The best of DC’s Rebirth – our favourite titles and why we love them
DC’s Rebirth has been a much-needed shot in the arm for the comic industry. Launching in May of 2016, Rebirth has seen DC rise back to the top of the sales charts and readers’ hearts alike. By bringing back well-known heroes, returning to the beloved continuity of pre-New 52 and allowing writers and artists to thrive in the current environment, Rebirth has been a smashing success.
Don’t be fooled though, they aren’t resting on their laurels, and certainly aren’t afraid to take risks with the goodwill they’ve been afforded. Rebirth isn’t so much a total reboot or a simple set of timeline fixes. It is at it’s heart the culmination of DC history up until this point.
A world of rich interconnected stories that attract classic and new fans alike while taking risks and challenging readers’ perceptions of the heroes we’ve all come to love, DC really has nailed it. These are (some of) our favourite titles in DC’s Rebirth.
Since we’ll be recapping these titles, expect some spoilers.
Titans is everything you could have wanted from the Rebirth relaunch. Tied into the return of Wally West in DC Universe Rebirth #1, the first arc of Titans focuses on Wally after his escape from the speed force and his subsequent reunion with his old superteam.
The reunion is short lived however, when the villain Abra Kadabra pops in and creates marionette versions of the Titans and sets them loose on the team. After Abra Kadabra kidnaps Wally’s pre-reset wife Linda Park (who now does not remember him), Wally must choose between his former love and his team.
Eventually Wally is able to free both his team and Linda, and Abra Kadabra is defeated by the Titans. With his motive no clearer after his defeat however, Lilith Clay – the telepath known as Omen – searches his mind and is able to glean one word: Manhattan.
Although the Watchmen payoff hasn’t happened in Titans as of yet, the foundation was laid early for the book to be one of the cornerstones of the new universe, and that has continued throughout the book. Titans Annual #1 again dealt with a villain seemingly being led by Dr. Manhattan, and the Lazarus Contract crossover dealt with the Titans and Teen Titans in their efforts to stop Deathstroke from gaining speed force abilities.
Recently Titans has been focusing on one of the members being an agent of H.I.V.E., as well as Bumblebee joining the team. After these inter-team stories, a team shakeup could be in the works, and I’m betting at least one of the team will leave the Titans’ ranks for good.
Green Arrow, written by Benjamin Percy with an art team captained by Otto Schmidt has been a surprisingly great and yet often overlooked tale featuring the emerald archer. Centered on Oliver Queen and his renewed partnership with Black Canary, Green Arrow Rebirth is a return to form for fans of the classic Arrow stories.
A street-level hero at heart, Green Arrow delves into the machinations of the current US political climate, one percenters, villainous CEO’s and the like. Historically Green Arrow, to its credit, has always been a culturally relevant book, and Percy’s Rebirth series does not disappoint. The book also manages to pull off Oliver’s brash firebrand liberal persona without coming off as too preachy – a criticism often thrown at politically charged comics today.
The major conflict of the book centers on the Ninth Circle – an international criminal organization whose board of directors are hidden throughout the world as heads of state and CEO’s of multinational corporations. After it is revealed that the mayor of Seattle is also a member of the Ninth Circle, they frame Oliver for a murder, and destroy the Space Needle in an effort to reform Seattle into Star City, a tax haven controlled by the corporation.
In the Hard-Traveling Hero arc, Green Arrow is on the run for the murder he did not commit, following the Ninth Circle around the US in an effort to put them down once and for all. His travels see him work with most of the members of the Justice League, and it acts as a sort of reintroduction of Oliver into the JL scene. Although most of the league members are wary about his methods and his attitude, they accept that his intentions are noble and help with his quest to destroy the Ninth Circle.
Going forward, I’m hoping Green Arrow will feature a redemption of sorts for Oliver and his archer persona, and will lead into his acceptance back into the Justice League. It might seem far fetched as their current roster is full of vastly more powerful heroes, but Green Arrow returning to the ranks of the league is a nod to the fans of the classic roster and could make for new and exciting stories.
Supergirl, written by Steve Orlando, with art by various artists, sheds the strange-looking Kara of The New 52, bringing her appearance full-circle and closer to its roots. Here, Kara is (when Brian Ching is on duty) drawn looking quite young – with a soft, wide face and a costume that, importantly, harks back to the Supergirl get-up that we know and love.
Gone is the strange, skirt-free lower half of her suit and the Sia-esque haircut. Rebirth brings us a colourful, vibrant, youthful, gleeful Kara. It’s how we know Kara in the modern age – the way in which Melissa Benoist portrays her in The CW show – and it’s how she should be. When Ching’s wide-faced Kara isn’t used, she’s instead depicted as in a more classical and elegant fashion (like in the image above) – one that’s still superior to anything that The New 52 could offer.
Rebirth doesn’t ignore The CW show either – it shares some key parallels. In the pages of Supergirl you’ll find Jeremiah Danvers, Kara working for Cat Grant, Cyborg Superman (Rebirth got there first on this one) and even the D.E.O.. Although many of these characters existed before The CW show, the inclusion of such things is an open statement from DC – one that says ‘we love our show on The CW and we know you do too, so here’s some familiar content’.
The CW show began in October 2015 and Rebirth Supergirl didn’t happen until 17 August 2016, leaving a rare window in which a television show had the first word on what Supergirl should be. Luckily, they got it right and thankfully Steve Orlando and DC had the sense to replicate some of this magic, while also carving their own path.
There was a The CW-related Supergirl comic before this. Titled The Adventures of Supergirl, it was tied directly tied to the show, right down to the covers featuring Melissa. These were great, but they didn’t serve as much more than a way to tide Supergirl fans over until Rebirth arrived, and once it did, Rebirth won out as superior.
From a powerful Cyborg Superman arc to the more recent ‘Escape from the Phantom Zone’, the title keeps elevating in quality. The recent Annual #1 was used as a way to play out the wonderful Fatal Five arc, which concerned Emerald Empress and her team coming after Supergirl for things she hasn’t even done yet – acts she allegedly will undertake in the future.
In Supergirl #13 (which follows Annual #1), Kara asks Emerald Empress:
“Why! I don’t even know you!”
And Emerald Empress replies:
“You will, Supergirl. Centuries from now, we are enemies. Our battles will cost me the life of my father. Unless I destroy you here and now.”
It’s a captivating little arc about paying heavily for the crimes that you’ve yet to commit – and a musing on whether this future will ever actually happen at all.
This narrative closed up in #13, with the destruction of Emerald Empress and the eye that was controlling her. Ahead we have ‘Big Trouble in Little Shanghai with New-Superman!’ (a nice John Carpenter-reference) as well as a lingering Mr. Oz thread that continues in Action Comics #987.
I already expressed one thing I adore about Rebirth Wonder Woman in my breakdown of what I’d love to see in the Wonder Woman sequel. Specially, this was Cheetah – I’d love to see Patty Jenkins and Warner Bros bring the Rebirth Cheetah to the big screen.
She’s an emotionally potent character – Barbara Ann Minovera having been friends with Diana once (in this iteration) – and she’s mighty scary and formidable too, especially when she’s in the throes of hunger for flesh.
Written by Greg Rucka and drawn by a wealth of great artists (my personal favourite being Mirka Andolfo – whenever she comes in, it changes things up beautifully), with many variant covers to die for. The one thing that Rebirth Wonder Woman is about, at its core, is the hunt for truth. Diana faces many untruths in this world – some of which she’s convinced herself of, some of which are imposed on her by others.
It gives the reader a tenuous and wary stance on what’s real and what isn’t. Just like Diana – we often know that something’s awry with the world that she’s experiencing, but like her, we’re not always sure exactly what. It can make for a confusing narrative at times. Themyscira is in a different dimension, for one, and is treated as an ever-elusive homeland. In Wonder Woman #24, Diana tells Steve:
“It is as I told you years ago. Themyscira is lost to me. I can never again go home.”
It’s great, but luckily writer Greg Rucka knows when to weave back into more normalised moments too – Diana fighting terrorists (her comments here are marvellous) on the streets or Cheetah in the rainforest – to give us a small break from the ethereal hunt for the truth.
Alongside Diana are a race-swapped Etta candy (in Grant Morrison’s Earth One, he race-swapped Steve in this fashion, but this time around it’s Etta) – who here is a military commander (“Commander Candy”) – and a blonde, bearded Steve Trevor. Throw in some tricksy deities and a great Ares (who, importantly, they get spot on here – unlike the Wonder Woman film), alongside Cheetah, and the rogues gallery is just as strong.
The swirl of truth and lies that this title offers allows for considerably deeper content that many of the other Rebirth runs. With Wonder Woman’s popularity soaring among the populace, it’s nice to see Rebirth getting her right. This means that any newcomer who picks up a Rebirth comic because they saw and loved the film will find strong Wonder Woman stories that are true to the character, and that’s a great thing.
Rebirth continues to prove that DC remain at the top of their game in the comics field. With their self-proclaimed failure of The New 52, it’s wonderful to see DC’s saving grace prove to be a fruitful success. The only bitter shame is that we don’t have time to read all of the Rebirth titles – if we did, we’re sure that our list of favourites would be ever lengthier.
What are your favourite Rebirth titles? Are there any titles that have exceeded your expectations? Are there any that have let you down? Let us know in the comments section below.
Image credits: DC