Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Legacies, Perspectives & Definitions

So I finally get around to reading this Websnark. And yes, I am back-logged. I found myself agreeing with a good part of it and not just the words of the original poster, but also some of the commenters.

I have grown accustomed to the Anime reboot per season / series of certain franchises. At the same time, however, I so fully endorse the legacy idea within this comment made by Lucastd in that post and agree with the remarks about confusion:

... Really, the best solution would be to do what John Allison has so seamlessly done over at ScaryGoRound.com. See, while exploring the stories of his older set of heroes, he is also raising a new, younger generation of heroes who, if the story were to keep going for infinity and drawn by other artists/writers the way that comic book hero stories do, the younger generation of heroes could replace the older generation of heroes and then the strip could carry on resting on the shoulders of the younger generation.

Batman, for example, could eventually hand the reigns over to Robin and new villians would emerge and it would be the adventures of Robin and his new sidekick. Except that Robin would be cool and not a total lame-o because he'd been developed enough over the years as a character for him to warrant carrying the load that Batman had.

And of course, rivalries between old Batman villains and the baggage that Batman carried around could be passed on to the new Robin hero and, as the reigns were turned over (slowly, over several years), dark secrets about Batman could be revealed that Robin would have to struggle to deal with.

Instead, we get these weird Retcons that try to make us forget that, having been invented in the 1930s, Superman in reality would now be over 70 years old. So, really, either Superman doesn't age or the story has got to reboot somewhere.

You'd think this would be an easy process -- especially when dealing with stories like the X-Men where there are several generations of stories to deal with and develop. Instead, writers seem to stick to their cashable characters and never develop another generation. So, instead of exploring some of the more minor younger characters, we get to see Wolverine kicking butt because, darn it, his claws are so amazingly awesome looking and we can sell more t-shirts that way.

Which I understand, because his claws are pretty awesome-looking...

See the thing is, The DC Animated Universe is directly responsible for my ability to let go when it comes to my favourite characters and let legacy.

Terry McGinnis IS Batman to me, as much as Bruce Wayne.

I loved the Jokerz as a legacy memory of the original Joker. I loved the possibility that perhaps someday, someone would join the gang and fit within it so well he could become that eras new Joker. (Return of the Joker not withstanding).

I loved the new villains.

I loved the fact that this Batman was dealing with some long cast shadows of complexities from the first Batman; Venom, but now as an abused drug for jocks; the Royal Flush Gang as legacy villains, Croc and The Man Bat in the form of spliced or cybernetically enhanced villains.

I loved that these enemies were all building blocks because this Batman was just starting out and he had a whole history ahead of him.

In truth, I was a little disappointed when I learnt of JLU: Epilogue and what that meant for Terry and Bruce and to a lesser extent possibly Matt. There was enough of a psychological bond between the two Batmans, without having to go further. And yes, the two Batmans - that's how I pluralize it. To me, Batmen implies something completely different.

Also Batman Beyond as part of DCAU gave me an older Superman. That was the first time I'd ever seen that, and it stayed that way until the last three years when I heard/learnt about Kingdom Come. And still I remain curious about a Superman who was so isolated no one realized something was majorly wrong with him. I remain curious about a Superman dealing with essentially being immortal on a planet where human lives are so brief. I remain curious about the relationship I didn't get to see enough of, between an old and wrinkled Bruce and a grey haired Kal-El. There are stories there that appeal to me and I think would appeal to others; all ages stories and also more mature / complex tales.

What am I missing that there can't be 'Classic Tales' with the originator of a particular Superhero Name, 'New Tales' with a successor, and 'Continued Stories' with the person now older, who'd once been behind the mask?

Before you explain, however, you need to understand something. I had also, before returning to comics as an adult, never given much thought to what Golden Age, Silver Age, Modern Age (is there a bronze age?) meant as industry terms. I always just thought that every twenty years or so, the industry declared a new age, and everything/everyone had the same origins, but were now drawn for, and included references to, things that were current.

My very simple comprehension of the terms, probably explains why retcons and things like DC's first Crisis made no sense to me, nor did their possible complications. I didn't already understand why it had happened beyond thinking that someone, somewhere, wanted to tell a really fucked up, all encompassing, makes no sense to me, story. And then I realized they'd used it to get rid of versions of characters I really enjoyed (Helena Wayne) and went WTF comic industry???

The Ages to me, were (and mentally still often are) filters. Golden Age meant - the filter on these tales told from the 30's -> 40's/50's. Silver Age meant yet another filter focusing on the 50's -60's / early 70's.

I read story titles as : This is how Superman met Batman told through the filter of < insert filter here >. If it was a filter I knew I liked, or I thought had possibilities, I read it / looked for more.

This probably explains why I was so confused that Golden Age never seemed to get any new stories. Or why I was so excited when I picked up The New Frontier TPB, cause yay! New Golden Age Story!

I really like being able to choose a filter for certain characters, situations and plots.

I also really like watching characters grow with me.

I do not see a conflict in that. Which probably explains why I don't understand WTF is up with BND, and why Marvel Editorial thought it needed to happen. To me it doesn't seem to be that big a deal to just have a new filter.

Or given that Marvel had Ultimates, to create a new reboot.

Yes, reboots too have a Willow definition. Or rather my mind has a definition for reboots that apparently is not in line with the industry. Ultimates is a reboot to me. It's a whole new universe retold from the beginning where everyone knows we're taking a different spin on things.

A filter = Same characters different time period / relevancy.

A reboot = Same character name/archetype, different progression, different stories. It's an AU.

The OMD/BND fan anger I read as people telling Marvel that in Ultimates there was already a reboot where Peter was young and single, there was no need to lose the current filter of Peter as 30something, married and a teacher. And it seemed even more like they were saying Marvel should just go ahead and do a non-teenage reboot and have yet another new line, where Peter was perhaps 20something, with completely new tales, where MJ would never be a factor and thus Joe Q could be as happy as a perv with an unlimited supply of porn.

Alright, those are my thoughts. Y'all can come school me now.

Oh! One more thing. Seeing things in terms of filters is probably also why I'm so hard on comics for being less racist in these modern times. Yes, I said less racist instead of 'more diverse'. The modern filter to me, should be one which can see and allow minorities to have more power / be more present because it's a filter with the history of the civil rights movement and the eyes of a new generation built right in.


  1. Arg. I'd heard about Marvel's idiotic idea, but this certainly adds to my understanding of it...

    Don't have time to read the entire linked article now, but I've saved it for tomorrow because it seems very interesting and has implications for so many fandoms and for anyone who calls themself a storyteller. Whether you plan to retcon or not, the article has a lot to say about a reader's investment.

    As for your entry, you make good points about the value of letting characters age. And yes, I certainly assumed that the Ultimate comics were "What if these characters/their powers arose now, in our decade?"

  2. Though its not JUST Ultimates. There are TWO other Marvel lines/universes with Classic Teen/Early 20s Spider-Man. Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane is set in high school with less a-holism that Ultimates titles have. And Marvel Adventures Spidey seems to be in his early 20s at most...

    Which Quesada ignores (along with Ult. Spidey) when he tries to point out how Spider-marriage fans still have the M2 universe's Spider-Girl...

    Eric always makes good points and I'm glad his doing Websnark again. Hopefully he'll also find time to do his fiction blog Banter Latte again...

  3. Oh and speaking of JLU & Batman Beyond. Of the various cross-overs, my favorite was probably the Static Shock one. With adult Static and TerryBatman being in the Justice League together. That was just awesome. And just one more reason why DC totally dropped the ball not using the cartoon to move Static (and any other bits of Milestone they wanted) into regular DC canon. Or at least made Milestone one of the 52...

  4. Lurker: Have you seen the BatBey episode where Virgil from the past sees himself all badass in the future (helps save himself).


    And not incorporating Milestone-verse even as a verse of the 52, is just another way DC sucks in a unique and special way but just like Marvel.

    I need to poke around Image now. Get caught up on Invincible.

  5. i liked that erry turned out to be batman's son. although he could have gone on with out it. the fact that he is, gives him more legitimacy and mixes his origin with a twinge of destiny.

  6. Stephen:

    I'm not knocking people who liked Epilogue. I'm just maintaining that I didn't need it. There was absolutely nothing wrong, to me, in the story of someone else taking up the Bat Mantle - because the seasons I got showed me Terry earning it and living it.

    Adding elements of destiny into things takes away some of that effort and earning in my eyes.

    That's my opinion.

    Am I ranting and raving about Terry being Bruce's spawn? No. Do I think it the worst thing ever? No. Do I think it sucky? No, not really. I just think it wasn't needed.

    Otoh, as far as being a wrap up for the universe (DCAU) and how many things it ties together from Galatea and cloning technology, the creation of the suit, what happened to the JL and the tone of the future's goverment(s) - it's a pretty good episode/a pretty good thing.

    Also any episode/comic/thing that says the world needs a Batman, wins 70% approval points from me from the START.