Monday, September 21, 2009

Shuffling the Superheroes

You can't convince me that the big two publishers haven't lost their way .... yet again. With the recent media brouhaha over corporate realignments at DC Comics and Disney's purchase of Marvel Comics, its easy to miss the goings on in the four-color world.

The November solicitations revealed the upcoming lineup of James Robinson's and Mark Bagley's Justice League of America to be comprised of CONGORILLA, DONNA TROY, MON-EL, BATMAN (Dick Grayson), DR. LIGHT, GREEN ARROW (Oliver Queen), GREEN LANTERN (Hal Jordan), THE ATOM (Ray Palmer), CYBORG, STARFIRE and THE GUARDIAN. The fact that an attribution has to be made in order to identify a third of the incoming team members actually nicely demonstrates part of the problem. There are just too many versions of some of these characters running around the DCU to start with. It also doesn't bode well to see another portion comprised of former New Teen Titans members, however several were present in the Justice League: Cry for Justice mini-series that was written by Robinson, but that seems to be somewhat beside the point here.

It's almost like the writer, editor and whom-the-hell-ever-else at DC sat around one boring day and said, "Let's just see what we can toss in here for shits and giggles".

Take another look above at that Ed Benes image from the first issue of this volume of JLA. A few of these characters were present in that large assemblage of potential league members, but I doubt that too many of the readers thought that all of them were actually viable candidates for a roster that should be composed of "The Worlds Greatest Super Heroes".

Given that the Justice Society of America, which has remained a popular fan favorite for quite some time now in its own title (and which has already included a relaunched volume or two), gets split into twin titles soon; one has to admit that the era of change for changes sake is comfortably steamrolling along.

Superman gets banished from his family titles for a year, while second and third stringers take over the spotlight in those books, Batman is dead [nudge-nudge, wink-wink] and so his rampantly growing "family" of peers takes over the Gotham beat in an equally ludicrous move and apparently Wonder Woman receives new powers in her title, and well; you get the picture. Distinguished Competition = Dwindling readership, dwindling expectations, and ring around the rosy.
Marvel is no better. Pick any of the crossovers from the last few years and in all likelihood there remains a tie-in series, one-shot or special that has either just been released or is due in. What the?

Then there is the whole "Dark" thing that has gripped the MU, on that one I'm a bit vague, or gloomy and I can't really see through the murk. I do know that things are a bit shady over at the former House of Ideas.

At least Captain America is back, rather the "real" Cap (Steve Rogers). Whether he or Bucky Barnes gets to keep the name will still have to be decided, but fortunately these guys won't have to get disrespected as badly as poor Donna Troy. After three attempts to give her another code name, and after losing her own to a trendier version, she just has to make do with her no longer secret identity.
If we are all mostly aging fan boys, who among you has the mental energy to even try to keep this stuff straight enough to enjoy it?

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