Saturday, July 1, 2006

DC Comics Returns... or Relapses - Part II

So I still haven't seen Superman Returns (as of this writing), and I still haven't jumped back into reading comics they way I used to, but I'm going to finish analyzing this new DC reboot anyway...

The question you should've been left with (if you had any brains) after Part I of this particular subject is "Why is DC going to need a fourth reboot in about 10 years?" Well, my friends, the answer is simple... DC is doing to many of our favorite characters what they've attempted to do many times before and, with few exceptions, failed at many times before: changing the characters.

See, in an attempt to diversify the DC Universe, the editors at DC decided that more minority superheroes were needed. Now, I'm not just talking about race, I'm talking about gender and sexual preference, too. While it's hard to disagree with the fact that true-to-life demographics aren't accurately represented in most comic books, it's easy to disagree with forcing these true-to-life demographics on our favorite characters, especially when it isn't going to work. In fact, the only time something that like has worked with resounding success was during Julius Schwartz' launch of the Silver Age DC. Ironically, that same launch is also the reason for the enormously confusing DC continuity problems. But I digress...

Some examples of diversification include: the Atom is no longer the WASP Ray Palmer (and one of my favorite characters), he's now the Chinese-American Ryan Choi. The Blue Beetle is no longer the WASP Ted Kord (also a great character), he's now the Hispanic teenager Jamie Reyes. Batwoman Kathy Kane is now a lipstick lesbian. Other "diversifications" indirectly related to the DC Reboot include changing Firestorm from the WASP Ronnie Raymond/Martin Stein combination to the black teenager Jason Rusch solo act, as well as the animated push to depict the black John Stewart over the WASP Hal Jordan as the main Green Lantern (to be fair, John Stewart has been around for decades and is one of the better written minority characters in the DC Universe). And the list goes on...

The problem with diversifying existing characters rather than creating new ones is two-fold. First, it pisses off a lot of readers. Some, like myself, are reserving judgment, but are likely to be eventually pissed off anyway. Others are already incensed. Second, changing existing characters almost never works. In fact, other than the aforementioned Silver Age launch (which brought us the most popular versions of Green Lantern, Flash, Atom, and a popular version of Hawkman) and the excellent handling of the Starman franchise, CHARACTER CHANGES DON'T WORK.

To show this, one only needs to take a closer look at the 10 characters DC generally considers at its iconography. I suppose I'll break down and do just that in a Part III to this subtle admission that I'm I nerd, but for now, vote for Zauriel as Hawkman!

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