Here’s a list of things I’d like to throw out there to the powers-that-be in the comic book publishing world. It’s a list of challenges. Does anyone care what this humble novelologist has to say about the comic book world? Probably not. But it’s something I had on my mind and just thought I’d throw it out there. Consider it a comic book fan’s manifesto. Or should I say former fan? Either way, let’s get to it.
BRING BACK SOME GOOD GUYS:
Perhaps the most troubling element of modern comic books is the near complete lack of good guys. Remember the days when Wolverine and the Punisher were the edgy heroes. Now they’re positively family-friendly. Marvel, in particular, is guilty of this sin. They’ve systematically replaced nearly every hero with a “dark” equivalent. And, yes, dark is even the word they’re using.
This is truth in advertising. Most of the heroes of the Marvel Universe are real assholes at this point. Not just reckless or bloodthirsty, but downright vicious and cruel. Witness the new Dark Ms. Marvel pluck a complete stranger from his bed, talk to him for a few minutes, and than casually toss him away to his death with no regard. (Worse is how often this sort of thing is played for humor in the new Marvel U.)
Remember when heroes had noble ideals? Remember when they fought for the common good? Remember when “flawed” heroes didn’t necessarily mean “psychotic?”
Yeah, me neither.
I’m not suggesting getting rid of these dark characters, but if you could happen to give me someone to root for once in a while…well that’d be a nice change of pace. That’s all I’m saying.
ENOUGH WITH THE DEATH
In general, I think death is a cheap gimmick, a tool in a writer’s kit that should be used sparingly in order to keep it interesting. Especially in ongoing universes. Ideally, death should be used when it has the most impact, when it really counts for something.
And that’s a problem in the world of comic books because NOBODY stays dead. I don’t care how noble the death, how trivial the character, EVERYBODY comes back to life eventually. It’s just the way it is, and every comic book fan knows it. Heck, at this stage every comic book character knows it.
So death in comic books means nothing. Absolutely nothing. Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl ,was shot in the spine. She still can’t walk. But if she’d been shot in the face, rushed to the hospital, and pronounced dead, she’d probably be up and around by now, back to fighting crime. Yes, in the world of comics getting maimed is more permanent and disabling than dying. And I can accept that.
Just don’t expect me to get worked up about it anymore. When Marvel killed Captain America recently, nobody in the comic reading world really gave a crap. And why should they? They all knew he would come back, and probably sooner than later. So as much as they love putting those covers with the blood splattered shield or the new “dark” Cap, nobody out here gives a damn.
The same thing goes for Batman, DC. We all know Bruce Wayne isn’t dead. So stop pretending like The Battle for the Cowl will have any long term consequences.
And speaking of consequences…
STOP PRETENDING THE STATUS QUO WILL CHANGE
We know it’s not. We know that Peter Parker will always be Spider-Man and that Spider-Man will never be loved by the general public. (Despite the fact that there’s no real reason for him to be a pariah in a world full of superhuman heroes) We all know that if Superman loses his powers, he will get them back. And no matter how many times the X-Men save the universe, they will always be “misunderstood”.
The writers should try to remember this too. Perhaps it might stop them from writing stories that “change everything!” Spider-Man’s mask comes off. Whoop-dee-doo. (Although it’s sadly pathetic to resort to having the Devil magic everything back to normal as the only way to fix the problem.) So instead of trying to shock us with stories we all know will never stick, how about just thrill us with stories that are worth reading because they’re well written? Just a suggestion.
Now to a few more specific suggestions:
Listen, DC, we all know that Superman came from another world that blowed up real good. That’s his backstory. It’s simple. It works. It doesn’t need to be more than that. Superman may have been born on Krypton, but he looks like a human, he’s lived 95 percent of his life as a human, and his morality is human. So stop digging into Krypton as a way to “humanize” the man of steel. Just let Krypton die.
Also, there’s absolutely no need to explore Superman’s early years anymore. None. It seems like every few years someone comes along and writes the “definitive” Superman origin. But how often do we need to hear this? More importantly, what’s new to be done with it? Nothing, that’s what.
No more super-knockoffs. Superman is special because he’s unique. It’s not that he’s a powerhouse. The DC universe is full of powerhouses. What makes Superman fun (what makes ALL superheroes fun) is that they’re each their own distinctive gimmick. This is why there’s not 10,000 Green Arrows running around, even though you would imagine there are probably lots of guys who can shoot a bow and arrow. This is why Iron Man doesn’t just make 1,000 armored suits and create his own private army of superheroes.
So Supergirl? Get rid of her. Drop her in Kryptonite acid. Have her eat some bad tuna. I don’t know. Figure it out. She’s not a bad character. She’s more of a bad idea, and she’s always been a bad idea. ALWAYS. Because Supergirl’s mere existence makes Superman seem commonplace.
Yeah, even Krypto the superdog needs to go. And I hate saying that because I LOVE Krypto.
Get rid of all the multi-colored rainbow of Lanterns you’ve created. I know this will never happen, of course. But I can dream. Because as cool as some people might think the idea is, I have to say it destroys any interesting aspect of the character for me.
We’ve always known that there was more than one Green Lantern in the universe. That never bothered me. But I always imagined the Lanterns as a Texas Rangers in Space! kind of thing. Always outnumbered, always with their back to the wall, having incredible powers but having to deal with a lot of crap at the same time.
Instead, we’ve discovered the the Lanterns are more of an intergalactic police force with thousands of members. And suddenly, the Conservation of Ninjitsu kicks in. There’s only so much badass to go around, and with that many power rings floating around the universe, it gets spread pretty thin. More often than not, when we meet a new Green Lantern, it’s just to watch them get their ass kicked. So get rid of most of these guys. (You don’t have to kill ’em. Just stop shoving in our face so much.)
With the addition of the Rainbow Coalition of Lanterns, the effect is even more pronounced. At times, it seems like everyone is a Lantern. Maybe they give the rings out in Cracker Jack boxes. I dunno. Don’t care. Just get rid of ’em.
Remember when Sinestro was the ultimate badass? It was because there was ONE of him. And the Green Lanterns knew that he was someone you didn’t want to screw with. But now that there’s hundreds of Yellow Lanterns, Sinestro is just another face in the crowd, and that’s a real shame.
Don’t get me started.
Ditch the “time guardian” angle. It stinks, and here’s why it stinks.
Booster cannot change anything, and we know it. His enemies cannot change anything, and we know it. You can come up with all manner of techno-babble, time-travel nonsense to explain it, but bottom line: you aren’t going to retcon comic book history in a Booster Gold comic. Ain’t gonna happen.
So everything in a Booster Gold “time guardian” story is a foregone conclusion. Will Booster be able to save Barbara Gordon from the Joker? No, of course not. Will evil time travelers erase Superman from the timestream? I’m just gonna take a wild guess and say no on this one too.
You’ve neutered both your hero and your villain in one fell swoop. And that’s why it stinks.
Did I mention you should kill Supergirl? Because I just wanted to mention it again.
Conversely, you could try making the character more interesting with better stories, but let’s be honest…that isn’t going to happen. So just kill her and put her and us out of our misery.
And lest you think Marvel escaped my wrath:
Do something with this guy. Something good. Something fun. He’s a good kid. He deserves to find an audience.
Nobody cares about Slapstick. Nobody but me. So if you could make a Slapstick comic book (even a mini-series) I promise to buy it. Really, I do.
Hey, remember that first mini-series? That one that was surprisingly good even if it should’ve been a terrible idea. That was great. Better than it had any right to be.
The rest…not so much.
I know you’re making money off of this, so I don’t expect you to listen to me. And I don’t even know if I’m right. All I know is that this is an idea that burned itself out almost immediately, and while it might be fun to do zombie-themed parodies of all your classic covers, you don’t have to bother wrapping it around a bad comic. Just make the covers and sell those. People will buy ’em, I’m sure.
Without a doubt, this is the worst character in the Marvel U. He needs to go.
Remember that stuff I said about Superman and Green Lantern? All that stuff applies here. Wolverina started out as a joke in What the…?, the Marvel humor comic. Now she’s a real character. “Dark” Wolverine is Wolverine’s “dark” son! There are simply too many characters running around with claws and healing factors, and the longer this goes on, the less we’re going to care.
He’s not Lex Luthor, no matter how much you try and convince us he is. So every time he’s sitting in a pow wow with Loki or Dr. Doom, you should just have one of them disintegrate him and be done with it.
STOP BEING THE PUNCHLINE TO YOUR OWN JOKES
Wolverina was a joke. She was a joke you invented, Marvel. And then you went and tried to make her serious.
“Dark Reign”? Really? This is the title you chose for your big crossover event because “dark” comics aren’t a cliche or anything. Maybe that crap played better in the 90’s, but now, it just seems silly. Grrr. We’re dark!
Okay, I guess that’s it. I could go on, but if you’ve made it this far, you probably are just hoping I’ll shut up.
So that’s that. A list of requests that nobody important will read, and will never happen. But I put it out there. I did my part. The rest is subject to the whims of the universe.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,