Sunday, August 16, 2015

Broken toys...

Well, I've been wanting to post. But what is there to post about? All our toys (or, at least, mine) are broken...

Because breaking toys, in today's culture of disposability, is pretty much all kids now know how to do (other than walk on my lawn). Now we live in a world where the only thing to do with all heroes is break them, all the time. Just like Daredevil.  All of them except, well...Daredevil, who I'm told is having the time of his life lately; but enough about him.

Aquaman, broken.  DC had re-established Aquaman in his own time, acknowledged his public reputation as less than impressive and completely turned it on its head; The surest distinction between a real comic book fan and the unknowing public whose comic book info all comes from Seth McFarlane and Seth Greene was knowing how 'bad-ass' Aquaman was.  All the principle elements of his traditional myth had been refurbished or the process thereof, he'd been made the center of more than one DCU-wide story (e.g., the Atlantis War) or legend (the history of Gorilla City), with only more to come (the Rise of the Seven Seas).  Now Aquaman is broken, cast out of Atlantis, Mera's trying to kill him again, and he's running around expressing all our rage by (apparently) killing people and shouting "your king is pissed!" as if he's an adolescent and not a founding member of the Justice League.

Don't worry about that reward, Arthur.

Superman, broken,  DC had re-established Superman as a powerful and mildly anti-authoritian champion of the oppressed, who, while a little lonely, accepted his role in things.  He finally stopped wearing a 1900s circus-outfit in favor of something a bit more dignified, more of a uniform than a costume.  He wasn't mooning over Lois, was dating a nice foreign girl, had a good friend in Jimmy, and was appreciated by his otherwise irascible boss Perry White.  He was even acquiring some new villains (always a weak point) and a new power. Why, he got a new movie and was going to start the cinematic Justice League!  Now Superman is broken, exposed to the world by Lois, condemned by Perry as a deceiver, losing his powers more with each issue, being attacked by cops, unassisted by the Justice League.  Wearing jeans and tee-shirt. least he's not deejaying.

Green Lantern, broken.  Hal Jordan was back in his bomber jacker, flying again, back in the Green Lantern Corps, running it in fact, and earning plaudits for his own brand of out-of-the-box thinking.  Finally, the idea that someone might call Hal Jordan (of all people) the greatest Green Lantern of them all was no longer completely ridiculous.  Now, Green Lantern is broken, the Corps is in disarray and Hal Jordan's taken it on the lam, running around the universe in a hoodie. Letting his hair grow long and disheveled.  I can believe many things of Hal Jordan; that he would sleep with an underage girl; that he would go insane kill all his colleagues and try to destroy the universe; that he'd become a toy salesman.  But I cannot believe that he would go around with disheveled hair. a hoodie? Unthinkable.

Green Arrow, broken.  CW-- C gol'darned W--has managed to turn Green Arrow into a multi-season television hit and the centerpiece of a growing universe of superheroes shows.  Meanwhile, Green Arrow, having his umpteenth restart and lost the awesome CW characters he just added, is now a horror (?) title, whose first heavy-handed story is filled with spider-shaped robocops as part of an improbably naive villain plot to, oh, take over the nation or something, rather than just make a fortune in military contracting.  Oh, and once again Ollie is a guilty white liberal unaware that   he's the 'fat cat' funding all the fascist crap in his own city.  Sound pretty horrible to me.

Of course 'fat' is just a metaphor.

Batman, broken.  Because nowadays modern readers fall for the malarky that the only way to have a functional Batman is to have a broken Bruce Wayne.  So the only way to really break Batman is... to 'fix' Bruce Wayne.  It's the latest in Scott Snyder's 'no one call top this!' stories, the Joker, who's now some sort of immortal metahuman, accidentally let magic juice seep into Bruce's brain, which made it all shiny all new and all the bad Batman-causing memories are gone.  What they are replaced by is entirely unclear but now we have a brain-blank Bruce Wayne with no skills, no training, and no idea how to be Batman.

In other words, the Bronze Age Batman.
Stupid Bronze Age Batman.

Wonder Woman--well, who even knows what "broken" would mean for her at this point, since it's been so long since she was anything but.  As far as I can tell now, all the world's foremost super heroine does nothing but date a work colleague and fight with her sister. Flash seems not broken per se, but he's in ANOTHER anti-Flash plots his revenge against the Flash 'epic', so he's ... running in place, as usual.

For such a smart guy, Barry has to repeat lessons a LOT.

On the brighter side, the Martian Manhunter's got a new series (to add to his collection of other cancelled series).

Oh, I'll be up for playing again. And soon I hope.  But it's hard to play right now...

when all my favorite toys are broken.

"My god--my hand--it was so beautiful...."


Joshua Roots said...

Not too long ago, I was excited to visit the comic shop. Aquaman, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and even Dial H, were waiting for me in my pull box. Each was epic in its own fashion. Each rode a wonderful line between darkness and humor. Each felt carefully crafted with mythos in mind.

That excitement has faded because everything is dark and gritty. Everything is broken. By devoting all eggs to the basket of "something for everyone", they've made it all the exact same. Instead of diversity, we have repetition.

It will change. It always does. But we are in a doldrums of creativity right now. One that I hope is short-lived.

Anonymous said...

There's the dark and gritty and then there's the constant need to revamp things. It's a lack of consistency. There's revamping within a given continuity (which used to last 20-30 years before needing a refresher). Superman went from leaping to throwing planets around. Peter Parker became some kind of spider avatar with fangs in his wrists. Then, because it all becomes complicated, there are the retcons.

Now, retcons happen every other year. It's taxing on new readers, and older readers (like me) just give up.

I think the one comic that managed best was Legion of the Super-Heroes. Part of it can be attributed to having the same writers and illustrators for extended periods of time. The characters aged, fell in love, and died. Then they retconned it (a half-dozen times) after Zero Hour.

In the aftermath of all of this, I took a stronger liking to finite series like Preacher, the Invisibles, etc. With a finite number of issues, the focus was on telling a meaningful story and tying up all loose ends by the conclusion of the series, and I found that to be immensely satisfying.

Anonymous said...

I bet Hal's hair is silky and lustrous. And I think his current role works for him: he does better when he's his own boss.

On every other point, though, you nailed it.

As far as Superman goes, make him a very kind man who just happens to have infinite power. Ask yourself how a well-mannered farmer would handle a given dispute; that should be Superman's preferred approach to conflict resolution. I swear to God this isn't that difficult; Andy Griffith used to do it all the time.

With Green Arrow, this is where we could get the "good" Ollie back. I know you're not fond of the irritatingly liberal version of Ollie, but it was a pretty good look for him; the recent arc could be what pushes him into that territory, where he is properly furious that the fat-cats and the pigs allowed dozens of people to be killed in Seattle. They're already drawing goatee-stubble on him, now give him the outlook to match.

With Batman, I really had my hopes pinned on how "Endgame" was just a big fake-out. You know how "Endgame" started with Batman shaking off some Scarecrow Toxin that makes him experience his death over and over ... ? Dang if "Endgame" didn't have a nightmare feel to it, like it was yet another iteration of experiencing death. But now we either have a zombie Batman or a clone Batman, plus a mechanism to put his old brain back, and it feels conceptually stupid. Then there are the continuity problems, like Jim Gordon taking an axe to the chest in "Endgame" yet being fine now, or Dick being present at the end of "Endgame" but having no idea that Batman died.

And Aquaman still looks aroused at all times. What the hell DC? Didn't you run that costume past any of the pervs in the mailroom?

Anonymous said...

One other thought:

"Because nowadays modern readers fall for the malarky that the only way to have a functional Batman is to have a broken Bruce Wayne."

To a certain limited point, I'm fine with this. You know how you once observed that Two-Face is hard to cure because Two-Face is the solution to Harvey Dent's problem? (Still a brilliant observation BTW.) I see Batman as the solution to Bruce Wayne's problem, which is: no matter how much good civic work you do, there are still muggers and murder-clowns prowling the city, and every single person is a murder victim waiting to happen. I don't mind a Bruce Wayne who is just "broken" enough to be painfully aware of how fragile people are, and Batman is what allows him to cope. That allows for a nice stable zone where Bruce Wayne can do his thing -- even have friends and some sort of rewarding social life -- but the drive to be Batman is still there.

r duncan said...

Once again, you have put into words something I feel in my heart.

Also, that's how I feel about the GOP.

John said...

One of the real problems I see with DC's direction is the argument usually made when DC tries to introduce diversity into its line: The characters (except for Aquaman and Wonder Woman) are actually fairly good ideas...just not for existing characters who already had storylines building.

I would probably buy books about "Earth-77," where Superman's story is inspired largely by Hugo Danner, Batman is an ex-cop in a powersuit who recruits a clever fop into his organization, Green Lantern is some anti-hero on the run secretly for doing the right thing, and so forth. Those are all pretty good concepts with some life in them. Or even a new generation of heroes not connected with existing trademarks. But, like the "aborted Bronze Age" (mod Wonder Woman, hard-travelin' Green Lantern, no-kryptonite Superman), maybe, they don't fit the existing narratives and don't make a lot of sense as the mainstream DCU and make everything seem so generic and pointless.

I do wonder if it might be time to stop ragging on the CW. I mean, their recent batch of shows (rather than legacy crap) has been far better than it has any right to be, given the source material or concepts.

Nathan Hall said...

Meanwhile, everyone at Marvel is broken - then replaced by a new character of a different gender or color for a while..

SallyP said...

Scipio, this completely sums up my feelings about DC right now. There sure as heck isn't much to look forward to. I have...DROPPED Green Lantern!

Words I never thought that I would ever type, but I just find that I can't stand Hal as Space Gambit. Especially since there was never established any kind of actual REASON for him to go all renegady.

Dropped Aquaman for the same reason. I had been enjoying it up to then. Same thing with Batman, although I do like Pat Gleason on Batman Jr. or whatever it is called. The one with Damian.

But yeah, the pickings are pretty darned slim. ON the other hand, I'm saving a ton of cash.

Bryan L said...

Bizarro is fun. And, uh, well, Bizarro is fun. That means cancellation is a certainty.

Other than that, I've found almost nothing to like about this iteration of the DC Universe. Seriously, my pull list is almost nonexistent. I have to work to find enough titles for my pull to keep my discount. I just can't make myself care much any more. Now, I'll buy trades of old storylines and devour them, but new comics? Meh.

I used to spend every Wednesday night reading comics. Could. Not. Wait. Now sometimes I even forget to read them for a few days until I notice the plastic bag in my back seat.

I can't really think that's what DC wants, but maybe they do.

Steve Mitchell said...

"On the brighter side, the Martian Manhunter's got a new series."

Which he has exited after just two issues, to be replaced by several oddities who apparently have inherited his powers or his legacy or something. Mr. Biscuits is not an acceptable substitute for the Martian Manhunter for me, so. . .I am down to only one DC title on my buy list, Suicide Squad.

And does anyone remember when Wonder Woman came to "Man's World" as an apostle of peace? Making her the God of War--even a kinder, gentler God of War--is a complete betrayal of her original concept and mission.

Scipio said...

Steve, I'd hang in with MM. I believe where that is headed is:

Mr Biscuits is a splice (?) of J'onn, the part of him that remains uncorrupted by the White Martian's programming. I believe it will grow into a kinder gentler MM>

cybrid said...

>>>For such a smart guy, Barry has to repeat lessons a LOT

Well, change implies an initial error, and a lot of smart guys don't like to admit to that.

Anonymous said...

So recap, DC is currently under the control of such 1993-ish figures as Jim Lee and Bob Harras, and all the mainstays of the DC Universe are going through story arcs that wouldn't be out of place in 1993 X-Men, and they're all irritable and unpleasant like 1993 Marvel characters.

So, how was Marvel doing by 1996? Hint: rhymes with "smankrupt".

Scipio said...

That's a very good observation, Anon.