Rocky’s Rant: DC Comics ‘Rebirth’ and the 6 Stages of Grief

The frustrating thing about DC announcing a “Rebirth” of their entire publishing line (with strong indications that continuity-driven stories will return) is that after 5 years of tolerating the new 52, I finally reached a point of accepting that my old pre-Flashpoint lover was dead. I gave up on her ever returning, let alone ‘rebirthing’. After all, other than a brief tease in Convergence, she made it clear that she hated me and had no interest in ever seeing me again. Her tragic end came with a whimper when she committed ‘suicide-by-bad-editors’. Before her end came, she got tired of my reminding her of the importance of family and building a legacy. She not only wanted to be left alone with no legacy ties whatsoever, she wanted to literally be banished from all existence. She told me (through her editors, of course, as she never had the courage to admit it to my face) that while she had no objection to me remembering her fondly, she would prefer that I stop trying to “get her back” and felt imminently confident that one day “I would find somebody else”.

Sound familiar?

It should because it describes the pattern of how millions of relationships abruptly ‘end’ every day. You think you know somebody and then “BAM”, “BOOM”!! It’s over. Every man and woman above the age of majority has at least one story of heartbreak at the hands of a significant other who is best described as a “basket case” or a “psycho”.

The way that psycho-DC ended its relationship to all of us heretofore “loyal” fans and cheated on us with “the new 52” personifies the angst and suffering one goes through in a very bad break up. I remember being firmly planted in the grips of denial when the new 52 began. It was, I thought, a terrible idea and the hodge-podge choice of titles that the New 52 introduced only reinforced my notion that DC would quickly abandon such a stupid idea. Unfortunately, it was I that was the naïve fool. The new 52 was very successful commercially and revitalized the entire industry. Nonetheless, I remained both unreasonably stubborn and shell-shocked. I refused to acknowledge its initial success.

Stage 1: Denial

In short, I was in complete denial. After 35 years of religiously reading DC comics (and spending tens of thousands of dollars over that time period) I refused to believe that my favorite publishing company would shut me out so completely that it would refuse to even assign a single pre-Flashpoint character its own title and thereby appease my continuity addiction.

Again, I underestimated the contempt that DC had for my loyalty and I practiced cognitive dissonance embracing any suggestion to the contrary.   I mean really, who would be so cruel as to end such a long term relationship without so much as a ‘narrative’ kiss or a metaphorical wave goodbye?

Stage 2: Anger

new 52

At approximately the 6 month mark into the new 52, I began to vent a ton of anger online. Also, I became more of an A-hole every Wednesday at my local comic shop. What I discovered was that a lot of fans shared my anger, but most were just “old white guys” like me. It became apparent that we were nothing but an inevitable growing minority of fanatics who were too set in our ways. I was accused of being too close-minded and was repeatedly told to “Relax! It’s only a bunch of comics!” and to “get a life!” Of course, this only pissed me off more. I screamed back “I have a life thank you very much; and it involves visiting an alternate universe every Wednesday in the pages of DC comics and now that universe has been utterly erased from existence and replaced with characters who are nothing but younger dysfunctional caricatures of their previous incarnations with no history”.

The sad truth was that I was becoming a shell of my former self. And I was not a nice person to be around. Just like the ‘new’ characters of the new 52, I had also been transformed into an uninteresting, unlikable (and decidedly un-FUN) shell of my previous incarnation. I had to do something!

Stage 3: Bargaining


As I approached the two year mark of the new 52 I tried to bargain with DC. I eased up on my online vitriol and instead, offered alternatives to what I saw as the ongoing bastardization of the DCU. I pleaded on various online blogs and forums that DC assign one of the 52 earths (of the multiverse) to the pre-Flashpoint characters and have a handful of comics continue to tell their stories. After all, I reasoned, any pre-Flashpoint character (like Donna Troy, Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown to name but a few) would sell more comics than “I Vampire” or “Demon Knights” or Creature Commandos! It would be a win/win for all concerned. DC could maintain the new 52 while appeasing longtime fans without compromising continuity for either universe. Why not do this? What’s the objection? Could they not see the brilliance of my suggestion?

Stage 4: Depression

Obviously, DC rejected all of my ideas (and similar ones posed by my fellow sufferers). Severe depression set in. To make matters worse, certain representatives of the powers-that-be at DC doubled down on their efforts to abandon continuity-driven stories and implied obvious frustration with what they considered close-minded fans. “Give the new 52 a chance to develop” they retorted. “It’s only been a few years”. They insisted that DC would continue to focus on “story over canon” and that based on an unanticipated increase in “diversity” in the marketplace, it was more important than ever to move away from complex continuity that fails to attract ‘new’ readers.

To drive this point home even further, the continuity between titles within the new 52 itself was also ‘loosened’. New Robins were ‘forced’ into new-52 stories; various origins of heroic and villainous characters remained surprisingly vague; the Justice League developed their own continuity out-of-sync with every other title; the horrifying DC future 5 years hence was rivaled only by the terrifying future 35 years hence. We were 4 years into the new 52 and the DC Universe had two paramount characteristics; No fun and all darkness.

The final nail in the coffin for “old white guys” like me came in the form of torture called “Convergence”. I say ‘torture’ because while Convergence was advertised to celebrate past storylines, it was a conglomeration of identically structured stories that just happened to have previous incarnations of certain beloved characters. DC’s true agenda with Convergence became clear with its ending; namely the complete wiping from existence of the Crisis on Infinite Earths and every Big Event that came after it. It was DC’s final “flipping of the bird” to all us continuity-buffs before deadpanning a spiteful, “Don’t let the door hit your asses on the way out”.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Well, I finally got the message. I’m not angry anymore. I’m over my depression. I formally acknowledge that DC has a right to do whatever they want and that I need to get a life and stop complaining about things that I have no control over. They’re just comics for Christ’s sake! No big deal. I can’t believe I obsessed about this shit for so long. And it’s really good to finally be off those meds. Acceptance is a beautiful thing, let me tell you. I can finally now start seeing other comic publishing companies. Maybe I will give Marvel a try.

Wait, hold on. I don’t believe this but DC just called me and they …. What? Rebirth? What’s a Rebirth? What does this have to do with me? Shit! Are you pregnant? It’s not mine is it? It can’t be mine; I abandoned you 6 months ago!

Wait, Oh… Shit!

Stage 6: Relapse

(Sigh) Okay, okay, I will give you one more chance.

(Apparently, DC tells me that while they “love” their new-52 universe “something feels missing” when I’m not around. I suspect it’s my pocketbook, but what the heck? I’ll give them one more chance).

I need an intervention. Somebody stop me! Help me!

This isn’t a rebirth, it’s a ‘CRISIS’!!


Written by | Rocky Hornung

Rocky Hornung serves as a Contributing Writer for the Heroic Universe.

  • Lee Sharp

    Lol awesome read, yeah New52 mainly sucks/sucked, I been waiting for a DC Rebirth since 2011 when it all started…..can not wait! 😉