The end of the New 52 shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not anyone who’s been reading comics for any length of time. We all knew an end was coming. To tell the truth, I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.
Are they scrubbing the universe like they did the last time? It doesn’t look like it. However, with the edict that story will trump continuity, it looks like DC has learned a lesson about their universe, and they’re doing their best to make it work for all involved. That lesson? Continuity in the DCU is a messy thing. Instead of trying to make it all fit, they seem to be embracing that messiness and just letting the stories tell themselves.
I don’t know how reader reaction will play out with this. Personally, I like continuity, and I believe it to be a necessary thing if you’re going to have a shared universe. It’s an evil that has to be embraced, instead of the messiness that’s going to come about again.
Basically, I believe that DC is building yet another Crisis. Sure, they’ve had several line reboots in an attempt to “correct” their universe and their timeline, and the New 52 came out extremely haphazardly by all reports, but this new direction isn’t going to help them much.
Here’s what can happen. I’m not saying that it will, but it could:
Superman and Batman could have a falling out in one story, and that falling out leads to all kinds of problems in that book. However, since story will trump continuity, in the main Superman book, they can be best of friends, and that friendship could be important for that storyline. Superman could need the friendship, advice, and guidance of Batman in order to accomplish something. Then, in the main Batman book, Batman could barely acknowledge Superman’s presence. He could actually be a hindrance to whatever Batman’s doing.
And that could go on for a long time, because story will trump continuity.
So what happens then? Things go on and on and then…
Why do I say that? Because story will not always trump continuity. Continuity will win out, because readers want things to make sense. While the idea of story trumping continuity is interesting as a concept, the reality of it will not stick around for very long. Things have to make sense, and that won’t happen if this idea sticks around for too long.
Is Marvel going to do any better with the aftermath of their Secret War? I don’t know. But I do believe they’ve always been in a better position with their universe continuity than DC has been.
That’s my thought.