Have you ever attempted to make a new first impression on someone? Did it actually change their opinion about you?
I think it’s a near-impossible feat. First impressions are the ones that last. After that, each successive impression provides an increasingly diminished return until you’re barely changing someone’s opinion about you at all with each meeting – just reinforcing it.
How could you make a brand new first impression? It’s not enough to simply say, “Hey, look, I’m different now!” Even if your target believed you, they would still weigh your new behavior against the old you.
No, to make a new first impression you need an explosive bombast of both context and contradiction – a shy friend who slays a karaoke, or a messy coworker with an impeccable neat home. You need to convince them that their first impression was demonstrably wrong – or, at least, so incomplete or controverted as to be useless.
Every piece of fiction has the dilemma of making a first impression by introducing you to a universe you’ve never entered before. It’s hard enough to make a good impression introducing yourself let alone an entire universe! Even if they’re successful with that first impression, sequential storytelling mediums sometimes have to re-impress you, as with the season premiere of a TV show.
Few other mediums do what comic books so often do – willingly relaunch dozens of books at the same time with new directions as a means of screaming, “LOOK! We’re really, really different now! All-new, all-different, actually.”
And, of those that have, hardly any have ever put all the onus of an entire multi-title universe on a single episode the way DC Comics did on DC Universe Rebirth last July. Read my critical take on the issue below, and then head to the DC Rebirth Guide to follow your favorite characters from here.
Written by Geoff Johns with line art by Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis with Joe Prado, and Phil Jimenez with Matt Santorelli and color art from Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Gabriel A. Eltaeb, and Hi-Fi Colour Design
DC Universe Rebirth is exciting and inscrutable – a tantalizing glimpse of change for continuity nerds and a tangled skein of contradictory continuity for new readers. It’s a love note dense with heartfelt apology to longtime fans that weathered all of New 52 and a Rosetta Stone for DC’s new continuity.
It is not necessarily the first comic you ought to read if you’re new to DC Comics or coming back from a lengthy lapse … unless you happen to be a major Flash fan.
The issue uses the device of Wally West trying to return to the present day from within the Speed Force, where has has been trapped since the Flashpoint event that lead to New 52. He follows several hunches on who can pull him out of the aether of time and back into reality. It’s not just about survival. West has critical information that might help to amend a timeline that has grown dark and cynical (and lost a decade of memories along the way).
Like the Ghost of The Fastest Christmas Ever, he first visits Batman (he’s the best detective!), an old guy named Johnny (he has the best chance to remember things!), and his former partner Linda (love will bind them together!), each without much success. Finally, he says hello from the other side to current flash Barry Allen (super-bros FTW!).