Saturday, September 26, 2015

Reboot gone sour

  People not interested in comics will probably not understand much of this post, but what the hell…
  Some of it, though, has general importance.

  Four years ago DC Comics once again rebooted their franchise. They had done so several times before, the first time in 1985, restarting or at least partly restarting their continuity, the internal history of the DC Universe.
  Superman and several other characters were given new origin stories and «re-imagined for a new age» (a pompous expression I’ve heard be used often).
  It can be argued that the 1985 reboot did lead to a fresher approach and better stories, but like most tools being overused, it stops having value after a while. The «New» DC Universe after 2011 appears more like fan-fiction than stories from the actual DC Universe, with the same lack of quality and originality and greatness.
  This year Marvel Comics, after suffering from mediocre storytelling for years, «did a DC» as well. It doesn’t look promising. The 2015 Secret Wars event is just awful.
  Some years ago DC decided to give the creative reigns of the company to Geoff Johns and Marvel did the same with Brian Michael Bendis. Even though one person should never be blamed for everything, the two of them, looking at the kind of stories they wrote and encouraged others to write clearly were the wrong people for the job.
  They both took the stories in a more mature direction, which I support, but aside from that there wasn’t much to write home about.
  Johns brought Green Lantern Hal Jordan back from the dead and thereby ruined one of the greatest stories ever told, the one about Jordan becoming Parallax and his ultimate demise. It went down the drain from there. He also brought back Barry Allen - the second Flash from the dead, thereby invalidating yet another great story.
  Bendis, after writing vastly overrated Ultimate Spiderman stories for years practically wrecked the Avengers and the X-Men single-handedly. I always expected someone to ruin the X-Men. The consistency of great writing continued surprisingly long after Chris Claremont stopped writing it in 1991, but with the House of M in 2005 Bendis started (with a bang) what should be a long decline that culminated (in an ongoing lowest point) when he himself started writing it. From that moment on the X-Men was truly doomed.
  This is the point, really, or at least one very important one. With the House of M the decimation of the X-Men in the Marvel Universe began in earnest. It wasn’t just that the mutant population was decimated, but also their importance. The Inhumans have taken the X-Men’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and by now pretty much in the comics as well.
  The X-Men movie franchise was given/sold to Fox a few years earlier. Marvel didn’t have their movie production company then and had no plans of having any either. The success of the films clearly came as a giant surprise to them, and they suddenly regretted their decision. Everything or at least a lot about what happened later is a result of that.
  The X-Men had dominated the comics-world for close to thirty years then and that success was brought over to the movies as well. The success of the first movie started the comics-mania in films. It made all the later superhero movies possible.
  And Marvel, having placed themselves on the sidelines, didn’t have control of it.
  Fox and Marvel haven’t really cooperated at all. Their rivalry grew even stronger with the disagreement about what to do with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Both Marvel and Fox wanted to use them, and both have the rights to do so and did. The great X-Men - Days of Future Past film used the accepted, established story. The horrible Avengers: Age of Ultron quite simply ignored it. In the comics they were mutants and Magneto’s children… until Marvel changed that, too, in yet another lousy move on their part, and no one can convince me that that wasn’t an editorial decision imposed from the very top in the Marvel/Disney hierarchy. It was quite evident and resulted in horrible writing.
  We see time and time again how imposed editorial decisions and financial concerns ruin the potential for telling great stories, in comics, films, novels and art in general. This is clearly one more such.

  My frustration with mainstream comics, always present has long since grown beyond acceptance.

  Update 2016-05-20:

  The new, new Marvel Universe is several months old, and it's worse than I expected. There are several weeks where no readable, or even remotely readable story is published. We should place two tombstones somewhere. They should say «here rest Marvel and DC. They were great once, but will never be again».

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