Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reboots, Deaths, and Rebirths Are Getting Me Off the Monthly Comics Grind

Flash 1 2011 promo

My DCBS order deadline came and went, and for the first time in a couple of years, I ordered nothing.  I debated for a while about whether I would jump on the new DC Universe bandwagon.  DCBS had some good discounts on all those #1 issues.  In the end, I couldn’t get excited about this latest iteration of the DC Universe.  I lived through so many events and changes already: the Silver Age, Bronze Age, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Millenium, Invasion!, Zero Hour, Final Night, etc.  What is coming now just seems like taking a Lego city set, smashing it on the floor and rebuilding it.  The end result will resemble something of what you had before, just slightly askew.

I could get behind the New DC a little more if they pulled a Julius Schwartz move and just reinvented the characters for a brand new age of comics.  The problem I have is DC’s insistence that all the important events of the past 20 years still happened in a compressed five-year period.  Tom Bondurant has a column on this topic: “Batman’s history calls for the biggest suspension of disbelief, because it reaches into the histories of both the Justice League and the Teen Titans. In the current timeline, where Damian Wayne is a product of Batman: Son of the Demon’s night of passion between Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, one can argue credibly for a Bat-career of at least fifteen years, and probably more.”  Not just Batman, but Barbara Gordon’s journey from Batgirl to Oracle, Dick Grayson from Robin to Nightwing, etc.  Or something like the Green Lantern saga.  Hal Jordan became GL, served for a long time, then became Parallax and Kyle Rayner took over, then Rebirth happened?  This all happened in five years?  My suspension of disbelief is broken.  Of course, I have no problem believing a guy puts on underwear and goes out to fight crime.  But there you go, it’s my fan longevity that is the real problem.

There is another article that I appreciated, over on Speed Force by Greg Elias, titled Saying Goodbye to the Flash Story.  The long-term readers like myself, who followed DC since the Silver Age, appreciated an arc in the Flash family where the baton was passed from Barry Allen to Wally West.  The story of the kid sidekick who made the transition to lead superhero was exciting, and Wally was a better character in many respects because he was flawed.  Just as Kyle Rayner was when he took over as Green Lantern, or Connor Hawke when he became Green Arrow.  This second generation of heroes came together in Grant Morrison’s JLA series, one of the best expressions of the DC Universe concept.  For those of us who liked these changes, the past few years have seen a reversal.  Oliver Queen as Green Arrow was reborn, then Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, and finally, bland Barry Allen was brought back to replace Wally West.  Poor Wally—DC Comics won’t even mention his name at all in the latest go-round of promotions.  Gone is the hope that Wally would star in a Speed Force spinoff series; Kyle Rayner at least gets the spotlight in one of the GL books.  Some of us were even delusional enough to dream that Wally West might return as the Flash after Flashpoint ends, but that proved to be lunacy.  As Greg Elias pointed out, if you are mourning the generational saga of DC Comics, that is finally over.  Although in truth it ended a while ago, with the Rebirth series.

Over at Marvel Comics, I can’t find anything better there.  I can’t understand why Marvel spent the past few years bringing back Bucky, unfolding the Winter Soldier saga, and promoting Bucky as the new Captain America, only to kill him off once again.  I am sure he will return at some point.  But that is another symptom of a larger problem.  The superhero characters are worn out after 50 years of publishing.  Deaths and Reboots are the only thing that keep them alive.  They are electric shocks on a dying patient.  Sales are down—kill someone off!  I am down to one Marvel comic that I am getting, which is Avengers: Childrens Crusade.  Three more issues to go, then I am done with Marvel.

There are a few DC Comics that I can see buying in collected editions.  The Flash by Francis Manapul, despite all my bitching and moaning on the Flash saga, looks to be visually appealing.  I think Manapul stands a chance of becoming a good writer.  Action Comics, from Grant Morrison, might be an interesting twist on Superman’s origin, and Rags Morales artwork is very nice.  I can’t say the same for the regular Superman title.

For non-superhero comics, The Walking Dead and Scalped are superb and I get those in collections.  The latter was announced to be ending next year with issue #60.  But the best news from San Diego this year was Brian K. Vaughan’s return to comics with SAGA from Image.  That is something to look forward to.  But for the superhero material, I think I had better stick with my longboxes.  Nuff Said!

5 comments:

  1. oh, I hear ya, fella. the only Marvel comic I buy these days is Criminal. and now that they're cancelling the Justice Society, I'm out of DC comics to buy, too. these are sad times, indeed.

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  2. Yeah, same boat here, though I quite regularly buying books about two years ago. Between the price and depressing nature of most books, I had to stop. The New D.C. is actually hooking me back in..mainly just to see what it's all about. While I'm not holding out for anything monumental, I hope they'll have a few fun titles.

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  3. Ditto. I was a Marvel fan in the '80s, but lost interest with the stripmining of the '90s. I jumped ship to DC, where the writing and characters were more important than cover enhancements and flashy art. I loved the sense of history the company had-- of a continuity from the mystery men of the Depression through to the generational sagas of the modern era. Crisis was a very necessary revitalization involving new talent (at least to DC) and inspired editorial stewardship. The DCnU are the same editors and the same creators that have spent the last decade turning me off and progressively alienating me, coupled with crumby new designs, retrograde characters, and the addition of the dimwits who ruined Marvel when I left that company.

    I've been into comics since the late '70s, and blogging has me invested in the medium as much as ever, but I'm finding it very difficult to feel loyalty toward any universes these days. By breaking the "Uncle Ben & Bucky" rule, nothing at Marvel has any meaning to me, since everything is inevitably overruled and overwritten to a static state. It feels nihilistic in its ultimate pointlessness. I simply cherry-pick the odd project that seems most likely to serve the few individual characters I have undying affection for. I haven't followed a single Marvel book in years, and DC's on the same path, with only two ongoing titles provisionally on my pull list.

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  4. Thanks, Frank! I still feel largely what I wrote back in July. But there are a few mainstream superhero comics worth reading, a few from the DC reboot are interesting. Will do a post on those soon.

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