Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Comics talk: Fear Itself, DC's 52 reboot, and War of the Independents

Lately I’ve gotten heavy into the political talk and not so much on comics talk, so today let me try to balance the scales a bit. 

Marvel’s Fear Itself storyline.

Fear Itself was one of the better blockbuster storylines that Marvel has done in recent years.  Ever since the dreadful Civil War, I tend to be leery of Marvel’s blockbusters, but this one helped redeem their cred a bit.  If they keep this up, then they could get back into my good graces.  :-)  I pretty much ignored the tie-ins, as I usually do with the tie-ins to the blockbuster storylines of both of the big comics companies, because tie-ins to me are what 3D is to the movie industry:  A pretty and unnecessary accessory. 

However, I did read Fear Itself: Home Front, because I was curious to see how they would play out the whole story of Speedball and his return to the city that was the scene of his fall from grace a few years back.  This was nicely done and the responses from the different characters – especially from the woman who lost a child from the tragedy that triggered the Civil War storyline in the first place.  Without giving away much of what happens in the story, let’s just say that her response to his assistance redeemed him a bit in her eyes, but she still can’t forget that she lost a son because of him.  “Forgive, but not forget”, in other words; which is completely logical.  Kudos to Marvel for this one.

DC Comics 52 “reboot”

I’m still reserving judgment on this.  While there is a kind of novelty to rebooting familiar characters, I’m still not sold on what they’ve done so far.  My thinking is “why fix what’s not broken?”, especially in rebooting the whole line of comics, instead of testing it out as an “alternate universe”.  I guess what’s tainting my thinking is their recent Brightest Day series – one so bad and convoluted that I stopped buying them, representing the first time I’ve ever stopped reading a limited series before it was done.  Those who know my love for comics know that this is a rather shocking development on my part!  My fear is that they are taking what they did with BD and expanding it to the whole DC franchise.  I hope I’m wrong about it, but if the whole of DC gets infected with this BD virus, then I might have to stop reading DC altogether – which would be an even greater shocking development.   Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that!  

War of the Independents limited series

I really wanted to love War of the Independents, since it’s a collection of characters not with the “Big Two”, but what should be its strength is actually its weakness.  There’s just too many characters to keep up with!  Plus, having superhero characters together with cartoony characters like Gumby just doesn’t make sense.  Granted, it’s a comic book and pretty much anything goes – “suspend your disbelief” and all that - but the overabundance of characters means that too many characters are trying to get your attention, so it ends up that none of them do. 

Also, the different styles of art virtually with every page can sometimes get jarring, and it’s really a distraction from the story flow.  Anytime you have to remove yourself from a story to notice something like that is not good.  I do appreciate the effort and I am totally down with the idea and concept – I just think it needs to be worked a little differently. 

You all know that I am nothing if not opinionated, so here’s my take on what they might try another time:  Same idea, same concept, but try to create stories of characters that are similar; for example, pair Gumby with Usagi Yojimbo, Bone, Cerberus, Milk, Cheese, and the other cartoony looking characters.  Have one of the artists used to drawing in this cartoony style to do the artwork. 

Then another story can be done in an oddball style using Too Much Coffee Man, Zippy the Pinhead, The Flaming Carrot, and perhaps Megaton Man, The Tick, and The Maxx; again by an artist used to drawing in that style. 

Yet other stories could be built around the superheroes who have certain common themes, like the ghost/zombie/otherwise undead, or those built around a patriotic theme, or perhaps an all-girl story.  Tying them all together can be an overall theme, perhaps all of them saving the universe in their own, special way. 

Anyway, by using this pairing up method of the similar style characters, it gives each of them more of a chance to show what it is about each of them that appealed to their fans, and in the process, perhaps they can attract new fans.  With a little organization, this can really work, and pulled off in the way that I think it can be done, it could do well enough to make the big guy comic companies at least take momentary notice.  With that, you guys would have your own little Occupy moment in the comics world, and that would be an Occupy movement that I could totally support.  :-)

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