crazy colored glasses

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Steps Back

I'm not generally a continuity stickler in comics. As long as the stories (and art) are good, I'll keep coming back and reading. That's why DC's announcement of the DCNU have left me excited. Retconning the whole line and starting at issues #1 is a move I'm excited about and eagerly anticipating (save for a few things like Superman and Lois' marriage, but that's a story for another day).

I do have one complaint though, and it's aimed at both Marvel and DC. Before my complaint, let's rewind a little.

Over the past few years, Marvel and DC have featured deaths to marquee characters. At Marvel, Captain America, and at DC, Batman. As we now know, both characters were trapped in time and had to work their way back to the present. While assumed dead, former sidekicks Bucky Barnes and Dick Grayson stepped up to assume the mantles of Captain and Batman.

In fact, they more then filled in. They far exceeded the expectations I had. Bucky and Dick were a new breed of heroes. Heroes for my generation. Heroes who had huge boots to fill, and gigantic legacies to live up to. Heroes, who like us, struggle and make mistakes. They seemed more fallable than their predecessors. For me, that meant they were more accessible and far easier to relate to.

Two of the best books by both Marvel and DC over the past two years have been Captain America, Batman & Robin and Detective Comics (written by the brilliant Scott Snyder). All-star creative teams on the books didn't hurt (Brubaker/Epting, Morrison/Quietly and the aforementioned Snyder/Francavilla & Jock), but I think part of the success of each of the titles was because of how these modern heroes really resonated with fans. So, fast forward to today, and how do the big two repay these great characters (and us fans who stuck with them)? In Dick Grayson's case they relegate him back to Nightwing in the DCNU. For Bucky, he suffers an even worse fate. In Fear Itself #3 he was killed, so that Steve Rogers could reassume the role of Captin America (just in time for the release of the Captain America movie).

The slights to these heroes is a huge slap in the face to the characters and us fans alike. I liked Bucky and Dick in their leading roles more than I liked Steve and Bruce. But now it feels like both have been sent back down to the minors. These guys don't need more seasoning, they are stars who are being wrongly demoted (and killed) so that DC and Marvel can sell more of the same old stories. I for one will not support the new historical Cap and Bucky comic. I feel like I've read them already. I'll buy Nightwing, but only because of Scott Snyder, I will be skipping a bunch of new Bat titles though. I've read Bruce as Batman, and I like Dick better. I know I'm in the minority, but I was ready for the change.

In comics, the industry is always trying to get younger and encourage new readers to pick up books. By going back to tired originals, the big two lose traction they gained with younger, more relatable heroes. In essence, instead of going forward, they've taken two steps back.



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