Friday, February 19, 2016

Finally

I live in DC (the District of Columbia).  It's known for many things (good and ill) but one of the things it is most known for recently is rapid and dramatic urban upscale renovation (a.k.a., "gentrification").

Now, a lot of things (good and ill) have been said about gentrification.  In my own life, I have been both its beneficiary (as a resident whose home value tripled) and its victim (as a business owner whose shops couldn't keep pace with changing costs).  But in either case it's mostly a natural economic phenomenon.  Just as scrub gives way to bushes and then trees in a biome, an economically poor neighborhood will sometimes be superseded by a wealthier resident/business profile.  This is particularly true if it possess some locational advantage (such as proximity to a transportation hub). There are quite a few neighborhoods in my city -- including my own -- where the opening of a subway station caused a complete rebirth.

And speaking of rebirth in DC....



We seem to be having one in DC (Comics, that is).  

In the real world of urbanism, gentrification happens where it's easiest: it neighborhoods where there are a lot or properties that are abandoned or deteriorating or unused or nonfunctional or dangerous or toxic or some such.  At least that's true in a big city where there is a ready supply of such areas.  

Anywhere where things are bad but not terrible, there are usually attempts (often by government entities) to stanch the bleed out of residents and businesses.  Usually those don't work and if anything just perpetuate the place's poverty.  Eventually, an area can 'hit bottom' enough that, with property values low and lot of opportunities for redevelop, it becomes a place that redevelopment naturally flows to, like water seeking its level.

In the DCU, those physical buildings and areas are instead intellectual properties. Flash. Green Lantern. Hawkman. The Justice Society.  Aquaman.  Those IPs were, essentially, abandoned by DC ...until Geoff Johns 'redeveloped' them (for the most part with great success).

Now, however, after several well-meant attempts by DC Editorial to prop up its neighborhood with patches and odd projects (which I like to picture as 'digital monorails'), DC has admitted that the DCU is broken down and (increasingly) abandoned. At least by readers, myself included.   Sufficiently decrepit, in fact, to be ripe for wholesale gentrification.

They have turned to the creative conscience that has guided their recent strong successes in other media, the same one that guided the earlier in-print renovation of many IPs deemed toxic and irreparably damaged. He is certainly not without his flaws as a writer (who is?)... but he "gets it".  Geoff Johns understands something that Dan Didio never has: why people like DC Comics.  Dan Didio has, on average, only been able to see what's not working in the DCU and to react against it; Geoff Johns is able to conceive of what could work and aim toward it.

You may be skeptical; you have every right to be, given DC's many 'reboots'.  And cynicism is certainly always in fashion.

But I for one finally have something I haven't had in the DCU for a while now:

hope.



Perhaps all may yet be well.








21 comments:

Chad Walters said...

I was impressed with the announcement. I'm still skeptical; it was quite vague, and it all sounded good but so did New 52 when it first came out (clear jumping on point for new fans! Diverse genres and characters! A streamlining of continuity, not a rewrite!)

But the word they're pushing is "legacy", and that's something that's sorely been missing from DC. However, it's not enough to re-introduce the legacy of the past; they also need to use legacy to make their way into the future. Speaking of which, it's hard to take a return to legacy seriously when the Legion is nowhere to be found...

Steve Mitchell said...

The important thing is that DC is going to keep Prez. (Just announced on Newsarma.) Hawkman--Justice Society--the Legion? Maybe they are still coming. But thank God we are getting Prez first. Because nothing says "DC legacy" like Prez.

On a more serious note, I would very much like to see the new creative teams identified for the various titles.

Stephen Szyszka said...

JSA, LSH, without these, they abandon a large portion of the "legacy". Now I can see the "Earth 2" title being a JSA vehicle, but we need the Legion! Mordru, the Fatal Five, the United Planets. I miss thee!

Stephen Szyszka said...

JSA, LSH, without these, they abandon a large portion of the "legacy". Now I can see the "Earth 2" title being a JSA vehicle, but we need the Legion! Mordru, the Fatal Five, the United Planets. I miss thee!

John said...

I don't know. Maybe I'm jumping straight from skepticism to cynicism, but I feel like this is the same old line at a time when the same old line isn't selling.

That is--and I think I've said this before--that whenever DC "goes back to its roots," it always seems to end up meaning that white men go back to being the protagonists and we end up in some weird Frank Miller land of angry, damaged heroes gunning for vengeance against someone and/or the book becomes a police procedural. I feel like DC keeps learning the wrong lesson. They replace decent characters with boring, unheroic "cool kids." Then, when that flops, they roll back the status quo to the 1960s and keep writing the same kinds of stories that just don't fit.

What I do like is the implication that each character's corner of the universe will apparently have a theme, and I think that's one of the things that has made Arrow and now Supergirl so strong (Flash less so, but that show's just plain fun on a level I haven't seen superheroes in many years) on TV. And it'd be great to see them actually learn from the past and do something different...or old, story-telling-wise. But given that the same people are in charge as the last few attempts, I'm doubtful that this is more than yet another "everybody should come back because we've finally given (insert character here) a snoopy reporter girlfriend like in the old days, and (condescending tone) don't panic, millennials, the lame '90s version will still be around, because we wouldn't want anybody soiling their pants."

Also, no matter how Rebirth runs, great to have you back, Scipio.

Steve Mitchell said...

One thing I would really like to see with a Superman Rebirth is to have Superman restored to his position as the moral center for DC's superhero community. Superman is the one who always looks for the best in people--who always brings out the best in people--and who leads by example, not by being an abrasive martinet like Batman. He's the hero that other heroes measure themselves against--not in terms of power, but in terms of character. And that Superman has been missing for quite a while, in my opinion.

LissBirds said...

I'm cautiously optimistic. I'd like to be hopeful that DC can fix all its blunders.

Dan said...

Way I see it, DC owes me big for all the New52 crap I paid for and hated. I resent most of the changes (only Aquaman came out ahead, imo, but then declined after Johns left).

I want my DCU back in it's 'original' form, but I probably can't get that. So I at least want it pre-New52.

If it's just a half-measure, I'm not coming back. I've already had my "break up" with the DCU in terms of future stories. I'm content to stay in the past, reading old stuff I missed and rereading old stuff I liked.

Dan said...

Another point, this "rebirth" needs an editorial adjustment. We all want great stories, but if a writer cannot write a great story within the parameters of the established characters, then they need to look for other work.

If their 'great story' requires the character be significantly/permanently altered, then it's not a great story for that character.

Scipio said...

"if a writer cannot write a great story within the parameters of the established characters, then they need to look for other work."

Quoted for truth.

Truth so strong and simple that one or two generations of writers and editors have missed it, because it's too obvious.

Bryan L said...

Truth, indeed. I would hope that once Johns reboots this mess, DC would once again establish strong editorial oversight. Once the ship is righted, keep the damn thing on course.

Like a television show, set up a "bible" and then STICK TO IT. Don't let some "superstar" writer hack things up. And if you can't possibly do that, label it "Elseworlds."

Scipio said...


Like a television show, set up a "bible" and then STICK TO IT. Don't let some "superstar" writer hack things up. And if you can't possibly do that, label it "Elseworlds."

Quote for PAINFUL truth. Tired of the Morrison's and Snyder's going off the rails In Teh Name Of Art.

Mark said...

Scipio, happy to see you posting again. Though I worry that when more details emerge, it will be like Groundhog Day at the Absorbascon - if you see Didio's shadow, it'll be back into the hole and we'll have more months of winter.

Hope is hard for me to come by - if only because this leadership group at DC has consistently shown a complete inability to learn ANYTHING from past mistakes. Most DC fans could probably write a dissertation on the lessons/mistakes of the COIE reboot and the subsequent years. Sure we all might draw some different conclusions or have different theories but we would have learned SOMETHING. Except we saw no sign of it when they did the New 52. They basically went and repeated 95% of the same mistakes (while making some new ones). And even if you want to argue that COIE was too remote in time, I'd point to the One Year Later jump they did a few years before the New 52 (again tons of mistakes that DC straight up repeated).

I'm afraid Johns' prominence in Rebirth has more to do with marketing - making a popular creator the face rather than the controversial Didio - than that Johns really has his hand on the tiller. The guy's passion is clearly on the film and TV side. I don't think he has the time to mastermind the books.

"DC would once again establish strong editorial oversight. Once the ship is righted, keep the damn thing on course."

This I just don't get AT ALL. Every indication we have is that DC editorial HAS been micro-managing the ship for about 15 years and that they mostly suck at it. The only "win" in their column was the run up to Infinite Crisis, which while something of a hot mess in execution, had some energy and momentum that had been missing from the line up to that point. But after that, it was all DC jerking the chain and sending writers running for the hills. Remember the "Countdown" era when they were going to have all their books tied together? And within 3 months of the New 52, it was clear that the new plan/continuity made no sense.

Other than the recent DC You fad (which everyone recognized was out-of-character for DC editorial), the only writers that have been given any autonomy are Morrison, Johns and Snyder. And like it or not that makes total sense - these guys have proven their ability to move copies of non-event books. And that's the way every organization on the planet Earth works: the people how have the most success are given more freedom.

I really can't fathom arguing for more editorial mandates and plans. This an editorial team that rebooted their entire universe because Didio became fixated on the relative ages of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and decided that the barrier to great Superman stories was his marriage to Lois Lane.

I think there should be happy medium. Writers should recognize that they are not divas on a concert stage but runners in a relay race who need to be able to take the baton smoothly from the guy before and give it smoothly to the next guy (because there will always be a next guy). But I also want writers to be creative and add to, embellish and expand the mythos without some editor (the comic book equivalent of studio hack or network suit) dictating the beats for every story.

SallyP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SallyP said...

I am both hopeful and depressed. Hopeful that we will get to read about much beloved but shelved characters, and depressed that Green Lantern is still going to be terrible.

I can't say that all the new 52books were terrible, some were pretty good, but I have still never been able to fathom why dumping all that long and rich continuity made any of the stories any better.

Scipio said...

"Writers should recognize that they are not divas on a concert stage but runners in a relay race who need to be able to take the baton smoothly from the guy before and give it smoothly to the next guy (because there will always be a next guy)"

Well said.

Sr. Favo Posso deixar vazio sim said...

Swear I posted two posts but I can't see them
Btw, any hope for tapatalk support?

Bryan L said...

"Writers should recognize that they are not divas on a concert stage but runners in a relay race who need to be able to take the baton smoothly from the guy before and give it smoothly to the next guy (because there will always be a next guy)"

I think we're saying the same thing with different terminology, Mark, because that's exactly what I meant. The problem with DC is that it's become an ever-widening gyre of stunts and shocks, designed to generate sales bumps which never last. And sales drop to even lower levels when readers realize there's actually nothing to it.

I don't consider DiDio and corporate management to be editors. You're right, they do offer "direction" which is horribly short-sighted and misplaced (stunts and shocks), but they aren't "editing" anything. To extend my TV analogy, they are far more akin to network executives who give meaningless, stupid, and contradictory "notes" to showrunners and writers. The best TV comes from showrunners (whom I liken to editors following the "bible") and writers who have more creative freedom, because they're actually THE ONES WHO CREATE STUFF.

All that said, JUST like a TV writer, you have to leave things in good shape for the other writers. You can't blow up the world this week, because we still need to have an episode for next week. At DC, they are literally (not quite literally but not quite figuratively either) blowing up the world on a regular basis. Of course nothing sticks and sales decline, because you're going to blow it all up again next week.

Yes, there are flaws with my system, too, but typically, trying to build something works better than just tearing things down. Again.

Anonymous said...

"Tired of the Morrison's and Snyder's going off the rails In Teh Name Of Art."

The last two arcs of "Batman" ("Endgame" and Commissioner Batman) both work much better if they're part of the Scarecrow hallucinations at the beginning of "Endgame". Remember that, where the Scarecrow's toxins were making Batman relive his death over and over? Damn if "Endgame" didn't make more sense as Batman accepting his death, and "Superheavy" being Batman's time in the Underworld as he prepares his return.

If that's NOT the case, then the Joker has figured out how to take over aliens / goddesses / Atlanteans / speedsters, Gotham has been so grievously assaulted that mass suicides ought to be the new fad, the Joker has been around for hundreds of years and has been appearing in people's photos all this time but nobody ever noticed, Commissioner Gordon took an axe to the chest and made a full recovery despite a complete lack of medical attention, and the giant tyrannosaurus is gone from the Batcave probably forever.

Sadly, I'm pretty sure DC is going with the latter rather than the former; Commissioner Batman has appeared in enough other titles that it's probably not all part of Bruce's hallucination.

Anonymous said...

Steve Mitchell - so totally agreeing with you about Superman. The three things I think people want in a Superman story are: 1) he cares about EVERYONE and will move heaven and earth to help anyone in trouble; 2) he encourages everyone to be the best versions of themselves; 3) he uses his powers creatively. Instead, DC usually just gives us a guy who punches giant robots until they stop moving.

Sr. Favo Posso deixar vazio sim said...

Scipio, once again I posted some comments and I see them nowhere. Anyone else getting a similar problem?