OK, I’ve finally calmed down enough from my laughing fit to actually write something about this vague announcement. First off, is it really a bad idea for a company to shake things up, and change around their shared universe full of superheroes? Of course it’s not. That being said, however, when you make a habit out of it, well, yeah, it gets kind of old.
I’m not an idiot, I do realize that there will be plenty of good and great things that come out of this. We’ll see new creators on new books, and new artists, and new takes on things — all of that is great. But we’ve been here before. The “New 52,” “Flashpoint,” “The 52 second wave,” the official reboot, “Convergence,” and now we get “Rebirth.” Do you see the trend? In each of these events we ended up with some great comics, though a fair share of duds were also released. But instead of riding through the slow times, finding new teams to fill the shoes of the creators that move on, the answer seems to be to simply scrap everything and start over.
This type of creative culture keeps the balls in the air like an erratic juggler who never lets things fall into a pattern. As a result, readers are unable to settle with the new interpretations of familiar characters. They are too distracted by the spectacle, by the potential for disaster. There’s no way to really connect to these new characters because before we know it the whole routine is dropped and the next reboot comes along. If you want to build some long-term followers, then what you need to do is bring stability back to your publishing, and for the love of god, just stop with all of the damn gimmicks.
OK, now that I’m done with my whining, let me tune you readers into why this is happening. If we take a look back into the annals of comics, and look at the days when Marvel and DC were not owned by mega corporations, they did business with a pretty simple formula: They tried their hardest to put out a quality product, letting the merits of their product sell you on its own achievements. It is a simple philosophy, one that you see in many small, mom-and-pop companies. Give the public a great product and they will come.
When we start to move up the food chain and see a company grow into, or get bought up by, a large corporation, that simple philosophy changes. Of course they will never admit it, but it’s the truth. The simple philosophy gets replaced with a new philosophy, and that is to do whatever you can to increase revenues. I’m not so short sighted to think that smaller companies don’t want to make money too, it’s just that they also have something that tends to get diluted and washed away as a company grows — the notion of doing it for the love of the craft, and doing it because they have a personal connection to the company.
I know I run the risk of prattling on like Chicken Little, and some may see nothing wrong with the current situation. I’m sure there are those who even like the constant turn around, enjoying every big splash that is rolled out with each of these new relaunches. But I have to tell you, you’re missing out.
Back in the day I was a huge Daredevil fan, and I still am. Something about the duality of that character really drew me to Matt Murdock, and I was spoiled. You see I started reading Daredevil, like so many others, when Frank Miller started on the book, and I then was taken on a thrill ride that featured great creative teams following one after another. These teams didn’t just do a six-issue stint, they poured a couple years of work into the book. In the end what I had experienced was not just a great year’s worth of comics. When the dust settled, and a new creative team was appointed, I remained a loyal and devoted fan to one particular comic for nearly ten years. I ask you to name one superhero comic from Marvel or DC that has had that kind of stability since the 90s.
Despite all of the hype, the press releases, and the new and fresh creators who will be brought onboard for this latest incarnation, I’m completely underwhelmed. I hate to say it, but if you want longevity in a comic book series, go to the independent publishers; that’s where you can find people who still have a passion for the craft, and the characters they are working on. Mainstream releases are getting too inundated with corporate-driven mandates that saddle creators with silly expectations.