DC Comics is in trouble.
That’s been obvious for a long time.
But in an unprecedented move, the comics giant has acknowledged it screwed up. While the much hyped 2011 company reboot “The New 52” had some bright spots, it has been a critical and sales failure.
As part of that ill-fated retcon, the Justice Society was wiped from the DC Universe. The premier super-team and its fabled heroes never existed.
But what can be erased can be returned.
DC’s latest company-wide reboot, “Rebirth,” launches next month.
While the much rumored “Justice Society” title is not among the books DC is soliciting for May and June, there’s a strong indication the Justice Society will be critical to getting the company back on track.
And it comes on the very image DC is using to hype the “Rebirth” event.
“It All Starts Here!” the graphic screams.
Trapped in the lower hourglass, the members of the Justice League – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others – languish.
But in the upper hourglass, members of the Justice Society – Green Lantern, Hourman, Black Canary, Dr. Fate, the Flash, the Atom and Dr. Midnite – struggle to break free.
“Unlock the First Clues to the Secrets of Every Title in ‘Rebirth’,” the ad concludes.
You don’t need to be the Dark Knight Detective to know that the first new image of the original super-team in years used to advertise the company’s keynote event of 2016 is significant.
Here’s more proof, from the lips of DC Creative Officer Geoff Johns, in the new issue of “DC Comics Previews” (Emphasis is all mine):
“The themes of (‘DC Universe: Rebirth’) divide into four chapters. The first one is about loss. It focuses on what perhaps has gone missing in our comic books, when it comes to the DC Universe. And historically what the DC Universe really is.
“The second chapter is about legacy. That’s the main thing I feel has been lost from the DC Universe from the New 52 reboot. We’re showing a kind of secret side of the DC Universe, where legacy comes into play again.
“The next chapter is love, and it’s all about the love that’s in the DC Universe … and that which has disappeared from the DC Universe.
“The fourth chapter is titled ‘Life,’ which is about both the end and beginning of life.”
Can there be any doubt Johns is talking about the Justice Society? The New 52 left all the DC heroes untethered to continuity. Allegedly, the writers would fill in the blanks as needed. It was an experiment that failed to connect with readers.
What better writer to reintroduce the Justice Society to readers? Johns’ first big break came as writer of “JSA” and then “Justice Society,” producing some of the company’s – and his own – finest stories, ones that melded the veteran heroes with newcomers who carried on – wait for it – the legacies of those who had gone before. Johns honed the Justice Society as DC’s First Family and its finest teachers to the next generation of heroes.
Johns’ choice of words all but promises the return of the Golden Age Greats. And that image might tell us more of the threat the DC Universe faces. There’s something familiar about this hourglass theme. Where have we seen that before?
And there was this sequel of sorts decades later.
Per Degaton just happens to be a time-hopping villain who tried several times to eradicate the Justice Society out of existence. In one utterly creepy tale, he stalked the team through time just for pleasure. Will “Rebirth” reveal he was successful? Or does the team exist in some pocket of time, their presence vital to setting the DC Universe back on keel?
I could really go for a premise like that.
Of course, the Justice Society’s return to the DC Universe won’t be alone to salvage the company – but it would be a strong signal to its core readers that it is embracing its past to move forward.
DC’s decision to abolish the Justice Society was weird and wrong-headed, especially coming at a time when it needs a rich stable of super-powered characters to feed its successful TV shows. And while the New 52 ignored the existence of the Justice Society, the company has been churning out gorgeous collected editions in the last year or so. Johns could not have been pleased when his earliest and greatest body of work was erased from continuity. Now he looks to rectify that and give the DC Universe a much-needed course correction.
For the first time in years, know hope.