Wednesday, December 19, 2018

DC's Tom King Teases Beating of Dead Horse

"DC's Tom King Teases [stupid overdone fanboy trope here]"  seems to have become the default headline in my feed:

Look, I have written before that long-running iconic characters have certain shifts in emphasis that they undergo every generation or so: for example, Batman goes from dark loner to pater familias of a large group of younger heroes, or Superman shifts from being focused on his humanity to being focused on his Kryptonian heritage. It's a necessary adaptation for such characters and I get that.

But this is not that.  This is not a persona-cycle.  This is just going to the back to the well of Periodic Fake-Out Stories: hero dies/is replaced; so-and-so isn't dead after all; X and Y are finally going to hook up; longtime friends/enemies are now enemies/friends.

The Well is a place of sadness and deception.

Tom King (and other writers): just... no.  Stop it.  You're not fooling anyone.  Well, that may not be true: you can sometimes fool newer readers, ones who don't remember the last time a writer wrote the story you're about to write.  But you're not fooling ME.  

In the much (and easily) derided Silver Age, writers (or their godlike editors) knew how to handle such tropes.  They either reversed them by the end of the story or they put them in so-called "imaginary stories" (we would call them 'non-canon' or 'not-in-continuity' or just 'elseworlds').  

That second story is the one we live in, by the way.

They didn't try to fool us (or themselves) long-term that whatever change they were making was permanent.  Frankly, the creators who spewed out all the imbecilic but imaginative crap during the Silver Age had far more respect for the readers -- most of whom were children -- than modern writers do for current readers -- most of whom are adults.  

Chew on that for a while.  I plan to, while I wait for Tom King's run on Batman to end.


John C said...

Honestly, even if any of them are a sincere return to a fan-favorite status quo or critical story arc, "leaking" your own stories for one of the most popular characters in the world at a time when previews are widely available positively reeks of desperation and a distrust in the ability to execute. I haven't followed any big-name comics in a while, so I don't know anything about King, but this doesn't suggest good things.

Of course, maybe I'm misplacing my criticism and it's whoever's writing the headlines trying to make the story sound more important than it actually is. But since I don't see that with other creators, I'm guessing not.

Semi-related to stories having been done before, I sometimes try to imagine what it must be like to live in the DC Universe as an ordinary human being. Not only is widespread property damage (which may or may not be permanent) a routine issue, but you're constantly caught between rewritten histories and nearly-identical events playing out constantly. And that doesn't even get into the weirdness of actual gods from various pantheons just loitering around with no religious movements consolidating around them.

I mean, I assume this stuff doesn't just happen to people in costumes, right...?

Bryan L said...

John, have you ever read Astro City? It's a fascinating look at a super-hero universe, largely from the perspective of ordinary people. It's well worth your time.

On the subject of event comics, I have a theory that whenever the writers get a really good or original idea, they write it down and put it in a file cabinet to use for their own personal projects. They definitely don't hand it to a huge corporation. I think that's why the cycle of repetitiveness is accelerating.