Friday, July 08, 2011

New answers to old questions

So, did this happen now?
(Only in comic books could such a question be asked.)
Canon Fodder: 10 Possible Story Casualties of the DCnU |

Okay, DC, you've certainly got us talking about the DC Universe with a passion that any owner of trademarked characters would envy. But there are some parts of the discussion you have to be wishing would just go away, and Graeme McMillan adds to that uncomfortable list at Newsarama.

The conflict is obvious: DC (quite reasonably) wants to have their cake and eat it too. Almost literally. They want to exploit their world-famous Iconic Characters without being tied to the 75 years of history that, well, made them the Icons they are. This paradox isn't new to the September launch of what has come to be called DCnU.

Of course, in the Good Old Days, when they wanted to rewrite a character's history, they just rewrote it. Readership turned over every three to five years: Who noticed if Green Arrow had two origins? Who cared if Aquaman and Lori Lemaris couldn't possibly have come from the same Atlantis?

Then Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox decided that all this stuff actually happened, somewhere... well, it's comic books, none of it actually happened, but you know what I mean. And it takes someone with a special kind of attachment to his diversions to even comprehend the problem.

You young whippersnappers don't remember the tentative speculation. "If there's an Earth-2, and the Justice Society lives there... then is there a Superman there? If so, where's the cutoff point? Which stories happened to 'ours' and which happened to 'theirs'?"

McMillan logically observes that if the 2011 "soft reboot" has any reason to exist at all, then most if not all of the continuity fixes since, well, ever "never happened". But DC can't afford to actually cut off their continuity and start over, and they certainly can't afford for you to believe they might.

DC's ongoing existence as a publisher depends on us readers buying the stuff anyway, at the very least as if nothing had happened, preferably in larger numbers. In order to continue exploiting their back catalog of material, they can't cut it loose. Why would a reader who started reading with Justice League #1 want to go back and buy this other stuff with the same name if it has nothing to do with the group he's reading now?

But you know, from an artistic point of view, that's exactly what they would want to do. The characters are bound by so much continuity that it's difficult to tell new stories about them. If you're thinking of comparing comic book characters to beloved, iconic fictional characters in other media, consider: There are only 60 stories about Sherlock Holmes, 26 Tarzan books, and 12 James Bond novels. (And not once has there been a "Crisis on Infinite Baker Streets".)

Superman, by contrast, has appeared in over 900 issues of Action, 700 issues of Superman, and uncounted hundreds of stories in World's Finest, Adventures of Superman, DC Comics Presents and dozens of other titles. Is it any wonder some of these stories begin to look alike?

Before the ink was wet on Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, we were asking "which stories still matter." They never said then, and they're sure not going to say now. They can't afford for you to decide that "well, the introduction of Mopee into the Flash series was the defining moment of the character, so if that 'never happened' I'm never buying another Flash comic."

Even this guy has fans, you know.
So if you're waiting for DC to tell you, up front, who the characters are and what their histories were, well, from their perspective that defeats the purpose.

Guns, sharks and boobs falling out of a bustier.
We did everything we could possibly do to get you to pick the book up.
Just shut up and buy the damn books. Or not.

LATER: Of course, I meant "Before the ink was DRY on Crisis on Infinite Earths #1..." Apologies to both of my readers.


Budd said...

what is that bottom comic, it looks interesting.

This move invalidates all of my comic knowledge and forces me reaccumulate it. therefore, I am against it.

Daniel said...

This article looks like a rewrite of mine, but I'm pretty sure this guy is neither of my readers.

Daniel said...

The bottom cover is the new "Suicide Squad", with some dude who could be King Shark, some dude who could be Deadshot, and some chick wearing Harley Quinn's underwear.

The details are in DC's full solicitations, which are here:

Shelly said...

Through previous reboots, I didn't worry as much about this stuff. I figured something happened, ie a Crisis, and I'd learned the relevant backstory as it happened. If something wasn't mentioned, it could still have happened, but wasn't worth being mentioned again. And if I didn't like something no longer referenced, I could happily ignore it. I eagerly went along for the ride (except for those years I boycotted comics after Kara Supergirl's death in the first Crisis).

What bothers me this time is that I'm just sick and tired of this kind of crap. I'm tired of DC jerking my chain. I'm tired of DC's glib answers about this reboot and how they're trying to mess with our heads about what's in it and what's not.

But mostly, I'm just plain annoyed that the comics and characters I've come to adore, characters finally being written well, in their own books, are now gone. First, a few were killed off -- Ryan Choi, for one, and then Roy Harper losing his arm and his daughter -- and now Steph Brown is no longer Batgirl, Dick Grayson is no longer Batman and working with Damian, the Birds of Prey look unrecognizable, and don't get me started on the "sexy" Catwoman, and so on. Those are the characters I want to read. I've been enjoying them, damn it.

Right now, I'm struggling to come up the minimum amount of titles required to keep a pull list at my lcs and therefore, get the discount folks with pull lists get. Right now, my list consists of Batwoman, Grifter, and Voodoo for Sept. I need to come up with at least 2 more. It might not happen. I don't think DC will even notice that I won't be buying 15 or so of their comics each month.