I think the one word that can best describe DC these days is “mediocre.” They have some great books, like Morrison’s work on Batman Inc. and Paul Cornell’s run on Adventure Comics, and they certainly have their awful books, like Batman: Odyssey or Cry for Justice. But I think their biggest problem has been their books that just aren’t good enough to read but not quite bad enough to buy, just to experience the awful. They’re putting out books that are nothing but blatant, cheesecake fan-service, like Gotham City Sirens, and with all the Bat books and Green Lantern books they’re trying to shove in our face, it really isn’t hard to understand why they’re in trouble. It’s true that they really need to do something to get their shit together, but this relaunch just reeks of desperation.
I know the relaunch is supposed to bring in new readers, but everybody knows that won’t work for the long term, and I really think they should be focusing on keeping old readers and bringing back lapsed readers. After all, by relaunching all their books at #1, this may create a “jumping on” point for those fabled new readers, but it’s also creating a jumping off point for current readers tired of the constant lack of quality DC has been giving them. People tend to be creatures of habit, and I’m sure many people have been sticking with their characters just because that’s just what they do. You can’t break up that run, dude. And if the quality on the new books is the same as the current ones, these new readers aren’t going to be readers for long.
But there is a another problem DC is trying to address here, and that’s DC’s 75 years of continuity everyone has to deal with. Continuity is a double edged dildo–on one side, the long backlog of stories make these characters feel so much richer, and every once in awhile you get a writer who knows how to deal with every aspect of a character, like Grant Morrison. Morrison’s Batman run has dealt with all the strange crap that came out of the ’50s that most writers choose to ignore. He incorporates these references seamlessly, and makes these events and characters that just don’t fit in with the current tone, like Bat-Mite, seem like they belong in a Batman comic for today. But on the other hand, you have people like Geoff Johns, who likes to prop continuity on the pinball machine, Accused, style and has his way with it, until everything that happened that he didn’t like no longer happens, and all his favorite heroes from when he was a kid are undeadified.
Continuity only works when (1) writers pay attention to it so they don’t screw everything up, and (2) readers pay attention to it so they know what the hell they are reading. Of course, I feel like most story arcs or writer runs can be understood with a basic understanding of who the characters are, it can be intimidating to just jump into comics. The relaunch tries to address this, but I don’t think starting over is the best way to do this. Especially since they aren’t really starting over, anyway. From what it looks like, DC is just renumbering their books, the first arc of many will be a “Year One” or “Secret Origin” type of story, with the rest of the books taking place about 5 years after the first heroes started to appear. Many stories will still happen, but some won’t. This actually makes everything more confusing than it needs to be, because fans still have questions that have not been answered. They have already said that Alan Moore’s classic Joker story The Killing Joke has still happened, but the Barbara Gordon appearing in the relaunch is not paralyzed and has never spent time as the Oracle. Jaime Reyes is shown as the Blue Beetle, but was did his predecessor, Ted Kord, ever hold that title? If Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the rest of the Justice League are the first wave of heroes, does this mean the Justice Society never existed? Will Hawkman make any goddamn sense this time around? This simplification of continuity keeps sounding like they’re going to make things more complicated than they were before.
But the most depressing news I heard was from Dan Didio, when he said the current plan is to put out 52 books at first, add more later, and quickly cancel any book that isn’t selling. While cancelling bad books that aren’t selling, admitting that this is their plan doesn’t really give readers confidence in their new books. I would probably be more optimistic if I was assured that they were actually focusing on quality for once, instead of throwing a bunch of books at us o see what sticks. And let’s be honest here–Voodoo, Hawk & Dove, and Batwing aren’t going to be around for long. I’m pretty sure everybody realizes this.
I just wonder how long all of these changes are going to stay before Superboy-Prime punches reality so hard, everything goes back to the way things were back when Geoff John’s replacement was a litt
With enhanced strength, heightened reflexes, a mild healing factor, and piss-poor depth perception, Deathstroke the Terminator aka Slade Wilson aka “Slade” if you’re a heathen who only watches cartoons, has been established as one of the more dangerous threats in the DC Universe. Deathstroke was created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez as an unintentional parody of everything that is hilariously pathetic about comic book tough guys. But even though he was once shown defeating the entire C-List of the Justice League in the pages of Identity Crisis, he frequently suffers defeat at the hands of the pixie-booted, pantsless Dick Grayson, forever making Deathstroke impossible to take seriously for anyone with a strong enough visual acuity to see a comic panel.
Unfortunately for the world, Rob Liefeld apparently does not have the ability to see (which explains his art) and one day drew Deathstroke with two eyeballs (showing Liefeld’s yearning for vision) and showed it to the awesomely named writer, Fabian Nicieza. Upon seeing Liefled’s “new” character, Nicieza jokingly named the character Deadpool, or Wade Wilson, acknowledging the character’s similarities in both his appearance and his role as a super strong mercenary to the already established Deathstroke.
After a few years, Deadpool eventually grew from being just another villainous mercenary who carries an unnecessary amount of guns, to just another sarcastic anti-hero, except this time the people writing and drawing him actually saw him for the parody he always was. The ongoing Deadpool series became more of a comedy, and a place where writer Joe Kelly could do whatever he wanted because he kept expecting the book to be cancelled at any time. The book ended up being legitimately funny, and established Deadpool as a much more complex, interesting, and popular character than Deathstroke can ever hope to be. Recently, Deadpool was played by the apparent ruiner of Comic Book Films, Ryan Reynalds, in Wolverine Origins and there is talk of a Deadpool film somewhere down the line, and in comic shops, Deadpool can be found over-saturating the market by appearing in too many titles each month.
The Original The Superior Copy
First appearing in June 1963, the original Doom Patrol where a superhero group comprised of outcasts who are trained and advised by a wheelchair-bound mentor and they reluctantly use their powers for the good of society. A few months later in September 1963, the original X-Men where a superhero group comprised of outcasts who are trained and advised by a wheelchair-bound mentor and they reluctantly use their powers for the good of society.
Ok, to be fair, it’s not likely that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were ripping off DC’s Doom Patrol when they made the X-Men for Marvel comics. True, the similarities between the two teams are pretty damn suspicious and have been hotly debated by nerds on the Internet with nothing better to do, just like me, but it’s likely that this was just a coincidence. The main evidence supporting this is the very short time between appearance of the Doom Patrol and the first issue of X-Men. Frankly, there just wouldn’t be enough time Lee and Kirby to get a copy of Doom Patrol, decide to copy it, develop their own characters, get a script, draw it, and prepare it for publication, send it to the printers, and get the copies out to newsstands in only three months. But, the Doom Patrol were published first, and the X-Men had too many similarities, so whether it was intentional act of plagiarism or just badly timed coincidence, the X-Men get to be labeled a copy of the Doom Patrol.
But while the X-Men have appeared in countless comics, cartoons, and films, some of which were not completely terrible, how come the Doom Patrol has only had a few comic series published under their name, with the only run worth reading being Grant Morrison’s? Well, the simple answer is that the Doom Patrol is incredibly uninteresting and Grant Morrison’s run had little to do with the few redeeming qualities of the group and everything to do with the object truth of Grant Morrison being a genius. But the X-Men’s staying power is likely due to their ability to stand in for minorities. Even though both teams relied on their characters being outcasts that didn’t always want their powers, the fact that the X-Men were born into their situation, and that there were many more mutants popping up all over the world at any time made their situation far more interesting. The X-Men were not just fighting bad guys, they were fighting discrimination, which was a theme that fit right in with the political climate of the 1960′s, as the Civil Rights movement was about to hit full swing. Hell, that’s a theme that fits right in with today, since America never fully got over its little problem with racism, and homophobia, and more recently Islamophobia remain rampant today. So even though both groups featured characters with unusual and often unwanted powers, the X-Men went a little further ensuring it’s relevance in American culture. Also, I’m sure the Super Comic Team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby didn’t hurt them either.
The Original The Superior Copy
This one’s another favorite topic of debate for nerds with time on their hands. But while the debate usually either goes “Man-Thing is a rip off of Swamp Thing” or “Swamp Thing is a rip off of Man-Thing,” both are wrong. This is another coincidence as bother characters first appeared in 1971, only one month apart. But even if they were stealing from each other, it doesn’t even matter, because there was a another swamp monster that came around 30 years before: The Heap.
So, with all the swamp monsters infesting comic books, what makes Swamp Thing the best? Well, to put it simply, swamp monsters are boring. A guy falls into a swamp then becomes a misunderstood monster. That all sounds like standard procedure at this point. But it’s not always a character or conflict that makes a story good, sometimes it’s the writer. And if you need a writer to make your terrible character interesting, you can do much worse than Alan Moore.
Alan Moore took over the second Swamp Man series with issue #20 in 1983. He finished up Martin Pasko’s story arc on his first issue, but then Moore set about revamping Swamp Thing’s origin and tone. Swamp Thing was no longer Alec Holland who turned into a plant after a science experiment gone wrong, but a plant who thinks he is a man after absorbing Alec Holland’s consciousness. Moore even revamped Jack Kirby’s old character, Etrigan the Demon, and turned into something more resembling a monstrous Lord Byron who goes around hell bashing skulls in while speaking only in verse, and created the popular John Constantine during his run. The situations the Swamp Thing found himself in were frequently disturbing and bizarre as well, such as the incident where bad guy Dr. Anton Arcane possesses his niece’s husband and then rapes his niece. And of course there is the infamously trippy plant sex issue (Saga of Swamp Thing issue #34 “Rite of Spring,” collected in the second hardcover collection. Seriously, check it out.)
After Moore left the series, Swamp Thing went right back to being another boring swamp monster existing in an unimaginative world. This is because most comic writers don’t have a little something that can be described in technical terms as “creativity.” Swamp Thing was also made into a couple of terrible movies and a cartoon show, which features one of the best theme songs in the history of television.