Thursday, March 26, 2015

"I do not love thee, Captain Atom..."

Dear DC Comics,

No one likes Captain Atom.  

Not because you haven't tried to make us, though. DC has abandoned scores of interesting and at least mildly popular characters since the Crisis, including some with small but very passionate fanbases.  But DC never gives up on Captain Atom.  No matter how many times we do.

Nyeah, with great power comes great boredom, got it, got it.

And, oh, how you have tried!  You gave him a new origin.  You gave him his own series (more than once, I recall).  You put him in JLI,  You laughably made him the leader of all of Earth's superheroes during an alien invasion crossover.  And when the most recent Heroclix set, "Superman/Wonder Woman" was teased, five figures were shown: Superman, Wonder Woman, Superman foe Lex Luthor, Superman ally Krypto the Superdog, and... Captain Atom. OF COURSE. Because the kids, they ALL love Captain Atom.

"Whoa! I was going to pass on this set, because who wants clix of Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, and Krypto. But CAPTAIN ATOM?!  Take my wallet!'
Said absolutely no one on earth.

"Captain Atom is one of the most powerful beings on earth!" "Captain Atom is potentially more powerful than Superman!" "Captain Atom is the model for Dr. Manhattan!' "Captain Atom has fewer cavities and 32% more whitening particles!"

Please stop.  It doesn't work.  We don't care how hard or how many ways or how many times you try to convince us we should love Captain Atom.

"Cary Bates! THAT'll fix the problem!"

Captain Atom is a tool. Or a traitor.  Or a dupe. Or a pompous ass.  Or a hothead.  Who cries when defeated by a pickle jar.  And we don't like him.

I just TOLD you what you were, Captain Atom; jeez, try to keep up.

Captain Atom doesn't have a dedicated fanbase. He doesn't have a fanbase at all. Even that ne-er-do-well hipster slacker poseur layabout Jack Knight has a fanbase. Even G'Nort has a fanbase.  There are NO Captain Atom fans.  There are, at best, a Set of People Who Didn't Mind Him All That Much in That One Thing They Saw or Read for Some Other Reason.  You want to know how unloved Captain Atom is?  He doesn't even have a Facebook fanpage. And if he did, it would be called "A Set of People Who etc."  

Plus,  the only remotely interesting thing he ever does is blow up.
 Even Captain Atom knows when he's not wanted. Why doesn't DC?

I get it. You paid good money for him at the Charlton yard sale and you want to get your money's worth.  Plus, he hardly had any wear and tear on him, so he should have lots of good use left in him.  You just keep trying him on with every outfit you have in the hope of finding the right one. But it's really obvious that that's what you're doing.  Captain Atom is not an organic part of the DCU.  If he didn't exist or you didn't own him, absolutely no one, writer or reader, would be saying, "You know, we need a character like THIS."

Captain Atom worked well precisely once, ten years ago, when he was trapped in the Wildstorm Universe, where suddenly he seems like a shining beacon of goodness and common sense in that effed up world. Whose characters, I note, you have since tried to incorporate into the main DCU, failed, and are now spinning back out into their own continuity, where they belong.

That should be a clue; give him another universe of his own.  He and Blue Beetle COULD be the Superman and Batman of a Charlton Universe.  You could spend your energies trying to have more than one potential movie franchise--,er, I mean, comic book universe going at the same time. it's worked well with Earth-2, hasn't it?  Run with that.

Adding insult, while you're spending all this time and effort pushing Captain Atom on us, you ignore The Atom, who everyone likes.  But that's a post for another day....

Monday, March 23, 2015

Superman Comes Out

My reaction to Clark Kent revealing to his roommate and colleague, Jimmy Olsen, his secret identity as Superman?

Well, it's about time.

Golden and Silver Age Superman was a pretty lonely guy, with no one who knew his secret and no one to confide in.  Although the Golden Age Superman was too manly too discuss it out loud. Or care, really.


It's the reason that whenever you think of a DC hero pondering his situation via thought-balloon, you almost invariably are thinking of Superman. Batman talked to Robin and Alfred and that old police guy with the mustache.  Wonder Woman talked to Etta and the Holliday Girls and her mother and the Amazons and, well, Wonder Woman never shut up, basically.

About bondage, mostly

Superman had no one to talk to, so readers were shown his inner monologue a lot.


This contributed, by the way, to  his tendency more than his colleagues to break the fourth wall; with no one to talk to, he talked to us.

"Instead, send that money to the Superman Super-Fan Club, to fund our campaign to put my face on the quarter!"

You seldom caught Batman talking to the reader.

Except in a Superman story. P.S. Superwoman's a dick.

In case you never thought about it, it's also one of the reasons the Batman/Superman friendship was so important in the Silver Age; Batman was the only person Superman had to talk to (because who wants to talk to Supergirl?)

Hey, Rob; ixnay on the Upermansay, okay?

One of the most important changes John Byrne made for DC when they rebooted Superman after the Crisis was to have his parents still be alive. Many of today's readers were raised with the idea of the Kents as living touchstones of Superman's humanity and morality.  But since Superman's re-reboot in the Latest Crisis, his parents have been dead; they died in a car crash, a solid reminder to readers that Superman can't be everywhere and fix all problems (and that not all problems are caused by supervillains or long-dormant diseases embedded in buried pirate treasure).

Venal, greedy Martha! Killed by your own dreams of avarice, just like in some "Twilight Zone" episode.
You had it coming, lady.

In the Silver Age, Jimmy Olsen was Superman's Pal-- Superman who lied to him every day of his life.  And for no reason, really.  The stated reason that Superman never confined to anyone who he was is that doing so might endanger their lives.  C'mon, Jimmy's life was already in constant danger from being Superman's Pal.  How could anyone's life be MORE in danger than Jimmy Olsen's?!

Never a dull moment, eh, Lucy?

No one has known quite what to do with Jimmy Olsen since Crisis.  Heck, it's easy to make a case that no one knew what to do with Jimmy Olsen BEFORE the Crisis; that's why he was always being made to swallow noxious foreign substances with bizarre results.  Like Jack Kirby.

Clark's reveal to Jimmy takes two problems and turns them into one solution.  It gives Clark someone to relate to as BOTH Clark and Superman who knows his secret, and gives Jimmy and actual narrative function in Superman fiction.

"Why not?" Uh, where do I start....?!