There have been quite a few reboots, restarts, and refreshes over the years in comics, regardless of which publisher you follow, though one of the more infamous ones is The New 52. The New 52 was envisioned as a way to bring all of DC's characters into the modern era and give new fans a fresh starting point after years of expanded backstory and continuity. As we know now, the execution was, well, mixed, to say the least, but there are a few concepts and characters from this era that fans still love, though there are also plenty fans don't. Thanks to writer Gail Simone, The New 52 is trending, and Simone and several other creators involved are revealing behind-the-scenes details about The New 52 and the books that launched underneath that umbrella.
Simone kicked things off by asking for questions related to it, writing "Okay, enough time has passed…I will answer New 52 questions as best I can for a few minutes. We mostly haven’t talked about it since then. Again, it was a sincere effort, there’s no villains. So, go ahead if you have questions in the next few minutes!"
Okay, enough time has passed…I will answer New 52 questions as best I can for a few minutes.
We mostly haven’t talked about it since then.
Again, it was a sincere effort, there’s no villains.
So, go ahead if you have questions in the next few minutes!— Gail Simone (@GailSimone) July 3, 2021
One question revolved around the purpose of the project and if it had an overall editorial vision. From the responses from Simone and Sterling Gates in questions, it seems like there was a vision but it wasn't necessarily organic to every book, as Gates kind of points out in his response to "whatever the heck Hawk & Dove was".
"H&D was supposed to be a '90s fight book -- big, bold, brash, 12 issues of H&D versus the biggest DC icons (who were all infected with Chaos Seeds!). Then the New 52 happened and we did our best to make it fit into what editorial needed it to be. I'd do it differently now," Gates wrote.
Another question asked if they were given any creativity on their characters and books, and aside from the occasional pushback from the creators on a certain issue or two (like Batgirl being healed by magic), most of the choices were edits from editorial.
"We were given lots of edicts, I put my foot down on the original idea I was given for Barbara coming out of the chair. I said I wouldn’t write it, period. They kept talking like I’d agreed, and I said, I am not doing this book if she gets ‘healed’ by magic. We won that one," Simone wrote.
Those who read these books will remember that a big issue was not all of the books were taking the same approach to the timeline. When asked how people at DC felt about fitting everything into a 5-year timeline, Simone wrote "I think different editors had different understandings of what we were supposed to do. Like, Batgirl was sent back to Year One, but Nightwing went out with very little changed (great run, though!). If there was a clear plan, it was not conveyed."
Another question asked how much creators were told about what was and wasn't canon anymore, and it seems that wasn't clear in any real way.
"Oh, almost nothing, and what we were told changed a lot," Simone wrote. "It was originally pitched to me as a YEAR ONE starting point. That meant throwing out a lot of DC’s best stuff, but I was told that stuff could be re-introduced. And a lot of stuff was made up on the spot at cons."
While it got better over time, early on DC was pretty rigid in their choices for characters and stories, including Batgirl. When asked if she was given any explicit instructions for her titles, Simone wrote "Yeah, as I said, Birds of Prey was just two paragraphs that made no sense, so I turned that down. Batgirl had all kinds of stuff turned down, she couldn’t wear glasses, she couldn’t be a librarian, we had a cool hideout, she couldn’t have that. Lots."
There are plenty of other interesting details in the thread, which you can find here. Throughout Simone highlights how great the creative teams on these books were, and that were some great ideas, but acknowledges the various problems that surfaced with the reboot. She closed things out by writing "Have to get back to work, but thanks for all the questions! For the record, DC is my favorite publisher, they are a joy to work with. It’s also a different group all the way around. The New 52 brought a lot of new readers to comics, it was a solid idea. Just a bit confusing!"
What did you think of The New 52, and what was your favorite part of it? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things comics with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!