades between COIE and Infinite Crisis, with the newest Zod effectively being a reboot of the basic character concept!

Final Thoughts

It’s been suggested to me that some of the “new Earths” in the Multiverse created at the end of the “52” series could qualify as cases of certain character concepts getting “rebooted” in their own timelines. However, since I have not yet bothered to read “52” (nor its sequel series “Countdown”), I’m not prepared to commit myself on any of that at the moment. Especially since, by and large, I’ve been paying more attention to characters whose rebooted versions are still supposed to be part of the main DCU timeline. (Likewise, I ignore any “Elseworlds” takes on old familiar faces when I’m thinking about “Reboots.”)

Whew! When I look back at this haphazard “reboot some of this and then reboot some of that” approach to rebooting bits and pieces of the DCU, I find myself with a renewed sympathy for those fans who have argued that DC should have just bitten the bullet and rebooted everything at once in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and then perhaps should have set a policy of doing the same thing all over again every 10 or 15 years, to keep the continuity from getting too cluttered or otherwise incomprehensible. Certainly I can see potential problems with that suggested approach, but I sure can’t say that it would have turned out any worse than the way DC has actually been attacking these things on a piecemeal basis for over 20 years now!

As usual, I welcome constructive criticism if I made any mistakes or completely skipped anyone who belongs on this list. Bear in mind, though, that I took it for granted that if I listed a certain hero as getting rebooted at a certain time, I took it for granted that this implicitly included any of the lesser characters in his “supporting cast” who clearly got rebooted around the same time. For instance, the Superman reboot of the late 1980s includes what was done with Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Brainiac, Metallo, and all the rest. Likewise, I didn’t feel the need to list every single member of the Legion of Super-Heroes when mentioning each of their reboots!

66 Comments

Holy crap in a hat.

Compared to this vortex of madness, the implications of Marvel’s “One More Day/Brand New Day” seem trivial in terms of sketchy continuity.

Hey, what about the Challengers of the Unknown? I read something that suggested the new Challs from the 90s had been “hypertimed” out of existence.

That’s a really fascinating list, and I applaud your effort. But if there’s a hell, I think people will be required to diagram this sentence upon arrival there:

“Note: Last year I saw a fascinating online rumor that when George Perez started plotting the initial story arc for the Post-COIE “Wonder Woman” title, he thought it would be the functional equivalent of Byrne’s “Man of Steel” mini or Miller’s “Batman: Year One” story, a retelling of her origin story which was mostly happening as a “flashback to several years ago” when Diana was just making her debut in the public eye, and then the title would subsequently “fast-forward” to “here and now,” with Diana already a well-established heroine with years of seasoning in the later stories in that series. “

See, this is why I can’t be bothered with DC (except maybe Batman) anymore. I, for one, LOVED “Sins of Youth.” Pfft–never happened.

Any chance of doing one of these for Marvel? My hope is that the list would be considerably shorter. OMD notwithstanding, Spidey’s had ONE reboot–Byrne’s “Chapter One–which was “unbooted” within a year or two anyway.

The Hawkworld miniseries was originally just supposed to be a retelling of the Thangarian Hawks’ origins, but editors didn’t include the caption “seven years ago” (it might have been 10, not really sure).

This led to the retcon that the Justice League Hawkman wasn’t Katar Hol, but Carter Hall, the Justice Society’s Hawkman.

Hawkman is MUCH more convoluted than that.

Here’s my understanding. Anyone can correct me. Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl were originally left intact after the Crisis. But once the new 1989 Hawkworld version appeared, something even crazier was decided. The Giffen JLA Hawkman and Hawkgirl were thought by the members to be the Golden Age Hawks, but were in fact Thanagarian spies sent to Earth prior to the “Invasion!” crossover event in 1988. I’m fairly certain this was at least the explanation later revealed after the fact. In reality, at that time in the DC Universe, the original Justice Society were off in some weird dimension fighting demons or something crazy like that. So for a while, those characters were just hidden away somewhere for safe keeping by DC. The original Hawks did return in a later JSA miniseries which brought them all back into the world of the JLA, etc.

Keep in mind, at some point, all that stuff about the Hawks being reincarnated several times came up. I don’t recall when. Then, in Zero Hour, we got the strange merging of of the existing Hawkmen (and maybe Hawkgirl) into another character who — it’s getting fuzzy now — appeared in the new Hawkman #0 following Zero Hour. I’m not even really sure who the hell that guy was. I think he was a new incarnation of Thanagarian policeman Katar Hol. But he didn’t last very long.

And somehow, in storylines I’ve failed to follow, that confusing Katar Hol character went away and good old Carter Hall has returned to the JSA and is now Hawkman again. Resurrected or reincarnated or something…

I may be missing a few steps here, but it’s something.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 16, 2009 at 9:43 am

Now, let’s talk about “retcon”.

;-)

Truly interesting. However, I think you can add Zod to the list of characters with MULTIPLE reboots. There were several characters named ‘Zod’ in the 90s, and from what I recall, Superman never recognized ANY of them as sharing a name with other Zods.

Also, I believe that Mike Grell has gone on record that the the upcoming Warlord ongoing will be a new beginning for the character.

Maybe we should just subtitle this “The Gift and the Curse of a Shared Universe”.

What about Ragman? His reboot was after COIE, I believe, and I’m pretty sure his change to a more mystical hero was definitely meant to wipe out his original series’ events.

Note: Last year I saw a fascinating online rumor that when George Perez started plotting the initial story arc for the Post-COIE “Wonder Woman” title, he thought it would be the functional equivalent of Byrne’s “Man of Steel” mini or Miller’s “Batman: Year One” story, a retelling of her origin story which was mostly happening as a “flashback to several years ago” when Diana was just making her debut in the public eye, and then the title would subsequently “fast-forward” to “here and now,” with Diana already a well-established heroine with years of seasoning in the later stories in that series…

This is, I think, the root problem with the DCU. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were the characters with the longest and most inter-connected histories. Each got a completely different treatment. Superman got a hard re-boot, but with a time lag between “Man of Steel” and “Superman #1: Volume 2″ that should have worked as a kind of continuity patch. Batman got a very soft retcon in “Batman: Year One” that has slowly grown as later authors have revisited that story. Notably, Loeb and Sale in “The Long Halloween” have added a lot of “texture” to the early Batman. Finally, Wonder Woman got a hard re-boot without a time lag. That voided effectively all the early JL-of-A stories and made a hash of Donna Troy.

It would’ve been better to pick just one approach. At the time, the “hard re-boot, plus unspecified time lag” was probably the smartest. It could’ve even fixed the Legion as a teaming up with a very young Superman is not so different than working with Superboy.

Now, I favor an across the board hard re-boot of everything every 20 years to give new readers a jumping on point. Every title is planned as (effectively) a 240 issue limited series.

Re: The Legion – you’re essentially correct. The post-Zero Hour and the post-Infinite Crisis versions have been shown (in Legion of 3 Worlds) to be in different timelines. Geoff Johns has said that his version of the Legion (appearing in the Superman books) split off after the Crisis, but the exact point of divergence hasn’t been revealed yet, as there are things in his storyline that happened after the Crisis (like Sensor Girl).

Re: The Warlord – it was rebooted for a 12-issue series that failed. Now it’s the miniseries that’s being wiped away; Mike Grell is going to pick up where the original series left off, as the writer of a new series coming later this year.

Re: Isis – she existed in the “DC TV” comics in the late 70s only and never interacted with anyone from the mainstream DCU. She spun her own series out of Shazam! #25 (Sept. 1976), so I guess you could say she existed only on Earth-S, but she didn’t appear outside of her title after that.

Richard Dragon was rebooted a few years back. He was apparently debooted in 52.

I fall on the reboot side of Jason Todd. Some of his cases alongside Batman may have occurred and the 2 times he aided the Titans apparently still occurred (to the point where he’s actually considered to have been a member and was allowed entry to a Titans Tower that was built after he “died”). Most of those adventures would have had to have big differences, since he had a different personality. For example, I can’t see the post COIE Jason bonding with Nocturna the way the original did.

A sentence for the Doom Patrol seems to be cut off.

Yeah, that’s all a LOT easier to follow than the old Earth-1/Earth-2 stuff. Thank god COIE cleared all that up.

Wraith — I’ve never been a big Challengers fan, so I’m probably lagging waaaay behind on whatever has been said about, or done with, the CotU concept lately. When you mention the 1990s, you’re talking about the series Steven Grant wrote, right? I hadn’t heard anything about those guys disappearing from continuity — but as I said, I hadn’t really been paying attention lately, either (although I own a fair amount of that series by Grant, and I remember seeing him say once in a column that one perpetual problem he encountered was that fans of the larger DCU thought it was silly for his Challengers to be doubtful or skeptical about telepathy, witchcraft, alien visitors, people coming back from the dead, etc., when they lived in the same universe as Superman and the rest of the JLA and so forth.

Will — if the people end up in hell in the first place, then it serves them right! I mean, compared to the things Dante described, making them diagram an occasional sentence would be smothering them with kindness!

Sadly, COIE wasn’t really needed. As long as the writer slapped a caption reading “Earth-whatever” if it wasn’t Earth-1 or Earth-2, you knew what was up. Reboots are signs of editorial laziness.

Considering how different in style it was from what came before, I would say that the Howard Chaykin Blackhawks should be considered a reboot. He changed the uniforms, several of the Blackhawks names (from “Bart Hawk” to Janos Prohaska), nationalities (Chuck went from a cowboy to a half-Italian guy from New York), backstories (the whole thing about Blackhawk being a Communist back in the day), and characterizations (from a true-blue hero type to more a rogue who sleeps around). Chaykin also introduced a completely different version of Lady Blackhawk.

Judging from Zinda Blake being featured in Birds of Prey & the original Blackhawks appearing in Waid & Perez’s Brave & the Bold, it looks like the original Blackhawks are back in continuity.

And the post-Crisis Rip Hunter debuted in the 80s Booster Gold series, btw. He took what was explicitly called his first trip through time. And they introduced the short-lived rule that each method of time travel could only be used ONCE per person, effectively throwing out all of the old Rip Hunter stories.

Adam — I vaguely seem to recall that back around the time I first took an interest in this (3 years ago), I asked on a few forums about any true reboots Marvel might have done. I’m not sure there were any, except for the Ultimate Universe’s “fresh takes” on everybody. And it’s hard to call those “reboots” when they are being published simultaneously with the older versions, instead of officially “replacing” the complicated old continuity once and for all!

Byrne’s “Chapter One” was a “retelling of Spidey’s early days,” but it was not even trying to say: “All the previous Spidey stuff from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s never happened, and we’re starting over from scratch!” That’s what it would take for me to call it a “reboot” of Spidey’s continuity. Heck, somewhere I once heard that it got such criticism from the fans that even before the mini finished, Marvel’s editors were already assuring their readers that Byrne’s version wasn’t an official retcon of the sacred details of Spidey’s earliest adventures in the Lee/Ditko run!

P.S. Now that you mention it, I seem to recall seeing (here on CBR some years ago?) mention that Marvel had once taken the position that one of its Black Panther series (maybe Hudlin’s?) was a Reboot, and then said, “Uh . . . never mind. That doesn’t make any sense either!”

Oh, and Frank MIller made a few changes to Batman continuity, some subtle and some not so subtle. Among them:

-Alfred was now butler for the Waynes since Bruce’s childhood.
-Jim Gordon was now originally from Chicago (Pre-Crisis stories showed him as a beat cop in Gotham)
-Gordon & his wife had a son, James Jr (originally thought to wipe Barbara Gordon out of continuity, she was brought back as his adopted neice, later retconned to his possible daughter)
-Gordon was now divorced instead of widowed
-Selina Kyle’s BG as a prostitute (I think this was retconned away).
-FM made it more explicit that Bruce Wayne travelled the world while training to become Batman (I don’t think this was ever referred to much pre-Crisis).

There are probably others I’m forgetting, but those are the major ones.

“I, for one, LOVED “Sins of Youth.” Pfft–never happened.”

See, that’s the thing – what makes that “never happened” is such a relatively minor thing (Robin not recognising Klarion during the latter’s guest appearance in one issue) that worrying about it is basically pointless. Unless DC’s going out to individual readers houses with flamethrowers, the story still happened.

While stuff like this is great, it’s all essentially deep continuity stuff that’ll go all but unnoticed by most people. Whereas eliminating Earth 2 was done to fix a problem that was noticeable to everyone.

Oh, and I think a big reason that people obsess so much about reboots is that, for whatever reason, the LSH fanbase has always been more vocal than others and I think the one thing everyone agrees on is that by not leaving an “out” for Superboy to have existed in the LSH, Byrne unintentionally crippled the LSH. Again, not something noted by the general readership, but LSH fans are vocal if nothing else and they’ve made their beefs known over the years.

There are many others who were re-booted into the Vertigo universe (Shade the Changing Man, Human Target, many others), but none are listed here, so that should probably be on your list of exceptions.

Will the new Giffen “Doom Patrol” remember the Morrison issues then?

Graeme White — last year I heard that said about Hawkworld, i.e. that the original 3-part mini was supposedly set “several years ago,” same as Batman’s “Year One,” but nothing in the captions specified this . . . and then some editor at DC had a sudden mood swing and decided to keep pressing forward with a Hawkworld monthly which would be happening “right here and now, and be set “right after” the events of Tim Truman’s first few issues, and that was when it all hit the fan as far as Hawk-continuity was concerned. I didn’t work a mention of that into my piece, but I had heard the rumor.

Lorendiac — Yes, the Grant/Kaminski Challengers series. I don’t know that it’s any sort of official position, just something I read online, in an interview with Grant iirc. Of course, for practical purposes, there would seem little difference between on one hand, relatively obscure characters being erased from continuity (from which others have come back, before), or on the other hand just being completely absent for a while.

Anyways!

Lorendiac–

Y’know what? CBR’s front page reminded me that Marvel does have a few reboots; namely, the 2099 imprint is getting a complete makeover. I guess we’ll have to see the actual series to find out if it’s a “reboot” or something else, but it appears to fit your bill. Marvel’s New Universe and Squadron Supreme series seem to have gotten a similar reboot, or reinterpretation, or what have you.

The main Marvel U, though…I still can’t think of anything.

I’d have to dig it out and check to be sure, but I think Grant Morrison’s “Star Conqueror” story did have some references back to times they’d fought Starro before, or at least times they’d fought the little mini-starfish that attached to people’s faces and turned them into drones.

Can’t remember for sure whether it was the Secret Files story or the later JLA story with the “it blinked” moment.

Kelson — Let me save you a little time. I very recently read that “Secret Files and Origins” story after someone had called my attention to the possibility of a Starro reboot in the late 1990s, and I can assure you that it doesn’t have any faint suggestion that the problem of alien starfish attaching themselves to people’s faces is a “familiar problem” for the heroes on the scene. I can’t remember the details of Morrison’s later story that you mentioned; I probably haven’t reread that one in years.

Marvel Rebooted the Hulk with Byrne’s “Year One” shortly after PAD left the title. The reboot failed to take, but it was an attempt.

And the rolling retcon of time has done enough damage to Flash Thomson’s history that one could make a strong case that he’s been rebooted. (A whole lot of Flash stories hinge on him having been a veteran of some war other than the current one, who returned physically intact from his service.)

Wesley — actually I think it was around the early 2000s that all of a sudden Superman was tripping over another Zod every time he turned around. One of them was in the year-long “For Tomorrow” arc, which — from what I’ve heard — basically had zero connection with ongoing continuity. One of them was a Phantom Zone version of Zod. And one of them was a Russian apparently pretending to be the Zod whom Superman had depowered and then executed (Gold K and Green K in succession) in a Pocket Universe in the late 1980s. In that third case, at least, I’m fairly sure Superman remembered the Zod whom this guy was allegedly pretending to be?

Justin Hilyard — frankly, I know precious little about Ragman. I did buy the TPB of Willingham’s “Day of Vengeance” miniseries . . . but although I knew I had vaguely heard of the guy before then, I didn’t remember any details of anything I’d ever actually seen him do in any previous story. So I had no way of telling whether or not he’d ever been rebooted. I promise to look into it further before my next draft of this list (whenever that will be!).

Omar Karindu, back from an Internet Thogal ritual

March 16, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Two of these are not supposed to be reboots, but rather retcons that take place before the characters’ “original” original appearances. Not coincidentally, perhaps, both are Grant Morrison’s work and in both cases the evidence that they’re not reboots is tossed off in passing somewhere, not featured.

— The Star Conqueror’s status as not-Starro was clarified in passing in JLA (1997 series) #23, on page 7 to be exact.

Wally West/Flash, viewing images of one of Starro’s old rampages from JLofA (1960 series): “These are files on similar creatures you and the old League encountered, J’onn. If Batman’s right, maybe this was the first probe and…” He’s interrupted at this point and never gets to finish the thought; the implication is that prior Starro manifestations were probes sent by this being, presumably because that means the Star Conqueror is scarier still than its mere advance-agent versions. The DC Encyclopedia and other editorially-approved sources since have claimed that the Star Conqueror is just another member of Starro’s race.

— Morrison has stated in interviews that Seven Soldiers: Klarion takes place before Klarion’s first appearance in Kirby’s The Demon. At the end of 7S #1, Klarion’s in the Sheeda’s time-ship with an articfact that makes him their new ruler; the Sheeda’s time period has been called “the Beyond Country” at other points in the arc, and their power of time travel makes it an easy go to have them rise up against Klarion — indeed, Misty, the evil Sheeda queen’s heir and daughter, is pretty much set up to do this because Klarion betrays her to board said ship. Klarion’s Limbo Town is heavily implied to be the ancestral home of the Sheeda in a time paradox (since the Sheeda Melmoth traveled back in time and wound up passing his genes to the Puritans whose descendants existed in Limbo Town.) It’s also possible that, after learning lots of magic in the future, he goes back to a Limbo Town before his birth or departure and they chase him to Earth, where he begins tormenting Etrigan, Young Justice, and anyone else unlucky enough to meet him.

Omar Karindu, back from an Internet Thogal ritual

March 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm

The “Chapter One” Hulk Annual story is what got Byrne off the book; editor Tom Brevoort never wanted a reboot, added the Chapter One label himself, and the disagreement over the Annual led to Byrne eithe rleaving or being fired fromt he title not long after. And Brevoort then promptly let it be known that the Annual version just didn’t happen, tossing the reboot before it was referenced as continuity elsewhere.

Brevoort’s version is here: http://www.marvel.com/blogs/Tom_Brevoort/entry/801

Dean said:

This is, I think, the root problem with the DCU. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were the characters with the longest and most inter-connected histories. Each got a completely different treatment. Superman got a hard re-boot, but with a time lag between “Man of Steel” and “Superman #1: Volume 2? that should have worked as a kind of continuity patch. Batman got a very soft retcon in “Batman: Year One” that has slowly grown as later authors have revisited that story. Notably, Loeb and Sale in “The Long Halloween” have added a lot of “texture” to the early Batman. Finally, Wonder Woman got a hard re-boot without a time lag. That voided effectively all the early JL-of-A stories and made a hash of Donna Troy.

It would’ve been better to pick just one approach. At the time, the “hard re-boot, plus unspecified time lag” was probably the smartest. It could’ve even fixed the Legion as a teaming up with a very young Superman is not so different than working with Superboy.

Now, I favor an across the board hard re-boot of everything every 20 years to give new readers a jumping on point. Every title is planned as (effectively) a 240 issue limited series.

I just briefly referred to how the Post-COIE Rebooted Diana was now far less experienced than any of the original Teen Titans, but beyond that I didn’t want to dwell in loving detail on just how that particular glitch made hash of Donna Troy’s continuity. I have used that problem before as an example of why some people feel that if you’re going to reboot some of the big-name heroes in an interconnected universe, then you ought to go for broke and reboot everybody at once instead of constantly trying to patch up the holes created by a retcon here and a reboot there, and then patching the problems created by the previous patches, and then patching the problems created by those patches . . . :(

Actually, it seems to me that if “making things more accessible for new readers” is going to be a priority in rebooting stuff, then the reboot should be done more than once every 20 years. What are we supposed to tell a new reader who comes along toward the end of Year 17 and gets very confused by passing references to whatever wild absurdities have been perpetrated in Supergirl continuity (for instance) at various times over the last 204 months? “Just wait another 3 years, kid, and I>then it will all make sense as they start all over again?”

@Omar Karindu: Thanks, that was the scene I was thinking of.

Michael Grabois — thanks for the comments and clarifications. For years I have largely ignored Legion continuity in anything published since the early 1990s (and I’m not too happy about much of what came after Giffen’s five-year leap forward in the late 80s), so I was dependent upon second-hand information to the effect that they now seem to be restoring the Legion as it existed in much of Levitz’s run, up to around the time of COIE, but not extending beyond that.

I had heard that the Bruce Jones reboot of Warlord fell flat, but never bothered to read any of it. I’d recently seen online rumors that Grell would be doing something with Travis Morgan again, but since he hasn’t started doing it yet and I wasn’t clear on details of continuity, I decided not to bother mentioning it here before it actually happened.

As to Isis: I think I knew she was never embedded in the mainstream Earth-1 continuity in the old days, but heck, neither was Black Adam, so I didn’t bother mentioning it :)

Carl — I saw some arguments about whether or not Richard Dragon had been truly rebooted, or (I think someone said) merely had his old origin story tossed out in favor of a new one, but with much of his other stuff (such as tutoring Vic Sage?) left intact. I chose not to get involved this time around; since I knew nothing about it.

Eric P. — Yep, I saw that myself sometime yesterday, long after I had emailed a copy of this to Brian Cronin to be posted today. I’d learned from past experience that if I sent Brian a follow-up email begging him to correct one or two typoes in what I had just submitted, he’d ignore it. Probably feels he has better things to worry about and that I should get these things right in the first place (which is hard to argue with, frankly). I usually submit a piece to him very late at night, after editing and rewriting and spellchecking and researching a few last points and so forth, and finally I look it over and mutter to myself, “Good enough — let’s send the silly thing to Brian and call it a night.” Then I later notice — too late — various typographical errors and so forth which needed a bit more polish. You might call it a sacred tradition!

JEM said: “Yeah, that’s all a LOT easier to follow than the old Earth-1/Earth-2 stuff. Thank god COIE cleared all that up.”

You’ve reminded me of something . . . years ago I wrote a little piece trying to straighten out some of the bare essentials of Wonder Woman continuity, as it mutated after the transition to Post-COIE continuity. I believe my main point went like this (paraphrased from memory):

“Before COIE, there were two — count ‘em, two — Wonder Women. Some of the stories previously published about ‘Wonder Woman’ had happened to the Golden Age WW on Earth-2, and some had happened to the Silver Age WW on Earth-1. Impossible to keep track of the difference between one woman and another, right?

“Fortunately, because DC loves us so much, they vastly simplified that picture with one retcon after another, until we had the following situation: Some of what happened in stories about the GA (Golden Age) WW had actually happened to Miss America. Some of what happened in stories about the GA WW had actually happened to Helena Kosmatos, The Fury of the Golden Age. Some of what happened in stories about the GA WW had actually happened to Diana’s mom Hippolyta, who traveled back in time to honor her daughter by being WW before her daughter ever was. Some of what happened in stories about the SA (Silver Age) WW had actually happened to Black Canary when she became Diana’s retconned replacement as a Founding Member of the JLA. And of course there is the Rebooted Modern WW who has starred in her own adventures since 1986.

“So the horribly complicated continuity of two women was gradually boiled down and simplified until various bits and pieces of it had been performed by one or another of five women! Now what could be more user-friendly than that?” :)

Tally said:

Sadly, COIE wasn’t really needed. As long as the writer slapped a caption reading “Earth-whatever” if it wasn’t Earth-1 or Earth-2, you knew what was up. Reboots are signs of editorial laziness.

Well, I was a schoolboy who started reading some DC titles regularly in 1982 — in time to see the big JLA/JSA/All-Star Squadron team-up that year — and I quickly grasped the differences between Earth-1 and Earth-2. So I tend to agree you, as I look back on it, that merging the two worlds together was not vitally important.

On the other hand, I think COIE was meant to accomplish more than just “let’s get rid of Earth-2.” Some of its other goals may have been more laudable. There was an awful lot of silliness in the old Superman continuity, for instance, and I’m not prepared to say that DC was 100% wrong in wanting to give him a fresh start and see what happened.

John Trumbull — frankly, I’ve never been a Blackhawks fan. I’ve never really tried to collect the original Blackhawks titles, although I’ve read a few issues’ worth of it. I vaguely knew Chaykin had done something with the Blackhawks, but just knowing that was about as far as my memory went. When I saw Zinda pop up in Gail Simone’s “Birds of Prey” run, I couldn’t immediately identify her as anyone I had ever seen doing anything in particular in any other story I remembered reading — although I quickly caught on that she was, in fact, somehow connected with the old Blackhawk squadron. (On the other hand, I don’t think I ever bothered to find out how she, as a WWII-era heroine, was still looking pretty young and fit in the early 21st century. Tells you how much I cared, doesn’t it?)

So the Blackhawks didn’t occur to me as “reboot” material, and I don’t think anyone mentioned them to me in that connection. But I’ll dig into it before my next draft (whenever that may come).

By the way — a few years ago I bought the 8-part “Time Masters” mini at a sale, read it, was startled by the attempt to force that “each time-travel method works just once per customer” rule into the DCU, and made some notes for a piece about the mini, including some plot flaws I thought I saw, as well as how its attempt to hammer home certain rules for time travel in the Post-COIE DCU was doomed to fail. I never did finish that piece, but I think the rough draft is still sitting on my hard drive. Hmmm . . .

“Marvel Rebooted the Hulk with Byrne’s “Year One” shortly after PAD left the title. The reboot failed to take, but it was an attempt.”

That wasn’t a reboot, just an origin retcon. Like Spider-Man Chapter One was a retcon of the first year or so of the character.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Actually, it seems to me that if “making things more accessible for new readers” is going to be a priority in rebooting stuff, then the reboot should be done more than once every 20 years. What are we supposed to tell a new reader who comes along toward the end of Year 17 and gets very confused by passing references to whatever wild absurdities have been perpetrated in Supergirl continuity (for instance) at various times over the last 204 months? “Just wait another 3 years, kid, and then it will all make sense as they start all over again?”

Lorendiac: You are probably right that 20 years is too long to provide enough ‘jump on here’ points for new readers. It just seems that things turn over naturally every couple decades and it might make sense to formalize the process. The Golden Age take gave way to the Silver Age, which (in turn) gave way to the post-COIE DCU. That status quo is being slowly erased by Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns. If it is inevitable, then you might as learn the lessons of the previous revisions.

The key lesson of the transition from the Gold to Silver Age was that some secret identities and origins are intrinsic parts of the character (i.e. Bruce Wayne is Batman), but others aren’t (i.e. anyone with a magic ring is Green Lantern). The key lesson of the COIE transition was that re-booting any major part of the DCU really required re-booting the whole thing from scratch.

The main Marvel U, though…I still can’t think of anything.

Adam: I would say that the whole “Heroes Reborn” thing was a pretty major re-boot.

Also, Marvel’s “rolling retcon” of moving the dates forward on an on-going basis is as major as anything that DC has done. It throws out major early stories all the time. The difference is that no one notices, because Marvel doesn’t make a big deal out of it. It is just that Tony Stark no longer talk about Vietnam …

Let’s face it: all these reboots are never, EVER for the sake of “making things easier for the fans”. They’re always the results of writers (and editors) wanting to change things THEIR way, common sense be damned.

DC only has continuity problems because of its editors. (Certainly, they don’t seem to pop up as often at Marvel.)

-The Multiverse was eliminated pretty much because Marv Wolfman hated it. (Not that I like it much myself, because of its existential implications -How come the Earth-1 Batman never said, “My parents DIED just because the universe wanted another Batman??”- but it WAS a simple way to introduce new characters without losing the old.)

-After the Crisis, all titles were supposed to be rebooted at the same time, but obviously nobody kept an eye on making sure this was done.

– Wonder Woman’s post-Infinite Crisis relaunch was ruined because they brought in an author “from outside comics” (which I guess means he HAD to be better!) and they allowed him to TAKE HIS DAMN TIME writing what was supposed to be a monthly series, instead of just firing him and getting somebody else to do it;

-The recent Final Crisis mess -from the poorly-coordinated tie-ins to Morrison not bothering to alter his story to fit in with what had been already published to even Didio himself allowing FC to be published unedited instead of saying “Uh, this might be confusing to some fans, could you rewrite it?”- are yet another example of poor editorial work. And note how *few* books are even making reference to FC now (except for intentional tie-ins, which feel more like beating on a dead horse- no, I’m NOT going to buy a comic based on that nobody Human Flame just so DC can milk FC even more.) The Earth goes evil, the universe collapses, the entire human race is frozen and thawed, the existence of the multiverse is revealed to the common man AND IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL!? Riiiight.

What DC really needs is to reboot its entire editorial staff. Maybe with Marvel people (except Quesada. :P )

When I saw Zinda pop up in Gail Simone’s “Birds of Prey” run, I couldn’t immediately identify her as anyone I had ever seen doing anything in particular in any other story I remembered reading.

I think Beau Smith was the person who first brought her back in Guy Gardner; Warrior, but I can’t tell you any more than that. Never read that book.

So the Blackhawks didn’t occur to me as “reboot” material, and I don’t think anyone mentioned them to me in that connection. But I’ll dig into it before my next draft (whenever that may come).

Well, keep in my mind that Chaykin’s Blackhawk being a reboot is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary. Heck, if you asked Chaykin, he may say they were supposed to be the same characters as before. I know the Blackhawks mainly from Mark Evanier & Dan Spiegle’s wonderful revival from the 80s (HIGHLY recommended, btw). I just find the two versions completely incompatible in terms of the team’s characterizations.

This site will give you a good primer on the basics of the two versions:

http://ourworlds.topcities.com/blackhawk/

By the way — a few years ago I bought the 8-part “Time Masters” mini at a sale, read it, was startled by the attempt to force that “each time-travel method works just once per customer” rule into the DCU, and made some notes for a piece about the mini, including some plot flaws I thought I saw, as well as how its attempt to hammer home certain rules for time travel in the Post-COIE DCU was doomed to fail.

Yeah, I could see something like that working in a closed universe under the control of one author or editor, but in an open universe with constant creative turnover like the DCU, forget it. How many different methods of time travel can you have before it becomes totally unbelievable, anyway?

And you’re not alone with spotting typos too late, Lorendiac. As soon as I hit “publish”, I spotted a word I should’ve deleted in my second paragraph. Argh.

It should read: Well, keep in mind that Chaykin’s Blackhawk being a reboot is just my opinion.

I was going to post what Omar Karindu said about Klarion: I’ll add that (if memory serves) in the final Seven Soldiers trade, which has a script excerpt, it mentions that we last see Klarion in control of the Sheeda ship, “ready to head back in time to his first appearance in Kirby’s Demon” or something similar. I always thought it was pretty great, and well in keeping with the Kirby-packed nature of SS, for Morrison to make sure to not contradict Kirby’s own stories about the character.

Re: Captain Marvel and other Earth-S people…

Why I agree that Cap’s JL appearance remains in continuity, I would still call Ordway’s run on the character a reboot. It included the new first appearances of Black Adam, Mary Marvel, Mr. Mind, Tawky Tawny, and Captain Marvel, Jr. for instance.

Technically, the Isis character of the 70s was owned by the TV company Filmation. The current Isis isn’t the same character or a reboot because then DC would have to buy the character from whoever owns the 70s TV series.

John Trumbull–

I knew “Year One” retconned various details, but here’s a couple of quick points:

1. I believe I’ve seen at least one or two Post-COIE stories state or imply that Alfred only became the butler at Wayne Manor after Bruce was a grown man. (Although I admit most go writers of the last 22 years or so tend to go along with the idea that Alfred has been around forever.)

2. I don’t think Miller is directly responsible for Jim Gordon being divorced. At the end of “Year One,” Jim’s first wife was still living with him and there was no talk of her filing for divorce. (Although Miller’s plot had given her grounds for divorce, if she wanted the opportunity, by having Jim fooling around with Sarah Essen for awhile before he came to his senses and broke it off.)

Matt Bird — 3 years ago I trustingly put Kid Eternity and Shade the Cnanging Man on my list of reboots because of what someone else had told me. I was later told that Kid Eternity definitely did not get rebooted from scratch (although his previously retconned-in kinship with Freddy Freeman was retconned out again, Post-COIE), and there was some disagreement over the classification of Shade as well. (Since I seldom buy Vertigo material, I’d been working from hearsay. And I know nothing about how the Human Target was handled by Vertigo.)

Also, as you allude to, the continuity-status of Vertigo stuff is often dubious. Now that you mention it, I probably would have been wise to include a disclaimer about that sort of thing.

As to Giffen’s Doom Patrol: I have no idea just how he intends (or will be permitted) to address past DP continuity. I don’t believe I’ve ever read any of Morrison’s old run on the group, nor any subsequent “Doom Patrol” runs by anyone else.

Addressing the subject of Marvel reboots again:

Adam mentioned plans for their old 2099 character stable — I hadn’t really noticed that.

He also mentioned Squadron Supreme — although I’m not clear on whether JMS’s version amounted to really “Erasing” old Squadron continuity, or just creating another timeline-variation of it? In other words, do the Avengers of Earth-616 still remember the Squadron the way it was in their teamups with the group back in the old days?

I’ve vaguely heard of Warren Ellis’s “newuniversal” but never read any of it. Any TPB collections out yet? I almost never buy skinny little monthly issues nowadays.

On the same subject, Dean mentioned “Heroes Reborn” as a reboot. But I have trouble seeing it as fitting my definition, because all of Captain America’s old continuity (for instance) didnt get erased from history in the context of the larger Marvel Universe. He was stuck in another world where it hadn’t happened that way in the history books . . . but meanwhile, Marvel was still publishing plenty of books (Spider-books, X-books, Daredevil, Thunderbolts, etc.) where everybody and his brother remembered Cap’s Earth-616 career vividly and worried about the “mysterious disappearance” of the Avengers and the FF, and so we all knew the Avengers and the FF would be coming back sooner or later, right?

So I don’t think of “Heroes Reborn” as a reboot any more than I think that way of the JLA story arc in which Morrison had The Key trap a bunch of heroes in elaborate dream sequences, thus showing us a grown Kal-El still living on Krypton, and Bruce Wayne getting old and happily married to Selina, and so on and so forth.

Pedro Bouça–

I agree with you about Byrne’s efforts on Hulk. From what I’ve heard, he was just messing around with the origin story (it was a Skrull saboteur instead of a Communist agent, etc.) but wasn’t trying to throw hundreds of issues’ worth of Hulk adventures out the window as stuff that had never happened after all. Therefore, it was not meant to be a true reboot. Even if Byrne’s version had stuck, it still wouldn’t mean Bruce Banner had been rebooted. (Just as I don’t classify Miller’s “Year One” for Batman as a reboot.)

Excellent article Lorendiac. Thank you. I first learned about Earth-2 during the second incarnation of All Star Comics(the very last issue of ASS before the Implosion). Caught on in seconds what was going on…fell in love immediately. It’s too bad they’re bringing the concept back just as I have to quit buying comics. :(

Anyway….if they ever have a definitive origin and backstory of Supergirl, Wonder Girl, and Hawkman, what will we DC fanatics have to argue about?? :D

I’ve never really believed that Marv Wolfman really intended there to be a total reboot of the DCU, because he was writing DC’s most popular title and it would have been devastated by a reboot. He may have intended a “time lag” reboot.

Dean, you’re analysis about the Silver Age is a little off. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman simply never stopped publishing. No thought was given to continuity. In fact, the guys in charge didn’t think anyone who’d read the Golden Age stories would still be reading comics. It was really just following the habits of the Golden Age where titles and/or features would change to suit whatever was becoming popular.

Lorendiac: According to some of the latest Marvel Universe Handbooks, the JMS Squadron Supreme series is set in a reality alternate to the original, it doesn’t reboot it. Same deal with Newuniversal. (Whether this is backed by actual published stories is unknown to me right now though.)

I might as well use the rest of this post to describe my *personal* opinions on how continuity should be handled.

-Continuity should get overhauled wholesale after certain periods- not necessarily an exact number of years, but whenever the company feels it’s needed. (DC should have done the Infinite Crisis reboot in the year 2000, in my opinion- it would have gone great along with the whole turn-of-the-century zeitgeist of the time.) Of course, the facts that a) comics are now being made mostly for OLDER fans (who tend to have LONG memories) and b) with things like the Internet, it is *much* easier today to research most characters, should also be kept in mind.

-When rebooting, PLEASE let the audience know WHAT is changing and when. That “the changes will be evident in the near future” crap is just a cop-out. If you don’t have specific plans for certain characters right now, just say so. Sheesh.

-Just because stories don’t fit the current continuity does NOT mean they can’t be published. Just make it clear what isn’t in continuity from the start. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN was one of the best series of last year, it’s noncanonical status didn’t hurt it at all. But things like Superman/Batman just serve to confuse the fans.

-Finally, a big, cosmic crisis is NOT necessary for a reboot. This stuff happens all the time in other media and they don’t do that. In fact, all these crises only help to give the impression that the Time/Space continuum in the DC Universe is VERY unstable, which brings the question of why nobody has done anything to fix it. Next time, just relaunch all your titles (with a press release saying “OK, no previous continuity applies anymore”) and go from there.

Omar Karindu — I’ll dig out whichever JLA TPB has “#23″ in it to double-check, although from your description, it strikes me as still failing to address why J’onn and other old-timers didn’t instantly recognize the schtick of “alien starfish clinging to people’s faces and controlling them” in Morrison’s earlier story. Maybe Morrison was delicately backing away from a prior attempt to make it look like “a strange new threat such as the JLA had never encountered before“?

I didn’t know anything about what Morrison had said in interviews re: Klarion’s time-traveling, etc. I vaguely recall that when I wrote the previous version of this list, 3 years ago this month, I had seen — somewhere — an online statement to the effect that Morrison had freely admitted he was rebooting Klarion and thereby erasing “Sins of Youth” from the recent history of the DCU. I don’t remember now where I saw that, and I suppose it could have been distorted — evidently I took it at face value at the time!

It occurs to me that when I bought the “Sins of Youth” TPB several years ago, I had never even heard of Klarion the Witch Boy before, and had no idea how long he’d been part of the DCU, who had created him, which heroes he had fought in the past (if any), what rationale had been offered for his incredible powers, et cetera. And frankly, I think “Sins of Youth” is still his oldest appearance in my current collection. Has Kirby’s 70s run on The Demon ever been collected in a reprint volume? (I know I have reprints of some of his other 1970s DC stuff in b&w reprint format — New Gods and Mister Miracle, and I believe Forever People).

Wasn’t SINS OF YOUTH (*Ptooie* *Yech* *Blargh*) a Klarion reboot as well? I’m pretty sure the (Real, superior) Kirby version of Klarion had popped up in the Demon, even post-Crisis.

Sijo — I’ll react to bits and pieces of two of your posts at once, I think.

I am in the possibly enviable position of having only read the “Final Crisis” 7-part mini, and virtually nothing of the “build-ups” and “tie-ins” for it. No 52, no Countdown, no “Death of the New Gods” . . . so at least I didn’t get terribly confused and annoyed at having spent hard-earned money to watch Orion die 3 different ways (or however many it was?).

Thus, I can’t really gauge how fair you’re being in talking about how badly the overall event was handled. I did feel disappointed by the 7-part mini, though. It felt like a great deal of build-up to something that wasn’t nearly worth making the trip in the first place.

Likewise, since I have not bought any new monthly issues of anything else since FC ended, I didn’t know (but am not terribly surprised to hear) that it’s promptly being forgotten by most of DC’s heroes who still have regular lives of their own and more personal problems to worry about. Kinda reminds me of something I heard about the (very limited) fallout from the old “Last Laugh” event. In it, Nightwing lost his temper and beat the Joker to death. Then (I’m told) someone used CPR to bring the Joker back. Then — in his own title, I’m told — Nightwing agonized over what he had done for about 5 minutes. Then he and everyone else in the DCU just shrugged and implictly forgot the whole thing, never to discuss it again!

That was the entire “dramatic legacy” of “Last Laugh.” Who says actions (such as killing people) have long-term consequences? Not DC, evidently!

Hmm. I’d actually meant to say more in my reply to Sijo, but posted a bit too soon. I’ll carry on now!

Thanks for the info about the JMS Squadron Supreme. That’s pretty much what I expected — it’s the equivalent of an “Elseworlds” without having any notable impact on the continuity of any other Marvel title (such as the Avengers continuity of 616).

As to the bit about DC’s fanbase tending to have very long memories nowadays — that strikes me as a symptom of DC’s massive failure to lure in large quantities of “new-generation fans” as it goes along. If its books were still sold in places where juveniles in search of entertainment could easily be found (such as in Wal-Marts), then it wouldn’t matter so much if five thousand diehard Hawkman fans hated what had been done to him by a new writer, as long as fifty thousand teenagers were examining occasional issues of “Hawkman” with open minds, asking themselves “Do I find this reasonably entertaining?” instead of “Does this fit well with the way Carter’s stories were being told 20 or 30 years ago?”

I agree that if you’re going to reboot or “heavily retcon” something, you ought to be more up-front, from very early on, about which old stories are still in continuity and which ones are being thrown out the window. If you want to say: “I don’t know yet if the revised version of Captain Courageous still used to date Amy Airhead back in college before she became ‘Dizzy Blonde,’ his tornado-generating worst enemy,” then come right out and admit that editorial policy hasn’t been set on that point of his backstory yet! :)

I agree that all Batman stories, for instance, should not be required to rigidly fit into whatever his “new and improved modern continuity” is this week. A lot of good stuff was done in LOTDK on that basis, so that when I heard about the new All-Star line a few years ago, I promptly shrugged and said, “So All-Star Batman will simply be LOTDK all over again? Each creator can ignore any odd bits of continuity which don’t appeal to him, including whatever a predecessor did in a previous arc in the same title? Hardly a new idea!”

Likewise, I think a lot of DC’s best stuff in the 1990s was Elseworlds stories which could actually give well-known characters some sort of “resolution” in their lives, since whatever ‘dramatic changes’ happened within that story wouldn’t just turn out to be a temporary roadbump in a never-ending monthly Batman or Superman title.

For what it’s worth — some of the reboots on my list, such as Loeb’s Kara Zor-El Reboot or Ordway’s Shazam reboot — didn’t coincide with the timing of a cosmic event as an excuse.

LtMarvel–

A couple of people on other forums have also made the point about Isis as a Filmation character, but I believe you were the first. I hadn’t realized DC’s “52” Isis was basically a reboot, with a slightly modified spelling of the “real name,” of a 1970s character whom DC had never really owned or controlled in the first place. At the very least, I’ll acknowledge that in my next draft of this list (someday) even if I decide it still qualifies as a “reboot.”

Sackett–

The origin stories of Supergirl and Hawkman were pretty clear in the Pre-COIE era, and Donna’s was only slightly confused by the fact that she’d originally just been “Wonder Woman at a tender age,” but I’m sure DC fanatics found things to argue about at the time. I have the utmost faith in our collective ability to find other things to argue about again, even if everyone’s origin stories got clearly stated once and for all, without further rebooting for the next 20 or 30 years! :)

Carl–

A few years ago I wrote a piece which started out by collecting various things Marv Wolfman has said about COIE and what he hoped it would achieve for DC’s continuity. If you’re interested, here’s a link:

Marv Wolfman, Crisis, and Continuity”

For instance, one of the quoted passages in my piece includes the following words:

Were I given the power to change everything today, I would simply say that all books published from January 1st will start over with issue #1. If you want to bring back something from the past and establish it as new continuity, be my guest. If you want to forget something in the past, then you’re free to do that, too.

You really ought to mention Animal Man, who was rebooted in the first 10 or so issues of his Grant Morrison-written series. It was actually a plot point, that reality was breaking down around him because his origin hadn’t been revised post-COIE.

As I recall: On the draft of this list which I put together 3 years ago, I included Animal Man because someone else had told me I should. I was later told by another party that whatever Morrison did, it didn’t include “erasing from history” any and all previous Animal Man appearances. I think that’s why Animal Man is not on this new version of my list.

I am obviously handicapped by the total absence of any of Morrison’s “Animal Man” stories in my own collection, so I have to go on hearsay and bits of online research . . .

[…] DC has rebooted its entire universe four times since 1986. This count does not include lots of little revisions and retcons, like the whole sordid history of Hawkman, whose backstory is far more complicated than you’d […]

Billy Proctor

June 17, 2014 at 4:47 am

Hi Lorendiac,
I enjoyed your piece. I am finalising my PhD thesis on reboots and love that our approaches are the same!! The Marvel Universe is not a reboot because it does not replace and disavow the master-narrative continuity. Would you be open to an email interview please? Send me a message and I’ll get back in touch if that is okay with you.
Great article and I agree completely

Billy Proctor —

I don’t have anything set up to let me know if someone posts a reply on this page. (I’m not even sure if I could set it up that way.) So your request sat here, unnoticed, for almost three months until I just recently had occasion to glance at this page again to refresh my memory of what I’d done several years ago. For some reason, I happened to scroll down to the bottom, and was very surprised to see a bit of relatively-recent activity!

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to send you a message, other than replying right here, so that’s what I’m trying to do here. If you’re still interested in interviewing me by e-mail, let me know. One way to send a message that will actually get my attention in a hurry would be to create an account on the local Forums at community.comicbookresources.com and send a PM to “Lorendiac.”

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