Note: I began writing this article last fall, when the topic was a bit more relevant. But I think the idea still has merit, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on how the DCnU was developed, now that we have some time and distance to reflect upon the original event and transition…
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The DCnU. We are nine months into the New 52, and I can say with certainty that I am no longer interested in reading about the DCnU. It’s disappointing, and sad.I’m not here to nitpick about continuity and costumes, or argue about the sales of DC and the general health of the industry, nor am I willing to discuss the legitimacy of stubborn, Silver Age fanboys that may no longer be in DC’s Target Market and how they are resistant to change. But I am writing about one thing:
It could have, and should have, been different.
Comic readers know what happened in the DCU in the years leading up to Blackest Night. The rushed quality and wasted potential throughout Infinite Crisis. The complicated storyline and editorial mess of Final Crisis. The pointless death of Blue Beetle Ted Kord. And all the pointless, shock-value deaths that Didio and company had orchestrated over the past few years in DCU.
But the Powers That Be at DC Comics had chance to fix it all. Brightest Day was here!
DC had such an amazing opportunity with Brightest Day, and I had high hopes after reading the first issue. A White Lantern Power Ring, with the ability to bring the dead back to life. Are you kidding?! This was going to be great! A classic!
Here was chance to fix EVERYTHING. All your favorite heroes and villains, brought back to life! After seeing Aquaman, J’onn J’onzz, Firestorm, and the rest resurrected in the final scenes of Blackest Night, I had expected it to truly be the Brightest Day for DC.
But then I read what Geoff Johns had to say.
“‘Brightest Day’ is not a banner or a vague catch-all direction for the DC Universe, it is a story. Nor is ‘Brightest Day’ a sign that the DC Universe is going to be all about ‘light and brighty’ superheroes.
Some second chances work out…some don’t!”
Why can’t the DCU be “light and bright”? What is wrong with that?
Hadn’t the last few years of death and destruction been enough?
I guess not.
And we saw how it played out. Twenty-five issues to do what exactly? Introduce a short-lived Aqualad? Have Dove profess her love to Deadman? Kill Hawkgirl…again? Yes, I know the Grand Plan was to bring back Constantine and Swamp Thing? But, really…that’s it?
So much potential…thoroughly wasted. So disappointing. I pondered what could have been, should have been. I know, I know, it’s pointless to play ‘what if’ now…but…
What if DC could have appeased the loyal, long-time fans AND ushered in a new era at DC?
The potential was there – to not only erase the mistakes of recent DC past, but also introduce the DCnU in a way that made sense, and not totally rushed and forced upon the comic-reading world. The Flashpoint series would never need to happen, because the whole change to the New 52 could have been done in Brightest Day.
How, you ask?
Imagine the final scenes of the Brightest Day series…instead of the drawn-out fight with Black Lantern Swamp Thing (ugh) and Deadman dying (again), the last few pages would show the final act of The Entity:
Charging the White Ring of Life to 100%, the Entity gives it to Barry Allen, transforming him once again into the White Lantern. The Ring then instructs (forces) him to run, to race across the world in a brilliant ‘flash of light’, restoring dead characters to life throughout the Earth and beyond, throughout the entire DC Universe. Not just the big names…EVERYONE.
Superman Kal-L and Lois Lane.
Ralph and Sue Dibny.
Ted Kord. Lian Harper.
Rocket Red. Tempest. The Question.
Johnny Quick. Ryan Choi. The original Freedom Fighters.
We see panel after panel of beloved DC characters, reappearing in the white light as Flash races by. But not just heroes – villains, too.
Psycho Pirate. Monsieur Mallah. The Brain.
Trickster James Jesse. The Top. Golden Glider.
Mongul. Prometheus. Neron.
and heck, even long-deceased and retconned characters…
Supergirl Kara Zor-El. Golden Age Mister Terrific. Terra.
Earth-2 Huntress. Star Spangled Kid.
And the collateral damage and civilian deaths, like Jonathan Kent, Sarah Essen Gordon, Alexandra DeWitt, Jack Drake, Martin Stein, the Newsboy Legion, the 100,000 Kryptonians in space, the families of the JSA legacy characters at the hands the Fourth Reich.
maybe, even…Thomas and Martha Wayne?
How fun would that be?
BUT here’s the kicker –
The second-to-last page of Brightest Day would be the DC Universe that we knew and loved fading into pure white light…just a white page with no art, no lettering. The final pages of all other then-current DC books would follow suit, with their individual final pages fading into pure white.
Then the final page of Brightest Day would show the white light fading away, showing the DCnU and Superman leaping through the Metropolis sky.
And the rest, as they say, would be history.
Out with the old DCU, in with the DCnU. The DC Universe has a proper sendoff, older fans get a silly-yet-satisfying brief return of their favorite characters, and new fans have a proper start to the New 52. And with Barry’s role in the White-Ring resurrection, DC still maintains the parallel of Flash ushering in the Silver Age and transitioning into the DCnU that they had with Flashpoint.
So then, how to explain to fans exactly what the DCnU is? Maybe the White Entity transformed the old DCU into the DCnU…or maybe it’s simply a parallel world? Better yet, maybe DC just leaves it up for interpretation and fans can decide for themselves. Reluctant DC oldtimers can go on knowing the current DCU still exists somewhere, somehow…still out there to be revisited in the future.
The point is, this would have been an ambiguous-enough ending to the old DCU for any skeptical comic fan; even the most pedestrian of writers now have a built-in escape clause to bring back the old DCU if needed; and the transition to the DCnU would have been seamless and logical.
What if, indeed.