By CircularLogic 1 Comments
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.