For the month of February, we’ll be doing something special here at Biff Bam Pop! Each week our writers and correspondents will be compiling lists of their favorite things. Today, I’ll be talking about my favorite reboots. A reboot is when creators take what has come before, and trash it in favor of a whole new continuity. It’s pushing the restart button, it’s erasing the blackboard, it’s the ultimate do-over, and unfortunately, it happens a lot in pop culture. Meet me after the jump for my favorite reboots.
Folks who know me and read me here at Biff Bam Pop! know that I’m an Avengers guy. And many folks who like the Avengers think that the Ultimates were infringing on the regular Avengers series that was going on at the time, including then scripter Kurt Busiek. Having grown up with DC Comics’ multiverse, rebooting a new Avengers team in a new universe didn’t faze me at all. I really loved the more realistic slant of the Ultimates and their universe. And many of the concepts from this series popped up in the regular comics, and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Good stuff.
Man of Steel
No, I’m not talking about last year’s movie reboot of Superman. This Man of Steel is the one launched by writer/artist John Byrne in 1986 after DC Comics pushed their own restart button on their entire line after the acclaimed Crisis on Infinite Earths. Byrne was given the mission of retelling Superman’s origins and continuity from scratch. While many of the ideas were the same, we got different details – a new Luthor, a new Krypton, but unlike later reboots like the New 52 or last summer’s movie, we got pretty much the favorite superhero we’d always known – Superman.
Batman The Animated Series
While this animated masterpiece by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm took its original cues from Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, it ran with it and built its own universe from the bottom up. We were introduced to new villains, new allies, and characters and ideas that carried over to the comics. The series, and those that followed, created a whole new DC Universe in animation leading to a Superman show, and later two Justice League series, Batman Beyond, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and several animated DVD features.
The Silver Age
This is the big one, the reboot that created the above-mentioned DC Comics multiverse. In 1956, the Golden Age of Comics was over, and with rare exception, the superheroes were all gone. Editor Julius Schwartz, writers Gardner Fox and John Broome, and artist Carmine Infantino plotted to bring them back, starting with a new scientific atomic age version of Golden Age speedster, the Flash. It worked, and like lightning striking twice, they brought back other heroes one at a time until a new age of comics dawned – the Silver Age.
In the 1970s Godzilla had become not just a children’s movie icon, a friend to mankind, and a hero for the Earth, the king of the monsters had also started to become a bit of a joke. To put a stop to this, after a hiatus, Japanese film company Toho rebooted the big G with the 1984 eponymous film Godzilla. The movie posited that only the first 1954 Godzilla film was in continuity and the dangerous radioactive monster was attacking Japan for the first time since. This new series of films, called heisei took a more adult look at the monster, with more sophisticated special effects, more mature stories, and new spins on old nemeses like Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla. It was a new Godzilla for a new generation.
The 2009 reboot of Star Trek is my favorite reboot of all time for one reason – we get our cake and we get to eat it too. Not only did director J.J. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman create a whole new beginning, continuity and universe for the Star Trek mythos, but through some science fiction time travel alternate timeline magic, they kept the original continuity as well. Win win. It doesn’t get better than that.