Friday, June 10, 2011

The state of comics and DC's reboot

I was going to write this post earlier today but I got sidetracked by sewing a button (sewing is cool). The actual button sewing didn't take long at all. It was threading the needle that was a pain in the ass. After finally sewing the button back onto my work pants I went sew-crazy and fixed all the holes in my jean pockets. For some reason, my pants all have holes in the left pocket. Either my Levi's unionized and are on strike for never washing them or my constant ipod carrying took a toll on structural integrity of the fabric. Either way I don't care, because you don't have to wash jeans every time you wear them. That's the beauty and fun of the coarse, blue fabric.

You're trousers. You have no say in what I carry in my pockets.

So, about the topic at hand. DC Comics announced a line-wide renumbering of 52 of its comic books. This news has been met with cynicism and anger by comic reading fans. You see, comic book fans are jaded individuals. With modern cinema so dependent on comic book panels for substance, you would think that this would be a reawakening in the comic book world. A renaissance (I feel like I use that word too much on here) in creativity and popularity. Instead, comic books are only dumbing themselves down for the wider market. By doing this they are alienating their loyal fans that have stuck with the comics through every superhero death and badly written character arc. Instead of comics affecting their cinematic interpretations, they are instead being affected by them. The comic book movie tail is wagging the comic book industry dog.

Picture unrelated.

DC Comics, fearing convoluted continuity and intimidating issue numbering (Action Comics just recently passed 900 issues), is restarting itself. Not just numbering, but many plot points are even being changed. Some of the most exciting storytelling in comics (namely Dick Grayson becoming Batman) is being rewritten for no good reason. To me, this seems pretty uncharacteristic of DC. Out of the Big Two, DC always seemed to show more reverence for its characters. Marvel heroes are interesting characters, but DC heroes are neo-gods. Unlike Marvel, DC never started issues with little summaries of the story so far. No, the average comic reader had to work to understand a DC story. And that lent pride to the line. A pride that Marvel couldn't touch. Marvel may have the larger market share but DC had more class.

I feel like DC characters are taller than Marvel ones.

Attracting new readers is important, especially the weakening comic book industry. But the current pop culture climate should be a perfect storm for readership. Is restarting half of the industry's characters really going to attract anyone that hasn't been reading already? Those interested will find the back stories of issues. Hell, ten minutes on Wikipedia is all someone needs to know what's going on in X-Men right now (and X-Men must have the most confusing story out of everybody). Instead of attracting it will only alienate readers. It's true, the numbers are just arbitrary. But to actually change the story is insulting.

Cancelling Secret Six is also insulting.

Comic books are ridiculous. Fans know this more than anyone else. But there is certain charm in the inherent ridiculousness. If somebody can't get a handle on that then they shouldn't start reading comics. Both companies have their own kind of ridiculousness, but DC should be better than this. When Marvel tried to attract readers with simplified continuity, they were smart enough to start a whole new line (the Ultimate Marvel experiment). If DC were smart they should of done that and left their core books alone. Instead they went and messed with the whole scene. Yes, Superman and Wonder Women were in desperate need of help, but Green Lantern and Batman were telling the best stories in years. Now, it is all for naught.

The jury is still out on Ultimate Marvel's impact.

Ever since Batman Begins the word reboot has been thrown around aimlessly. What was once referred to as remakes are now being reclassified. But really it's just semantics. And it sounds like a gift for artists. If a previous attempt has failed, then just redo it and call it a reboot. The entertainment world now has it's own word for a mulligan. But, while some reboots work, it is also breeding laziness. And comic books, which have always been like soap operas in tights, should not fall prey to this reboot-madness. You can always start a new series or create another dimension in the multiverse. While just as lazy, that route at least shows respect to the characters that have been growing for decades.

Some characters have literally grown up in that time.

But what does it really matter? Comic books are know for their cyclical nature and changes rarely stay the same. Superheros come back from the dead and stories are revised, but never to such a degree as what DC is attempting. Even previous reboots (such as the Zero Hour event in the 90s and Crisis on Infinite Earths) have never seemed this brazen. In the end, DC just wants to sell more comics, and what's a bigger seller than a first issue?

No comments:

Post a Comment