“Deconstruction” it’s a term artists and writers throw around a lot. But we all do it. To deconstruct is to pull something apart and look at its parts, its strength, and weaknesses. It helps us assess what we’re dealing with because as a whole, most things are too complicated. Writers use the deconstruction of a character like Superman to show the reader the parts he is made off, what makes him who he is, with all his flaws and strengths.
It can also be misused if the writer doesn’t understand what he is deconstructing or puts an interpretation on its parts that don’t sit well with readers. You could say Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both are an example of the deconstruction of characters that went too far or didn’t justify why we needed to go there for a high number of viewers.
But today we will talk about DC Rebirth, the soft relaunch that has brought together old and new fans in their love for the DC legacy. It restored characters like Superman, whose history has been brought to an alinement in “Superman Reborn”. But DC Rebirth seems not to be satisfied with just restoring what was missing. It also seems to call out readers and writers for what they’re doing with these characters. That these characters have a life of their own and messing with them turns us into monsters.
The plot of DC Rebirth has made it clear that time was stolen from our heroes and with it love, trust, and hope. It also has been continually implied that the person responsible is Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen Universe. Who had stated interest to create his own Universe or how it seems to mess with another. But Dr. Manhattan is serving as a replacement for the writers and editorial staff that took years of history from these characters during their pretty successful “New 52” Reboot.
But why should they put themselves in the shoes of the villain? Why would they outside of sales numbers care for the old fans who got burned by the New 52? Now obviously sales are involved in it but what they learned and what Marvel seems to have learned as well. They don’t own their characters. They might legally but the fans and readers make them worth anything. The readers and writers together establish what is allowed and isn’t with these characters. You as a writer can make Batman kill in some elseworld story but turn him into a killer in the main continuity and good luck with the response and sales drop. Johns has even commented that he is interested in the real world influence Watchmen had on the DC Universe that’s why a lot of Rebirth feels like a meta-commentary towards writers who got influenced by Watchmen and brought that tone with them into the main Universe.
It is the most personal and most epic, utterly mind-bending project I have ever worked on in my career. With Rebirth, I opened the door to Manhattan. Part of that was I loved the real-world influence Watchmen has.
– Geoff Johns
These characters have a life of their own because nobody truly owns them on a creative level. Kids start to read the Comics, they grow up with them and end up writing them. It’s a passing of the torch, an ongoing mythology shared over generations. That’s what gives them worth and they seem to have consciously realized that now.
All these characters have taken on a life of their own through the decades by becoming cultural icons, growing beyond the control of any single person. That’s what DC Rebirth seems to be telling us so far, but we will know more after “Doomsday Clock”. Where we will see Dr. Manhattan, the human who left humanity behind meet Superman, the alien that embraced humanity despite his superiority.