We’re light on links this week, but there are some intriguing things to think about in today’s post, as well as a bit of a rant, a bit of a ramble, and a bit of a review. Onwards!
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What comic series or topic is the internet ignoring? What needs to be reviewed? What needs to be discussed?
ITEM! David Brothers on DC vs. Diversity:
The problem is the trend. Jason Rusch gives way to Ronnie Raymond. Kyle Rayner and John Stewart give way to Hal Jordan. Wally West and his multiracial family is replaced by Barry Allen and Iris West, a good ol’ down home American couple. Ryan Choi is replaced with his equally unlikely to support an ongoing series predecessor. Milestone is publicly courted and wakes up to find money on the dresser, with a note saying “Lose my number.” Despite the fact that white people are a global minority today, the official future of the DC Universe is about as lily white as it can get and most of the aliens are white people. In what world does that make sense?
RANDOM THOUGHT! Speaking of diversity– you know, I don’t mind the introduction of a new, uh… African-Atlantean-American (?) Aqualad, but how many times has Aquaman’s supporting cast been expanded like this before? We’ve already got three extraneous Aqua-sidekicks floating around at the moment, like Koryak (Arthur’s half-Inuit son), Aquagirl (Arthur’s hispanic Sub Diego sidekick), and Arthur Joseph Curry (Arthur’s white, Sword of Atlantis protege). Is adding another one really such a great idea?
SLIGHTLY LESS RANDOM THOUGHT! And that leads me into another point– these “lesser” characters, the B-List and beyond, their “worlds” never really congeal for an extended period of time. With Superman, we all know Metropolis, Daily Planet, Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, etc. The same things appear in each incarnation. Same goes for Batman, Spider-Man, all the big names. But then, even Wonder Woman can barely hold a status quo in her various incarnations– heck, the TV show had two separate ones! Aquaman and Martian Manhunter suffer the same fate, in that every time DC gives them a go, they get a complete overhaul of environment, supporting cast, and general direction. Green Lantern and the Flash, despite changing who’s under the costume ever 10 to 20 years, don’t suffer the same fate; the usual tropes stay in place with them.
Naturally, this kind of thing occurs with the less popular characters due to each new take attempting to finally bottle that lightning, find a take that works, that becomes popular for decades to come. But as more and more approaches are taken, the detritus of previous incarnations piles up, due to the Big Two’s over-reliance on continuity for continuity’s sake. Look at Aquaman: since 1994 alone, he’s lost his hand, replaced it with a hook, grown a beard, had his origin retconned, ruled as king, lost the throne, got a metal hand, got a water hand, shaved the beard, had a handful of different sidekicks, goals, settings, and supporting cast members, turned into a squid man, died, was replaced by a younger, hipper version, been zombified, and then resurrected, rebooted to the “classical” Aquaman. And that’s just in 16 or so years! Hell, most of that was in the last, what, seven years? He’s gone through twice the change Superman or Batman have, and they default to their factory settings much, much quicker than characters whose series continually get canceled out from under them. Aquaman, meanwhile, has accrued a lot of driftwood, and just adding more and more to the pile– when, surely, his next series won’t fare much better, no matter how much I’d like to write it and sell a million copies. The same thing, one may posit, has happened to the Legion of Super-Heroes– it could’ve been DC’s X-Men, but instead, it flounders in a vicious cycle. Each further rehaul seems to lessen the chances of popularity and success, by completely destroying any sense of conceptual stability.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
ITEM! Brothers follows up that earlier post with this one:
There should be a reason for everything. If you decide to make a white character, you should know why you made him white and how that affects his characterization. If you make a black heroine, you should know why she’s black. Arbitrary decisions, or decisions made according to numbers, serve no one. People who think about their choices and create accordingly, those are the people who make a difference. Those are the people who make stories that matter.
ITEM! Dave Ferraro at Comics and More picks out 30 Overlooked Comics. I love hidden gems. Who doesn’t?
ITEM! With his output, Colin Smith could publish his own comics literary journal, entirely written by him, every month. This week, we’ve got “Nexus, Zot!, The Rocketeer, American Flagg & Mr Monster Too! : The Third Way Of The Superhero In The Somewhat Radical 1980s.” And it’s good, naturally.
ITEM! Axe Cop is having a guest comics week/span-of-time. Check it out.
OBLIGATORY CHRIS SIMS DEPT: This week at ComicsAlliance, Sims reviews/analyzes the new Batman porn, and waxes philosophical on the comic booky implications of the iPad. I still won’t ever buy an iPad, dammit:
For me, though, there are benefits that far, far outweigh the drawbacks. For one, there’s the simple matter of space. Comics take up a lot of room, and as someone whose job requires him to be able to grab issues for research, I’m kind of stuck with them and lately, it’s been getting a little claustrophobic around here. The iPad, though, is roughly the size of a Marble Composition Book, and, if I’m figuring up the average filesize right, can hold about 2,500 comics — the equivalent of a little over eight long boxes — and still have room for Netflix.
My feelings on the Bat-porn? I think it’s a fun, silly idea that looks put together with a true love of 60s Batman and a wonderful authenticity you don’t see in porn these days. I’m not as happy, however, that they’re using it as a gateway for 800 other comic-based pornos. You can capture lightning in a vagina once. How many times can they expect to do it again?
DOCTOR WHO DEPT: “The Pandorica Opens” Written by Steven Moffat
With my ‘reviews’ for Doctor Who, I usually try to avoid spoilers. After all, I talk about them before they’ve aired in America, and getting too spoilery about anything is just mean. If I mention anything about this episode at all, though, it’ll be a giant spoiler. So I’m going to try to talk about it without talking about it, if that makes sense.
So, cliffhangers. “Classic” Doctor Who had a new cliffhanger every episode; being a heavily serialized show, with three to five cliffhangers a story, Old Who presented itself as an old-timey movie serial, leaving the primary cast in trouble at the tail end of each week. With the new series, the show has brought these back for the two-parters, and with each passing season, the writers and producers try to top the previous year. We’ve had the return of old enemies, worlds in danger, all of reality threatened, and all sorts of stuff. This episode? What a wallop! There’s at least a three-way cliffhanger on this one, and I have no idea how the next episode is going to resolve ’em. I love this feeling– Moffat’s brought a heavy amount of unpredictability to this episode. I’m still trying to process everything– I really have no idea what I thought about it, because so much happens. Moffat has carefully been setting his dominoes up over the course of the season, and in this episode, he adds some more– and then flicks the one on the end. I love the way Moffat plays with audience expectations– he sets things up so that you think you’re supposed to think things are going to play out a certain way, so you thereby expect something different, instead; but then, he subverts both lines of thinking, picking a third option. His plot mechanics are incredibly deft.
I had heavily– and also warily– anticipated this rejuvenated season, and now it’s almost over, which is sad. Matt Smith has been a helluva discovery, and I think I’m in love with Karen Gillan. Roll on next week.