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Don’t call it a reboot; maybe a reshuffle or re-imagining, but not a reboot.
This is what I take away from that various hints/teasers/comments that staff at DC have been dishing out since the big news of DC’s new launch initiative: 52 #1s in the month of September, kicking off with the Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
Why not a reboot? Personally, I think you’ll piss a lot of people off, both fans and creators. Why a reshuffle? DC needs new readers, and not just current fans to jump onto new titles, but new readers who are not currently reading comics period. A reshuffle can’t do this on its own obviously; I still claim that if you ask a few random people in your home town, especially smaller ones like mine, where the comic shop is, they’ll have either no idea or no idea that there was even a shop to begin with. How does one get to a new audience? well go to where that audience is, and that’s wherever digital content is sold and viewed. It’s a one-two punch that could go a few ways and only time will tell which way it will go.
For the purpose of this post, I won’t discuss the digital side of things; I want to look at the future landscape of the DCNu, as Newsarama calls it, and how we can expect to see more of the same and something new, and it all has to do with the Flash.
There is a great article over at Robot 6, a blog on CBR that highlights the Flash’s involvement in a lot of new eras of DC. The Flash in question is Barry Allen, first appearing in 1956, and is arguably the first Superhero of the Silver Age. Barry was also heavily involved in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a 1985 maxi series that ended with Barry’s death and the creation of a new, continuity free DCU (very quick synopsis). This DCU has been around for a little more than 25 years, and within that 25 years there has been a lot of continuity, so much that creators are beginning to retcon numerous pieces of history so that they may tell their stories, or trying to make a character more modern. There seems to be a need within DC to have a new set of continuity, and that’s where Barry Allen comes in.
Barry was brought back to life in Final Crisis in 2008, much to the excitement of long time Barry fans, but also to much disdain for Wally West fans. Barry’s rebirth signaled the beginning of a resurgence of dead characters and status quos for a lot of DCs finest, and paved way for the DCNu to take place.
2009 saw the line wide event, Blackest Night, a Green Lantern centered event that saw the dead rise, including several mainstays such as Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, the Hawks and maybe most importantly, the Reverse Flash, all who ended up being brought back to life. Several of the characters who were brought back to life went on to star in the year long Brightest Day, which not only solved a number of continuity issues, such as the Hawks continuity plagued history and Aquaman’s heritage and missing hand, but also brought back Vertigo characters Swamp Thing and John Constantine to the DCU.
This brings us to DCs current event, the Flash centered event Flashpoint. Flashpoint is a bit different than previous events; it takes place in an alternate timeline, but will affect the DCU proper, and it’s this event that will change the status quo, giving readers the DCNu. How will it affect the DCU and turn it on its head remains to be seen, but one can venture a guess. My guess stems from information the previous events have given readers, as well as other things that are going on in the DCU concurrently with Flashpoint.
With the Reverse Flash brought back to life in Blackest Night, and freed by Captain Boomerang during Brightest Day, Thawne continues his quest to kill Barry Allen, but there is a catch; how does one kill the hero who ultimately makes you. You kill him, there’s no Flash, which means you never get to know about him, which means you can never be like him and never get his powers. But with the end of Johns and Manapul’s Flash series, Reverse Flash seems to have mastered the speed force and can use time to his advantage, and that’s the key to all of this.
Flashpoint’s premise is that Barry wakes up in a DCU that is not his. He has no powers, no one’s heard of Superman and his mother is alive. For those of you who know your Barry Allen origin, Barry becomes a cop, a crime scene specialist, to solve the cold case of his mother’s killer. While working during a storm one night, a bolt of lightning strikes Barry’s lab, causing chemicals that line the lab to spay over him. The combination of lightning and chemicals give Barry access to the speed force, and he becomes the Flash. What readers find out later is that Reverse Flash, who is from the future, comes back in time and is responsible for Barry’s Mother’s death and the bolt of lightning. With Barry’s mother alive in Flashpoint, Barry has no reason to work diligently to solve her murder, and is not in the lab when it is struck by lightning. One would think with no Flash there is no Reverse Flash, but he’s around. This could mean several things: 1, that Thawne is detached from time, able to move in and out of it, or that he has made a separate time stream where he can be, but there is no Flash. We won’t fully know until Johns tells us this during Flashpoint.
Reverse Flash doesn’t seem to stop at Barry’s origin, and that’s one of the key elements to this key point of the reboot/re-imagining/reshuffle that DC is doing. Reverse Flash has seemingly affected every major hero’s origin: Superman doesn’t land in Smallville, so he isn’t raised by the Kents; Abin Sur doesn’t crash on Earth, and Hal doesn’t get the ring, which also affect the rise of Guy, John and Kyle; and *Spoiler* Bruce is killed in the alley with his mother instead of his father, who then becomes Batman. These are just a few origins that have changed, and I’m sure there will be more.
Concurrently in the main DCU, there is a ticking time bomb in Firestorm, a story line that developed out of Brightest Day. He is set to go off at the end of August, when surprise, surprise, Flashpoint ends. This is the other major piece to the puzzle; Firestorm’s big bang like explosion would cause the DCU to not exist, making room for the “reboot” to occur. This is where I put my theory cap on.
I think the DCU is about to get a Flash-like-origin overhaul. The combination of the end of Flashpoint and Firestorms explosion will be to the DCU like the lightning strike and chemicals were to Barry Allen. When it’s all said and done, the DCU will be different than it was before, much like Barry was different now that he had the speed force and became the Flash, but at the same time would still be the DCU readers know, much like Barry remained a police officer. It’s really genius when you think about it. Furthermore, like Barry’s origin, the origin of the DCNu could be caused by Reverse Flash, who may have the ability to create a new DCU out of the Flashpoint universe, or this ability may be given to Barry, who would then use it.
One of the many questions that have come about is, “will things that came before matter?” The answer is yes… and no. Ever since Barry Allen came back from the speed force in Final Crisis there has been a steady rebirth of many heroes, which I noted earlier. I believe that DC needs all these heroes back for their “reboot” to get back to status quo. If this “reboot” was a hard “reboot” than it wouldn’t matter if Aquaman was dead, the “reboot” would just have him there; or if it was important to have Swamp Thing and John Constantine come back to the DCU proper they wouldn’t have had Brightest Day end the way it did. Blackest Night and Brightest Day brought these characters back to populate the DCU again, and Flashpoint may be what “reboots” or shuffles these characters after Firestorm’s explosion. By having these characters back from the dead, you are able to tap into particular points of their continuity so one doesn’t have to re create it from scratch. Think of of it like a pre-made pie crust; a solid foundation which to fill with conent.
This may be seen in DCs announcement of a few of the titles and creative teams that are involved in the new DCU. The Fury of Firestorm (include cover) will revert Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond to high school friends “drawn into a conspiracy of super science that bonds them forever;” the cover suggests a different type of Firestorm, one of a few characters who will go through more changes than some characters. Also, we have yet to see Firestorm in Flashpoint, which could have some significant meaning to the “reboot.” Plus, we have now seen the Green Lantern books that will be launched in September, and they seem to remain similar to current events ongoing in the DCU.
It’s hard to say how much certain characters will be affected by the Flash like origin of the DCNu, though there may be one or two characters who doesn’t change at all: Batman and Green Lantern. In Flashpoint, Bruce died as a child and isn’t in the Flashpoint world, which could allow Batman to escape any major changes to him or any current story line he has, i.e. Morrison’s Batman Inc. While Hal Jordan is apart of the Flashpoint world, he isn’t a superhero, and with him currently in the War of the Green Lanterns in the DCU, he could be far enough removed that he and the corp aren’t greatly affected by whats to come. Plus, these two characters are a part of a very large, long and dense story that would bad business if DC up and wiped them out.
This is just my theory, and it could very well be wrong and reading into a lot of things. I don’t really think this is a full on “reboot.” Will there be major changes for some characters? Yes. Will there be minor ones for others? Certainly. Will some characters not change at all? I think so. Once this announcement was made, I was disappointed, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. What I can say for certain is that I will pick up a lot of these first issues and give the DCnU a shot. There is great potential in these books.
I thought a lot about Superman Earth One (SEO) after it was released in October. It wasn’t overly stimulated by the book, though I know i wanted to be. SEO presents a unique opportunity, one to re-establish The Man of Steel as a modern superhero. After I put it down, my first thought was, that’s it? Where’s the rest of it? Even during my read, I felt like something is missing. I chalked it up to being a bad book, but it got me thinking, why is this a bad book. It took me awhile to realize, but I finally figured it out; this book isn’t a bad book, merely a misguided book, and it took watching Superman: The Movie (STM) to understand this.
If you haven’t read SEO, it opens up with a young Clark Kent, somewhere between 20-25, on a train to the big City of Metropolis. Over these panels we have a conversation between Clark and his mother, Martha, about Clark deciding to take the train when he could easily fly. Clark wants time to think, to figure out what’s going to happen when he arrives. Upon arriving in Metropolis, Clark rents a hotel room for the foreseeable future and goes looking for a job. When you have superhuman strength, speed, intelligence and you can fly, any job could be at your disposal, and JMS shows us this. He tries out for a football and baseball, and is amazing. He goes to a high tech science lab and figures out a complex problem after only looking at it for seconds. He even looks into writing for a newspaper. Clark Kent of Earth One is capable of anything, but he still doesn’t know what or who he wants to be. JMS is tapping into a big fear of a lot of 20 somethings out there. What now, what can I do. As an older 20 something, I can tell you that this is a very big fear. Clark though is special; he can do great things, and his parents want him to do great things, like any parent would. However, they want him to be Superman, and even go to the extreme of making a costume for him, but you don’t know if Clark has ever said, yes I want to be a superhero. When Clark finally does become Superman it is because Earth is threatened by a race of aliens who are after him, and only he can stop them.
I decided one morning that I would watch Superman: The Movie while I did some writing, and I noticed one major difference between the two takes on the Man of Tomorrow. In STM, Clark becomes Superman within the first act of the movie, while in SEO, Clark becomes Superman at the end of the second act. The question immediately arises; why? What it comes down to is the journey that each Clark takes, or in the case of SEO, the lack there of. It’s not just any journey, but the hero’s journey that Clark goes through in STM, and doesn’t go through in SEO, well barely goes through.
Joseph Campbell, author of the Hero with a Thousand Faces, came up with a loose frame work that outlines the various steps/stages of the heroes journey. Campbell complies thousands of years of stories, from myths to fairy tales, to highlight each stage of the journey. The most important piece to remember about the journey that each stage has a variety of events that can take place and at the most the journey should be looked/read as frame or structure to set a story too. The best modern example I can give of the hero’s journey is Star Wars. After reading Campbell, director George Lucas applied Campbell’s work to his story. A year after Star Wars came out, Superman: The Movie was released and it too followed the hero’s journey, and that’s what STM and SEO start out with, but in different places.
When Superman: The Movie opens with Jor-El sending his only son on a journey to Earth, as Krypton explodes. Superman Earth One begins as Clark starts his journey to Metropolis. The audience then begins their own journey with these two characters in two different stages of their life. Martha and Jonathan take the place of the audience and are introduced to baby Clark at the same time we are, and we are shown his great strength as he lifts the back of the Kent’s truck up. Like Martha and Jonathan, the audience is stunned by this little boy’s strength. When the reader meets the Clark Kent of Earth One, he’s sitting on the bus choosing not to fly. Right away JMS is telling his audience that he wants to show you a different Superman, a thinking Superman. These openings also show something else to their audiences, different points of the hero’s journey.
The first stage of every hero’s journey is the call to adventure. It could be the call to fight the dragon or to save the princess, or in the case of STM be the call into the world of the hero, or as the call in the realm of superheroes, the origin story. Because both stories involve the origin of Superman, I am going to stay with the part of the journey. In an origin story, the call to adventure begins with our soon to be hero living his or her life in a world that is familiar to them. For Spider-Man, he is an awkward, geeky teenager, who is bugged by those at school. For Batman, he is just a boy out to the movies with his parents. The next stage of the call is the actual call, the inciting incident, the moment that soon to hero’s life is changed forever, a moment that will set him on his journey. For Iron Man this is his capture by the terrorists, which force him to build his suit of armour.
The call continues with perhaps the most important piece, the helper or guide. This character can direct him towards, give the hero an item or consul him in the ways of the world the hero towards the final piece of the call. Luke has Obi-Wan and Arthur has Merlin. The final piece of the call to adventure is the crossing of the threshold into the new world that the hero will now inhabit. Spider-Man crosses the threshold when his uncle is killed and he learns what responsibility is and has to live his life without him. Batman crosses the threshold once he steps onto the streets of Gotham as Batman after travelling the world, honing his body and his mind. Once the call to adventure is complete, well there are more stages to Campbell’s journey, some which include meeting helpers (guys like Han and Chewie). However, for this article, I will stick to the first stage of the journey, because without a first good step the rest of the journey can be rough.
Superman: The Movie opens up at the beginning of Clark’s hero’s journey. After landing in Smallville and being taken in by the Kents, Clark grows up as an teenager looking for acceptance and who he is. Clark lives on the farm, goes to school, has a crush on a girl, and besides his powers, is a normal teenager. His call to adventure is a tragic one; the death of his adoptive father due to a heart attack, something he can’t stop, even with all his powers. This sets Clark on a journey of self discovery after finding a piece from his ship, which leads him all the way to the arctic. Once there, he throws the green crystal from his ship into the ice, which, after much shaking and quaking, becomes a giant ice fortress. Within the ice fortress is the conscious/ knowledge of Clark’s real father, Jor-El, who explains to Clark who he is and why he was sent there, one of which is to help the people of Earth. After Many years at the fortress, Clark decides to become Superman, and fly’s off to Metropolis, the hub of America to help the people of Earth. Through the help of his fathers Clark can step into Metropolis, a different world then the farm and life he grew up in, and on to save the world, which he does.
Superman Earth One is a story that jumps between the present and the past, and opens up with Clark on the bus to Metropolis. When we first see Clark then, he is leaving what he knows in the farm and his family and crossing the threshold into the unknown. There is a large one page panel of Clark looking up at the skyscrapers in wonder; it is clear that Clark is in a world he doesn’t know. Opening the story this way is just one way to tell the hero’s journey, only becoming an issue if the story misses the other beats of the call to adventure. Working sequentially then, Earth One Clark grows up on the farm and has a difficult time fitting with those around him; he always needs to keep his powers in check so he doesn’t hurt anyone, making him appear weak. So Earth One Clark has a very similar childhood to STM Clark, and like their childhood both Clark’s fathers die, but unlike in STM, in SEO we don’t see Jonathan’s death and we don’t know if his death causes Clark to go on his journey to Metropolis. Also, in STM, Clark goes to Metropolis to help the planet that has adopted him, saved him even from certain death. Earth One Clark goes to Metropolis to find himself, he doesn’t even know about his Krypton heritage when he goes, just that he crash landed on a ship when he was a baby. It could be said then that Clark’s trip to Metropolis isn’t his threshold crossing moment. If not, then what is?
Clark of Earth One’s world changes when the alien attack comes to Earth looking for Clark. When the dust is settled at the end of the book, Metropolis is a changed place that Superman must now live in. So the alien attack is the call to adventure and defeating them is the crossing the threshold, or the dragon battle (more on this in a second), but there is still something missing. There is no guide/helper. The closest thing Earth One Clark has to a guide is a piece of his spaceship, which after being caught in a fire and touched by Clark, shows him his final minutes on Krypton, as his parents send him off to Earth. If we consider this an adequate representation of the guide figure, it would still be missing two important pieces. The glimpse does not offer any information on who Clark actually is and does it give Clark any advice as to what he should do going forward. However, I will argue that the supplementary guide in SEO lets Clark know that his parents sent him to Earth so he could live, and this may be the very reason that Clark decides to become Superman. Quickly going back to the dragon battle notion; if we replace the crossing of the threshold with the dragon battle ending to the call to adventure, the hero would still need a guide. The guide is not only synonymous will the crossing of the threshold, but any of ending stage to the call to adventure. While there is inklings of the call to adventure structure in Superman Earth One its lack of essentials, such as a proper guide and threshold can limit Clark’s rise to Superman. Furthermore, STM finishes the hero’s journey by visiting every stage of Campbell’s outline. SEO ends it’s tale half-way through the outline.
It may not seem necessary to follow Campbell’s outline as much as one can, but with a hero like Superman, the first superhero, following an outline is proven to work, see the many myths and fairy tales that have stood the test of time, plus the most well known Superman origin, the one that is still referred to today, Superman: The Movie even makes use of this outline. The hero’s journey is a story that has been used for so long that it has become a format that has been ingrained into our collective conscious. Even films use the outline of the hero’s journey to build their stories. A script is based on five plot points, each point mimics the plot points in the hero’s journey: the inciting incident or call and the lock in, or threshold crossing, are the first two points.
For Superman Earth One to create a modern telling of the Man of Steel, JMS would have needed to effectively use the hero’s journey to re-tell Superman’s origin. Only then could the audience have seen the first true superhero come to life, again.
Over at Uncanny Derek Presents, a friend of mine, Derek, discusses the age old conundrum, comic book acceptance. Take a second and go read his take, and give him some views while you’re at it. You’re back? Okay good. Now if you didn’t have time to read it (yet you have time to read mine? shame on you), I’ll let you know that Derek looks at how comic book’s are accepted as films, but not comics themselves. More importantly I think, why is it that comic book content, especially superheroes, are accepted as “cool” where reading this content in a comic book is “uncool.” I put these quotations because cool is a reletive term. Derek uses a great quote from Stan Lee to demonsrate how comics should be considered “cool” or acceptable. I was going to post a comment on Derek’s blog, but instead I’d thought I’d continue the conversation here and give some of my reasoning as to why there is still this disconnect between comics and acceptance.
Recently I read another blog over at Comic Book Resources, Tilting at Windmills, that was a response to Patton Oswalt’s Wired Magazine essay on the changing of geek culture (I really am giving you guys a lot of homework here, apologies), and in this article was a quote from new Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso, concerning the state of comics, which he says (and I am paraphrasing) that people are going into their shops on Wednesday and are buying comics that matter, comics that count. A comic that would count would be any comic that is apart of the whole, or a large scale story line. For example, when Blackest Night was running, there were a number of ongoing books that tied into that series, as well as a number of mini-series that were created to run along with it, expanding what was happening in the main event book. Not every person who buys comics needs to keep up with current affairs, but a fair number of people who purchase Marvel and DC comics, the two companies who sell the most, do want to know what they are reading matters. I do it, and it’s part of the attraction of comics, being apart of and knowledgeable of larger continuity. This though is one of the larger reasons why comics are not acceptable as say television or film is.
It’s ironic though, that when Superman frst appeared in Action Comics #1, he set off a powederkeg of sales that hadn’t been seen in the comicbook industry, which was mainly pulp comics at the time. By inflation standards, those sales today would astound anyone to see them. these where the books that a kid could run down to the corner store, not their LCS, which I guess it was, but you know what I mean, and buy a comic, read it ten times and then talk about it with their friends who also bought it. Next week same thing, and they read anopther fun story about Superman or Batman. Was there a continuity like there is today? Not even close. And it’s there that things get interesting.
I’m going to jump ahead a little bit and talk about one of the “best” and “funniest” sitcoms on TV in the past five years: Two and a Half Men. This show is a set of one liners that are rarely funny, with characters who can be shallow and idiotic for the sake of comedy, but you know what, that comedy was rated one of, it not, the top sitcoms for a long time. Many people wonder how that can be, and this is where I come back to the comic book purchases of yesteryear. When asked why Two and a Half Men did so well, a TV producer stated that you didn’t need to watch every episode to enjoy the show; if you missed one, you didn’t miss much. There are more reason than this as to why this show was popular; I’d say there format and one-liners made it easy to get in and out of, a show you can leave on the background if you wanted. I’d argue that comic books of the 1930’s and 40’s acted much the same way; it didn’t matter if you missed an issue, you still got the fun of Superman or Batman. Though I can imagine missing an issue of Batman might have left you out of discussion with your friends than missing an episode of Two and a Half Men.
Accessibility in content than can determine who reads a comic. Even for comic book readers, jumping on a new book can be daunting if they no nothing about that book. This does happen in TV too. When the final season of Lost aired do you think new people jumped on? Yea, but where they lost? For sure they were. Another reason though that comics are as accepted as other mediums is another form accessibility, accessibility in format; this works in two ways.
While TVs and film were around in the 30’s and 40’s, they weren’t as accessible as they are today. Not every family owned a TV, though most did own radios, and going to the movies wasn’t a weekly adventure, and taking the whole family probably wasn’t cheap. Comics though were available at every corner grocery store, and unlike TV or movies of that time, you had access to that comic whenever you want; comics then had more value a medium than it does now. However, once the baby boom ended and TV and film became more accessible to families, comics began to take a back seat.
The second format accessibility has to do with where you can get these different forms of entertainment. TV’s were in every home by the 70’s, more and more people were also visiting the cinema due to the beginning of the blockbuster era with films like Jaws and Star Wars (the later which turned into its own monster). By the 1980s, comic books weren’t as readily available as they once were. Many comic book readers had to go to a comic book shop to purchase their books, and by the 1960s and 70s, comics started telling bigger, more connected stories. in the 80s, DC was weighed down by almost 50 years of continuity they had a massive event that allowed them to start over from scratch. Yes people were reading comics, but they were the ones who had to look for it, and that hasn’t changed. Ask someone who is familiar with the city or town you live in and ask where their movie theatre is, then ask them where your LCS is. More over, movies seem to be the format of choice for entertainment. Why is that? obviously a number of reasons, but going back to my Two and a Half Men example, with a film you can sit down and watch for two hours then you are off doing something else. Even with sequels, there isn’t a lot to get caught up on. Films also have a tried, tested and true structure, so everyone knows what they are getting into. Films can be powerful and entertaining, but they can also be the most convenient medium to watch. More people are willing to sink $10 into to hours than $3 – $4 a month for who knows how long and keep up with a comic book.
Finally, comic books have entered our movie theatres because technology is able to recreate what an artist once drew, and when you have a wealth of content to base a film off of, well you’ve got a potential cash cow on your hand. More importantly though, and in his Tilting at Windmills blog, Brian Hibbs discusses the branding that has occurred in the past 10 years. It is no longer Iron Man the comic, or comics, but the films, cartoons, toys and other merchandise, and coming in 2012, the Avengers film will come out, not only furthering the Iron Man brand, but the brands of Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, the Avengers and Marvel. These brands are able to entice any number of audiences; kids and their cartoons and toys, summer action movie fans, comic book fans, TV fans and video gamers. Comics will still be the red headed step child of the brand, but ultimately, this is where the brand started, and as a fan, i’m glad a medium I love so much can spawn a franchise that can reach more people than they could with the comic. And with comic books being a niche market more than it has ever been, and with Oswalt’s proclamation that “Everything That Ever Was — Available Forever,” it’s nice to have something that is still kind of just mine.
Something happened to me this year in the world of comic books; I started reading more DC comics than I ever have. Before this, I normally read Batman titles and that was pretty much it; maybe some Superman here and there. Last summer though, I started reading a couple of Green Lantern titles as he has been a character I always liked, but never read; and with the Blackest Night right around the corner, it was a good point to jump on. Blackest Night soon started to much fan fare and boasted beautiful art by the talented Ivan Reis, and would last until this past spring. With the final issue at hand, something happened that I didn’t expect. If you haven’t read this series and don’t want anything spoiled, I’d suggest skipping ahead, though I’m not spoiling too much. At the end of issue eight, 12 deceased heroes and villains come back to life. This wasn’t shown in a panel, but on a three page splash that was gate folded into the issue; you can see it here. This gorgeous, and I am sure tedious by Reis, featured almost front and centre the newly revived Aquaman.
Aquaman probably isn’t the most popular of superheroes; a guy whose superpower is that he can talk to fish doesn’t seem to be too useful. I was one of the many who thought he was kind of silly: could talk to fish, swim really fast, wore orange and green. What about this guy was appealing? Though once I saw this huge splash page, I started looking at Aquaman in a whole different light.
My interest was piqued even more when one of Newsarama’s blog Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. had an entry about Aquaman. This blog discusses the history of a superheroes costume, highlighting what works and what doesn’t work for particular heroes, and giving a brief history of the character themselves along the way. If Ivan Reis three page splash made me take notice of how cool Aquaman can look, Alan Kistler’s blog post of the work wear of the King of Atlantis changed my whole perspective on how awesome Aquaman can be.
Aquaman, like many superheroes, especially DC heroes, has a very convoluted history; just check out this great comic by the guys at Let’s be Friends Again. What made me really take a shine to Arthur Curry was his Silver Age origin, which is Arthur being born to lighthouse keeper Tom Curry and Atlantean outcast Atlanna. Aquaman then is half human and half Atlantean; he is a man who is a part of both worlds, and in the comics became King of one.
I took a lot of literary theory in University; I considered it my focus. One of my favourite theorists is Jacques Derrida, who looked at, among many theories, was this notion of Binary Oppositions, and how the western world has a tendency to view the world in one or the other: man/ woman, life/ death, black/ white, etc. These are just simple examples, but they show can’t find a middle ground essentially. A great, and fitting, example of this is the beach. It is a place that occupies both land and water, but we want it to be one or the other. This has to do with Aquaman that he represents a Binary Opposition; he can’t be considered human or atlantean, but again we have this tendency to make him atlantean more than human. He is the King of the seas after all.
What I love about this is that there is the possibility to have such a rich character. Now it is possible that this has been an avenue that has been explored in the comics, but I have just begun my forray into Aquaman comics, so I’ll have to wait and see. What I also love about Aquaman now is his costume. After reading Kistler’s many posts on superhero costumes, I really have started to see how a superhero’s costume is part of the language of superheroes, and at times is the most important part of the superhero as it is a readers/ viewers initial contact with them and can tell what they represent. Looking back at my first part of my Superman article (there will be more, I promise), a lot can be said by the blue and red that Supes established as what a heroes wears/ represents.
Going back to the last paragraph, heroes are in opposition to villains; the middle ground being that anti-hero, who we often place closer to the hero side of the line. Even superhero costumes are in opposition to each others; red and blue versus green and purple, or primary versus secondary colours. Aquaman, a hero, wears secondary colours: orange and green. One could almost label him a villain, but he acts for the good of the people, and has blonde hair instead of black, another colour that is often associated with villainy (the Black Knight, Darth Vader). For me, Aquaman’s orange and green costume is great (he has had a few different costumes), as it not only lets people see him while he is swimming (Kistler), try seeing a hero wear red and blue in the water and be well noticed (though Aquaman’s sidekick Aqualad wore a red shirt and blue shorts, seemingly negating that argument, but a sidekick is supposed to be seen with their mentor, and in the case of Aquaman and Aqualad, Aquaman will be noticeable enough for the both of them), but more importantly allows him to represent a different type of hero, one that accurately reflects a particular dichotomy that he has.
There is a lot of potential in Aquaman, but he is a character that is often seen as second tier, even though he is one of the founding members of the JLA. There aren’t many characters who are similar to him, not like there are a number who are similar to Superman, so he can’t be shadowed by another Aquaman type character. Though his lower popularity may come from the space in which he operates; the sea. If you look at a character like Batman or Spider-Man, they operate within a space that is easily recognizable and is something we can obviously relate to; New York City (or the variation known as Gotham). But how many of us are that relatable to the depths of the ocean? Also, any good hero is surrounded by a great group of villains and supporting class. Again, look at Batman and Spider-Man and their villains and supporting cast; Aquaman just doesn’t have this. I can think of two Aquaman villains off the top of my head: Ocean Master, Arthur’s half, all human brother, and Back Manta, who I also believe is human. Aquaman’s supporting cast is small, mainly consisting of his wife from a water dimension, Mera, his ward Aqualad, and at one point, his baby, who is killed by Ocean Master. So it’s easy to see how Aquaman can be one of the least popular of the Justice League.
Where’s Aquaman now though? Why he is one of many heroes making waves in the bi-weekly Brightest Day, and is currently caught in the middle of the fight for the new Aqualad. He can also be seen is several TV shows, such as the latest episode of Smallville, and the cartoons The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice, where Aqualad is a main character (and who kicks ass by the way). In all these stories though, he is a supporting character, or at the very most, one of many headliners. But what would it take for Aquaman to be a main player in the DC universe? What would have to happen for him to get there?
There are two options here; one, getting Aquaman to be a big player in the regular DC universe, and two starting from scratch in one of DC’s 52 earths. The first option could prove to be harder as Aquaman has an established set of powers, settings and position within the regular DCU, but there are ways to help Arthur Curry out. Looking back at two revivals of DC characters, Green Lantern and Batman, These books started to build in a community within themselves and unleash that community on to the larger DCU. Yes Batman has always had a community that was bigger at times then the rest of the DCU combined, but over the past few years that community has changed to the point of Batman, Inc., which looks at the adventures of a world traveling Batman. Green Lantern however went from one sole GL, Kyle Raynar, to the rebirth of Hal Jordan and the entire Corp, which lead to a new GL ongoing, which produced another ongoing, Green Lantern, Corps, and Geoff Johns brought in a slew of other coloured corps and brought it all ahead to Blackest Night. It got to a point where Green Lantern titles were selling more than Batman titles. This all came down to building a community, a relatable one, that could function within the regular DCU, and matter.
The same could be done with Aquaman, and given that Geoff Johns is also working on Brightest Day, which Aquaman is a big part of, it looks like a building of Aquaman’s community is already in motion. There is a new Aqualad, who is the son of Black Manta, and has an origin that is tied to the dimension that Arthur’s wife is from. Even a number of denizens of that dimension are looking for the boy, and we also learn that Mera was originally sent there to kill Aquaman, but she fell in love. So there is certainly a foundation being laid for a larger community, and with the addition of Aqualad, there may be something relatable here for readers to attach themselves too. I hope that once Brightest Day is done, there is at the very least a mini-series highlighting Aquaman and the new Aqualad that will further build upon this notion of community, and maybe it will play with this idea of a man (Aqualad) being of two worlds and trying to fit in.
The second option however requires a bit more ground work, but would essentially be easier to implement, as this Aquaman would be set in a new/ alternate DCU. With Earth One being DC’s answer to Marvel’s Ultimate line, and Superman Earth One already out and Batman Earth One coming soon, this new DCU could prove to be a great place to bring in an updated version of Aquaman. I think though that the best place to begin with is choosing an origin for Arthur. As my personal favourite origin for Aquaman is being born of half man half atlantean so the son of a lighthouse keeper and altantean outcast. I would even go as far to entwine some of his 80’s origin, being the son of a atlantean wizard and on his birth Orin (Arthur’s Atlantean name) was outcast because he had blonde hair. This would be a nice touch to use because it will keep Arthur an outcast once he meets other atlanteans. The next step is to determine what Atlantis is, and who the atlanteans are. This is probably one of the most important pieces when developing a new Aquaman because Atlantis needs to be different from the rest of the world. Atlanteans can’t just be people who swim and breathe in water and look like regular people. The 80’s mini series I am reading has castles underwater, and this just doesn’t seem right, as Atlantis really needs to be a place of wonder.
If Aquaman is going to be a book of oppositions, then Atlantis will have to be almost opposed to the US; maybe not 100% different, but I see Atlantis being very similar to the Orient. Further to this, it needs to be decided how Atlanteans live in Atlantis; do they solely live under water or is Atlantis going to be what we see now, a bubbled City under the water were atlanteans can walk on land and breathe in water. This too can make all the difference in the world. If Atlanteans do not have a bubbled city, much like they do in the Marvel Universe, they will need to develop skills and abilities that make sense to that setting. For instance, how does one communicate under water? For Aquaman’s Atlantis, the best thing maybe either a sort of telepathy, or they could be empathetic, ala Diana Troy. A communication system that is used by emotions with everything around, including creatures of the sea would give Aquaman his ability to talk to the fish but without really talking. Because Emotions are so important for communication the atlanteans would need keep their emotions at bay to convey the appropriate meaning of any conversation. Imagine someone of that world with unchecked emotions, it could create some tension, which stories love. Also, atlanteans will need a certain look if they live in just water. They will need gills, probably webbed feet and/or hands to swim better. Will they have a “land” skin tone or will they develop tones like other fish, or will they have some scales. One could go all out on the vast differences that Atlantis could provide, and could be. This would also give Aquaman some things, like web feet for example, that will make him slightly different from other humans, but this begs the question, if humans and atlanteans are so different, how can Arthur be boring to a man and an atlantean?
So there will have to be a combination of the bubbled city and the underwater breathing, and that could be accomplished as to why there are human like creatures who live in the water. The best way this might be accomplished is through the Myth of Atlantis falling into the ocean. This could be accomplished in any number of ways. Something that may be neat through is to see that Atlantis was very technically driven and that technology caused them to sink or be destroyed into the ocean, and only those who were connected spiritually/ magically were saved, which seems very rapturesque. But this could really let Atlantis be a cautionary tale for the rest of the world, while also giving another example of opposition. Even this mysticism could be a way for explaining the abilities that atlanteans have, like their connection to sea life, ability to breathe underwater; it could even give them the ability to manipulate water just as Mera does, or the Aquaman in the Brave and the Bold.
Finally, what would Arthur Curry be like as Aquaman. I think it be best to take the Spider-Man route and start Arthur off as a teenager and take the hero’s journey to becoming King of Atlantis. He’d start as a hero on land and move to being a hero of both sea and land to finally being the King, highlighting the different ends of the oppositions that his half and half heritage gives him. In regard to powers, this Aquaman would benefit from superhuman durability, strength and speed that being a creature of the vast depths of the sea would give him. He wouldn’t have durability or strength on par of Superman, or the speed of the Flash, but he would be bullet proof (he’d have to survive the enormous amounts of pressure the deeper in the ocean he goes) and his strength would allow him to pick up heavier objects and run quite fast, and would obviously give him great speed in water (just as superman can fly faster than he run). This wouldn’t be much different from the powers he has now, but they should highlighted more while he is on land.
As mentioned earlier, Aquaman’s power to talk to fish is one that does receive much ridicule, but it does offer a great premises, one I offered earlier; give him the ability to detect empathy in sea creatures and at some point, the ability to at some point direct his feelings towards them. If Arthur needed help from his underwater friends, he could use an emotion of fear, which could have his anything in his vicinity come to his aid. The last power I would give him is one that the Aquaman of the Brave and the Bold has, and the new Aqualad has, and that is the ability to control water; much like the water benders do in the Nick show Avatar: The Last Airbender. If we create the Atlanteans as a shamanistic type race, they will have control over nature to some degree, and controlling water would be a natural progression of that. Much like the Aqualad of the Young Justice cartoon, and Katara from the Last Airbender, Aquaman could carry water on him to use as a weapon. because Water is too such an important aspect of Aquaman’s powers, much like Superman and the yellow sun, the longer Aquaman is out of water the weaker his powers get, but this needs to be a substantile time, not like an hour, more like days. Aquaman needs to be a creature of both land and sea with a slight push towards the later.
Arthur’s costume would remain largely unchanged. The combo of orange and green is too iconic for him to change, but there could be some changes to his current DCU costume to change. I Love Aquaman’s costume in Young Justice. It’s a combination of a lot of different looks he has had (see photo), but the beard from his one-handed days and the gold gauntlets really emphasises that he is the King of the seas. I also like that he has no gloves and that his feet are mostly bare; it makes sense for a man who swims a lot to have these much-needed swimming “tools” exposed. But I wouldn’t give this look to Arthur quite yet, maybe for when he becomes king. for his initial look, give him the orange tunic with 3/4 sleeves, and green pants, but no gloves or boots. At some point he may learn to keep water on him and may need some kind of pack to keep it in. He just needs a simple costume that one can add to as the character grows into king. And since Arthur will be a superhero he may need a secret identity, at least for a while. He may have to go the Superman route, but this is one thing I still need to think about.
So there is my take(s) on Aquaman, one of my increasingly favourite superheroes. If you’ve read this whole post, thanks, if you just read why I have become a fan of him, thanks too. I doubt many will see the post, and I doubt anyone at DC will and take my ideas seriously, but it’s always fun to re invent characters, and with Aquaman I really see him as a character that could be both parts Harry Potter and Star Wars that a community could be built around. Even if never get to see an idea like mine come to fruition, I hope that DC makes Aquaman a bigger player in the DCU.
After months without my iPhone (long story) I finally received my new iPhone 4. It is so nice to have it back, but trying to remember what apps I had is kind of difficult (I lost my mac the same week I lost my iPhone). While going through the multitude of apps, I decided download the free comic book apps: Marvel, DC, Image and Comixology. I wasn’t going to; I wanted to read my first digital comic on the iPad, but I was bored the other night so I decided to read a free comic off of Comixology’s free app. I didn’t want to read any old comic, i wanted something new, fresh and a first issue, so I picked Chew #1 by John Layman and Rob Guillory.
Before I get into the digital aspect of this comic, I want to talk about the comic itself really quickly. This comic is all kinds of crazy. It has a wild premises; Detective Tony Chu can see the psychic remnants of the food he eats, except beets. The catch is that Tony will eat the flesh of the dead to see how they died. Ya, crazy. It’s a really well written comic with some great art by Guillory. I think I will pick this up in trades cause it was the fun. Now on to the digital aspect of this comic.
My initial reaction was amazement. I love comics, but one of my biggest issues with them have been that I am able to see the coming panels before i read them, and sometimes that can play spoiler. It doesn’t happen often, and i haven’t been really spoiled in a long time, but it still has happened and will probably happen again. When viewing a comic in an app like comixology’s, you view it panel by panel; just swipe your finger to the right and you get to the next panel. It was great to read the comic like this, giving me a feeling of unexpectedness, which would work really great in some genres: thriller, detective, horror. But there was one issue with this; larger panels were broken down segments of word balloons. This gives you another dimension of unexpectedness, as you can’t see what sentence is next, but what it also did was not allow you to see the panel in its entirety, and i didn’t like that, as viewing a full panel obviously is apart of the story telling. At this point I’ve only read one comic and haven’t been through the options so I could very well change aspects of how to view any comic, but this is about my initial reaction to reading a comic on a digital app.
I will definitely read another comic on one of the apps I have; probably the free ones for now. I need to see what comics are for sale and see if anything is something I need to, or have been looking forward to reading. This has gotten me thinking about the future of digital comics, and more than likely the future of comics in general. Right now almost every comic that you can get off these apps are comics that have been out for at least 6 months, hardly any are day and date. Marvel is playing with day and date releases with their Ultimate Thor mini series, and I believe Robert Kirkman and Image are doing something similar with The Walking Dead. Ultimately what some fans want is to have all their comics day and date instead of going into their local comic shop and purchasing hard copies. I can certainly see the attraction; you can sit on your couch, press download, read and when your done just hit the close button. You don’t have to store your physical copy anywhere, and your girlfriend won’t get mad at you for leaving them around. The flip side of this is that the direct market and LCS will lose money because customers just aren’t coming in. But nothing is as simple as it seems.
Companies like Marvel and DC don’t want to lose money on producing day and date if enough people aren’t going to purchase them, and there is faithfulness to the direct market who have been selling their product since spinner racks have become a thing of the past. With the addition of products like the iPad, iPhone, netbooks and droid phones there is an untapped market who may want to jump into comics given the opportunity. It’s still early in the digital game, both in software/viewing and distribution and the big players need to do something to really test the waters. If you want to see what people are willing to buy, make a comic only available digitally. make that day and date, market it like crazy, and see what happens. Technology is moving fast and if these companies don’t move with it someone else is going to offer a product that is far better than theres.
lately it feels like comics have taken a big step towards the grave; as a fan and would be contributor it saddens me to see this. there is hope out there, it better get here soon though.
But before we get into the how, we must look at why does Superman need to be modernized, or even should he be modernized. There has been much talk in the comic book community that the Man of Steel needs an upgrade, not only in costume, but in ideals and stature. Why? Essentially people think that Superman is out of touch with today. Now it’s not that DC hasn’t tried to update Supes; as of late there has been a new graphic novel, Superman Earth One (which I will discuss in a bit) and Christopher Nolan is producing a new Superman film written by David Goyer and to be directed by Zack Snyder. Superman Earth One puts a young Clark Kent on a soul search in Metropolis when aliens attack in a new in continuity story, and David Goyer has found a way to make Superman matter, but we don’t know what that is yet. And in DC proper, Superman is currently walking around the US reconnecting with the American people in a story by J Michael Stazinski (who wrote Superman Earth One and who actually just left Superman and Wonder Woman to work on the sequel to Earth One). This is Superman essentially getting back in touch with the American Way, and important aspect of the Man of Steel. Now JMS‘ grounded arc was to lead into the Superman story that he wanted to tell, now with him gone we may not see that story, though he has left his notes with Superman’s new writer, Chris Robinson.
With Superman trying to get in touch with America, or finding himself, or whatever Nolan and crew are working on, are these the best way to modernize the Blue Boy Scout? JMS has been criticized for both his Earth One and grounded stories for ignoring key elements to the Superman mythos, but his Earth One graphic novel has sold really well outside the direct market. And with Nolan and Goyer’s track record on the new Batman films, it almost seems like this film could rival Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie (1978), but until it comes out in 2012, we will have to wait and see. One of the questions I have to ask though is, does Superman need a drastic overhaul or just a paint job? I guess that depends on DC. The man is an icon, not only in America, but around the word, and maybe that’s where we should start; why is Superman an icon and can you change an icon.
Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938, and he was something the world had never seen before. Sure there were heroes; there pulp heroes of the early 30s, folk heroes such as Robin Hood or even heroes in mythology, like Hercules, but Superman was something new; almost. Superman was created by Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist and Canadian born), and was designed to be a hero with the strength of Hercules and other Greek and Roman gods (see this is where my almost comes into play), but something was different. Superman wore a costume that hadn’t really been seen before. It played off of elements of wrestlers, but with the addition of the shield logo and a cape, as well as an origin from a doomed planet, Superman became a new kind of hero; a superhero. This was just the beginning.
With Action Comics #1 a hit, soon other comic publishers wanted in on the superhero craze, and this is where the iconic part comes in. Soon there were a number of superheroes flooding the market, and several were direct copies of Supes himself. Characters like Fox’s Wonderman, who was an exact replica of Superman, and Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, challenged the Man of Tomorrow for the top superhero spot, but neither of these characters would last long. Wonderman only lasted one issue, due to copyright; DC went after Fox and had them pull their superhero out of the book. Captain Marvel however, while had the same powers as Superman, had a completely different origin. Where Superman got his powers from science, the yellow son infused him with power, Captain Marvel received his from the wizard Shazam, and his powers were based on seven Greek gods. Superman, Wonderman and Captain Marvel all had an alter ego, Superman and Wonderman were news reporters for a paper, but Captain Marvel was just tiny Billy Batson, who just happened to work as a radio news reporter. Batson would become Captain Marvel when he shouted the word Shazam. Captain Marvel is said to have sold more comics in the 1940s than Superman did, and I think this was because he was a child turning into a hero where Superman was always an adult. Fawcett however finally stopped publishing Captain Marvel after a law suit for copyright infringement from DC.
Let’s look at his costume quickly. Superman was designed to stand out, to be different from pulps heroes in the other comics. If we compare him to those pulp heroes they mostly wore trench coats, hoods and domino masks, and aside from The Phantom (created in 1936) they weren’t that colourful. Superman dressed like wrestler of the 30s; underwear on the outside, bright colours (blue and red), skin tight suit and a cape, which was very different for that time period (the Shadow did have a type of cape, but it was more in vein of an overcoat than a cape), and to top it all off, Superman wore a Shield on his chest with the letter S on it. Superman’s logo has in itself become just as iconic, and really represents what Superman is about; a flag. Superman represents the ultimate immigrant making a name for himself in American culture, but Superman also upholds the values of America, hard work, honesty, faithfulness and justice (though this last one I always find kind of tricky). This mentality can be seen the most during World War II, when a number of American themed heroes fought the Axis well before the US entered the war. When the US finally entered the war at the end of 1941, many troops carried with them comic books of their beloved heroes fighting along with them. At a time of war, what’s more American than fighting for freedom against the truest form of evil that has ever been seen with superheroes by your side? I think the only answer is nothing.
So Superman creates more superheroes through reflection; reflection in powers (Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman), reflection in look (how many superheroes do you know that wear red and blue) and reflection in values (Wonder Woman, Captain America). But Superman also creates superheroes through negation, or the shadow. The shadow works in two ways: one, its represents something the archetype is not, and two, it is often the opposite of the archetype itself, and this one mostly occurs in the nemesis. Two prominent shadows of the early superhero days are Batman, a superhero who doesn’t have superpowers, who fights for a different type of justice (street justice vs national justice), who wears a darker blue and no red, and has his face covered were Superman does not (more on this later). The other shadow figure is Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor. Luthor, like Batman, doesn’t have superpowers, but hates Superman because he inspires people to do good, and wants to save the world in his own way. And here something interesting happens. Lex does build a suit that gives him strength, it’s the only way he can match Superman in a physical level; a suit that is powered at one time by Kryptonite. This suit is coloured purple and green and looking at it in today’s modern eyes looks somewhat old, but even the colours that Luthor chooses are the opposite of Superman’s. Where the Man of Steel wears primary colours (red and blue) Lex wears secondary colours (green and purple). Now I want you to think of all the heroes that wear red and blue, or variations of it (mainly the blue though) and look at all the villains that wear green and purple; yup, there are a lot. Look at Spider-Man for this.
Superman is then an icon because he was the first superhero, and every other superhero and villain that has come since them, is a reflection or shadow of him in someway. Also, as further you go down this line, you get reflections of reflections, shadows of shadows, reflection of shadows and shadows of reflection. Some superheroes today might seem like they have no relation to Superman, but go back far enough and they do. Now I will also offer a counter point to this and say that Superman himself is a reflection and a shadow of previous heroes, which include the pulp heroes of the 30s, as well as heroes of folk and mythology. Superman answers to a larger archetype, the hero, and many superheroes answer to other archetypes as well, such as Spider-Man and the trickster hero. Ultimately though Superman, through his creation as a reflection shadow of what has come before him creates an archetype of the superhero by offering up a take on the hero not seen, either before or in some time. Superman is an icon because he was first, but because he was first, does he need to be modern?
I’ll post part 2 of this article next week looking at when Superman has been modern.
The Walking Dead has aired two episodes as of this post. I wrote earlier how the premiere smashed AMC’s first episode record with 5.3 million initial views. With the second episode keeping up the quality of the first, as well as garnering 4.7 million views, the zombie/ character driven show has been picked up for 13 second season episodes. Looks like AMC has another hit on their hands, and has given me a topic for this week’s article.
Adaptations can be a tricky venture. With the success of X-Men (2000) superhero and comic book movies have become a source of stories to adapt to the big screen. While X-Men isn’t the first superhero movie, or the pinnacle of superhero movies, it did show present day studios that cinema was at a point where superheroes could be shown on screen in realistic fashion. Once superheroes became popular so too did other comic book genres, as all types of books were turned into films.
What we seemingly have gotten though are two different types of adaptations; ones that follow a book panel-by-panel and others that don’t, and either of these aren’t necessarily bad or good. Films like Sin City, Scott Pilgrim or Watchmen are essentially the graphic novels in motion, films that do look beautiful, but, at least for me, don’t add anything to what the books had already said. Films that use this panel-by-panel adaptation are generally graphic novels or mini-series’ that are essentially one shot stories. While not everyone who has seen a film like Sin City has read the books, and it can be said that the film merely lets those who wouldn’t read the book in on the story that Frank Millar has told. It can also be argued that the film is a great noir film and can be added to the staple of this genre for future stories to use.
There are films though that don’t adapt a story panel-by-panel that are both good and bad films. Look at The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3. The Dark Knight uses a number of story elements from a plethora of Batman books to weave its tale, where Spider-Man 3 seems to use only a few elements from its source, almost 40 years of Spider-Man comics. This is not to say that an adaptation’s success is based on its faithfulness to its source material, but it’s what it does with that source material that makes it a success, especially with characters that have such a large source to tell a story. While Spider-Man 3 had three villians to The Dark Knights two, the Dark Knight weaves in the history of each villian together within the film that makes sense to the story, where as Spider-Man 3 throws in various villians at various times, and yes these villians do test Peter, they are each incongruent to the overal plot of the film. Plus Peter goes emo, dances and hits a women, very different from most of the sources that come before it.
The Walking Dead is an adaptation that isn’t based on a panel-by-panel adaptation, but takes an ongoing comic, though one that doesn’t have the age of Batman or Spider-Man’s books, and uses it as a guideline to create a story. The first episodes of a six episode season covers the first two issues of a six issue first arc, but it adds pieces that aren’t in those first two issues, mostly character work. The second episode however starts pulling from different issues, as well as inserting new elements and characters that are new to the series; this allows a new type of tension, one that is familiar to live action shows or films, but not necessarily comic books. The scene in question (spoilers ahead) is when new character T-Dog drops the handcuff key accidently down a drain leaving another new character, Merel, handcuffed to a pipe on the rough as the walkers approach. This scene is not in the comic, but without seemingly sacrificing characters established in the comic before they are intended, it allows the audience to witness what life has become in this new survivalist world at a pace that differs from the comic.
Adaptations are tricky, and ultimately I believe they should add to the source they are using, not just creating a copy for consumption by consumers. By adding to the source I mean adding something to the overall story, not just the genre. I wonder though, what would Watchmen have been like if it wasn’t a panel-by-panel adaptation, and was allowed to use the graphic novel as a guideline. Maybe that will be part two of this article.
So it’s been a day since the big reveal in Batman and Robin #16, a reveal that has massive changes in store not only for Batman and his related books, but for the DC Universe as well. I’m going to spoil the end of Batman and Robin #16, so please if you don’t want to know what happened, please don’t read this post. I’d like to add that one website spoiled the end of this issue for me by putting the spoiler in the title of the article; you couldn’t miss it. I was not impressed and sent them a tweet about it, but have failed to receive anything in response. Anyway, you have been warned.
The issue ends with the return of Bruce Wayne to Gotham City, and in a public news conference announces to his city, and what is sure to be the world, that he is responsible for supplying the Batman with, as Jack Nicholson’s Joker states, “all those wonderful toys!” Yes Bruce Wayne tells everyone know that he bank rolls Batman. It’s as close you can get to Batman outing himself. So what’s next for the Bat family? Well that would be Batman Inc; Batman world wide. That’s a Batman like hero in all the major parts of the world, but most of us knew this was going to happen, we just didn’t know that Bruce Wayne would be funding them publicly.
So what does this mean eaxctly? a hundred guys in Batman suits running around? I don’t think it’s quite that; it seems that Batman will fund or inspire similar styled heroes. Those men or women, who have suffered loss through the injustice of society and its criminals, and who take it upon themselves to right these wrongs by honing their bodies and minds to the best of their abilities. See the cover for Batman Inc. #2, where Bruce goes to Asia for some recruiting as a possible example of this. The recruits into Batman Inc will proabbly be exisiting heroes. I don’t believe that writer Grant Morrision will have Batman looking so everyday people to mold, but people who have already made the choice of being a hero. Another example of this is Knight and Squire, who can be considered the Batman and Robin of England.
While I said that there probably won’t be a hundred Batmen running around, but there will be more than one. Dick Grayson, who had taken over Bruce’s mantle while he was lost in time, will remain Batman and be the Batman of Gotham City, and Bruce’s son, Damian, will remain Robin. Part of me wonders if Bruce will have a Robin sidekick and if said sidekick will be former Robin, now current Red Robin, Tim Drake. When did Batman get so confusing?
But again, a lot of this we already knew. What I’m curious for is what going public with his involvement in the Batman is going to do to Bruce. New E-i-C Bob Harras Stated in an interview at CBR that Bruce’s decision will move him away from being thought of as Batman, and having Dick as Batman will solidify that. I really hope Morrison tackles this idea. Will everyone think that Bruce isn’t Batman after this? I can’t see how they would; at least one person will have to question, and what will happen if that person does it publicly? I will probably have to pick up Batman Inc. just to find out, which I wasn’t going to do. There are other interesting notions here too. Can Bruce be charged with aiding a vigilante, and in the case, multiple vigilantes? What happens to his personal life now? Will Batman’s Rouges go after Bruce to get to Batman? How much has Wayne Enterprises gone up now that he is tied to the public?
As much as I dislike this idea of Bruce being paritally public with his Batman persona, there will be some interesting stories and possible new mythologies that will come out because of this. What’s also interesting about this is that the Big Two of the DC Universe, Superman and Batman, have had role reversals. Batman is watching crime globally while Superman is walking around America. The next few Batman stories are going to be different, and I wonder how long they will last, and what else Grant Morrison has up his sleve for the Dark Knight.
I’m going to be talking a lot about comic books, and while I have said I am going to focus my blogging to this topic, this topic is still a pretty broad one. A good portion of the comics I read are of the superhero persuasion. I am though working on building a pull list/library of non-superhero titles, but I find this to be a slow process as my Local Comic Book Shop (LCS) primarily stock superhero comics, and of the non-superhero titles that do come, only a few are available. What I am trying to say is that most of the discussion I will have on this site will be about superheroes, and these will be heroes from Marvel and DC. But please note, I am reading comic books from companies that are not the big 2 and that are not about superheroes, and I will talk about any comic book related material, and if you have a recommendation, please give it here.
I guess then I should tell my blog readers (those of you who are going to read now, and for those who will back track my posts at a later date, that is if I keep this blog up and running) what books I am reading.
I’m mostly reading ongoings: Uncanny X-Men, Secret Avengers, SHIELD, Thor, Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Invincible Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Flash, Green Lantern, Batman and Robin, The Walking Dead (in trade paperback), Skull Kickers and American Vampire. As you can see, that’s a lot of Marvel; it’s what I started on, so it only makes sense I keep reading them. There are also a number of mini and maxi series that find their way in and out of my pull list: Avengers Prime, Astonishing X-Men: Exogenesis, Astonishing Wolverine and Spider-Man, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Nemesis, Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade and Brightest Day.
So I guess I read about 20 books right now, though I am looking to drop some of these soon. I’m struggling to get through Uncanny X-Men, Batman and Robin and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. The last one is a shock to me; this is a critically acclaimed series with amazing art. Chris Samnee is a great artist and story teller, but I can’t seem to get on board with Robert Lethridge’s writing. This book is old school superheroes, and for some reason, it doesn’t do it for me. Dropping Batman and Robin would mean for the first time in a long time I wouldn’t be reading a Batman book, and that’s somewhat disappointing.
But there are a few books I am looking to pick up, and one is a Batman title; Detective Comics with Dick Grayson as Batman. As I mentioned in my pull list for this week, Superboy starts up this week. I’m getting this solely because of Jeff Lemire, who’s Graphic Novel Essex County is fantastic. The only other book I am considering picking up right now is Amazing Spider-Man. It has been a long time since I picked up a regular Spidey book, and with all I’ve heard Dan Slott say, and all the Humberto Ramos preview art I have seen, this is easily the book I am anticipating the most.
So there’s what I am reading; like I said a lot of superheroes. Though please, if there is anything you would like to recommend, please, I’m all ears, and eyes I guess since we are talking comics. And as for posts go, this one is pretty boring, I know, but I think it is important none the less. Helps you get to know me. Next week I will have an actual discussing something comic related, I promise