Whether we’re talking Boom Tubes or retcons, there’s plenty of jargon in our geekcentric little world. The PoP! Stars are here to ensure you’re not left scratching your head, saying “It’s All Geek to Me.”
Relaunch - v.The practice of re-starting a series with new numbering and usually a new creative team while maintaining existing continuity ”X-Men recently relaunched with a new number one in light of the existing series having been renamed X-Men: Legacy.“ n. Any instance wherein a series is likewise re-started.
Reboot - v. The practice of re-starting a property’s continuity with little to no ties to existing stories “Many fans were surprised to learn that Star Trek was a reboot and not simply a prequel.” n. Any instance wherein a property’s continuity is re-started
A while back, I started a series of inter-related IAGtM‘s focused on continuity and the effects thereof within comics and related media. After an extended break, now seems the perfect time to jump back into the mix with the dual concepts of relaunching and rebooting titles in reference to the state of the union over at DC. But where to begin? Let’s take a look at the differences in the two terms.
As explained above, reboots begin entire new chapters in continuity. Batman Begins and the upcoming Spider-Man film are two perfect examples of reboots that have taken place outside of comics. In both cases, a movie franchise existed featuring the characters; but – due to poor reception, aging actors, and a number of other factors – the continuity established in the prior films was abandoned to allow for a new cinematic direction. As seen with Nolan’s Bat-franchise, the move can sometimes be the difference between a property falling into obscurity or soaring to new box office highs. Within the comic book medium, a reboot allows a degree of creative freedom for the company as a whole – new costumes, new directions, and old stories retold with new twists are all fair game. It’s the rough equivalent of a property-wide retcon where everything but the most quintessential character beats becomes a potential blank slate.
Relaunches are a much more comics-specific concept; one of the few exceptions that readily springs to mind would be The Adventures of Batman and Robin, effectively a relaunch of the prior Batman: The Animated Series. The new show existed within the same continuity and featured mostly the same cast, though the animation style had changed and the characters had experienced a “time jump.” In comics, a relaunch is a move to generate heat for a title. Generic Hero #17 may do alright in sales, but when you announce a brand new Generic Hero #1 that takes the character in a bold new direction and features Superstar Creative Team X, well… you’re guaranteed at least ONE issue’s worth of sales. Of course, the hope is always that the one issue will bring with it an influx of new readers to the character who will be hooked on the new series as a whole, but history shows us that this is rarely the case. By the second or third story arc, most relaunches are as stale as their predecessor.
And all of this brings us to the DC situation. First it was a reboot. Then it was a relaunch. Now… I’m not sure. It seems to hang somewhere in the middle. Promises that current continuity will still be relevant certainly imply relaunch, and yet a team of Teen Titans who don’t know each other from Adam simply SCREAMS reboot. At the very least, this bold move is likely to result in yet another entry (or 52) in DC’s multiverse as any successful books that don’t jibe with “classic” DC will almost certainly be made canon as alternate realities. At least, that’s MY humble opinion.
Now let’s hear yours…