Thursday, June 09, 2011

This time, the Giant Ants have come for YOU

So, last night I was playing a solitaire game of Heroclix, with the 1954 film Them playing in the background... not because I was actually watching it, mind you. It's just one of those films you simply don't change the channel from or turn off once it's on. Truly, the finest film ever made in which giant ants kidnap children in Los Angeles.

Anyway, I wasn't paying it any mind, so intent was I on the Dynamic Duo's attempts to get past the Joker's goons. Suddenly, I was jolted out of my Gothamite reverie by two quick and truncated iterations of.... the Wilhelm Scream.

Now, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if you are reading my blog, that you have heard the Wilhelm Scream at some point, although you may not have recognized it as such. You'd have to have avoided films nearly entirely never to heard it. My father, may he rest in peace, knew next to nothing about comic books, but he was a movie nut who was able to rattle off the filmography of Francis X. Bushman long, long before there was And my dear sweet white-haired flower-tending mother is a monster/horror movie expert who's counting the days until she can toddle down to the Bijou with her bonnet and reticule to see "Final Destination 5" in 3D. As result, while I'm definitely not a movie fan, I can't help but pay attention to movie trivia, like the Wilhelm Scream.

So, while it had slipped my mind that the Wilhelm Scream occurs in "Them" (four times, in fact), even in the distant background it was instantly recognizable and shook me from my comic book dreaming.

Well, the same thing is happening right now. Except the giant ants have been replaced by...
universal reboot.

And I can no longer fight the schadenfreude of it all. I am now laughing, out loud, at the Wilhelm-screaming panic of my fellow comic book fans. "*Sputter*! The... the continuity that I've invested so much time and emotional commitment to is... is being tossed aside! BETRAYERS!!!!"

I puff my metaphorical cigarette nonchalantly at your distress... welcome to 1986, kids. You'll get zero sympathy from my corner (that's zero as in "Zero Hour") during your little crisis (that's crisis as in, well, every other reboot). Where were your voices when the Penny Plunderer was erased but the Giant Penny remained? Why were you silent when people started pretending that J'onn J'onnzz, who had been absent for the entire Bronze Age "has always been the soul of the Justice League"? Where was your outcry over losing characters when they killed Supergirl or Vibe? Where were you when
my DCU was taken from me...?

Perhaps you weren't a reader at the time, or weren't even born yet. For whatever reason, you didn't care about these things, because, well... they were before time. They weren't part of
your comic books.

When I was a kid, comic books and associated publications had reprints of Golden Age and Silver Age material in them. It was wild and weird or at least very very different from what I was used to reading. But I was still trained by DC to consider it an important or at least relevant part of "my comic books" and their background.

When the Giant Ants of the Crises came, I didn't scream. I knew I didn't need all those stories "in continuity". They were, after all, still in my head, which has a greater capacity to hold stories than continuity does. Continuity has trouble containing contradictory stories within itself; my head does not. And, who knows, clearing the decks for new stories might bring me some new stories I might enjoy. Which is, in fact, what happened.

You didn't care when the Giant Ants came for someone else's version of the DCU. So now the Giant Ants of the Universal Reboot (and, yeah, I will continue to call it that, no matter what DC tells me) have come to destroy your version of Barbara Gordon. Or the Atom. Or the Teen Titans. Or Superman.

Well, you know what?
I do not care; man up. You don't own these characters and neither do the creators who write their adventures; the publisher does. Do I always like what they do with them? No. But I do like the fact that they are, for the first time in what seems like forever, more interested in getting new readers and in going forward than they are in looking backward and keeping old readers (that means you now, kiddies; welcome to adulthood).

You've been enjoying your shrinking picnic in your private little sandbox of continuity for some thirty years now. And now the Giant Ants-- the fiends!-- have come to spoil it for you.

Go ahead and run away screaming the Wilhelm Scream if you want; I'll be laughing at you as you do. Because you, the reader, can, will, and eventually
must be replaced. DC knows this, even if you're only just figuring it out.

Or you could stay and welcome our new insect overlords, as I intend to. Because the Giant Ants
will win; whether you will win depends on which side you pick, not how hard you fight.

Say "uncle" to the ants!


CandidGamera : said...

I think the only way to win is not to play.

Siskoid said...

Hahaha, good show Scip!

As for me, no problem with a Reboot (I was also there in 1986), so my only complaints are what things are rebooted TO.

TotalToyz said...

I caught Them! on TCM last night too; part of their Thursday Night Drive-In month. Later in the night was Tarantula, easily my favorite of the 50s giant bug movies. For two reasons.
1. While just about every other giant bug was the result of atomic testing--either forced mutation or awakening a hibernating prehistoric monster--the giant tarantula was caused by what we today would call genetic engineering. Ahead of its time.
2. I really dig giant spiders.

Scipio said...


You've missed the point. Again.

RDaggle said...

A good read, but a few points bug* me.

- Just because DC says they are trying to attract new readers doesn't mean they actually know how. For years both DC and Marvel have been going on about the untapped market of readers, but what they publish seems to get no traction with "outsiders".

- As to fans not protesting changes -- really? It seems that comic fans do nothing but protest changes. And keep on buying the same books anyway.


(*Sorry. Had to.)

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping for mass resurrections; even if Ryan Choi doesn't get used, he should still oughtta be alive off-screen.

Oh, and maybe they can play up Dick Grayson's Romany roots too (which were retconned into existence about a decade ago and then forgotten). While comics are pretty equal opportunity these days, the Roma are the one group who get abused just about every time they appear. Magneto. Doctor Doom. And even a DC character who goes by the name "Gypsy" because she is good at stealing. If there's any one person who can singlehandedly undo all that with a smile on his face, it's The Sensational Character Find of 1940 (later retconned to About 10 Years Ago).

Redforce said...

Everything gets remade for 'modern' times eventually. EVERYTHING (even, probably, THEM! [if it hasn't been already and I missed it].)

I didn't even bother to go see the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, because the original is one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made, and Hollywood (in typical fashion) missed the point remaking it.

What I DIDN'T do, is bitch and moan and publically demean the movie at every opportunity. I know that Hollywood is not going to come and destroy all copies of the original and force me to watch the new one. The original version is not somehow retroactively ruined by the remake, and my childhood has not been raped.

To use one more movie analogy- I saw True Grit, another remake, and I think it is SUPERIOR to the original.

I agree with Scipio, and only time will tell what the UB will bring.

Redforce said...

Sorry, I meant UR (Universal Reboot). I guess UB is Universal Boot...

MattMinus said...

When I found out I'd be getting Peter Milligan writing Shade the Changing Man again AND a new Suicide Squad series AND Keith Giffen OMAC, I gladly welcomed our new Insect Overlords.

SallyP said...

You are of course...quite right. But it seems to be in our nature to panic and scream and stomp our little feet. I have done this a bit myself. As a creature of habit, I want my books to ALWAYS BE THERE FOR ME!!!

But on the other hand...this HAS been done before...and will undoubtedly happen again. And somehow, everything always reverts to its original status quo, once everyone gets tired of the latest reboot, or retelling, or whatever.

So yes, someday, Wonder Woman will be back in her star-spangled short shorts, and Super-Man will be back in his red underwear, and so on and so forth.

But man, I'd really like to see J'onn J'onnz make gold out of seawater again.

Scipio said...

Personally, Sally, I'm holding out for ice cream cones from the void.

Anonymous said...

Reboot bothers me but not for the normally expressed reasons.

1. DC constantly complains that their continuity makes story-telling difficult and makes stories inaccessible for new readers ... but Marvel is beating them in circulation numbers and have not had to resort to the same number of universal reboots. So, perhaps it's more a problem of DC's preferred writing style that makes continuity a problem more than continuity being problematic in and of itself. Or perhaps continuity is just an easy scapegoat for dipping sales.

2. I understand the idea that a reboot does not negate the old stories but sometimes people want to see characters continue to develop. I'd rather read the further continuing adventures of character X than a umpteenth retelling/rehash of character X's origin story.

3. It gets a smidge weak when you pat yourself on the back about the longevity of a character (Superman's 70th anniversary! Yippee!) but at the same time state that you need to clear-cut a character's history every ten years because it's a total tangled rat's nest. Is continuity a selling point or an achille's heel? Can we pick one?

- Jason

mrjl said...

really? The giant ants will win. Despite recent years being devoted to undoing all the things you're complaining about?

Overall, my biggest problem isn't them removing stories it's them removing characters or randomly changing chracterizations(see Wondergirl, beligerant thief)

SallyP said...

You're right, Scipio. I forgot about the ice cream...but what an amazing super power to have!'s nice to know that Apex City is actually in continuity now.

TotalToyz said...

I didn't really miss your point. I just had nothing to add to it, because I agree with you 100%. My DC ended in 1986, too. But in my own way I still have it, and they can't take it away from me. They can claim Clark Kent was never Superboy all they like; I have boxes and boxes of comics that say otherwise.

steve mitchell said...

While a DC reboot might be a good idea in theory, my problem is that the inmates are still running the asylum. The "geniuses" who brought us Infinite Crisis, One Year Later, Countdown, Death of the New Gods, and Final Crisis are the same creators who will bring us the September reboot. What are the odds they will do a better job this time?

Eleven Bat-titles? The Red Hood leading a team? The grandson of Sgt. Rock? I Vampire in its own title? Red Lanterns? Is DC just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks?

steve mitchell said...

But then, if you don't like the DC reboot, you can always take a look at Marvel. The once-mighty House of Ideas has just announced "X-Men: Schism," in which the mutants have to decide which side they're on (with Cyclops or Wolverine), and then engage in a--dare I say it?--mutant civil war. I seem to remember reading something kind of similar just a few years ago. . .

And people actually get paid for coming up with this tripe. Paid out of YOUR hard-earned hobby dollars!

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to think that all the talk of "Universal Reboot" is more smoke and mirrors than substance.

If this was a real reboot...

1) Why would Damian still be Robin?

A character with no presence outside the comics pages, while others have been Robin in TV, cartoons, and movies.

2) Why would the numerically haunting Action #1 show us an adult Superman with blue collar roots wearing a Superman T-shirt suggesting a world already familiar with him--not any sort of origin adventure image like the real Action #1's car flipping?

3) Why would they keep so many Bat-family and Superman-family titles alive when those relationships require some degree of continuity to make any sense?

I think this posturing about a reboot is really about integrating the Wildstorm characters into the DCU and getting set-up for Morrison's Multiversity series (whatever that will be).

Agree / disagree?

As always, Thank You Scipio for framing the discussion so insightfully.

TotalToyz said...

Not my hard-earned dollars, Steve my friend. I haven't purchased a new comic in close on ten years now. And this is just one of the reasons why.

Siskoid said...

To the last anonymous: DC DID say it WASN'T a reboot. It's the launch of the new DCU.

Whatever that means.

TotalToyz said...

Six of one....

Arynne said...

I'd feel much more sanguine about this if He Who Must Not Be Named weren't writing Hawk and Dove.

And if the kids on the cover of Teen Titans weren't wearing such dreadfully familiar-looking costumes.

And...Blackhawks. Dear Lord.

Are we entering into '90s nostalgia now?

Laplace Zombie said...

For all the #1s they're launching, they really aren't doing their best with the covers. Very few of them look exciting, or memorable (I'm looking at you, Batman family).

I'm gonna give this a chance, I'm actually excited to see them try and make fun and interesting comics again. Visually, however, it looks kinda boring, almost every new costume seems like a movie costume design.

dan said...

1. Don't make the "it's the publisher's property and they can do what they want" argument. It's essentially irrelevant. Anyone who funds a company has a 100% right to complain about its product. These are comic books, not oil. Without our pleasure, they do not survive (no one buys oil out of joy but out of need; and no one needs a comic book). Feedback is essential in the intertainment industry.

2. A rebook negates continuity even if it doesn't technically void it. Unless this really is just a gimmick of new numbering, it requires that prior continuity be set aside so that new continuity can evolve. And if I've been buying a title because I'm caught up in its wonderful storylines, I have a right to complain if the selling feature is changed.

3. This reboot is effectively a raising of the white flag that all the previous reboots have been failures. Didn't we just end the monoverse DCU and return to the multiverse DCU? Didn't we just undo a bunch of character deaths? And we need ANOTHER reboot event?

This isn't "epic" fail... this is EPOCH fail.

It's one failure after another for a very long period of time (26 years of it, from 1985-2011).

dan said...


4) Changing what happens in a superhero comic DOES NOT ATTRACT people who don't already buy comics. That is a fact proven over and over and over again. DC continues to be IDIOTS. Kids do not want superhero comics. All this reboot could possibly accomplish is to steal away sales from other publishers or from DC's own non-superhero titles.

5. I don't even understand DC's logic. Is there anyone out there saying they would buy Superman if DC rebooted the title? Does anyone believe the series will be that different for the foreseeable future? Does anyone believe DC won't go back to the old continuity somehow in the near future?

6. Is there any data at all that supports this plan? Is there any marketing scheme at all in the past (since the 1994 collapse) that has actually motivated people who don't read non-manga comics to start regularly buying non-manga comics?

Dougie said...

I'm really interested in Dan's comment. At my school, we took a group of 12-14 year-olds to see Thor last month. Virtually all of them derided it as "childish and cheesy". I wonder if this is purely local to my area or is it a generational thing? Could super-heroes have fallen out of favour with kids or is this just adolescent "sophistication"?

Scipio said...

Well, I'd say early teenage years is exactly the time young readers usually cycled out of reading comics. That's when I did; I certainly didn't read comics in high school. Only later at the end of college, when I was no longer so concerned about being Grown Up, did I resume them.

Marvel made its fame and fortune by creating comics specifically geared toward appealing to and capturing the market of adolescent readers who had started to outgrow DC's fare.

On the whole, I'd say it's still the case that Children read DC, Adolescents read Marvel, and then Adults go back to reading DC. I have seen that particular evolution in individual readers many times (and very seldom the reverse).

TotalToyz said...

I never considered that, Scipio, but I'd agree with that. I've seen very few exceptions to it.

steve mitchell said...

As always, I'm proud to be an exception. I started with DC, added Marvel a couple of years later, and continued to read and enjoy titles from both companies for decades.

The beginning of the end was Infinite Crisis at DC and Civil War at Marvel. Both companies continued to degenerate after that, to the point that I gave up comics entirely last September.

I might look at Hawkman and Stormwatch come this September, but that's all from the Reboot that is really tempting me.

mrjl said...

If kids don't want superhero books why do they seem to like superhero characters so much.

Anonymous said...

I rarely buy comics anymore because I have my own "continuity" that is based on the evidence I have seen, read and held in my own hands.
Regardless of who the "flavor of the month" editor/writer combo decides was the "first super hero team" I know it was the Justice Society.
Regardless of who they say the "founding members of the JLA" were, I have the actual books.
Regardless of what they want to say regarding Supergirl or Superboy (or even VIBE for crying out loud) it doesn't change the fact that I actually know better.
So I ignore them.
And I don't give them my money.

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