Should the DC Universe Go Ultimate? - Mania.com



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Should the DC Universe Go Ultimate?

Will recent events prompt a reboot?

By Chad Derdowski     August 19, 2009
Source: Mania


Comicscape: Ultimate DC
© Mania

In the world of superheroes, it’s necessary to keep history on a fairly loose leash. Marvel and DC have both made reference to a “sliding timeline” – in the Marvel U, no matter what year it is, it’s only been 5 or 10 years since Fantastic Four #1. And with Marvels recent relaunch of the Ultimate line and a court ruling in favor of the Siegels, it occurs to us that it may be time for DC to “ultimatize” their books, hit the reset button and start history from scratch with another big bang. Here are a few reasons why…

 

Criss-crossing lines of the DC Multiverse as seen on the cover of Countdown: Search for Ray Palmer

A Multiverse of Possibility

The precedent has already been set: the DC multiverse, which had collapsed at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, has been restored and is ready to be explored. We’ve seen glimpses of a few new earths as well as the return of the Golden Age Earth-2 in recent issues of Justice Society. There’s no time like to present to show a brand new earth in which the familiar heroes of the DCU are recreated in a modern setting.

 

Too many Hawkmen!

Confusion on Infinite Earths

And let’s face it, it’s not like DC history makes any sense, even if you’re a die-hard fan who’s been following it for years. It isn’t even the years of continuity that make it so confusing; it’s the retcons, the rewrites of said retcons and the eventual retconning of the rewritten retcon that makes the whole thing such a cluster- … well, you get the idea.

The events of Infinite Crisis left us with a New Earth that combined aspects of pre- and post-Crisis continuity, but it was never explicitly stated just which elements had been restored and which ones had been erased. Basically, the door was left open for the writers to bring back whatever Silver or Bronze Age stuff they happen to be feeling nostalgic for on any given week and to ignore whatever modern storyline they felt like ignoring. And that’s fine! It’s a lot like the whole sliding timeline thing - if it works they use it and if it doesn’t, it’s not in continuity anymore. That’s cool as long as you’re laid back and have a decent working knowledge of DC history. But for the average reader attempting to jump on board the ship, it can feel like you’re lost at sea. Casual reading can feel like a pretty daunting task and picking up the latest issue of the current crossover or event might require a prerequisite in multidimensional anthropology.

Why not simplify the whole thing by starting over?

 

Marvel started something with ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1

It Wouldn’t be the First Time

Fanboys made a big stink about the Ultimate Universe when it kicked off back in 2000. Some loved the idea while others ranted and raged and called it sacrilege. A few said it would never last but here we are nearly ten years later and the Ultimate U is still kicking. And having survived Ultimatum, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere either.

But the truth is that the first ultimatization (yes, I made that word up) occurred way back in 1956 with Showcase #4 and the first appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. Make no mistake, true believers, Earth-1 was the original ultimate universe! An alternate reality that updated the classic characters and in some instances completely reinvented them from the ground up with more scientifically plausible origins? Sounds a lot like the Ultimate universe to us.

DC did it first, so why not do it again? There’s no need to get rid of the DCU proper; just do what Marvel did and introduce another DCU, one that isn’t bogged down with decades of history and history-altering events. Since the folks at DC are all about legacy heroes, why not create even more?

 

ACTION COMICS #1, now copyright The Siegel Estate

There Might Not Be An Alternative

Let’s not beat around the bush or play editor anymore. We’re geeks, not lawyers, and we don’t pretend to understand all the legal mumbo jumbo that goes along with the recent court rulings but from the sounds of it, the Siegel heirs now own the rights to the events of Action Comics #1 as well as the origin of Superman. Krypton, Jor-El, the rocket… all that good stuff. Now, we all know that it’s really just about money and when push comes to shove, eventually the right amount will be found and odds are nothing will change. But what if?

What if the Siegel family plays hardball? What if they just take their ball and go home? Or worse yet, to another publisher?!?! What if DC has no other choice but to come up with a new origin for Supes that doesn’t involve a rocketship being blasted from an exploding planet, carrying that oh-so-precious cargo? If that’s the case and they have to start over from scratch anyway… why not start everything over from scratch?

 

ULTIMATE SUPERMAN, as imagined by Draxhall for Wizard Magazine

The NEW New Earth

Imagine a world in which the inventors of a time machine from the far-flung future (minutes before the sun explodes, destroying the earth) send their baby boy back to 1973 and he grows up to have abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Picture a reality in which a Darknight Detective patrols the rooftops of Gotham City, unencumbered by the ridiculous addition of a youthful sidekick (and all the child-abuse connotations that go along with it). Imagine a world in which every hero and villain hasn’t died and come back from the dead several times over. Try to comprehend a universe in which Hawkman’s origin makes sense!

Okay, maybe that last one is asking a bit much.

Seriously, there’s no reason not to do it and plenty of reason to go through with it, chief among them: bringing in new readers. It worked for Marvel with the Ultimate line and it could work for DC too. Hey, if it were up to us, we’d institute a mandatory 25-year Crisis. Every two decades, the whole of the DC and Marvel lines get cancelled and everything starts over. All continuity problems get solved in one fell swoop.

But it doesn’t even need to be that drastic. Just institute a new line and see what happens. At the very worst, you’ll have a lot of DC die-hards buying the books just to see what the fuss is. And if it’s a success, you’ll have some Marvel Zombies coming over to the DC side for the first time and once they’ve had a taste of the DC magic, they might dip their toe into the real DCU as well.

And if it turns out to be a bust… oh well, cancel the whole thing and call it Earth-9.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 26
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theHeadCase 8/19/2009 12:54:04 AM

I agree with this. I've only been reading comics for a few years and I never got into DC just because of the confusing storylines. When I bought Flash Rebirth a few months back, I had to get ####load of other books to know what was going on.

I never got into Ultimate Marvel because the MU's easier to follow but it worked for them didn't? If there was an Ultimate DCU I'd definitely read it.

kwsupes 8/19/2009 5:02:26 AM

I like the traditional DCU, but I would probably read an Ultimate version of the DCU just to see what was going on like you said as long as the characters were not a huge departure from the originals. Now if they are like Stan Lee's version of the DCU then I will probably have to pass, I was not a huge fan of his vision of DC,.

larkcall_home 8/19/2009 5:07:23 AM

I would read it if it was not higher then $2.99   :oP

dragon261 8/19/2009 5:40:08 AM

I'm surprised that DC hasn't done a U-DC line already unless they're afraid that it would become more popular that the current line. 

With Marvel just aquiring the rights to Marvelman they finally have a character to hang the "marvel' moniker on so I don't think they'd interested in Supes origins.

rulo2kx 8/19/2009 5:43:26 AM

The DC continuity give me headhaches, So I'm in. 

FukUMania 8/19/2009 5:45:23 AM

DC did try to Ultimatize their books.  They called it DC All Stars.  But what they didn't understand about Marvel's Ultimate line is that the books are connected in a universe of their own.  DC simply gave their two big characters to big-name talent and said, "Here, run with it."  In the case of Superman, they hit gold.  Batman...not so much.

I don't think DC can wrap their minds around what makes Marvel's Ultimate line a success.  They probably shouldn't even try.

saiyiansreign823 8/19/2009 5:48:45 AM

Wasn't the All-star Batman and Superman comics suppose to be the start of a DC Ultimate Universe?

ChadDerdowski 8/19/2009 6:03:33 AM

I don't believe the All-Star line was ever intended as an Ultimate line; it was just a series of non-continuity books designed to showcase big name artists and writers.  They weren't intended to be a cohesive universe - each book stood on it's own as it's own universe.

In the case of All Star Superman, it was Morrison adding his unique outlook to the Silver Age trappings of a traditional Superman.  With Batman, it was Jim Lee drawing kick-ass pictures while Frank Miller did a bunch of coke and rambled incoherently about dames, hookers and thugs. 

Just kidding, Mr. Miller!  Please don't kill me!

dragon261 - Even though Marvel has Marvelman (and The Sentry, who is really just a Marvelman rip-off), I still think they'd jump at the chance to publish a book with the name SUPERMAN on the cover.  It's the biggest name in comic books - it would be an instant #1.

jayinvincible 8/19/2009 6:56:55 AM

I'm with you FuzzyDan. I loved A.S Superman, couldn't care less for the Batman though. Maybe D.C should have just chose Johns to write the whole line and be done with it. I do remember reading somewhere that A.S was D.C's answer for the Ultimates.

Redshirt1 8/19/2009 7:00:42 AM

I think this is a wonderful idea.  It would get rid of all the excess bagage and start fresh.  I liked the Ultimate Superman picture.  It made the costume and symbol familiar but look more Kryptonian.  If your reading this article DC powers-that-be make this happen A.S.A.P.

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