Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pre-partum look at Rebirth

Well, now, that Batman versus Superman is behind us, let's look at what's before us: Rebirth.

Before we get to any specifics let's address the overall tone of Rebirth.  DC -- more important, Dan Didio himself -- is admitting it screwed up.  Credit for that, then.  It's very rare for any company of any kind to simply say, "sorry, we made the wrong decisions and now we are going to try to fix things."  That alone is a huge change from DC's usual approach over the last twenty (thirty?) years, which has consistently been, "No, no, fans, you are mistaken and we know better than you do and you should shut up and trust us and buy whatever versions of our characters we deemed fit to dispense."  That kind of attitude is enough to make me wonder whether my friend Van Google is correct; maybe these IPs should not continue to be protected by copyright.  Maybe we would be better off if people were free to make their own versions of DC's iconic characters and let them all duke in out in the marketplace of ideas (or taste, at least). THAT would be a multiverse.

Similarly, they are not even branding it as a reboot.  They seems (finally) to realize that that well is dry.  They seem to be trying to kick their reboot addiction. Just fix stuff, DC.  Simply forget the stories that are in the way.  If you want Ted Kord back, just bring him back.  That doesn't require a universal reboot.

Dan Abnett on Aquaman is already a known awesomeness.  Putting him on Titans will make me pick that up too (and I can't imagine what else would)   Giffen on Blue Beetle(s) is a no-brainer; he created Jaime Reyes and essentially created what we now think of as Ted Kord.  Most creative assignments announced for Rebirth are neutral at worst, many are good, some are great.  Only a handful are head-slappingly stupid (e.g., letting Percy continue to write Green Arrow; slapping a goatee back on Ollie's face will NOT fix that situation, Mr. Johns).

Some people are critical of what they see as DC focusing on a handful of icons to the exclusion of edgier more outre characters.  I say those people are wrong.  Wrong, not because Icons Rule and Outliers Suck.  Wrong because what DC needs to do -- what it has ALWAYS needed to do -- is to solidify and stabilize the core characters and teams of its universe.  Having strong dynastic centerpieces as the pillars of the DCU doesn't squeeze out other characters.  Quite the contrary.  It creates a stable environment for such characters to be introduced.  If you are going to have diversity in your literary rainforest, you need a bunch of solid icons and related characters providing a canopy under which niche figures can thrive.  DC finally seems to abandoned its obsession with going against the grain of its own universe, force feeding us Black Orchid and Captain Atom and Voodoo and pretending that those characters are going to stand on their own.  Instead let them thrive in their own niches in the DCU; not all animals need to be elephants, you know.

DC has also announced that further plans for restoring their universe will come later, once they have their main lines back in order.  For example, the Legion will return (in the future, so to speak).  Many of DC's previous attempts at self-reinvention were too extreme, too much, too fast.  Editorial wasn't ready for it, individual titles evolved before an overall plan was formed, and readers would almost immediately perceive that the narrative problems solved were quickly being outmatched by the new problems being generate.  DC's approach this time seems to me much more deliberate.

The fact that they are being rather transparent about their pans is another good sign. Previous 'renewals' always seemed shrouded in mystery, almost as if DC were afraid to tell you the truth about what they were up to, because they KNEW you wouldn't like it.  This time, however, they seem...relieved.  Like they no longer have to make themselves into some they aren't just to be loved.  Perhaps the success of their characters in other media finally have given them the confidence in the in their own IPs, the confidence that many of us never lost.  They seem to be talking about the characters the same way we do, more as fans or caretakers and less as salesmen. That, of course, is the best way to wind up selling us....

Monday, March 28, 2016

Batman v Superman

I saw it.

I liked it.

Mind you, I didn't love it.  The dream sequences seemed juvenile, Lex seemed like an addlepated homeless person, Batman was way too easily influenced (and a rather poor detective), and MY Superman would be much more concerned about making a mess in the bathroom.  

But most of what I didn't care for (the gloom, the conflict, etc.) is built in to the premise of the movie: Batman VERSUS Superman is a dumb concept to begin with.  That is going to be non-fun, that is going to require them to behave stupidly and out-of-character, and that's going to feel more like a Marvel comic than a DC one.  I read DKR when it came out 30 years ago, and that's how it felt then.  I don't blame the director for that, I blame the adolescent fans who want DKR re-played 30 years after it came out and childishly wonder "Who would win in a fight of Hero 1 against Hero 2?"  And sure enough all the dumbest, hollowest, lines in the movie are ones taken directly from that story.  

After settling in to the movie a bit, my expectations adjusted immediately when I realized: this is an opera.  Just one without music.  It's big ideas and characters tromping across the scene being all symbolic and conflict-y.  If the plot needs someone to be dumb, they are (how quickly did Lois regret pointless throwing away that spear, huh?).  And you can criticize that all you want -- it deserves it -- but to pretend that comics aren't like that, haven't ALWAYS been like that, is simply naive.

I have to admit, when there was a pause in the action for a sec and I saw the Trinity standing there together, ready to fight as a team...it was breathtaking and took me by surprise.  That a film could make me feel that way is enough of a sniff test for me.

Getting the stupid conflict out of the way FIRST, clearing a path to a unified Justice League?  If it's going to happen, better than having it happen later, I say.  And interesting to me that the catalysts for ending the testosterone-laden conflict -- Lois, Martha, and Diana -- were women.  

If anything the end of movie kind of emphasized, "Wow, that was stupid that we were fighting, wasn't it?"  And that's a good place to be going forward.