Future State: Recycled 5G

Once upon a time, Dan DiDio had big plans for DC Comics—a reboot to fix all reboots, called “Generations” or “5G.” This full line-wide restart was to supposedly have created an epic 100-year long timeline upon which superheroes debuted in the 3os and 40s and flourished for decades before giving way to the next generation of heroes a few decades later. Similarly, we’d see multiple generations of heroes throughout time, leading up to present day and even simultaneous future storylines.

With a shiny green-light from Bob Harras and other DC executives in mid 2019, DiDio began dropping hints at conventions about what was to come, and he began assembling his team of writers and artists. John Ridley (Hollywood screenwriter of the Academy Award-winning 12 Years a Slave) to create a Black Batman. Stephanie Phillips and Simone Di Meo on Harley Quinn. Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora on a Gotham book. Sean Lewis and John Timms on Superman. Etc, etc, etc. In late 2019, dozens of creative teams began work on 5G content.

Then, in February 2020, DiDio was unceremoniously fired. Shortly thereafter, DiDio’s 5G super-squad of creators were ordered to put their pens and pencils down. A cease-work order had been placed upon anything related to 5G. Then the pandemic struck, further complicating matters. In interviews, Jim Lee confirmed that 5G was no longer going to happen, going so far as to say that the company was no longer going to do a reboot at all.

Of course, despite having had no 5G titles released, DiDio had already set the wheels in motion—quite sloppily, in fact. It’s hard to say exactly how or when 5G was originally supposed to be ushered-in, but it seems like someone’s idea at DC was to have done it with Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock in mid 2020. But DiDio and Johns’ years-long behind-the-scenes power struggle had reached a fever pitch, and Doomsday Clock was mired with delay after delay. Thus, DiDio had an opening to disavow Doomsday Clock, which he happily took, leaving room for him to choose a new Jonbar point for reboot, presumably one of which he was fully in control. With Scott Snyder’s big “Crisis” event, Death Metal, already in the works, it’s possible (and likely) that DiDio was going to commandeer that title to initiate his 5G plans. After DiDio was gone, things became murky, though.

We’ve seen the bulk of Death Metal released thus far, but we still don’t know what truly looms at the end of the final issue. What was Death Metal meant to be at its initial inception, though? Snyder said, in April 2020, that the purpose of Death Metal was “to unify every storyline from mainline DCU comic books.” With subsequent interviews from both Snyder and Lee, it became ostensibly apparent that Death Metal was going to reboot the DCU while simultaneously re-avowing some aspects of Doomsday Clock that DiDio had disregarded. Sure enough, the first issues of Death Metal (in mid 2020) delivered continuity that effectively showed that Doomsday Clock had operated as a soft-reboot of sorts, making large changes, but ones that ultimately didn’t warrant re-drafting an entirely new timeline from scratch. Scott Lobdell’s Flash Forward series also doubled-down on this, even repurposing what was to have been the first 5G publication (originally to have been released on Free Comic Book Day 2020 before its cancellation) into the Flash Forward TPB epilogue.

With each release of Death Metal material (main issues and spin-offs), the idea that the event was leading toward a big DCU line-wide reboot seemed more-and-more to be true. In Detective Comics #1027, Dan Jurgens repurposed more cancelled 5G material into a prelude to something called “Future State,” said to be “coming soon.” Then, just recently (October 2020), Snyder emphatically declared that Death Metal was not rebooting the DCU, not even in the slightest. Almost simultaneously, DC announced “Future State”—essentially a band-aid/fill-in mega-arc set to take over all DC publications in January and February 2021. After releasing solicitations, it became clear that “Future State” was the collection of 5G books that DiDio had ordered.

It looks like “Future State” is DC’s way of releasing this created content, so as to not simply chuck it in the trash entirely. In total, “Future State” will comprise 50 to 60 issues (maybe 52—they love that number don’t they?), effectively consisting of all the (now repurposed) former 5G stuff, including Ridley’s Black Batman, Sean Lewis’ Superman, etc, etc. Much akin to a prior fill-in mega-arc, “Futures End,” the “Future State” stories take place ten years in the future. And much like “Futures End” or another fill-in, Convergence, “Future State” is finite. It will only last 50-60 issues. Now, one can only guess whether or not more books will be added, but as evidenced by solicitations, there will only be the 50-60 issues in January and February. Basically, “Future State” will be two months of Elseworlds. I can’t imagine it having much impact beyond that—much like how “Futures End” and Convergence had little lasting impact either.

It’s curious that Death Metal, the story that will supposedly make “everything matter,” will lead directly into “Future State,” which surely will not matter (at least in terms of primary line continuity). But maybe I’m wrong. Who knows?

In any case, with 50 to 60 issues of content already created, there’s really no way DC was going to just toss it all. And I’m sure the idea of releasing it as original Elseworlds-style material was bandied about for a moment, but this is DC. Everything has to connect in some way, at least on the surface level.

About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher, the creator of The Real Batman Chronology Project and disCONTINUITY, is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book historian that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has lectured at various universities, libraries, and book fairs. Collin has also served on the jury for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.
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4 Responses to Future State: Recycled 5G

  1. According to the official DC checklist, and with several of the stories turned into second features to other titles, Future State will indeed comprise 52 issues. Each Future State title also bears opening editorial notation stating the tales are “a glimpse into the unwritten worlds of tomorrow,” which can also be read as “this is an alt-reality future.”

    52 issues is also considerably less than Futures End, which had over 150+ titles.

    • Update: DC has added an additional six issues of Future State material, plus a John Ridley short in Black and White #3 and a Karl Kerschl short in Black and White #4. So, an additional eight stories. Not to mention, Future State Midnighter has traveled to the primary timeline.

  2. UPDATE! Bleeding Cool is reporting the latest rumor that DC will be rebooting in April following the conclusion of Future State… As Rich Johnston says, DC’s mantra of “everything happened, everything matters” may become an “everything happened, nothing matters”. Others, especially on Reddit, are theorizing that DC might start doing a bunch of stories on multiple Earths. In any case, if any of the rumors are true, we might be coming to the eventual close of the Rebirth Era after all.

  3. Maxwell Unnasch says:

    For someone who held so much famous disdain for the original sidekick generation, I find it odd that DiDio intended to possibly replace DC’s line of heroes with legacy characters.

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