Spoilers ahoy so don't read any further until you've read DC Universe Rebirth (Obvi).
Years ago, I got super excited that the DC Universe was starting over. That turned out to be.... not so good. Every time I read a Superman story, I just felt like this Superman wasn't for me. He was too much of an asshole for a character with so much power and potential to change the world. This sort of characterization apparently echoed for other superheroes as well.
Rebirth acknowledges this! In a very meta-commentary fashion, the original white Wally West from before New52 is stuck inside of the Speedforce where he commentates on how grim this New52 Universe is compared to his original Universe. He talks about relationships lost and how the superheroes appear to be not as happy as how he remembered. DC's way of acknowledging that the New52 Universe just doesn't feel right. But what about the fans that do love the New52? Well DC has got them covered too.
In a moment that legit had me teary eyed, Wally uses what little amount of energy he has left to thank and say bye to Barry Allen before the Speedforce consumes him forever. And just as Wally lets go of everything, a confused Barry reaches out and pulls him into the New52 Universe! This causes Barry to then remember some of his experiences with white Wally from the original Universe. But this doesn't rewrite everything that has happened in the New52 Universe. A sort of history melding of the Original with the New52.
The book ends with a quasi-explanation for how this is possible. The font and color of text change for the last few panels. Fans of Graphic Novels would immediately recognize it as the font for Watchmen!
Somewhere in another Universe, Jon Fucking Osterman AKA Doctor Manhattan sits on his red planet with Wally's watch floating in front of him. The intent here is clear. Manhattan reaches into another Universe and like a blind watchmaker, he changes one of the dials just slightly to see what happens. Whereupon he sets in motion the tone of the New52.
Bringing Manhattan and possibly the Watchmen universe into the rest of the DC Universe has the potential to radically change the characters within the DC Universe. As of this writing, I've only read DC Universe Rebirth and Superman Rebirth so I can't yet say how radical the change is. But if the Super Heroes we grew up with has the legacy of Watchmen to look back on, then maybe it would inspire them to be better heroes. Heroes with more hope and optimism. Something that seems to be lacking in the New52 where everyone has an edgier, more harden history.
DC Universe Rebirth has done its job. I'm hooked and will be buying every Superman Rebirth and Flash Rebirth comics for the foreseeable future in order to see where DC goes with the Watchmen angle.
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