Monday, June 15, 2009

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old?

Old Girls Scout song that I think is appropriate: "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold."

I got to talking with some follow comics people on the internet this weekend about the DCU's inability to move past the Silver Age. I think they're taking strides forward with the new Batman (as in, there is a new Batman, and he's one that could conceivably stay as Batman for a long time, though I don't think they'll do it that way). But there are all these great characters that get introduced only to sit in perpetual sidekick and/or teenageland. Why? Of the Titans team over there, specifically the ones with Silver Age connections, one died (he's back), one went into an alternate universe, got to take on the adult role of his series and then died (he's back, but as the Kid again), one is still the Girl, and one just finally did something interesting by moving on as the Red Robin. Oh and the others, too. What the Hell are they doing?

One of the negatives of Bart Allen as the Flash in Fastest Man Alive was that we missed all of his growing up. I like the growing up stories. They're interesting. I grew up, too! Maybe not to become a superhero (YET), but it's a way I can connect with the characters I love. I think they call it... character development... yeah. That's the one! And now with Barry back, pushing Wally back to second-tier Flash, what's that leave for Bart? Oh yeah, Kid Flash. Again. I'm waiting to judge until Rebirth is over, but I can't imagine they'll let Barry just disappear again.

And here's the thing: he should. And as cool as Hal's return was (especially after the BS that character went through), and as okay as it is to have multiple GLs, based on the Corps' structure... maybe Hal should've stayed gone, too. And maybe it's time for Ollie to retire and let Roy or Connor step up. And Superman can stay on New Krypton, to be repalced by any number of worthy heirs to the S-Shield. Kon-El, Mon-El, even Kara once she finds her way (though word is she's staying on Kew Krypton for awhile). I wouldn't even mind seeing Chris Kent come back to Earth as Superman. (I need to catch up on the Flamebird/Nightwing stuff, so apologize if I have no idea what I'm talking about.) It's not like we don't have plenty of Superman family that are both willing, able, and Good enough to fill Superman's cape. (Blasphemy!)

Speaking of Chris Kent, I read the Superman: Last Son TP this weekend and was... both overwhelmed and underwhelmed. I feel like the cut a lot of stuff out for the Trade that I'd have like to have seen, (like Chris meeting Robin) but what was there was good. I didn't realize it was co-written by Richard Donner until I noticed the intro was written by Marc McClure. "Hey," said I, "wasn't he the movie Jimmy?" Duh. It was a far better sequel to Superman II than Superman Returns was, and did the Son of Superman story in a much better, less I-want-to-punch-Singer-in-the-face way.

Where was I? Oh right, moving on.

The Marvel Universe doesn't seem to have this sort of trouble. They bring in new characters, make new teams, and every decade or so things can be fresher (no comment on the fact that Steve Rogers might come back). The first time I really became engaged in any of the X-Titles was with the launch of GenerationX. New heroes! A link the past! People that will one day grow into X-Men (or, you know... die). Then to hang onto the Silver Age (does Marvel have one?), they've got the Ultimates. Sure, I hear they sucked, but I think DC could do something good along those lines.

It's why I liked the All-Star runs. Outside of mainstream continuity, but legtimiate stories of the main superheroes of the DCU.

Here's my thing. I want all these great characters that get introduced as teenagers to evolve. Either retire from the business (like Arrowette did), become your own hero (Garth becoming Tempest) or take on the mantle of your mentor, like Bart did for 13 issues. But let us take the journey with them, don't thrust them into the role with no explanation. We won't like it (cough FMA). And why do you keep dragging out the Silver age? I love it, too, but come on, guys. We've got heroes with names that no one would ever even name their kids anymore. Their secret identities are outdated. Bruce, Clark, Oliver, Hal, Lois, Dinah. How many of those do you meet that aren't your grandparents age? (Maybe a few Bruces, but still.)

Do a majority of comic fans really want to read about Barry Allen again? Every month? While Wally gets shoved into the JLA title, and Bart into the Titans Is it really so bad to move on? I know we're very against comic book characters aging, but there are some great stories to tell there, too. Look at the JSA. Look at how awesome Kingdom Come was. I don't want to be fifty years old and still waiting for Bart to get his chance as a the hero.

Of course, the downside of this is that people we love will die. I understand that comics are meant, in part, to be an escape. But they're also meant to be an allegory (and Marvel does this better than DC, usually). Let us deal with a beloved character's death in a way that is permanent and real. Bruce Wayne is going to live on forever in the movies that are going to be made about him (we are not fucking done professionally), so let the world of the comics move on. We've got a new Batman and a new Robin (and a new Batgirl!) and Tim Drake's growing up, finally, and I think all of this is very good.

Sure, I see a Lazarus Pit in our future, but a girl can dream.


  1. And they can always have out of continuity lines to tell more stories about the Silver Age! Good post, I agree with everything.

  2. Marvel is not immune. I am currently worried for Bucky. But I am 100% for movement.

  3. Yeah, I'm worried about Bucky, too. Today's Marvel release post-Cap 600 didn't really help me feel any better.