The Comic Rack: DC & Marvel – What is going on? Part One
I’ve been an avid comic reader for over thirty years. I’ve seen the highs and lows but this year something rather unique is happening and it’s not a good thing.
When the two major comic companies (DC Comics & Marvel Comics) started with these all-encompassing, across the landscape event series it was looked at as taking out the broom and sweeping away all the bad ideas and laying the foundation for the new. All the while establishing the heavy hitters and the ones to keep your eyes on. Some were hits, some were misses but all had their purpose and all led to the greater good. So, I ask this in all seriousness….
First up will be DC Comics. Their big event, “Final Crisis” seems to have all the right elements working: great writer and artist and the proper buzz. So why am I not properly entertained? Heck, I’m downright bored. “The day evil won.” Really. And I would want to read that why? And let’s bring back Barry Allen! Again, why? One of the great things DC had done was to keep Barry dead and put him on the pedestal of DC Martyr Extrodinaire. Barry Allen’s death was the single biggest reason “Crisis On Infinite Earths” will forever be one of the greatest comic events in modern history. The heroes and the readers lost someone. It wasn’t everyone comes back alive. And it was a major player. DC, you’ve had a ton of window opportunities to bring back Barry, but you bring him back for “The Day Evil Won”? You have Wally West and Jay Garrick. How many Flashes do you need? You want to bring somebody back? Bring back Bart Allen. Bring back Superboy. Leave Barry Allen alone and stop chumping the guy and either not realizing it or not copping to it.
And while Grant Morrison is one of the best writers in the business today, between this and “Batman R.I.P.” (which I’ll get to in a minute), I think Grant has bitten off more than he can chew. He’s going places your average comic-fan just isn’t willing to go. And to drag them kicking and screaming won’t help your cause. Do you really want to see Superman get his butt handed to him? Do you really want to see Batman get played? Wonder Woman getting tricked and being used by the villains? And what is this bullshit about all the New Gods (all evil so far, btw) have to be people of color? Are we back to “let us remember to fear the darkies”? While that might not be the intention, it could definitely be perceived that way.
The problem seems to be that you have too many good ideas and not enough paper. It seems like you want to tell a story of what does a hero do when they lose? They forge on. I don’t know if they explained this to you, Grant but we get it. Heck, anyone reading comics over a decade gets it. How many times has Superman questioned himself about his purpose? How many times has Batman questioned why he hasn’t “crossed the line”? A good friend of mine who is no longer an avid comic reader but still has put in the years had an interesting take on Mr. Morrison as of late. I told him I started to lose faith in Grant with his last run on X-Men with that white room crap and that Xorn was his last greatest creation. He let a beat skip and said, “You know what Grant’s problem is? He wants to be Neil Gaiman and write novels.” My reply was then write a freakin’ novel and leave my superheroes alone!!! Grant my man, look no further for enlightenment than to your fellow writer, Geoff Johns.
You see, he gets it. He writes for fans because he is one. He writes for the people who love this genre because he’s still on the other side of the fence. Once you remember what it felt like to hold that book, read it and go “wow”, I have a feeling you’ll be back to your old self. Meanwhile, I don’t know if anyone over at DC has told you, but I would bet my entire comic book collection that Warner Bros. is watching you very closely. You see, Mr. Morrison, you’re messin’ with the franchise and big businesses usually frown on that.
Batman. R.I.P. No, I don’t think you’ll kill Bruce but you’ll do what most have done and take him out the game for awhile and give the cowl and cape to another. How many times have you guys done this and realized, it doesn’t work? And for what? You’ll bring in Denny O’Neal and you’ll bring in the great one, Neil Gaiman, and you’ll sell a ton of books and then what? Muddle thru until somebody finally shakes off that brain cramp and yells out, “Hey! We can bring Bruce back and have him take back the cowl!” How frighteningly… mediocre. Been there, done that. Hey guys! Ever hear of “Knightfall”? How about that dismal failure, Azrael? Ol’ John-Paul was a fun one, wasn’t he? Leave well enough alone. And again Grant, what’s with Jezabel Jet? What did some black person do to you?
Oh, I’ve been reading and while it’s interesting as I read it, it simply doesn’t “pop”. JSA pops, dude. Read it. You finish reading that book and then you want to know what happens next. With Batman right now, I could care less. At least you made the Joker interesting again. For that, I commend you. As for the villain, I’m figuring it’s Bruce himself. Lets turn Bruce Wayne into a villain!!! Oh joy.
Not all at DC is bad. I mentioned the exceptional Justice Society of America. Green Lantern is also awesome. Booster Gold is kicking ass. JLA is holding it down. Teen Titans is hit or miss and Titans is just miss. Green Arrow and Black Canary are doing okay and Birds of Prey is still a good read. Even Superman is doing pretty decent. Plus at SDCC you announced bringing back Milestone and that alone has you near and dear to my heart and gives you one helluva pass. But let us not gloss over the fact that right now, your blockbuster is lacking. Severely lacking.
Get it together, DC. I want my heroes back. And please, look no further than your biggest competition on what NOT to do to your franchise player. Do I have to say “One More Day/Brand New Day”? Damn it!!! You made me say it anyway…
Next up – Marvel – you’re not off the hook – not by a longshot….