An early promotional image. note
In 1986, DC Comics
made comic book history by rebooting their entire continuity in Crisis on Infinite Earths
. Character histories were changed, merged in from other continuities, or even restarted from scratch. The Post Crisis DC Universe
would never be the same.
In 2011, they did it again.
The "New 52" is DC's second major reboot, following the Flashpoint
event. (There were two other Cosmic Retcons
- with Zero Hour
and Infinite Crisis
- but they were largely cosmetic.) In the wake of The Flash
messing with the Timey Wimey Ball
, DC canceled all their ongoings (even Action Comics
and Detective Comics
, both of which were nearing the 1000th issue) and launched 52 new titles in their place. In this new continuity, superheroes have only emerged publicly in the last five years or so, with many only beginning to show up now. Even so, many major prior storylines are still canon, at least in Broad Strokes
. Vertigo Comics
characters have also been incorporated into this new continuity.
Of course, DC wouldn't let things stop there. In January 2012 they overhauled their corporate logo, and has since occasionally refreshed the line by replacing a few books with new ones, always keeping the number of ongoing titles at exactly 52.
For info on the changes made in the last
big overhaul, see Post Crisis
The New 52 and Their Changes
Titles in bold
are currently ongoing for the foreseeable future.
August/September 2011 (The New 52)
All three Super-characters have been scaled back to earlier versions and are having their alien-ness highlighted: Clark Kent is not married to Lois Lane
and both Ma and Pa Kent passed away before Clark came to Metropolis, Superboy is a lab experiment intended to be used as a weapon, and Supergirl has only recently arrived from Krypton. Action Comics
is now a Superman version of Batman: Year One
, detailing the early years of Superman's career. The other main change is that, like in the Bronze Age
, the Daily Planet
has been bought by Galaxy Broadcasting. This time, however, it's Lois who's moved to TV and Clark who's staying with print journalism. Also, their classic costumes are replaced with ceremonial Kryptonian battle armor with similar design elements.
The Bat-books pick up where they left off, with Bruce Wayne appointing Batmen worldwide
(including Batwing, who operates in a fictionalized version of the Democratic Republic of Congo). However Dick Grayson, who had become the
Batman of Gotham, gives up the mantle and returns to being Nightwing. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon has recovered from her paralysis and becomes Batgirl again, booting Stephanie Brown from the role. The books also introduced the Court of Owls, an Ancient Conspiracy
that has run Gotham for generations and has ties to Wayne's and Grayson's pasts. Later on, it is revealed that Tim Drake has never been Robin, only Red Robin, and that his parents are still alive and in witness protection.
- Green Lantern
- Green Lantern Corps
- Green Lantern: New Guardians
- Red Lanterns
, Green Lantern
was especially successful prior to the reboot, so it keeps its recent history with corps of multiple colors emerging. Hal Jordan has been dismissed from the Corps due to the "War of the Green Lanterns" and replaced by Sinestro
of all people, though he soon takes Hal on as a sidekick. Kyle Rayner, meanwhile, has defied the Guardians and joined an alliance of Lanterns of other colors, and Atrocitus has begun reorganizing his Red Lanterns with a new sense of purpose. In "Zero Month", a new human Lantern, Simon Baz, is introduced.
Justice League and other DCU
- Justice League - The New 52's flagship book, featuring six of the traditional Big Seven with Cyborg in place of Martian Manhunter (who is in Stormwatch instead). It also began including Curse of Shazam! backup stories around the same time as the second wave.
- Justice League International
- Wonder Woman
- The Flash - Barry Allen, like Superman, is now younger and unmarried, but the big change is that Wally West is not and has never been the Flash or Kid Flash.
- Captain Atom
- The Fury of Firestorm - Firestorm was rebooted and the very nature of his powers changed; rather than requiring a Fusion Dance, each person can become a Firestorm and can then merge into a stronger being if they wish. It's also being reimagined as an arms race metaphor, with multiple countries developing their own Firestorms.
- Green Arrow
- The Savage Hawkman - Needless to say the infamous Hawk-Snarl is wiped away. Hawkman is now Katar Hol from Thanagar, hiding out on Earth as Carter Hall.
- Mister Terrific
- DC Universe Presents - An Anthology Comic featuring new characters every few months; featured characters include Deadman, the Challengers of the Unknown, Vandal Savage, and Black Lightning and Blue Devil as a duo.
Young Justice (teen heroes)
- Teen Titans - Now brought together to defend themselves from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., an organization with an interest in superpowered teens and the creators of Superboy; half the team are the classic junior versions of Justice League members (Red Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash), and half are all-new characters: Solstice (who was actually introduced shortly before the reboot), Skitter, and Bunker. (Of other notable former Titans, Cyborg is on the Justice League, Starfire is with Red Hood, and Beast Boy and Terra are with the Ravagers.)
- Static Shock - Now taking place in New York, much of Static's Milestone Comics history has remained in Canon *. His introduction to DC comics from 2 years prior have all been retcon except, curiously enough, being captured by the Darkside Club.
- Hawk and Dove
- Blue Beetle - not only is this still Jaime Reyes as opposed to one of his predecessors, but the strong implication is that he is now the only Blue Beetle in the DC Universe.
- Legion of Super-Heroes
- Legion Lost - A Legion of Super-Heroes spin-off focusing on a time-displaced squad stranded in the present day.
- Suicide Squad
- Men of War - Featuring a descendant of Sgt. Rock, it shows a soldier's ground-level view of superhuman conflicts.
- All-Star Western - While not outright contradicting any previous stories, the series ties Jonah Hex closer to the wider DCU by sending him east to get to the bottom of a city that's as corrupt and lawless as any in the West - Gotham.
The Dark (supernatural/Vertigo titles)
May 2012 (Second Wave)
, Hawk and Dove
, Men of War
, Mister Terrific
, and Static Shock
- Batman Incorporated - The conclusion of Grant Morrison's Batman saga.
- Earth 2 - A reinvention of The Golden Age parallel universe (once again separate from the main continuity), featuring their all-star team, the Justice Society of America. As part of this, everyone is Younger and Hipper instead of elder veteran heroes, including things like making Green Lantern Alan Scott a gay man (a character trait inherited from his his son Obsidian, who is now retgone).
- Huntress/Power Girl: Worlds' Finest - Both characters have been returned to to their original Earth-2 origins, though they're now stranded on the main DCU Earth.
- The Ravagers - Spinning out of Teen Titans, this is a brand new team of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. refugees: Caitlin Fairchild, Beast Boy, Terra, and new characters Ridge, Thunder, and Lightning. In a minor but noticeable change, Beast Boy's odd coloring has gone from green to red as a connection to fellow beast-themed hero Animal Man.
- GI Combat
- Dial H
September 2012 (Zero Month)
The one-year anniversary of the relaunch; in addition to replacing some titles, every book was a #0 Origins Issue
. Replacing Justice League International
, Captain Atom
, Resurrection Man
, and Voodoo
- Team Seven - Based on a Wildstorm title and set five years ago, with the team being a countermeasure to emerging superhumans. It has a mixed cast of DC and Wildstorm characters, including several who are also appearing in titles set in the present day.
- Sword of Sorcery featuring Amethyst - A fantasy book featuring an Amethyst Princess of Gemworld remake as the lead story. The main noticeable difference from the prior incarnation is that there's no Older Alter Ego bits this time; Amethyst stays seventeen on both Earth and Gemworld.
- The Phantom Stranger - Traditionally a mysterious character with a Multiple-Choice Past, the Stranger is now established as having been punished by the first magic users for some horrendous crime and all but explicitly stated to be Judas Iscariot.
January/February 2013GI Combat
ended in December 2012, and Frankenstein
, Blue Beetle
, and Legion Lost
in January 2013. Replacing them are:
- Justice League of America, - "The World's Most Dangerous Heroes" A rebooted JLA, now recognised as a separate entity from the Justice League. Led by Martian Manhunter, the announced team members are Stargirl, Hawkman, Green Arrow, new Green Lantern Simon Baz, Catwoman, Katana, Steve Trevor and Vibe.
- Katana - Spinoff of Birds of Prey and Justice League of America.
- Vibe - Spinoff of Justice League of America.
- Threshold - a new sci-fi book featuring reimagined versions of old Ray Gun Gothic characters: the Star Rovers, Star Hawkins, Space Cabbie, Tom Tomorrow, Captain K’Rot, and Star Ranger. It also has ties to fellow space books Green Lantern and newly-canceled Blue Beetle, including backup stories about Orange Lantern Larfleeze.
- Constantine - A reboot of classic Vertigo Comics series Hellblazer, starring the New 52 incarnation of John Constantine.
April/May 2013DC Universe Presents
and I, Vampire
are to end in March, and Deathstroke
, Fury of Firestorm
, The Ravagers
, Savage Hawkman
, Sword of Sorcery
, and Team 7
in April. DC originally advertised April as "WTF Certified", with that months' comics intended to have a high Holy Shit Quotient
; they later dropped that branding due to complaints about the "F"
. Replacements we know at this time:
- The Green Team - Featuring a group of "teen trillionaire" investors looking to finance weird superscience projects.
- The Movement - A counterpoint to the "1%" Green Team, it involves "99%-er" superhumans striking back against Corrupt Corporate Executives and the like.
- Superman Unchained - The long-awaited Superman book by Scott Synder and Jim Lee.
- Larfleeze - A Green Lantern spinoff starring the eponymous Orange Lantern.
- Trinity of Sin: Pandora - Added to the DC mythos at the end of Flashpoint, Pandora is the actual mythological figure and was cursed alongside the Question and Phantom Stranger; her crime being opening the box and unwittingly releasing evils unto the world. Feeling she's been wrongfully accused for all this time for anything bad that happens, she's now fed up and not going to take it anymore.
- The Question: In a drastic departure from his previous incarnation as a masked investigator, he was now punished alongside the Phantom Stranger and Pandora for unknown crimes by having his face and name erased.
- Silver Banshee: Like The Question, she has been changed fairly dramatically. She is now Siobhan Smythe, a good-natured Irish punk girl and recurring supporting character in the Supergirl book. She hasn't used her powers much (except for being able to speak any language) and seems understandably afraid of them since they come from her supervillain father. She's also Kara's BFF.
The New 52 contain examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptational Heroism:
- Silver Banshee, who has been reintroduced in Supergirl, gets a very likable introduction suggesting her depiction might be written as either a Tragic Villain, an Anti-Villain or even outright heroic character.
- Terra, who had been previously Blondes are Evil and a Sixth Ranger Traitor, not to mention dead, has been, so far in any case, a heroine and standing member of the Ravagers.
- Adaptational Villainy: Mr. Freeze, who has been revised to be less of an Anti-Villain. He's still out to cure his frozen wife Nora - but this is a lie. Nora was preserved long before Freeze was even born, he's just deluded himself into believing they're married as part of his obsession with cold.
- Alternate Self: Supergirl and Power Girl are the exact same person from different universes. Power Girl is very reluctant to meet her mainstream universe self at first partly because she is worried the universe would explode if they actually touched. When they finally meet in Supergirl #19 the universe is fine, the two Karas psychically bond, kick butt together and the only snag is Supergirl's fortress AI mistaking Power Girl for a clone and trying to destroy her.
- Alternate Universe: While a longstanding tradition in DC comics; the Second Wave had the re-established Earth-2 as a focus. (Not only with the Earth-2 comic itself, but the stars of Worlds' Finest are refugees from that reality.)
- Ancient Tradition: The Stormwatch organization, which seems to have its origins in Demon Knights.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Court of Owls in Batman and other Bat-books, who've been secretly controlling Gotham City since it's founding.
- Ascended Meme:
- Bat Family Crossover: This continuity seems to focus more on these than Crisis Crossover stories, at least as of 2012.
- "Night Of The Owls", which hit the Bat-books around the Second Wave after being built up in Batman and Nightwing since the relaunch. It was followed up by Death Of The Family, which features the return of the Joker and includes every Bat-family book, Suicide Squad, and Teen Titans.
- Also in the Second Wave, "The Culling", which involves Superboy, Teen Titans, and Legion Lost; The Ravagers spun out of this event.
- Green Lantern's New 52 status quo was based on a prior Lantern-family crossover, "War of the Green Lanterns", and proceeded to build to another event, "Rise Of The Third Army". After the Third Army comes "Wrath Of The First Lantern", in which the powerful First Lantern is freed from its prison and begins to wreak havok.
- "Rotworld", which involves Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E trying to stop The Rot, the force of death and decay, from killing all life on Earth.
- "Hel On Earth", which involves Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy trying to stop another kryptonian named H'el from ressurecting Krypton at the expense of Earth.
- "Throne Of Atlantis": a crossover between Justice League and Aquaman which involves chronicles an invasion of the surface world by Aquaman's brother, Ocean Master, and the forces of Atlantis.
- "Trinity War" has the Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark involved in a confrontation between the Trinity of Sin: Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and the Question.
- Beware the Superman: Taking a page from the DC animated universe, governments in general are much more paranoid about superheros, including Superman himself. The Justice League of America was spun out for this explicit reason - they wanted a team under their direct control.
- Broad Strokes: Some of the pre-New 52 stories are considered to have still happened. The specific list includes The Killing Joke, the Green Lantern family during Geoff Johns' run (including Blackest Night), Grant Morrison's Batman, and some but not all of Brightest Day.
- Call Back: DC Universe Presents #0 features stories about characters from four books cancelled back in the Second Wave.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Reign arrives on Earth, interrupting some silver-haired girl who was talking about how she just moved from Dublin, Ireland.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Not everyone from the old continuity exists in the New 52. Some of the more notable examples are Wally West (Kid Flash I/Flash III), Donna Troy (Wonder Girl I), Dan Garrett (Blue Beetle I), and Ted Kord (Blue Beetle II).
- Civvie Spandex: The new version of Superman started his career wearing a T-shirt and jeans as his costume.
- Conflict Ball: Supergirl can not accept the fact that she's been in stasis for twenty years and that her formerly baby cousin (Superman) has grown up in that time. As such she refuses to listen to anything he says. This came back to bite her in the ass when she ended up in a relationship with H'El despite everyone else telling her that it was a bad idea.
- Continuity Reboot
- Continuity Snarl:
- Batman's and Green Lantern's prior histories carry over into the new status quo, but there are issues trying to cram everything into the new "five-year" timeline. With Batman, they try to handwave such things with "he's been public for five years but was active for longer," but still.
- Batman's side of things gets worse during zero month. Batman, Detective Comics and Dark Knight #0 all run on the idea that Bruce has only been Batman for 6 years while Batman and Robin #0 insists that Damian is 11 years old. All this while Batman Incorporated seemingly exists in its own completely separate continuity.
- In the first issue of Teen Titans, it was confirmed that Tim Drake kept his history as Robin & that previous iterations of the team existed, with references also being made to past Titans teams in Red Hood & the Outlaws. Come the zero issue of Teen Titans a year later, and Tim's been retconned to have always been Red Robin & this is the first team of Teen Titans, with the collected edition of the first Titans arc outright removing the details that were retconned out; this is further compounded by the arc of Batman & Robin coming immediately before the zero issues featuring Damien Wayne/the current Robin setting out to prove he's a better Robin than his predecessors (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and yes, Tim Drake) by defeating them in combat, except Tim was now never actually Robin.
- Darker and Edgier: Some aspects are this compared to when we last saw them. Two families are named "The Dark" and "The Edge".
- Blue Beetle was originally a fun book that didn't take itself too seriously - for example, the scarab was played as a Heroic Comedic Sociopath. In the New 52, it was initially just a sociopath, and Jaime couldn't rein it in as much as he used to at first.
- The entire Teen Titans, as clearly shown on their first cover. Most of their team has a red and black color scheme.
- Billy Batson has become a little brat from losing his parents. While he has still shown a hidden heart of gold, it's still jarring for readers used to seeing him as more of The Cape than Superman.
- Easter Egg: Each Issue #1 (with the exception of Earth-2) included a one-panel background appearance by Pandora◊. Here she is hidden in the first issue of Catwoman◊
- Episode 0: The Beginning/Origins Issue: The focus of "Zero Month".
- Before the New 52, there was an Issue #0 of Batwoman, which consists of Batman observing the heroine to get confirmation on her identity, eventually deeming her a worthy candidate for Batman Inc. It is included in the collected edition of the comic's first storyline. Funnily enough, this means that Batwoman has two Issue #0s in this continuity.
- Played with in Green Lantern #0 and Green Lantern: The New Guardians #0 by being only the latter trope; featuring new present-day origins (of Earth's newest Green Lantern and an overhauled New Guardians roster) instead of flashbacks.
- Fan Nickname: "The DCnU"
- Flashback Arc: Both Action Comics and Justice League begin with arcs showing how Superman and the League, respectively, got their start. Earth-2 and Worlds' Finest begin with flashbacks showing how that universe's Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman died and how Huntress and Power Girl arrived on Earth-Prime.
- Hotter and Sexier:
- The sexuality of traditional Ms Fanservices Catwoman and Starfire (in Red Hood) have been ramped up significantly. Notably, Amanda Waller also had a major redesign to slim her down when she has never been a particularly attractive woman (in either looks or personality).
- The male characters are getting it a little, too. Jay Garrick and Alan Scott, as part of the Younger and Hipper reboot in Earth 2, both went from senior heroes to young and very attractive (as drawn by Nicola Scott, who gives the readers plenty of Female Gaze). Superman's facial features have been reworked, making him look more youthful and cute.
- Inverted, though, with Supergirl, whose costume shows a lot of leg but otherwise has been notably downplayed in favour of a more ordinary teenaged girl look; Power Girl, who for about a year had a much more modest costume◊ that even lacked her infamous "boob window"; and the Star Sapphires in the Green Lantern books, whose new costumes aren't nearly as Stripperiffic as the old ones.
- In Name Only: DC Universe Presents: Challengers Of The Unknown stars nine characters who have the same names and roughly the same appearances as the five original Challengers and the four 90s Challengers. And they survive a plane crash. That is the sum total of similarities between the characters.
- Legacy Implosion:
- The titles of both Batman and Batgirl have reverted to their original owners. There seems to be some sort of editorial fiat against having Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, Batgirls II and III, make appearances (several writers have reported that they asked to use them but have been refused).
- The Flash continues the focus on the original, Barry Allen, that had started a few years prior, but the reboot wipes out Wally West's time as the original Kid Flash and third Flash.
- The Justice Society has suffered a major legacy implosion, with the all of the children and grandchildren wiped from existence and the original JSA members becoming young again. The divide between Earth 2 and the main DCU also has brought up a kind of One Steve Limit, in that The Flash and Green Lantern are the only superheroes with ongoing stories to have versions in both universes *. Every other superhero is editorially confined to either one continuity or the other. So, for example, The Spectre, traditionally a JSA character, is now in the main DC universe instead of Earth 2 with the rest of the rebooted Golden Age characters.
- Jaime Reyes is now the first Blue Beetle. Well, he isn't the first user of the Scarab, but the previous user was a Mayan astronomer, meaning both Dan Garrett and Ted Kord apparently no longer exist.
- Mistaken for an Imposter: Lois Lane mistook Supergirl for a "comely cosplayer" at their first meeting, mostly because she walked into Clark Kent's apartment when Clark and Lois were arguing with each other and romantic jealousy had cropped up.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Averted. For the first time in all the decades he's existed, The Phantom Stranger now has a definitive origin... and his fandom has a Broken Base.
- Mythology Gag: Batwing's costume looks a lot like the imaginary African-American Batman (aka "Bat-Wings") in the seventies comic "The Batman Nobody Knows". Only less seventies.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- The New Adventures
- Nineties Anti-Hero: There have been some comparisons of the New 52 with the early days of Image Comics, which may be something to be expected when you've got Image co-founders Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld working for you.
- Race Lift:
- Morgan Edge is now a Bald Black Leader Guy. As is General Eiling.
- As of the 7th issue of Justice League, Etta Candy.
- More of an 'Ethnicity Lift' but Silver Banshee is now explicitly Irish rather than being from a fictional half-Irish, half-Scottish island (though her accent is still a little... out there.) Oddly her surname was changed to the rather un-Irish 'Smythe'.
- Played With: the wizard Shazam has long been described as an ancient Canaanite, but this is the first version where he doesn't look white.
- Relationship Upgrade: Superman and Wonder Woman become a couple since Justice League # 12.
- Ret Canon: A number of elements of other media incarnations made their way into the new DC Universe. Among them...
- Retcon: Just a year in and they're already contradicting themselves. Teen Titans had Tim Drake mention his time as Robin and that there had been prior versions of the Titans. When the trade paperback came out, this was revised with Tim always being Red Robin (never regular Robin, though still Batman's sidekick), and omitting mentions of prior Titans.
- The Titans were also originally referenced in the Batwoman series, with Flamebird claiming to have been part of the team and having fought Deathstroke. This dialogue also found itself edited when it came time for the trade paperback to be released.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: Silver Banshee is now firmly linked with Supergirl rather than her original foe Superman (though as noted under Adaptational Heroism she isn't evil, at least yet.)
- Same Character, But Different: Some disgruntled DC fans cite this as the reason they dislike the New 52, and that many characters are "in name only" versions. Others will argue that the core of most characters remains the same. There's certainly quite a bit of Broken Base for the entire DCU due to this.
- Status Quo Is God: Face it, with all the radical changes introduced, not all of them were going to stick. Firestorm went back to his original powerset after about a year, and Power Girl's going to start wearing her "boob window" costume again.
- Superheroes Stay Single:
- Superman and the Flash are back to being bachelors again. This did not last for either of them. Superman is now with Wonder Woman and Flash is now with Patty Spivot.
- Averted with Aquaman, who's still married, and Animal Man, who still is married and still has children.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- The original relaunch has Suicide Squad supplant its Spiritual Successor, Secret Six, as the Villain Protagonist team book.
- In the second wave, GI Combat replaced Men of War as the military book, though the substitution ends at genre since the books are very different. Men of War is a fairly realistic modern war story, whereas GI Combat splits time between super-commando counter-terrorism (the "Unknown Soldier" segments) and soldiers who get sent back in time and battle dinosaurs.
- Batgirl starring Barbara Gordon has been accused of cribbing from Stephanie Brown's run as Batgirl immediately before.
- Throwing Off The Disability: Barbara Gordon, who had her paralysis healed. It should be noted that the writers are aware of the trope's Unfortunate Implications and are having Barbara continue to struggle with the psychological scars.
- Tron Lines: Visible on members of the Ravagers' suits.
- Underwear of Power: Averted. Superman, Batman, and other characters no longer wear briefs as part of their costumes.
- Wham Line: In Wonder Woman: BOOM.
- Wolverine Publicity: Batman & the other Gotham heroes appear in more books than any other, having up to triple the exposure of the second-most-common franchises (Superman and Green Lantern).
- Younger and Hipper: Just about all the heroes, but especially the Earth-2 characters; who are now the same ages as their more mainstream counterparts when they were traditionally Older and Wiser.