Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The revision decision.

Greg Hatcher has an article up on Comic Book Resources in regard to the reboot/revamp trend in comics and what it all means:

'After all that, I still don’t have an answer for Mr. Bosnar. Not really. Why do people keep tweaking a perfectly good concept? Why mess with a good thing?

The best I can do is a guess, and here it is: times change and audiences get bored. Sooner or later, even the most popular series runs out of gas. So the only reason to do any kind of a revamp or a relaunch is because you think you can get a bigger audience. The only reason.

However, and here’s the part that drives us all a little nuts — unlike other entertainment franchises, superhero comics are aimed at an audience of hobbyists who regard these stories not so much as light entertainment, but rather as historical dispatches from an alternate universe. What I see when I look at the history of all these different versions of Green Lantern is this — the common factor to all of them is writers laboring under the lunatic misconception that this fictional entertainment really is history.

That’s a handicap that forces creators to twist themselves into knots to get over. Unlike, say, the James Bond movies which have reinvented themselves a number of times without any thought to what came before, or licensed Star Trek books and comics that contradict one another right and left, comics fans insist that their superhero relaunches must all somehow acknowledge and account for everything that’s been done up to that point.

So you can’t just do a new Green Lantern series from scratch, not the way Julie Schwartz did it in the late ’50’s. No matter what fresh angle you might bring to the idea, first you have to somehow doubletalk your way into a rationale for doing it. Maybe it’s having Hal Jordan go nuts so you can replace him with Kyle Rayner, or having Kyle step aside and Hal come back from the dead so he can be GL again and not the Spectre. That’s where these incredibly pedantic, minutiae-driven series like Green Lantern: Rebirth come from. We can’t just start with “Brand New Day,” we have to have “One More Day” first.

DC seems to think so, anyway. Honestly, I doubt that it’s really the case. Fans have shown that they’ll go along for the ride and never mind continuity if it looks to be a ride worth taking: DC’s New Frontier, Marvel’s Ultimate books, All-Star Superman.

Maybe the question isn’t so much, why keep tweaking the good idea? Maybe the question should be, why not just do the new version instead of first killing yourself trying to appease all the fans of every previous version ever?'

Interesting stuff, and it articulates a lot of thoughts I'd had about the contemporary superheroics to be found at the Big Two. The rest of the piece focuses on the history of Green Lantern as an example, and makes for a fun and thought-provoking read.


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