Thursday, December 18, 2008
Creationism vs. Re-Creationism
It just goes to show you can never know too much about continuity.
In reading the latest issue of Supergirl (which, under its new writer, Sterling Gates, I'm loving), it struck me that Superwoman's costume seemed... odd.
Not hideous, really. Certainly not what I'd picture for "Superwoman", but still not hideous. Maybe it was the gloves. Or the hood. Something just... didn't seem quite au courant.
Then, courtesy of Google, I stumbled on the reason why...I'd never seen this story from the Bronze Age, where this Kristen Wells became Superwoman. Once I saw this, I realized I'd heard it mentioned, but never seen it-- and therefore, never seen the costume, which is clearly the model for the one worn by the new Superwoman.
The Bronze Age of comics, frankly. was rather crappy... particularly for Superman stories. And the decade of the '90s during the Iron Age was no picnic either. These facts hit me in the face hard this last weekend as I was working on a video project: a digital slideshow of DC heroes in chronological order of creation. After the enormous flurry of creation around 1940, there's an average of one or two good, long-lasting characters who continue (or are continued through a legacy character or conceptual revamp). But there are these... gaps.
The most severe one is also the largest: 1986-2006. Between Booster Gold and the new Blue Beetle is a vast wasteland devoid of new characters (and, of course, Blue Beetle is just a revamp).
Now, that's not to say, nothing happened, or that stories were bad. That may or may not be true, but it's not my point.
In fact, one of the good things that happened was that DC stopped trying to throw new liver at the wall, hoping something would stick, and focused on re-branding, re-vitalizing, and re-vamping many previously created characters. Nothing exemplifies this better than the return of the Justice Society, which in the Iron Age was considered an irredeemable embarrassment to be locked away in an attic like a crazy aunt.
So, in one sense, the fact that there's not a lot of new character creation going on during the last twenty years is to DC's credit. I've repeatedly made the statement that if a DC writer can't tell a new story with all the existing characters at their disposal and has to make one up, then they either don't know enough continuity or lack creativity.
Superwoman makes this point. A few months ago, the idea of including "Superwoman" in such a slideshow would have been absurd; the idea was a one-shot throwaway. But through the reinvention magic of this, the Platinum Age, old abandoned concepts are refurbished and, lo, many characters that actually are new get to take advantage of having roots in a previous era, along with the pedigree that bestows.
What do you think of the balance between character creation and character re-creation, both currently and generally??