Thursday, August 17, 2017

METAL

So, ordinarily long about now I'd be posting about something like, say,

"THIS TIME" is one of the most amusing and redundant qualifying phrases I have ever read.


But current comics have trumped that urge. Specifically, the utter insanity that is the whole "Metal" crossover.  Now, there's all sorts of lunacy I could discuss in a crossover that has evil Batmen modeled on various JL characters coming from the dark multiverse on the blacked out flipside of Grant Morrison's Multiversity map to attack our multiverse.

I mean... this ALONE.

 But, instead, I'm going to focus on Hawkman's role.  Or, more accurately, what the writers seem to be using the crossover to do with him.

As longtime readers of the blog will know, I started this blog for exactly two reasons.  One: I didn't enjoy anyone else's blog enough, so I figured I should write one I would enjoy.  Two: to discuss my pet literary theory, the Dynastic Centerpiece Model (specifically, that in order to become and remain iconic, any comic book protagonist needs to be the centerpiece of his or her own constellation of locations, issues, and related characters).  It's not a revolutionary concept, it's not an original concept; in fact, it's rather obvious.  But it's truly amazing how many characters have been doomed by writers willing to ignore it or actively flaunting it.  For a character to have any hope of becoming iconic, you must build a world tailored around him/her, rather than merely trying to fit the new character into a pre-existing universe. 

Not all the potential elements of such a world have to be in place.  Not every hero needs to collect a permanent full set of tropes: The Older Authority Figure, The Junior Partner, The Civilian Love Interest, The Comic Relief, the Ethnic/Other-gendered Counterpart, The Physical Threat, The Mocking Foe, The Intellectual Threat, The Dark Mirror, et al.  For example, rarely does Batman have a Civilian Love Interest (notwithstanding Vicki Vale), Wonder Woman a Male Counterpart (notwithstanding Warkiller), the Martian Manhunter a Junior Partner (notwithstanding Miss Martian).  And not all of the elements used in building a world around a dynastic centerpiece  have to be completely original; they can be ones that were previously unaffiliated but can be repurposed by serving a role in the main character's mythos. For example, to build a world for the CW's Flash, its creators re-purposed, of all people, Vibe (Cisco Ramone) and Killer Frost (Caitlin Snow). Completely ridiculous and counter-intuitive...yet wildly successful.

I've long thought that DC would benefit from the mental exercise of picking X number of iconic characters and then "arranging" ALL other characters "underneath" them.  Some of you are already typing "but but but the wonderful variety and diversity of the multiverse would be spoiled by trying to box in into arbitrary lines of business....!"  To which I say:



The DCU Online game does pretty much exactly that: superheroes under Superman, magic heroes under Wonder Woman, normal heroes under Batman; boom.  Heck, I have to do it just to organize my Heroclix collection.  

That process alone -- organizing my Heroclix collection -- has made it very clear to me how success/failure in apply the principle of Dynastic Centerpiece Model to certain characters has result in the success/failure of the character.  I have to have TWO boxes for Flash Foes. But my box for Martian Manhunter Foes required some pretty broad interpretation of "foe".  The Atom and Hawkman don't even have separate boxes for their foes, and, under a recent effort of get custom figures for some of their enemies, ALL of BOTH the Atom and Hawkman related figures together didn't fill up a box.

But "Metal" seems to be aiming to fix that for Hawkman.  



There is, as I mentioned, a GREAT deal going on already in the Metal crossover (like the Joker trying to save the multiverse).  But, here on one page, the writers have put the Blackhawks, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Metal Men (with Will Magnus), Red Tornado (with T.O. Morrow), and, of all people, the Will Payton Starman, under Hawkman's metaphorical wing.  Already all those characters (not among my favorites, as you may know) are suddenly more interesting to me because they are part of a larger story.  

I still recall the amazing period around 2005 when Palmiotti & Gray did wonders with Hawkman and Hawkgirl and their suddenly awesome rogues gallery; but it all fell apart out of their creative hands.  I'm hoping that with "Metal", DC is going to put Hawkman at the center of new dynasty of adventurers.