It’s been almost a year since DC offered up their first teaser of the Rebirth initiative, and, at the time, it didn’t seem like it had been so long ago that they had rebooted their entire universe with The New 52. So did we need another relaunch? Or was there more to it? In the weeks leading up to the release of the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot special, earthly Kal-El prophet Geoff Johns and publisher Dan DiDio assured the masses that Rebirth was about more than just renumbering all (or most) of their titles. But it wasn’t a hard restart either.
The one-shot laid the foundation for an initiative that would attempt to harmonize The New 52 with the pre-Flashpoint universe, weaving the two together in a daunting attempt at maintaining DC’s cherished continuity. The missing characters, changed relationships, and younger identities were all explained away in a rather surprising fashion. If you’ve still managed to avoid any spoilers regarding the Rebirth multiverse synchronization, I’m not going to drop any bombshells here. I’ll let ghostmann handle that for you.
Far more straightforward was DC’s fresh approach to their comics line. The stable of titles would be trimmed down to a more focused, manageable number (the first wave of Rebirth ended up totaling 29 series). The initial plan was to have most books ship twice monthly, with a lower per-issue cover price. And books were ostensibly organized into four different families — Batman, Superman, Justice League, and, um… Other. When your company boasts the most iconic and recognizable superheroes in popular culture, it’s best not to overcomplicate things.
But as we’ve all learned time and again, none of the shocking plot developments, clever marketing campaigns, or inventive publishing initiatives matter a bit if the comics themselves aren’t any good. So, much as we did with Marvel’s recent All-New All-Different relaunch, an Idle Time focus group assembled to read and rank every new Rebirth offering during that first six months out of the womb.
In February of next year, the second wave of Rebirth will kick off with at least three new confirmed titles: Super Sons, Justice League of America, and Batwoman. Until then, however, we’ve aggregated rankings for the twenty-nine series comprising the initial wave, many of which were judged based on their prologue “zero” issue as well as the first issue of the series proper.