About a decade ago DC Comics decided to boost sagging sales by relaunching their entire universe and retelling the origins of all their superheroes, in an event called “The New 52..” Cherished comics writer Gail Simone had been working for DC for quite some time at this point, having singlehandedly carried the 2000s Birds of Prey comic through a hundred issues, among other feats.
If you ever wondered what the New 52 was like behind the scenes, Gail took to her Twitter account this weekend and opened up questions. The discussion got busy enough to make “New 52” trend on Twitter. Here are some of the more interesting things we learned….
THE NEW 52 WAS A VERY RUSHED PROJECT AND A LOT OF IT WAS MADE UP ON THE FLY
“It was VERY seat-of-the-pants,” says Gail. “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.” Because of the rush, some characters were rebooted into their younger selves (Superman) while others remained the same age with the same history (Batman). When pressed about this Gail said “That was the answer none of us had, really. At different times it was different things.”
GAIL HAD THE MOST PROBLEMS WITH BATGIRL
Specifically, the edict that Barbara Gordon would be un-paralyzed and return to the tights, after Simone had spent years building her up as the chair-bound badass Oracle. “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. Batgirl had a lot more editorial focus on it because it was a great selling book AND the return of Barbara to the role. I wanted there to be an Oracle. But we were supposed to be going back to year one. So my thought was ALWAYS that she starts as Batgirl, and becomes Oracle. That was always my map.”
“Leaving Batgirl was sad because it was such a massive relief. It was my dream gig, but I had to quit. I thought I was done at DC and possibly, in comics. But to my surprise, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing with offers elsewhere. Writing RED SONJA was GREAT therapy.”
THERE WAS VERY LITTLE CREATIVE FREEDOM AT FIRST
“I got asked to rewrite an issue of Firestorm COMPLETELY three times and each time, it was lessened considerably. I asked to quit between issues three and four, the editor made me stay until six. The first few months of the new 52 were almost dictatorial. But to DC’s credit, they realized it and got a LOT better about letting creators do their thing, and the stories got much stronger for it.”
Despite all this, Gail doesn’t hate The New 52, even though its unpopularity with fans resulted in the original canon being restored a few years later. “It is still a lot of people’s favorite era, which makes me glad. I can’t say it enough, everyone was really working hard to make the best stories we could!“