DC – The Pepsi of Comic Brands

DC Comics LogoDetective Comics announced this week that they will once again be changing their logo. They are timing the launch of the new brand with the release of their Rebirth story line which will once again retcon and reset the DC universe. In that regard it’s kind of fitting. Only they already have the brand up and running on all their digital media, so it’s not really being launched with anything except the start of an arbitrary week.

DC's first logo from 1940.
DC’s first logo from 1940.

The logo design throws back to the earlier days of the comic company without being an exact copy of their first actual logo. It’s much closer to the 1972 block logo than any of the original 1940’s branding in actual fact.

DC Block Logo 1972
DC Block Logo 1972
DC Bullet 1976
DC Bullet 1976

If you have been reading DC comics for any significant length of time you’ll likely know the 1976 “The DC Bullet” logo more than anything else. You may also know it as the one that kind of looks like Captain America’s shield (*cough*). That’s the one the company help from ’76 all the way to 2005 when they gave the company the 2000’s look with “The DC Spin”.

DC Spin 2005
DC Spin 2005

The problem is that this is the 7th major overhaul of the branding. Changing a brand isn’t a bad thing. But doing so in an industry where you’re constantly trying to maintain the old consumers while attracting new ones, it can hurt you if your target audience can’t recognize your brand. A good comparison is Pepsi Cola. For better or worse Pepsi has also had 7 major brand overhauls. As you read this I dare you to try and remember off hand exactly what their current branding is. What colour is the word “Pepsi” written in? Now if I asked you the same thing about Coca Cola, you would know right away. That’s the point right there.

DC 2011
DC 2011

The logo DC had before this week was sleek, clever and modern. For their motion brands like DC Entertainment it was even more so as the ”D” often peeled back to reveal a nod to the animation or movie you had just watched. It was a major departure from the Bullet of 76’-05’ but it also is very much in keeping with the times. The senior VP of marketing and global franchise management says “DC is home to the greatest Super Heroes and Super-Villains, and the new logo has the character and strength to stand proudly alongside DC’s iconic symbols…”. Sure it will stand along side of them, but it’s not as strong as they are, it’s not embracing the change in the company and readers the other iconic symbols are, and it’s not even a full on throw back to the logo we know and love. It’s something they will change again and throw away in the very near future.

Read This Week: Star Wars: Poe Dameron Issue #1

I feel like Poe Dameron is going to be the Boba Fett of this generation of Star Wars movies. Admittedly, the ace Resistance pilot as already spoken more lines in The Force Awakens than the armoured bounty hunter did across both his original trilogy and prequel appearances, but I feel like they fill a similar niche. They’re the inexplicably cool supporting character that brings excitement whenever they’re on screen, and leaves fans wanting more.

That being said, I was justifiably excited when I saw that Poe would be the first new trilogy character to get his own series in the new Marvel Star Wars comics universe. So far, we’ve seen these mini series for some of the key original trilogy characters like Lando, Chewbacca and Leia, as well as currently being in the middle of a series featuring Obi Wan and Anakin taking place somewhere between Episodes One and Two.


These books, along with the three monthly Star Wars titles – Star Wars, Darth Vader and Kanan – are filling in parts of the “new Star Wars” canon, and tell the stories that took place before and between the movies. Much like the sprawling “expanded universe” that was retconned into the Star Wars Legends universe shortly after Disney purchased Lucasfilm, these stores serve to flesh out the individual characters and, in some cases, provide context for stuff that happens in the movies.

As you might expect, the first issue of Poe’s comic does just this. Sparing specific spoilers, the comic is clearly going to be laying out the mission that led Poe to Jakku at the start of Episode VII. It also seems as if we will learn a bit more about the other pilots that make up Dameron’s “Black Squadron” that we saw in The Force Awakens.

The comic itself is a good, middle of the road book. As I’ve found with all the other Star Wars comics I’ve read so far, there isn’t anything revolutionary going on here – these are solid, fan service pieces, appealing to Star Wars fans who want more than just what the movies have to offer. The book does get bonus points for giving almost as much attention to Poe’s now-beloved droid BB-8 as it does to Dameron himself, including the awesome variant cover I picked up.


While the story itself is fairly standard Star Wars fare – Poe goes on mission, complications happen, will no doubt be resolved in future issues – the book stands out for a fairly innocuous passage that I think all Star Wars fans will appreciate.

I’m going to try to do this as spoiler-free as possible, so here we go. Midway through the first issue, there’s an exchange between Leia and Poe that really helps give context to what has happened in the galaxy in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, specifically in relation to the Empire, the First Order and the Resistance. It’s not much, but it gave me a greater sense of where this new universe is at, in terms of the Resistance and the threat of the First Order.


In short, this is the kind of stuff that makes me glad the comics are around. I’ve always loved that Star Wars is this big, sprawling universe full of intrigue and adventure, and I’ve never been happy with just the bits we see condensed in to the two hour constraints of the movies.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, and especially if you liked Poe, BB-8 and The Force Awakens, this book is definitely worth giving a read.

Detective Comics – The Road to Rebirth

DC Rebirth

I’ve been a comic book fan for decades. More than fan even, if you ask my friends or family comics have become a sort of obsession for me over the years. And it’s with this otherwise useless knowledge of the history of comics that I will now write about the absurdly poor state DC comics has found themselves in, and how they are going to try and solve it all with what they are calling Rebirth.

If you’re new to DC, or comics in general then I feel sorry for you. This is a poor time to be picking up the hobby, especially if you are interested in the popular DC side of things like Batman, Superman or any of their mainstays really. Before we talk about the deformity that is the current DC universe lets look back a little at how they got where they are.


From the 1930’s to 40’s Detective Comics had some real hits under their belt. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash to name a few. Post WWII they thought it would be a good idea to try and reinvent some of those characters, under the supervision of Editor Julius Schwartz in 1950 they started a new comic called DC Showcase. A place to try out new ideas, if they didn’t like them they could just scrap them all together. The first thing they did was introduce Barry Allen as The Flash with a more modern origin for his powers and dropped the previous version of the character (Jay Garrick). They did the same with Green Lantern’s Allen Scott who was more magic, with Hal Jordan who’s character was more sci-fi based. This confused a lot of people as DC literally introduced the new versions of the characters and stopped printing anything with the old ones. To explain what happened to Garrick and Scott they introduced readers to the “multiverse” in a miniseries titled “The Flash of Two Worlds (1961)” in which Barry Allen meets Jay Garrick. This is very important, because this concept of the multiverse, for the next six decades, becomes the cause of all the reboots in the companies history.

Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet and the multiverse is born.
Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet and the multiverse is born.

In 1984 DC had created so many different universes and variations of the characters that it was not only difficult to follow story lines, but hard for new readers to find a way in to reading any one comic series. It was decided to scrap the whole idea of a multiverse, this is done through the storyline “Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985)”.

1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths
1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths

To sum it up; two god like characters fight, the monitor and anti-monitor, major characters are removed completely from the landscape, and all of the multiverse is condensed. So that should fix everything right? It would have if they had planned it all the way through. There were still major discrepancies in some of the remaining characters. Kept because of readership and sales numbers, their very existence in some cases made no sense with the new continuity. Supergirl for example was now dead, but Power Girl was alive and well (the earth 2 super girl), but she shouldn’t exist if Superman was now supposed to be the only survivor of Krypton, and Supergirl dies in Crisis… See what I mean? Worse was that the Justice Society, the original heroes from the silver age of comics and predecessors of the Justice league (normally from Earth 2) were now supposed to be from the same universe, just a time before Superman and Batman et all. But if that were true, why did the Justice Society some times look on par or younger than Justice League members? Rather than answer these questions once again we REBOOT!

In mid 1994 DC runs a story arc involving the Hal Jordan Green Lantern called “Zero Hour: Crisis in Time”. The issues count down, ending in issue zero.

Hal under his new name Parallax defeats Superman and is the villain in this storyline.
Hal under his new name Parallax defeats Superman and is the villain in this storyline.

In short something terrible happens, Hal kills everyone, absorbs all the Lantern Corps energy, and he reboots the universe in a timeline we call “Post Zero Hour”. This reboot was so confusing to even DC that it had to publish a guide of what was and wasn’t in the universe anymore, In the zero issue of the series there are a series of charts explaining was has now happened to all of the major characters and teams post Crisis. This again left fans very confused, so rather than trying to fix things… you guessed it REBOOT!

This one is not as involved as all the others, it’s more of a soft reboot and takes place in the story line called “Infinite Crisis”.


The story concludes with the multiverse returning for a little while as we saw it before Crisis on Infinite Earths, but then it goes away again, and everything is very close to Post Zero Hour with a few exceptions that fix some plot holes, and retcon some weird choices DC had made. For example Jason Todd (Robin), previously killed by the Joker, was now very much not dead, was only thought to be dead, comes back as a villain, but ends up a hero, and that’s a whole story in itself. This version of the DC landscape was actually working out pretty well in this writers opinion, but some executive thought otherwise and… REBOOT.

Now well into the 2000’s DC starts it’s yearlong 52 event leading to “Final Crisis”.


The way it’s written, it seems like this was to be the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis concluding in Final Crisis. However, aside from the epic scale battles, and resurgence of some of the villains from the 1985 plotline the story is kind of a mess and makes far more problems than it solves. In sum, everyone fights Darkseid, someone called Mandrak, and at the end of it all Superman uses a magic wish-granting machine to reboot the universe to sort of where it was, kind of. Characters were now aware the multiverse existed. This now made the DC worlds able to cross over with one another, and with that DC was free to re-write any characters story they felt didn’t work at this point.

Cover of Flashpoint #1
Cover of Flashpoint Number 1

Then Flashpoint happened in 2011. Flashpoint was a great story centred around the new origin of The Flash, and what would happen if he went back in time to change one thing in his own past. I won’t spoil it because you should really read it it for yourself. In it we see a great alternate future which conflicts in a fantastic way to what was the current DC core universe. However, the aftermath of it is the New 52, which pretty much merges all things into one thing. It kills most of the multiverse all-together, DC re-launches all its main titles with new origins for the characters, all to make it easier for new readers to get into the stories and start fresh. So everything is rebooted… Except Batman, Green Lantern and Superman. Batman we are told all of his pre-52 stories happened, just within a 5 year time period before New 52 starts, and similar things are said for Green Lantern and Superman.

The first rebooted heroes of New 52 (left to right) Aqua Man, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg
The first rebooted heroes of New 52 (left to right) Aqua Man, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg

This was done, of course, because those were the best selling titles, and they wouldn’t dare try to tell fans all of their favorite stories for those characters never happened, or try telling them again. This reinventing of characters, changing of origins, and condensing of timelines went about as well as you would imagine. Some of the stories were amazing, but in the context of the past and future of the characters they made no sense. They shouldn’t have existed in the main continuity. Maybe DC should have gone back to the DC Showcase and released them as one shots, but keeping these new tales in the context of the main universe really broke it apart. New readers who thought they knew a character were now being told otherwise. And fans who had been long time readers were now being introduced to weird new parts of characters back stories, or changes to the fundamentals of the landscape of that character.

For me the downward spiral started with the Batman storyline Death of The Family.

The face of the Joker from Batman Death of The Family
The face of the Joker from Batman Death of The Family

The series starts with The Joker cutting his own face off. And at one point just being in the bat cave. This is explained, as he always has known where the bat cave was and who Batman is. WHAT?! And then they kill Joker. But not really because they bring him back in the next story arc, but only to kill him and Batman, they go on to explain the Joker can’t be killed, because he’s magic (that’s my summation of events), and in Bruce Waynes absence(because he’s dead, but again, not really…) Commissioner Gordon becomes Batman in a robot-Batman-suit. It was at this point I checked out as a reader and haven’t gone back to anything DC.

Oh, and then they did something called Convergence, which literally restores every iteration of the multiverse and every character that has ever existed. But I stopped reading at that point.

The DC universe is a mess. It’s been that way since early 2012, and I have been joking with all of my comic reading friends since Flashpoint that they were just going to scrap things and reboot the whole bloody thing. Well at Wonder Con this year, DC announced just that With “Rebirth”. The best part is how they say, and I’m paraphrasing here “Marvel did it with Sercret Wars, so why not?”. The Marvel comics universes is not something you should use as a shining example of a working, self sustaining model.

There are no details about Rebirth really, just that’s it’s official and it’s coming soon. I just hope they make a proper map of where they want to go with this reboot for at least the next decade. Plan ahead a little maybe. But who knows, in 2017 I’m sure we’ll get “Infinite Rebirth”, then “Rebirth of The Worlds”, and “Final Rebirth”. I can’t wait.


If you’re interested in a visual guide to the DC multiverse as it stands as of the publication of this article, Gotham City Memes has a great post about it on Facebook.