I've been thinking about this for awhile, since way back when Amazing Spider-Man 698 broke out and everyone could see what was happening to the character from a mile away. Only now, though, do I finally have a solid idea on how I feel about it and what I'm going to say.
I should preface this by stating that I was one of many who could not stomach ASM issue to issue after the travesty that was One More Day. I know, I know, how edgy of me. I don't feel I have to focus on this point, but it's good to understand how I see the book and Peter Parker in general. And basically I feel like Marvel has A LOT to fix about the character before I could possibly get invested in him again.
I also don't feel I need to talk much about the nuts and bolts of the story itself. We all know the twist that Otto and Peter switched bodies isn't all that clever. Remember Secret Invasion? An entire EVENT based on the premise of Super Villains stealing the identities of Marvel's heroes. Clearly Dan Slott did what most of us chose to do and forgot about the whole thing, which is fine and dandy, though I suppose something about how Doc Ock stole his greatest foe's mind the same way he'd steal credit card information rubs me the wrong way. But for what it's worth, Slott is by no means a bad writer, regardless of how you feel about the story being told.
And do I really need to explain how this premise has a very low shelf life? Does anyone really need to hear about how no higher up would ever allow Peter to be dead when there's an entire new film franchise is in production? They couldn't even resist CREATING ANOTHER BLACK NICK FURY to match up with the cinematic universe, even though we already had one, and the new guy is probably the most boring thing to happen to comics in a while? (But that's a rant for another time). Bottom line is, it will last about as long as DC's sales bump from the new 52 (too soon?)
That's all negligible. It doesn't matter all too much. From my perspective, as someone who just can't really care about Spider-man anymore, someone who gets all his web-slinging from the under appreciated Scarlet Spider, I need to judge this on it's own merits. And my Judgement, based on what I know so far?
Who the F@&% wants to read about Doctor Octopus as Spider-man?
Imagine that Peter Parker as we know him never existed, but Otto Octavius is the same person, still in existence, and you care about him the same way you always did.
Do you really want to see him in a Spider-suit?
Nothing about this premise appeals to me. As much as Slott wants to act like he can make a lasting conflict out of Otto trying to be good, do we really care about him that much? Are we that invested in the character that we want to see him carry on his own book? Really?
That is what I think is the core problem with this title. A book doesn't just survive on the story it is telling. You need a character you can latch onto, someone to MAKE YOU CARE about the stakes and the conflict, and actually hope that they succeed.
I don't get any of that from those 3 issues of the last arc of ASM.
All I got from it was the fact that Doctor Octopus is probably going to rape Mary Jane. And make no mistake, people. If you have sex with someone under false pretenses, especially one as important to a relationship as IDENTITY, that is rape.
But let's ignore all this for a second. Let's look at the title of the new Spider-man flagship.
What makes him Superior. Is it Otto's ego, and the title is a slight wink to his arrogance? Maybe. and if that is the case, I won't mind it.
His increased intelligence? Maybe, but Peter is no slouch and has outsmarted Doc Ock more times than I care to remember.
How has Dan Slott and his partners at Marvel explained the title?
"He's more EXTREME" " More violent" "unpredictable" "DARKER".
Some other words come to mind with these.
Any fan familiar with the dark ages of comic books, the 90's, should be very familiar with what Slott is doing here. What makes this book superior isn't a more interesting character than Peter. It isn't a step up in the quality of the writing (since it's the same author and all).
It's the fact that our hero is now an anti-hero, fresh with all the angst and violence only an ill conceived attempt to revive a fan base that long since disappeared could produce.
That really is what rubs me the wrong way. Of all the changes Slott could have picked, he chooses this. I utterly despise these kinds of things, where a character could only be improved by adding grit and violence to him.
In fact, I remember such a thing happened in a well known story. One that may have been adapted into the 2nd biggest movie of this year.
Yes, knightfall. A tale of the man who broke the Bat. And who replaced the Bat when he was unable to continue?
John Paul Valley. Azrael. A man far more brutal than his predecessor. A man willing to maim, cripple, and even kill, out of the belief that his actions are more effective. SUPERIOR, you could say.
The difference here is that Monsieur Valley was removed from his position, and returned to obscurity. Why? Because he was meant to illustrate a point: that bloody, violent means don't make a better Batman. And if that didn't make a better dark knight, that certainly doesn't make a better Spider-man.
That's all I really have to say on this. I should add, I clearly have not read Superior Spider-Man, so all I'm saying is just conjecture, and may in fact be entirely wrong as the title continues. I also don't believe that Dan Slott's Superior spider-man will be "bad", per se. Just... Inferior.
But hey, I'm just some guy on the internet, right? Like my opinion should really matter.
It seems like every other week, Warner Bros. decides to tease us with some new updates or rumors about their totally-not-copying-marvel Justice League movie, and every time you things just get worse and worse. First they hint at Ben Affleck directing, then it turns out he was never interested in the first place, then we find out that Warner seems much more interested in a Lobo movie right now rather than even talking about the possibility of a Flash film, and after that we learn that the brothers behind the Matrix are now in talks to direct (Which, let's face it, would SUCK).
Of course, we, the fans, know that we can't hold our breaths about this. It took Marvel 4 years to get an avengers film off the ground, and they had the good luck to have 2 strong franchises already in theaters to pull it off. Warner, however, only had the Nolan films, and there's no way to fit those into a JLA flick.
In fact, I actually found it to be quite curious why no one was confirming or denying that the Man of Steel movie would lead into the Justice League, until I realized that they wanted to keep their mouths shut until test audiences gave it a positive review before hand, especially considering what happened with Green Lantern.
So, it's pretty obvious that Warner is just trying to keep DC characters fresh in our minds until the big high created by the avengers petered out, so really it's all a moot point. But still, I think about things. Alot. and I've been at it so long that I might have come up with a few good suggestions on how to approach the JLA franchise.
Kill off Hal Jordan.
Now, it's pretty easy to see that the Green Lantern is not going to be a name that pulls people into theaters. Ryan Reynolds was not well liked as Hal Jordan, and there are doubts as to whether he will return to the role or not.
But you know what? Bring him back. Have him in the very first scene of the movie. Have him fly high, proud and true, ready for action as the Green Lantern of sector 2814.
Then kill him off. In fact, just destroy the entire Green Lantern corps. And then, in his place, put in Kyle Rayner.
This is a perfect idea. Kyle's whole existence in the DCU was based on the fact that people found Hal Jordan to be boring as $hit, just like people who watched GL in theaters felt. Not only that, this gives us a character who is just as clueless as we are when it comes to the Justice league. That way, we get thrust into the story the same way he is, and it helps us catch up with, and warm up to, the world this movie takes place in.
Not only that, you can have Darkseid be the one who destroys the corps, giving us a villain. Hell, you could even have Hal turn evil, like in the comics, if you want to be fancy. It's just a simple solution to a crappy movie.
2. Have at least 2 tie-ins
Now, many people have claimed that you could simply make a Justice League movie with no tie-ins at all, and spin the heroes out into their own features afterwards. But when I hear these opinions, I just keep thinking that they forget one key thing.
Overall, giving Thor and Captain America their own movies wasn't just about leading into the Avengers so that we wouldn't be so confused about what was happening. It was about WORLD BUILDING. It created a mystery and a mythos to these heroes, and allowed us many more storytelling possibilities as a result. And unfortunately, DC has a bad habit of creating convoluted worlds for it's characters, which is why it keeps getting rebooted.
What I would do is make at least 2 tie-ins, not including the upcoming Man of Steel. Of the 7 core cast members of the team, I say that both the Flash and Wonder Woman should get the silver screen treatment.
Especially Wonder Woman. Let's face it, there are NO good superhero movies with female leads. Like, at all. But somehow, despite being the third most well known comic book character of all time, she's the only one to have not received her own big picture epic. This needs to change.
The Flash is an obvious second, being well-liked and well known, to an extent. Martian Manhunter would be a close third, and I think it might actually be awesome to see him in his own movie, especially because it's J'onn freaking J'onzz.
Of course, Aquaman is too much of a joke in the mind of the public at large to be given his own movie. But hey, hopefully someone could pull a Mark Ruffalo and MAKE HIM an endearing character.
3. Animated movies
Hey, the current crop of DC animated adaptations kick ass. Why not make a few to fill in some gaps. I'm not saying make complete, necessary sequels and prequels, but maybe something focused on some minor characters that could pop up down the line. just a thought.
Let's face it, love or hate the reboot, there's plenty of things that you preferred pre-Flashpoint that you wish were left alone. There's always one little detail you didn't like swapped. A story arc or an event that just couldn't rationally have worked in the new time line that unfortunately had to go. A character now dead, or one just written out of the continuity. No matter what, we all have some bitter feelings attached to a property we enjoyed just fine before. And for me, I really miss the teen books of the past to those we have now.
I've been probably one of the more vocal critics of this past year's Young Justice line, and when I took a step back not too long ago, I realized that I really couldn't care less about a single title that falls under this banner. Blue Beetle is grossly inferior in every way to it's cult-favorite predecessor. Teen Titans and Superboy are written by writers, once gods in their own time under Marvel, who couldn't just let the 90's die. Static Shock just wasn't given the talent or attention needed to keep it alive (to the point where it's writer publicly disowned it out of shame). I have yet to meet anybody who actually reads the Legion books, but critics sure haven't been giving them glowing reviews since neither of the titles actually cared about accessibility.
Why is that? Why couldn't a single book pique my interest in these titles, when characters like Static, Jaime and Tim won my heart years ago?
Well this is all personal opinion, both in the quality of these books and the faults surrounding them, but I feel it all has something to do with the nature of the reboot.
Probably the biggest flaw of the post-Flashpoint Universe is the now quite narrow time-line. You can feel this effect in even the best written on-goings out right now. Batman writers seem unsure if he's been around for 6 years, as stated in the Batman annual, or for 11, which would allow for him enough time to have a ten year old son. Green Lantern somehow went through John's entire run, including the destruction of Coast City and his time as Parrallax, in maybe 3 years tops. The list goes on.
This restricted time-line becomes even more problematic for the teens and the side-kicks of the DCU. If costumed heroes have really only been public for 5 years, then how can they really be sidekicks? Shouldn't the main cast have a few years experience before fitting themselves with bright faced, optimistic Expendable Lads? Hell, Wonder Woman was revealed to be only 23 years old recently, how could she have taken n a 16 year old side-kick when she herself would have had to have been 19 years old when she took her in?
The solution to this was basically to erase the entire history of every single teen hero and side-kick, with the exception of the Robins and Roy Harper. Now, I will refrain from arguing how ret-conning decades worth of stories is a slap to the face of one's fans, but no-one wants to listen to that old song. Instead, my main problem with it is just that the new origins made to fill that now vacant space... Just aren't that good compared to the original. At all. It lacks the same magic, the same iconic joy that the original silver age tales brought us, and, in fact, even more modern characters who've been changed didn't come out on top after their change.
I've already made a post concerning this, to some extent, about the Blue Beetle. The old volume was just great. I recently purchased the last few trades of it I was missing, and even though it fizzed during the end it was a damn good ride, start to finish. Not only that, but it was a story so recent it required no rebooting at all in the first place, just a bit of an explanation to tell us why Jaime went missing for a year if infinite crisis never happened, and maybe a panel telling us who Ted Kord is. There. Done. Instead, we have the story told to us again, with all the same beats but none of the charm. All changes made to the story do nothing to make the characters any more relateable than they were, and in fact a few even ruin several characters for me. La Dama is no longer the complex supporting character she once was, instead she is just a regular villain. Her niece is hopelessly naive, and Paco is just an unlikable Mexican stereotype, complete with lowrider and gang ties. (Edit: Yes I know he had those before, but at least then it was just with the Posse).
Teen Titans suffers from the same problems, but in a different way. For the most part, the characters are pretty unchanged. Tim Drake is the same, Superboy is still a half Kryptonian clone designed to do evil things but instead picks good, Bunker, Skitter and Solstice are original creations. Kid Flash and Wonder Girl get a... weird treatment, but still, nothing has really been revealed about them, other than Wonder Girl is a total bitch with invisible armor (what?) and Bart is some kind of villain, but still it's a forgivable change thus far.
In this case, most of the changes we're harmless, but what truly damages this book, as well as it's sister-title Superboy, is just how bad the writing is. Everything is so 90's, which makes sense considering how the two are written by Scott Lobdell, who cut his teeth on the X-men with Jim Lee, and Tom DeFalco, the man who ran Marvel comics during the darkest times of the Modern Age. The fact that 5 of the Young Justice books are basically engineered by 2 men doesn't help things either, making things a bit homogenized. The culling didn't help things, since not only was it a generic event run by perhaps one of the lamest villains I've ever seen (Harvest plans a lot, I GET IT), but also I have a suspicion that it was all just a reason to give support to DeFalco's other, unpopular book, Legion Lost, as well as push out the Ravagers ASAP. At the very least, the pacing of the story was terrible due to how fast it had to be pumped out.
This, as well as the complete failure that was Static Shock, really, to me, demonstrates my issues with "Teen Book" as a general thing. The biggest problem in all media, one that seems to be almost universal if you ignore Disney and Pixar, is just how bad people are at coming up with objectively "good" movies, TV shows and, of course, comic books, aimed at younger readers, A quick trip to Thatguywiththeglasses.com will show you videos by people that have made whole careers just tearing apart shitty products meant to be consumed by people under 21, and it quickly becomes obvious why these things tend to suck. It's because people seem to associate age with intellect. Because of this, movies meant to be watched by 40 year old men tend to have a certain quality to them than something meant for a teenager girl would not have, since these two groups of people are assumed to be, intellectually, radically different from each other. Ultimately, no energy is spent on making a satisfying story because writers and publishers assume that below a certain age, you are easily entertained by things that have minimal effort put into it, so quality suffers.
If you assume my theory to be true, it explains why I find an entire line of books to be so goddamn terrible compared to just about any other of the New 52's categories. It also explains how Teen books used to be so well received by fans and critics alike in the past. When the New Teen Titans came out, ALL comic books were for the most part geared towards a general age group: pubescents to mid twenties. As such, Marv Wolfman could put the same effort into writing a Titans adventure as he could with a JLA issue, and that created a golden age (well, a Bronze age) of books that people held dear to this day. But no one, not even Scott Lobdell, Tom Defalco or Dan Didio, believes that 30 years from now, The Culling will go down as a classic event in DC's history. No one will be clamoring for more Harvest down the road, Static may well be forgotten by the extreme shafting he got this time around. People will always prefer the Starfire of the past to the current woman we see today, Kon-El will forever be the Lex Luthor clone saved by his "Father's" elderly mother, Bart will always be the Impulse....ive young hero he always was before any of this happened. Change was made to things were change probably could never have succeeded, and this risk backfired in a way that completely put me off anything branded as a "Teen Hero" book coming from DC for a looooong time.
Huh, another blog about DC. It;s surprising to me because I've always found myself to be more of a Marvel fan, but I guess it's hard to keep that attitude when you get horrible events every year and an entire line-up of titles that are either X-books or Avengers members (with the exception of Scarlet Spider, The Punisher and Loki in Journey into Mystery).
And I suppose that's the main difference between the companies now. Marvel is so focused on keeping it's sales in light of DC's boom and using the success it's admittedly fantastic movies brought them that everything seems much more homogeneous as a result. DC, on the other hand, actually has a good chunk of their books devoted to characters that some would consider C-list, as well as a pretty big variety of the genres present in the books they put out. for example, DC publishes Horror, Sword and Sorcery, and Westerns, something Marvel will never do.
And so, with that in mind, I got to thinking about certain character's, none of them big names, who haven't quite made much of an impact in the new 52 yet. Some of them are just plain obscure, others haven't even made an appearance yet, and some have only had cameos.
Thinking on that, I decided to compile a list of a few character's currently in DC's stable that could be put in either their own titles, a team book, or as supporting casts for certain characters. In any case, I truly wish to see these characters appear in some way shape or form, and hope they get their due some time in the new future.
And before anybody asks, I will not include Wally West, Stephanie Brown, or Donna Troy in this list. I love them too, but I think enough's been said already about how much we want them back that we border on being redundant/annoying. Let's just look past this and see other characters that could be used.
This is a character that, too my knowledge, only appeared rather recently in James Robinson's fantastic The Shade limited series, and she really struck a chord with me. To give you a basic set-up, she is the adopted, semi-vampire daughter of The Shade, who is the beloved protector of Spain. Yeah, I know, "another vampire? BAWWWWWWW" but I feel she has the potential to be far more than just another Blade knock-off. If we only just accept that her powers are vampiric in nature and instead just look at her day-to-day adventures as she protects Barcelona, I feel there's enough potential there to carry a series.
Of course, it is difficult for characters who haven't already been firmly established to get their own title, so then what I would propose is to include her in Justice League Dark at some point, or have her guest in I, Vampire. Now, James Robinson is one of the few writers who has complete control over his original characters, regardless of DC's wishes, so if he chooses to exorcise this right, she probably wouldn't get a chance to appear, but if she shows in up any of Robinson's future stories, I'd be quite happy with that.
Also, read the Shade if you haven't already. I missed out when the first few issues were released, but I caught up recently with scans, and can't wait for the trade to come out so I can get my own copy.
No, not THAT Doctor Light. Screw that guy. Kimiyo Hoshi is an altogether different person. Now, admittedly I am only passingly familiar with the characters's appearances, but I do like the idea of her powers, as well as her role as a scientist (which is seen a lot) and as a mother (which is rarely seen in comics today).
Obviously, she probably couldn't support a book of her own, but as a supporting cast member, or as part of an ensemble, I think she could really... (sunglasses) Shine. Plus, she was a member of both the Outsiders and the Doom Patrol, both of which are books I'd love to see come back (though preferably the outsiders shouldn't be run by Batman, he's stretched pretty thin as is. He's have better things to do than lead yet another team).
Yeah, yeah, he's part of JLA, but really, what has he done? Sure, he's the tech guy, handles transport, and we did see his origin in the first arc, but besides that, what has he actually DONE?! Be mad at his dad? for 5 years? even after seeing a hint of resolution at the end of issue 6?
It's just completely wasted potential, especially considering the controversy that surrounded the decision to include him as a founder instead of the Martian Manhunter, for "diversity" reasons. Now, I actually defended this choice at the beginning, since he has proven himself to be a capable hero in his own right over the years, but it's hard to do so when he doesn't really do ANYTHING. He doesn't seem to have much of a relationship with his fellow members, he has no supporting cast, and the only time I, personally, saw him outside of JLA was in that one issue of JLDark, and that was just a two sentence cameo.
He needs to get his due, either in his own solo series, or just a bigger role in JLA. Otherwise, why bother including him at all?
Ok, I really love Raven. I was introduced to her through the Teen Titans cartoon, and found her comic book counterpart to be equally enjoyable, for different reasons. And I've whined before about my disdain for the entire Young Justice line of books DC puts out, so I won't waste my breath on it, but let's just say I have no urge to see her in Teen Titans or the Ravagers any time soon. Instead, I vote she earns a place in JLD, or, in a perfect world, she gets her own solo series, which could work if she had very dark, classic Dr. Strange-esque adventures, traveling between worlds and exploring a very metaphysical corner of the DCU. Unfortunately, no matter how much money I throw at my laptop, no comics are coming out, so I can only hope.
Now, this isn't my own idea, but I heard online someone suggesting that since Ray Palmer is not an active superhero at this point in time, that they could reintroduce him in his own title, written by none other than Grant Morrison. Now, I'm trying to jam a handful of twenties into my USB slot, but all I'm getting is mild electrocution. This planet sucks.
6. The Secret Six (hey, that's, like, ironic or something)
You know what, I'm not gonna even bother explaining, you all know why already.
Now, odds are she's gonna make an appearance soon, either in Batwoman or one of the other Gotham-centric books, so no rush here. I loved the character, and feel that she was perfect for the role. Of course, I prefer Vic Sage, like most, but in 52 I do believe he received one of the most noble deaths that anybody could have asked for, and they picked the best possible replacement to take up his mantle, and bringing him back would just cheapen it. As such, I'm fine with Renee keeping the identity, and hope she shows up soon.
Well, those are my list of characters/ I'd appreciate seeing more of sometime soon. If you can think of anyone that hasn't quite gotten the respect they deserve, tell them to me, I'd love to hear it.
So, DC is getting ready for their second wave of cancellations, and so far, out of 4 potential titles, JLI is getting the ax (which is a shame, I quite liked it...).
In any case, 3 other titles are gonna get taken down, and of course some titles deserve it more than others. So, here's my choices of the current DC titles that I feel have long since passed their expiration date and should be allowed to die gracefully. Feel free to suggest your own.
Quick rules, though. If it's clearly a high seller, I'm not going to include it. I may not like Batman: the Dark Knight, for example, but I know it's not going away any time soon. Also, I'm going to restrain myself and not include books that are only now starting to suck thanks to new creative teams, because then all three of the new Liefeld titles would fill my list.
Here we go
1. Legion Lost
In the interest of fairness, I'm only going to include one legion title, since it would be too easy to include both and be pretty much done with my list, and this one by far should be put up on the chopping block for just how inaccessible it is. From a first issue I had to actively force myself to finish because of how little I understood, to the past 3 issues being tied in to the already god awful Culling event (which, by the way, was obviously done to try and save the title by making fans of the Teen Titans book pick them up to get the full story, which is really shady business, guys), this series just isn't good, and, like a lame horse, should be put down before it hurts itself even more.
I'm going to bend my own rules here, since I'm not sure how it's doing, sales wise, but still, this is a really mediocre title. Tom DeFalco can't scrub the 90's out of his script's, so we got for the past few issues a really great example on how NOT to do visual storytelling, as well as a lame story, built upon an equally lame story, which resulted in absolutely nothing of any real importance, except we got another team of young superheroes made mostly of past members of the original team of young superheroes to waste...I mean, invest our money into. If I can go off topic for a second, all of DC's Young Justice line have been pretty crappy, in my opinion, and since Scott Lobdell basically writes 90% of them, they all read the same, not one of them sets themselves apart from the others in terms of originality or tone. Now, the reason I'm bending my rule is because for the most part, Superboy's story ended with issue 9 of Teen Titans. His old cast all completely gone on to do their own thing, he's pretty much already a member of the Titans, and he doesn't have any story that really needs to be told since he's free of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. It's the perfect moment to just let it end, you could even pretend like it was his plan all along to save face.
3. Red Lantern Corps
Now, in fairness, rumor has it that the book has gotten better recently. That said, I never really saw the point of this book, and while I have read scans of the first 4 or 5 issues, all I got from it was that Atrocitus really spent a lot of time talking to that corpse, and that the scene where Bleez got her mind back was made useless by having that same scene done again in Green Lantern: New Guardians, except they both contradicted each other. No one really seemed to like this book, or understood what it was about, so I doubt many would be sad to see it go. Many have said this before, the Red Lanterns served a much better role as the antithesis of the Green Lanterns, and I would have much preferred a book about the Sinestro Corps (with their survivors going on without their leader as anti-heroes maybe?), or the Indigo tribe, or even the Blue Lanterns, than I would one about these guys.
So, in case you were stuck in a cave with no wi-fi access these past few weeks (and after getting a connection you decided to skip everything else and come read my blog), you probably heard that author James Robinson has recently announced with DC comics their decision to take Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, and make him gay in this Earth-2 series, to the surprise of many. And, since then, the internet has been going through a huge discussion on the implications of this decision, with many readers being for and against this event.
The people against this change typically fall into four large categories (with some sub-groups). First you have the complete scum of the Earth who are offended by the very idea that some men may prefer the cock over a nice pair of tits. There's no hope for these people, and they should be shunned at any and all times, and if you don't like that idea please stop reading and leave without commenting, I do not want to hear it.
Next up, you have the people who can can't help but whine about how comics are undergoing a form of Affirmative Action, and are doing so much in the name of diversity that the books are suffering from it.
Then you get the more or less straight ally group, who have no problem with his sexuality, but instead debate whether or not it's right to change him from a straight, married man with two children into a homosexual, as they feel that it isn't right to make a character into something that contradicts his original creation, which is a fair, if complex, issue.
Finally, there's the group who dislike the change for similar reasons to the above, but are mostly against the fact that they feel Earth-2 was always meant to be the world where all the Golden Age heroes got a chance to have their adventures continued. Of course, this isn't exactly true, but we'll get to that later.
Now, I for one am feeling a bit neutral to positive about this change, mostly because of the creativity behind it. James Robinson is a fantastic and well received writer, his work on Cry for Justice not withstanding, and is well known for revamping several gold and silver age characters, such as Starman, and making them much more popular and relevant then they were before. Not only that, but as he's pointed out, he was also one of the first comic writers to actually show a gay couple sharing a kiss in one of his books, which right there adds a little optimism to how much respect he'll give to the character as he's writing him.
Of course, the only thing that's really keeping me from fully getting behind this change is the two-page preview that was released so far. Now, I really liked issue 1 of Earth-2. I thought that in a single issue they told a story much more complete, satisfying, and emotionally wrenching than the first 8 issues of JLA, which in itself is a huge accomplishment. The new origin for Jay Garrick, and how it ties in with Wonder Woman lore, really picked my interest, and the designs I've seen of Alan in costume look incredible at the moment.
None of that is the problem. My first issue with it is the fact that those two pages I've read... were ok at best? For someone that keeps claiming that the fact he's gay is only going to be an aspect of that character and not something that defines him, Robinson certainly didn't hesitate to use an over-sized panel very clearly displaying Scott as a gay man as he lovingly kissed his boyfriend, which to me goes against the idea of just having it be a normal, everyday thing. I would have been more accepting of this if it was a normal panel, a brief glimpse of them showing affection without any fanfare, to clearly show that yes, we've reached a point where two men can publicly declare their love without making it a big thing.
But admittedly I'm getting INCREDIBLY nit-picky.
My other issue was also with the writing, which seemed overly flirty in a way that really felt kind of forced, which again is distracting when the author is claiming something to be not a big deal, and then making this such an up-front part of those pages that it's hard to just put in the back of your mind and keep reading, you are basically forced to pause for a bit and go "yeah, I get it, they're gay" and keep going with that mind set until they are finally off panel.
Of course, I am jumping the gun a little here, since I haven't read the whole book, but it has put me in a bit of a cautiously optimistic state of mind, rather than full on acceptance and maybe even excitement. Time will tell if it holds up.
One thing I do really enjoy about this change is the fact that Alan Scott is by all accounts the leader of the JSA, something that is pretty much unheard of in any medium. Since when is the gay man the fearless leader in any mainstream piece of fiction? Sure, he's probably not the first, but this is pretty high profile, and it is pretty damn impressive in and of itself.
And honestly, the world needs this. When you look at gay characters in comics throughout history, most of them haven't gotten the best treatment. There were several good articles floating around the internet about the exact same thing, so I won't delve too deep into this, but in general if you were to make a Women in Refrigerators sort of blog about all the LGBTQ characters who have been killed, were villains, or were negative stereotypes, you would be able to see quite clearly how much more likely it is for a homosexual to suffer some terrible fate than a straight person would.
Of course, these past ten years have seen HUGE steps forward in terms of inclusion and equality. Renee Montoya's coming out was both shocking, tragic, and well received, as has the creation of Kate Kane, the current Batwoman. Apollo and the Midnighter, while a bit silly due to how much they flirt with each other, is still fairly entertaining in it's simplicity (it's Superman falling in love with Batman, if you haven't realized the whole joke), and even minor characters like the cop and doctor in Scarlet Spider get believable and non-offensive relationships.
This isn't to say that things are perfect though, which is why I feel this change is necessary. Let's for a second look at DC's only other openly gay character that emerged after the reboot, Bunker from the Teen Titans.
I keep hearing people praise him as a great character, and that he's somehow a positive example of a gay teenager. And this isn't just random commentators, IGN ran an article last week about LGBT characters in comics that gave him a positive write up, which is strange considering I've heard on the IGN Assemble podcast how much the writers and editors for the site DESPISE the DCnU Teen Titans.
But Bunker really isn't that good a character. So far, we've seen him as a quip machine with a saucy Latino accent, and that's really it. He comforts all the girls when they feel bad, they all open up to him and use him as a rock while he deals out sage advise, and Skitter even seems attracted to him for a time even though he's gay. He wears freaking purple, for god's sake.
Do you see where I'm going with this, Don't you?
Come one, do I have to spell it out for you?
He's the Gay Best Friend.
And I can say so much about this subject, but as usual, Patton Oswalt says it best:
If you couldn't be bothered listening to this, I'm gonna just paraphrase two lines that really sell the whole issue I have with the trope:
"It's 2011, I might as well put on Blackface and tap dance"
"In movies, all gay characters are these magical, intelligent quip machines which, if your gay, has got to feel really dehumanizing after awhile"
And that, friends, is the heart of the issue. He's a stereotype. He's a CLICHE. He is not a real character, he's a caricature of what Scott Lobdell might feel a real gay character would be like. And that's not cool at all.
There's another term for this phenomena. It's called the Pet Homosexual. And if you can't tell what that means and why it's bad just from the name than, well, carry on then.
Now, some people might argue that he's not a "negative" stereotype per se, but look at it this way. If you say all Black men have big dicks, or that all Asians are smarter than other races, it's not a "negative" thing to say about someone, but we'd sure as hell still call you racist for saying these things.
And that's why I feel it's important to include a powerful leader figure into the DCU in some way or another, because let's face it, we really need these types of characters as opposed to... others.
Which segue-ways quite nicely into one of the bigger arguments against turning him gay, the notion that this is somehow affirmative action.
Now, this isn't the first time DC were accused of this over the course of the reboot. When JLA was announced, people got upset over the inclusion of Cyborg in the team which, I gotta say, is in some ways justified. There was no real reason why Victor Stone had to be but on the team over Martian Manhunter other than being black, which DC pretty much admitted, though in the end I let it slide since, despite everything, Cyborg has proven himself in the past to be a worthy hero in his own right, and his role as tech expert for the team fills a position that Manhunter could not, as he was basically just psychic Superman.
But despite this, I keep seeing whenever a gay character is introduced to a team or a black guy shows up in a book there's always a group of people who just shriek that companies are being "too diverse". In fact, I've even heard some people claim that some companies were being "too tolerant", though I have a deep suspicion that those particular people are just crazy racists.
To this I have only one reply: Gays make up just around 7 % of the population. Asians make up over half the world. Hispanics outnumber Caucasians in certain states. How many of these individuals do you see in comics? I'd say if you were to combine all those groups I named, you would barely equal 5% of the amount of white superheroes, even if you were to remove all the aliens. Stop complaining because the little guys get one more representative.
Now, as for the idea of making established characters gay, the whole issue gets a little murkier, and it gets harder to explain my own thoughts, so bear with me for a while.
The first thing that I thought of when I read the news was the whole controversy that came up when Peter David decided to make the character Shatterstar bi-sexual and put him in a relationship with Richter in X-Factor (which you should be reading, by the way). Rob Liefeld, Shatterstar's creator, immediately spoke out against this decision in a not so open-minded way. Now, I'm not calling Liefeld a homophobe. I've never met the guy, and he did have a bit of a point when he claimed that he always intended Shatterstar to be completely asexual, and that making him "queer" was not something he intended for this character, but that's the thing with company owned characters. Liefeld gave his creations to Marvel, allowing them to do what ever they wanted to, no matter what. Grant Morrisson's Animal Man run deals with this exact idea, where a character can be changed completely as they got passed from writer to writer, and as a result complete shifts in continuity could be made just because some man with a typewriter decides so. Since Liefeld relinquished control of the character, he lost the right to really be upset if someone did something to him that he doesn't agree with. At the same time, Shatterstar's sexuality was something that, when introduced, felt much more like the evolution of the character, and was something that fit in nicely with what was previously established. I am reminded of a comment I read on some comment section somewhere about this topic, where someone noted that Liefeld's reaction was like that of a parent whose child just came out to them: he never intended for his "son" to be gay, no one does, but it happened, so you've got to move on.
Plus, who the hell cares if a Liefeld character got changed? It's not like he's known for creating original characters with DEPTH (Cable and Deadpool don't count and you know it).
In this way, Alan Scott is similar to Shatterstar in many ways, but of course there is a key difference. Namely, the fact that Alan Scott was already clearly defined as straight for almost 70 years, unlike Shatterstar, who was only vaguely defined for less than 15 years. And this is something where there is no right answer. Going back to the Morrison run I mentioned before, the idea that huge changes can be made to a character based on a writers whim is one that I happen to agree with, especially after a reboot, but that raises many questions. If I say that sure, someone can go against decades on continuity and make Alan Scott gay, can I still get mad at how Scott Lobdell changed Starfire into a vapid, mindless bit of eye candy (at least at the start, though she hasn't quite been redeemed just yet)? It boils down to what the change implies, and how you, the reader, personally feels. I still claim that the change to Starfire is one of the biggest offenses in recent comic book memory, since it changed her from a lighthearted alien princess who preached about love in all it's forms into a large chested nympho who slept with Roy without recalling his name, forgot about her friends, and slaughtered a man who dared show her mercy, but somehow I'm completely ok with making the old, wise, straight Green Lantern into a younger gay man in a new world. You have to decide yourselves which is a good thing, and which isn't.
As for the idea that Earth-2 should be the place where the JSA get to continue their adventures (which applies to earth 2 as a concept and not just The homosexuality debate)... I never understood this argument. Earth-2 was "invented" in the 1960's as a way to explain how the original golden age incarnations of certain heroes could have existed while their newer counterparts also co-inhabit this supposedly shared universe. That's all it was. By the time we had any idea Earth-2 existed besides a single Flash comic, Wolfman was already destroying it, combining the world with Earth-1 to make things easier to understand. For a time, the JSA didn't even exist, then it existed side by side with the Justice league, before again being separated back into a multiverse, and so on and so forth. I don't know where this idea that it's a sacred ground came up, where it's the safe haven for golden age characters to continue their adventures, but this idea can't be more than 10 years old, and i think people need to just let it go.
So those are my thoughts. In the end, until I read the issue, I can't confirm if the new change will be a good decision or not, but at the same time there's no reason to take up arms whenever a company gets ballsy enough to shift the status quo, popular opinion be damned. Most of the people complaining are straight males, don't pretend for a second like your lives aren't blessed just by virtue of being born with the most advantageous gender and sexual orientation, and let writers tell what could very well be a great story. At least give it a chance.
I, like many people, fell in love with the original volume of Jaime Reyes as the Blue Beetle. To me, it felt very similar to Robert Kirkman's Invincible, in that it was such a fun, almost optimistic series that just seemed in love with the very idea of being a superhero book, but all the while it was very much aware of the fact that it needed to have both conflict and drama to drive the story, and it definitely managed to pull it off. The setting and character dynamics were all fun and creative, and I really enjoyed following Jaime as he slowly came into his own as a hero. For me, the main theme behind the series was learning what it means to be a hero, even if you don't necessarily know what that means, and in some runs, such as the later arc where he has to confront the realities of illegal immigration, really sold that. It was a fantastic book, and it makes perfect sense to me why it became so beloved among comic fans.
That said, I really dislike the post-reboot volume, and I wish they just left the character as he was, because none of the changes really improve the story.
Now, there's plenty of little details to complain about when reading this volume. The spanglish gets annoying really fast, and I noticed that even when they're being translated, Tony Bedard still includes unnecessary spanish words and phrases as if to keep nudging us going "see? They're TOTALLY hispanic, honest", which really dehumanizes the characters, since it makes them all sound the same. I know Bedard is in fact hispanic himself, but that just makes it worse since he's going out of his way to make sure we understand their from mexico, instead of just letting natural interactions between characters reveal it as time goes on. I also hate the inclusion of the Flash Thompson-esque douchebag, and the rehashing of the "will they, won't they" between him and Brenda, especially since the last volume made it perfectly clear they won't. And that leads to the other most common complaint, the fact that everything we're reading is just kind of tedious to those familiar with the character, since it makes only the smallest of changes (how he got the scarab, the lack of Final Crisis in the story) to the origin as a whole. Jaime had already had his battle with the reach, so everything we're seeing is just being unnecessarily redone, especially since the Reach haven't changed much at all from the last volume.
But the real problems I have with this story are the dramatic shift in tone from the last one, and the flat out unnecessary changes to his supporting cast, which are just terrible, in my opinion.
First of all, I don't really have any kind of feel for Jaime in the new 52. Like, at all. In the first arc of the original solo series, the issues were split between him appearing one year later after the crisis, with flashbacks establishing who he was and who his friends were, as well as his family dynamic. We saw how his parents were strict, but also compassionate. We saw him have interact with his friends, and all the while get his origin told, which helps us care for him as a person. The new volume just shoves us in, and while we get some information, it doesn't make us care about him. In the 5 issues I've read, I can't properly describe Jaime other than the Mexican kid with armor whose confused about his new powers. Really sounds exciting, doesn't he. When you look at something like Swamp Thing, as a counter-example, we had a good 7 issues setting up who Alec Holland is and the situations surrounding him, and only after that did he become the Swamp thing. Blue Beetle should have taken the necessary time to do this, or have it told in a better way than they did
But that's all stuff that can be built up later, even though it was desperately needed when he was introduced. What I really dislike more than anything are the changes done to his supporting cast. Paco, his boastful, strong best friend with gang ties just doesn't feel the same. In the original, the "gang" he joined was just a bunch of guys trying to protect their home territory. In this one, they're full on bangers, complete with guns and low riders. Instead of seeing almost noble, despite being a goof, he just becomes a dumb kid with dumb, dangerous friends, who toes the line between being uninteresting and unlikable.
Brenda and her aunt also loose the dynamic that made them interesting. La Dama might have been a "bad guy", but she was still an ally of the Blue Beetle, an unlikely partnership driven by the fact that Brenda didn't know her aunt was a mob boss, and she wanted it kept that way since despite her faults, she did love her niece and wanted a good life for her. In this one, it seems like no pretense has even been made that La Dama hides her identity from Brenda, especially since Jaime's parents are completely aware of the fact that she's a mob boss, and armed guards are perfectly visible at her place. La Dama just seems like a standard Kingpin-esque villain now, and making her the one responsible for Jaime's powers just makes her unlikable, and to me destroys most of her chances of being at least somewhat sympathetic to us.
As for the tone, even more of what made the Blue Beetle great was lost. It's just much darker, and shares the same mood that Teen Titans and Superboy, the other Teen books, have, and neither of those books are that good. It feels very generic now, missing the same joy the original had going for it. Jaime feels like a kiddy Venom, having to wrestle over control with the scarab, unlike in the other where it felt a bit like a buddy cop comedy, where Jaime just told the scarab he wasn't going to kill anybody, and we all just shook are heads with a chuckle going "oooohhh that wacky alien". The series focused on the two understanding each other and becoming partners, whereas in this one it seems like it's just going to be a battle of wills, seeing whose stronger, the scarab or Jaime, and that is just so played out it's not even funny.
And I know some might feel I'm being unfair comparing the two books after a reboot, especially since I've used that argument to defend certain titles. And it is true that the new Blue beetle title could very well stand on it's own. But the reason that Blue Beetle was given his own series was because the original was so well received, and DC wanted to try and get that same success while using the sales push the new 52 provided to give the book the readership it felt it deserved. That's why the origin story and setting is still fairly close, in a VERY broad sense of the word, to the original. It's not like Batman, where people complaining about shifts between writers is sometimes petty because of how many writers have gone through it over the years. This book exists because of the old one, so you can't look at the new without comparing them together, and because of this, it fails utterly.
Of course, this is all my take. Is their anyone that actually prefers the new to the old, or disagrees with some of the specifics I've pointed out? Feel free to give me your thoughts on this, I'll be glad to hear them.