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Friday at the Big Bang… maybe?

Reader’s burnout is a phenomenon that many of us are prey to, I think. I’ve talked about it a couple of times here myself, I’ve had friends of mine crabbing about it (Heidi over at Comics Fairplay has been having a bad bout of it lately) and it just seems to come with being a fan of superhero comics.

Actually, I think it comes with being a fan of any series that’s been going on for a long time, that you’ve been following for a while. I got to thinking about this after we watched Casino Royale the other night, and being reminded that A) I really DO still love James Bond stories, after all these years, and B) there are basically two news stories that get written about Bond movies. The first one is “Is the Bond franchise finally finished?” and the other one is “New life for the James Bond franchise!”

This movie is so amazingly awesome.

I’ve seen the “new life” story being written for Live and Let Die, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye, and Casino Royale… and its opposite number, the impending-doom one, for each of those films’ immediate predecessors in the Bond series. That’s how ancient I am. And I’m betting the two stories got written as far back as George Lazenby, or even Connery’s You Only Live Twice. (Probably both at the same time for poor George, the press had a fine old time with him. But, you know, he said defensively, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service holds up a lot better than some of the others.) The plain truth is, those various 007 facelifts were necessary. Sorry, Connery diehards, but you know it’s true.

Here’s the great dilemma of continuing entertainments. You want to keep your fans happy, you want to give them what they fell in love with in the first place. But if you intend to have any kind of longevity, that means adhering to a formula, which breeds repetition. And endless repetition is dull. So you have to figure out a way to repeat yourself that’s not dull.

Good luck with that. Many have tried.

Still fun, but getting a little tired. Whoa, deja vu.

Remixed, but not new. Okay, nodding off now.

Or perhaps this one…. it’s easy to be smug in hindsight, and I’m not trying to be snarky when I say this — but really, how many NEW ways are there to tell these stories?

Okay, admittedly this came as a surprise. Getting a little old...

...kinda scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I mean, jeez, it's an annual event or something.

This is not to say that a series formula is something inherently BAD…. though there are those critics who seem to think so. Mileage varies. Some folks appreciate a well-executed formula story with a minor twist while others roll their eyes and yawn in boredom at one. Whatever. The beauty of the current comics landscape is that your kind of book, whatever it might be, is probably readily available to you.

The trouble is that we rarely look for them. What we superhero fans mostly do is get so invested in a title or a character that we think we want OUR book done OUR way till the end of time… even though if our book really is done our way till the end of time, we will eventually get bored with it and become restless. We want it the same… but different.

Now, I am certain that each specific example I posted up there has its defenders and its detractors. (I tried to pick relatively neutral examples, as best I could.) I’m talking about trends and general tendencies.

The tendency for superhero fans is to want the books to stay the same — but different!– and so the tendency of superhero creators is to keep trying to appease that schizophrenic need. So we get things like big Event Death stories, or a Bold New Direction, or Getting Back To Basics… I mean, come on. If you’ve been following Marvel and DC for any length of time you know how it goes. Big Sweeping Change, then a new team comes on or an editorial regime changes and suddenly the Big Sweeping Change is undone.

Back to basics. Bold new direction!

Back to basics. Bold new direction!... no, wait, it's back to basic-- oh, hell, I forget.

Green Lantern’s the most obvious example, of course, but there are lots of other ones in superhero comics; I could have just as easily made the case with the Teen Titans, or the JLA, or the Avengers, or whoever.

And you’d have all known instantly what I meant. The trouble is that once upon a time, you could get away with this kind of back-and-forth pendulum swing approach… back when comics readership turned over. Now you can’t. Because readers nowadays are the ones that came to comics and stayed. For years. (Sometimes even if we hate what we’re buying… but that’s a different column.)

What’s worse, today more than any other time in comics publishing history, the old stuff is available to new readers. All the previous revamps, reboots, new directions, and so on are right there on the bookshelves. The one thing you notice right away when you read the Essentials and Showcases reprinting the older material is that, Jesus, these were never meant to be read all in a row like this. Especially stuff like the Essential Human Torch or Showcase Presents Aquaman, where the back half of the book occasionally contradicts the front half.

This book is tremendous fun... but noways is it consistent.

So now superhero publishers are in a real fix. How do you keep your books from looking tired and flabby when your readership is so demanding of both familiarity AND change… and worse, we remember all the OTHER tricks you’ve used to keep us interested, so you can’t keep going back to the same well any more? We’ve seen the girlfriends die, we’ve seen the best friend turn evil, we’ve seen the roster change and the costume change, we’ve seen you put a new guy in the suit, we’ve seen you put a new girl in the suit, we’ve seen the grim-n-gritty re-imagining, we’ve seen the back-to-basics-old-fashioned-fun. We’ve seen it all.

Whatever reaction anyone might be having to Disassembled or Infinite Crisis or Countdown or Civil War or whatever, the one reaction hardly anyone has any more is genuine surprise. The comics readership is as jaded as Emperor Nero’s Rome.

So where do you go from here, if you’re a publisher of superhero stories? What’s left?

Right now the big trend seems to be the mega-saga, the epic that takes a year or two to unspool: a gigantic sprawling story that goes through a whole line of books and involves dozens of creators. Well, that tactic has the virtue of at least taking a long time, so you’ve bought yourself a few months’ grace while you figure out what to do next. But it doesn’t really strike me as a viable solution. Especially since you are taking the gamble — admittedly, a reasonable one, given the record — that readers will hang in there with you for the whole two years’ worth of crossovers and tie-ins and whatever else, even if they’re not happy.

But in the end, that burns readers out even quicker; Civil War pretty much prompted me to cancel my Marvel pulls, especially when it became apparent that it was going to go on and on and on long after the mini-series itself was over. And both Heidi and our own Brian Cronin have voiced their disenchantment with Amazons Attack and its non-ending. All over the comics landscape you see readers and even some retailers expressing a general discontent with the publishers’ assumption that yes, we will buy whatever we need to in order to get the whole thing.

Lately this trend towards the endless sprawl has extended even to the collected trade editions. I was appalled to get to the end of the recent Iron Fist hardcover collection — a hardcover!! — only to find that it ended on a cliffhanger. And I’m a good audience, damn it. I don’t stand ready with my Tomahawk of Snark the way so many other reviewers do when they see a new book. I was completely ready to enjoy this, I wanted to love it, I have tremendous affection for previous versions… and instead I put the book down thoroughly annoyed, feeling vaguely like the victim of some sort of con game. I was hardly even able to consider the story on its merits because I was so pissed off at the deceptive way it was packaged.

If I'd bought this new, I'd have been livid.... as it was I was kind of annoyed.

And I only picked it up used, cheap, on a whim. Imagine the fury of someone who bought it new with that same confidence that by the time the story made it between hard covers it would be complete.

The mega-story is just the natural outgrowth of the whole continuity obsession that’s been building ever since Stan Lee thought it would be fun to have his books cross over back in ’64. And I think a well-executed crossover can be entertaining, I’m not a snob about it.

But the key word is fun. What good is a gigantic two-year mega-epic if it’s no fun? Was Civil War fun for anyone? Is Countdown? The sense I’m getting from fans across the internet is that they’re getting tired of this kind of storytelling. It costs too much, the pace is too slow, nothing ‘counts’ (seriously, it’s reached the point where no one believes any change will stick longer than a year) and as far as I can tell no one’s really having a lot of fun.

The fun seems to be happening out-of-continuity these days. All-Star Superman. Marvel’s Ultimate line. Monster Society of Evil. Marvel Adventures. Justice.

What I notice about these various superhero successes is that they are successful in large part because they aren’t dragging around the albatross of reader expectation. And isn’t that where MOST of the superhero successes and critical darlings of the last twenty years have come from? Like Watchmen? Miller’s Daredevil and Dark Knight? Morrison’s Doom Patrol? Hell, Morrison’s X-Men?

For that matter, some of the freshest Marvel and DC work in the regular line in the last twenty years has come from those folks who just said “screw it, I’m doing my own thing,” and ignored anything they felt like if they thought it was in the way.

Which gives me a notion.

We are already tiptoeing up to the idea with things like the Ultimate and All-Star lines. Marv Wolfman proposed it with the original Crisis and DC almost did it with the John Byrne Superman and Zero Month and “One Year Later.” The trouble is, editorial always chickens out and stops short… and doing it incrementally doesn’t work nearly as well.

So why not… just hear me out, now… what if they really, you know, did it?

Reboot the whole line. Period.

Because, really, what do you lose? Especially nowadays, with all the old stuff within easy reach at your nearest bookstore?

Think back to 1986, John Byrne’s reboot of Superman. Whatever you may think of the stories themselves, the IDEA was intoxicating, and at the time, really revolutionary. The traditional Weisinger-era Superman got a lovely send-off, everyone took a bow, and that story was done.

This was classy. Best send-off ever.

And then…. an honest-to-God fresh start. Huge press, huge bump in the Superman readership, we were all jazzed to be reading about the big guy again.

These days, it's hard to remember how REVOLUTIONARY this was.

How freeing would it be if DC and Marvel really tried that tactic line-wide… a for-real, brand-new reboot of their superhero books? Instead of having to do these convoluted explanatory miniseries, or event books that turn out to not really be very eventful so much as expository… just pick a date for the current books to wrap up, and START OVER. Give plenty of notice — maybe a year — and put as much into the wrapup as you do into the reboot. Let every book have that same kind of satisfying ending… then an absolutely clean slate. Start anew.

Why the hell not? They’re practically doing it already. How many “Year One” mini-series have we seen? How many series have started over at #1? How many more are coming? Not to mention all the “Last Stories” and The End specials and one-shots. Really at this point, it would be about coordinating the timing more than anything else. Clearly readers are not nearly as opposed to the idea as some might think.

One might even suspect DC’s already playing with the idea: At one stroke give us all a chance to shake off the accumulated baggage of the last couple of decades and start over, the way Marv Wolfman and Len Wein pitched the original Crisis. How cool would that be if that was what Final Crisis REALLY was going to do? Even burned-out cynical old fogeys like me would be on board for that. After all, the name “Final Crisis” must mean something

Call it the Daniel Craig solution.

See you next week.

32 Comments

Oh geez. Your turn for the shitstorm. Have fun.

Because rebooting the WHOLE LINE isn’t THE SAME, see? :)

Which is a good explanation of what people want from not just comics but ANY popular media. They seem to want a feeling of familiarity – almost, but not COMPLETELY. Or they want a LITTLE bit of challenge from the stuff they read, not a lot.

And I think we all love Stan enough we can be honest about his motives. It wasn’t that he thought crossovers would be fun. Superhereos cross-pollinating each others books (ie continuity) was a marketing gimmick, a way to give fans of brand A that all-important feeling of FAMILIARITY with brand B.

I don’t wanna say continuity JUST a marketing gimmick but… Nah. I do. Continuity, as it was originally conceived, was just a really, really good marketing gimmick. And it should be judged on those standards.

I’ve been going through a period of comics burnout recently. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who goes through this occasionally. Personally when this happens I take a month or two away from comics (putting my pull titles to one side) and then jumpstart my interest by treating myself to a TPB or hardcover I know I’ll enjoy. I’ve got the Agents of Atlas hardcover still in the cellophane sitting on the top of my pile. When I’ve got a quiet afternoon I’m going to crack it open and hopefully remember my love for comics.

With superhero movies everywhere, I’m sure the continuity scares off potential new readers. And the existing fan might be put off by some of the changes reboots would bring with them, but with the possible exception of someone ruining Batman, I’m sure I could handle it all, and there’d at least be as many good changes as bad.

Agreed. I’ve been saying this for about five years or so, and there are few titles that we would have missed out on in that span. REBOOT IT ALL NOW!

An ending to the current DC shitestorm would be excellent to see, rather than some haphazard “One Year Later” fixer-uppers.

I’d love to see a relaunch in line with the Ultimate books.

A reboot of Marvel’s entire history would be phenomenal, mostly because they’ve never had the balls to do it before.

I was thinking about this, and there are problems with it:

1. I find that reboots alienate fans.
2. Reboots waste all of the excellent backstory and history that has been created for all the characters. Not that it all is excellent, but some of it is.

There’s one thing that might work, though. What if what happened right before the reboot was – like ‘Whatever Happened To the Man of Tomorrow?’, only more so – the ultimate tie-up-loose-ends happy ending? All the bad guys in the clink, all the relationships resolved, no more stories to tell with these characters? That might not be so bad.

I’m not sure a reboot really fixes anything that can’t be fixed by just doing good stories and not referring to the bad ones.

Here’s a question — what would be the starting point of a rebooted DCU? Would it really be starting from scratch — Clark becoming Superman for the first time, etc.? It might be kind of fun to see that stuff “as it happens”, so to speak, but then again we have to sit through a lot of “first meetings” all over again.

I think this kind of scenario would lead to an Ultimate-like rush to redo old stories and get characters back into their pre-reboot status quos. (If Dick Grayson were Robin after the reboot, I’d say there’s at least a 50% chance he’d be Nightwing within a year or two.)

Alternatively, maybe the reboot would start at some point basically equivalent to where things are now — in which case, you have a good deal of *assumed* backstory in there, just none of it that’s actually established in a comic anywhere. Does that fix anything?

I agree with Steve — a reboot wouldn’t prevent repetition, it would encourage it. We got plenty of that after the ’80s Crisis: Old stories re-told with minor or major tweaks to make them fit the “new improved continuity”. Yawn.

If you really want novelty, kill off the current universe, and then start from scratch with all-new characters. No Batman, no Superman, nothing that came before. It wouldn’t sell for crap, of course, but hey, it’d be new!

If it’s gotten to the point where you don’t want to read about old characters anymore, then you don’t fix them by starting their stories over. You retire said characters, publish something else for awhile, and then bring them back amid great fanfare.

If DC seriously retired Superman for five years or so, there would be enormous publicity and enormous sales for his triumphant return. The same goes for just about any of their A or B-list characters, and quite a few Marvel characters, too. I suspect the current resurgence of interest in the Avengers is directly proportional to how marginalized the franchise was in the X-crazy 90’s.

I’m not sure DC wins anything (except for a lot of ill will and headaches to accompany all the initial attention they’d get) by rebooting everything after Final Crisis. (Though I certainly agree, Greg: The name has to stand for something !) But when you look at what they’re up to lately, it’s very much about rescuing many of the things they threw away after the first Crisis 20(ish) years ago. In a way, 52 was about trying to un-do the missteps commited after the first Crisis; what does anyone gain by obliterating everything and starting from scratch?

Alternatively, maybe the reboot would start at some point basically equivalent to where things are now — in which case, you have a good deal of *assumed* backstory in there, just none of it that’s actually established in a comic anywhere. Does that fix anything?

This is what I was going to suggest. I don’t want to see all the characters origins all over again, we already know them. If you REALLY wanted to get technical, for DC fans sake, the whole line could be started in sort of a year 3 timezone, so there would be three years for previous stories to fit in. I don’t know if it would fix everything, but it would be giving us the same results we’re getting now without having to give us endless crossovers and crisis’. Basically, I just want all comics to be treated like All Star Superman….

I suspect the current resurgence of interest in the Avengers is directly proportional to how marginalized the franchise was in the X-crazy 90’s.

Dead right. Well, that and they took everything that was cool about the X-Men and fitted it to the Avengers. Underground team on the run, mysterious villains, traitorous characters, Wolverine….

A couple of thoughts on this:

A company wide reboot would be great if they took the time to plan it correctly. Take something like three years to plot out the end of the current runs, give everyone a grand send off. Then have a plan for every single relaunch. Don’t just slap something together for the sake of expediency.

My thought is that the big two should just create lots of alternate lines, kind of a blending of Ultimate and What If. In one DC line Hal Jorden is Green Lantern, and in another it’s Kyle Rayner. Everyone wins :)

And if Marvel’s listening, I want to write the title where Rich Ryder, Nova Centurion-Prime is the guardian of Earth and New York’s favorite hero!

I think company-wide reboots are the way to go. Unfortunately, after the reboot we’d still have the same writers/editors putting out the same stuff. Rebooting doesn’t stop companies from filling up the shelves with Amazons Attack and bad weekly miniseries, not does it keep writers and artists on schedule.

I don’t think they need to reboot the universe; I think they need to reboot their audience.

Seriously, the biggest mistake DC and Marvel have made over the last twenty-five years is in chasing the older dollar. Trying to keep increasingly jaded and cynical fans interested in comics, instead of looking to find the next generation of comics fans, has become an insoluble problem (as discussed in this column.)

Ultimately, fans at some point just have to accept the fact that repetition is a part of any long-term publishing venture, and either enjoy the stories for what they are or move on. Because you’re not going to get comics written specifically for fans who’ve read every single comic written in the last 40 years (or at the very least, you shouldn’t. It’s a disastrous business move for the publisher if you do.) And some people will say, “That’s boring! That’s formulaic! That’s not for me!” To which DC/Marvel should say, “Yep! Sounds like you’ve outgrown our comics. Hope you enjoyed them while you were a kid. By the way, have you looked at our Vertigo/MAX line?”

There’s one thing that might work, though. What if what happened right before the reboot was – like ‘Whatever Happened To the Man of Tomorrow?’, only more so – the ultimate tie-up-loose-ends happy ending? All the bad guys in the clink, all the relationships resolved, no more stories to tell with these characters? That might not be so bad.

That was actually my idea. Sorry, should have made it clearer; I’ve tidied up the original text a little to clarify the idea. Finish, THEN re-start. Because the best example of when this worked RIGHT was that Superman instance. Hordes of new readers and also newly-interested older ones.

Reboots alienate readers because they just STOP the old stories, cut them off and don’t finish them. “Reboot” is probably not the best word for what I’m describing. I mean really END, put as much talent into the ENDING as companies currently do toward a re-start, then BEGIN ANEW. Decide what you keep and what you don’t. You know, like you actually had a plan. Think about the marketing possibilities and the reader interest you can generate by milking the idea of A) letting everyone know that this is where everything resolves, and then B) making sure everyone knows this is the chance to get in at the beginning. I think THAT is the real lesson of Marvel’s Ultimate line. How many new OLDER readers showed up for that? It stopped being the kid’s entry-level line about three months in. Instead it became New Marvel.

I’m suggesting doing it on purpose instead of by accident. That’s really all it is.

…although, really, in all honesty I do mostly agree with Mr. Seavey about the superhero audience, too. But I already did that column.

“Ultimately, fans at some point just have to accept the fact that repetition is a part of any long-term publishing venture, and either enjoy the stories for what they are or move on. Because you’re not going to get comics written specifically for fans who’ve read every single comic written in the last 40 years (or at the very least, you shouldn’t. It’s a disastrous business move for the publisher if you do.) And some people will say, ‘That’s boring! That’s formulaic! That’s not for me!’ To which DC/Marvel should say, ‘Yep! Sounds like you’ve outgrown our comics. Hope you enjoyed them while you were a kid. By the way, have you looked at our Vertigo/MAX line?'”

This IS the solution. Period. But, unfortunately, Marvel and DC just don’t have the balls to do it. They are both corporately owned bitches, who answer to their stockholders and board of directors, not the fans and retailers.

A move like this would, in the short term, probably cost them money, as some of these older fans left the books out of resentment/disgust/bordom. And to rekindle the interest of the new and younger audience would take some time and a lot of effort (not to mention a few bucks). The stockholders aren’t going to wait around to see a return in their investment, because the company is trying to right itself. And Marvel and DC know this.

So, they will forego doing what needs to be done, opting instead to grab up the quick short-term gains they can to keep stockholders and the board of directors happy. As to the damage they will be causing from such short-term thinking? Heck, we’ll worry about it when it happens (and hopefully I won’t be the one in charge when it happens). That’s the mentality of things today and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

It took 10 years to get a version of Catwoman I actually love. Batman is perfect the way he is now, Superman just needs a better marketing team, in terms how his character is handled. X-men just needs to stop being a shitty soap opera and move on.

I don’t want to read the introduction of the joker over and over.

All books should just first be released as trades.

If i’m not into my mainstream comics at the time, then I switch to indie, and vice versa.

Rebooting doesn’t sound like a good idea, continuity is repeating itself, so lets just embrace repetition anyway seems like too sad a defeat.

The characters are fine the way they are, they just get taken to places where they ought not have gone in the first place, or maybe where they should have gone.
Human Error.

With James Bond – I just had to wait until a better creative team came on board, or in his case, an old creative team who did a pretty good job the first time around.

People don’t remember continuity, but they do remember good stories. Catching up is simply a matter of Wikipedia.

James Bond kicks ass, definitely (although I thought Campbell did a better job with Goldeneye than he did with Casino Royale). But the rest of the column, I don’t agree with. I’m not sure I see what would be gained by a line-wide reboot- the Ultimate line (which was great) worked as well as it did because the regular Marvel line still existed, IMO.

Rebooting would cost DC way too much money because of the sheer amount of titles that would have to be cancelled for the plan to mean anything, and deprive way too many people of their favourite characters for way too long while they wait for them to be re-introduced into the new DCU.

You have to be able to have your cake and eat it too for this sort of thing to work, which is what makes the Ultimate and All-Star lines so cool.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm

The best part about Casino Royale is that it isn’t fresh or new – the plot is straight from the book – that caught me so off guard when I went to see it.
And just to get some shit flying, Dalton is easily the best of all the Bonds, and most interesting to watch as well – watch the Living Daylights and see how he takes a script written for Moore, and totally changes the character – Moore would have said the lines with a wink to camera, Dalton growls them out the side of his mouth.
He was also the first to fully show the psychopath that lies beneath the surface of Bond – something the novels have always had.

I don’t know. Personally I think a company-wide reboot would only serve as another stalling tactic. Another way to do the same old thing one more time and try and sell it again. Nothing new under the sun. It’s already starting to be a problem with the Ultimate Universe, so why would it work any better as a mainline thing?

If the better-received comics are the ones that don’t rely on shared continuity at all, why not do more of those? Just say “From now on, the Flash (or Aquaman or Iron Man or whoever) is not going to do any crossovers.” And then reboot the character (or don’t, I’m not sure if it matters) and see if it helps. (In terms of sales, I’m not sure it does at this point, but I do think we’ll eventually reach that point.)

Dalton is easily the best of all the Bonds, and most interesting to watch as well – watch the Living Daylights and see how he takes a script written for Moore, and totally changes the character…

No argument from me. My personal theory is that Dalton is the favorite of anyone who came to the character through the Fleming books and THEN found the movies; at least, that’s why I like him. He is the closest to Fleming’s Bond. Though I adored Casino Royale, and I admire Daniel Craig a great deal, I think Dalton made for a better Bond overall. Dalton can do the warmth and charm along with the ruthlessness. Though, again, they’re both very good. And I like Brosnan too. The trouble is that the Bond actors I like best are almost never in the Bond movies I like best. If I had some magic way of inserting the newer Bonds in the older movies, I would have loved to see Dalton’s Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, or Brosnan’s in Goldfinger. Sigh.

By the by, evaluating the idea without inserting any of my own, I think it would be creatively very fulfilling, but financial suicide. Too many long-time readers would find this a perfect “jumping-off” point; after all, the story they’ve been reading since they were kids is now officially over. I don’t think there’d be enough following you to the new DC Universe, and I don’t think you’d get a ton of new readers picking it up. And so, a year or two later, they’d be in the ugly position of trying to “resume” the old DC universe, despite writing stories that wrapped up everything permanently. It’d be a huge problem.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 2, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Dalton should have been in For Your Eyes Only – easily the best of the Moore films (although Man With The Golden Gun is surprisingly watchable as a comedy, until he gets to the villains base), although it’s odd after that film they decided to make Octopussy, a study in everything wrong with Moore films.

Anyway, because nobody asked, here’s my list of the bonds in their best film…

Sean Connery – You Only Live Twice
It’s a toss up between this and From Russia With Love, but I think the Rold Dahl script just pushes it over the line – and even watching it these days, the volcano base still seems fresh.

Roger Moore – For Your Eyes Only
Really bloody good, which is odd if you see the films either side of it.

Timothy Dalton – The Living Daylights*
Even though he disappears to start a plane up for like 10mins in a big action scene, one of my fave Bonds – it’s got a good mix of everything.

Pierce Brosnan – Die Another Day
I’d liked Brosnan as Bond, but apart from Tomorrow Never Dies, the actual films themselves left me cold – this one was so fun, that even once he rejoins with the secret service and it starts to get silly, I really didn’t mind at all, not even surfing the giant wave (and it takes a lot for me to overlook silliness)

*This depends on my mood though – Living Daylights is more enjoyable as a whole, but License To Kill ruled my teens with it’s portrayal of a rouge Bond with nothing left to lose.

I can see why you say that Bond readers liked Dalton, but it was different to me. Being a young’un in the 80’s and 90’s, I really loved Bond films, back then it was Roger Moore who I loved.
However, when they had TV repeats, in the dark years before the Brosnan films (seeing a trailer for Goldeneye almost made sitting through Water World worth it), it was the Dalton films that had Bond as I remembered them.
As a kid you missed that a lot of the Moore stuff was corny and tongue in cheek (and often very sleazy), and so I remembered them as cool spy flicks, and on re-watching was very disappointed, where as the Dalton films were exactly what I remembered watching a Bond film to be like (even if my memory was wrong).

Hey! I liked Iron Fist… Granted, I’d be pissed if it was a mini-series, but it isn’t. It’s an ongoing series and even though they could’ve wrapped up the first arc I didn’t really mind the end tying into the next one. It was good enough for me to already have decided to try the next one too. I understand your point though, it would’ve been awful if the comic was bad but then I wouldn’t buy the next one regardless of the ending.

I understand the argumentation for a reboot but it wouldn’t matter, alround repetition would soon be the case. Plus, you already have these self-contained ‘reboots’, AllStar and Ultimate are, as you mentioned, very much like that. So why cancel out the regular line? Disregard your investment in the character if you don’t like the comic, pick it up again when they start telling a story that interests you. There are far too much good comics to stick with the shitty ones. Just stop reading it if you stop enjoying it, that’s the only real answer. Bring your bucks to a title you do like.

Funkygreen, I was watching The Living Daylights a couple of days ago. I agree, it’s great! Dalton’s Bond reminds me a lot of Craig’s, so I definitely think he was underrated.

Having said that, my personal preference runs toward the completely OTT Bond movies. I get that they’re not really faithful to the books, but they just make for a great time at the movies. I can’t go past the tank scene in ‘Goldeneye’ or the parachute scene in ‘Moonraker’ for sheer entertainment.

J. Kevin Carrier said …

“If you really want novelty, kill off the current universe, and then start from scratch with all-new characters. No Batman, no Superman, nothing that came before. It wouldn’t sell for crap, of course, but hey, it’d be new!”

I kind of agree with this, but I think that approach would be something I’d be willing to try with the Marvel Universe. Because I think the DC Universe is defined BY its main characters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, along with there being A Flash, and A Green Lantern, etc.

But on the other hand, I think the Marvel Universe is unique in a way that the universe ITSELF is more important than the heroes/villains/characters that inhabits it. What I mean to say is, if it were done right, you could conceivably phase out one generation of characters, bring in a new generation of characters and people would still enjoy it. Much like what happened w/ Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It would take a lot of courage and dedication – that is to say, make the decision and DON’T LOOK BACK – but I would love to see Marvel in particular, at some point, and with just some of their characters…END THEIR STORY.

And each individual title would tell you whether or not their story has a finite end. Their endings have pretty much written themselves. I could see Spider-Man having himself a happy ending – and thanks to a title like “Amazing Spider-Girl,” the story of the Parker family gets to continue. Daredevil is just a tragedy at heart, so eventually I could see Matt Murdock’s story ending in death and heartbreak. Titles like the Avengers and X-Men on the other hand could keep on going, because so long as there’s a group of heroes willing to band together to fight the good fight, there can always be Avengers. And as long as we live in a society full of bigotry and discord, there can always be X-Men.

And the way that this happens would take probably the biggest act of courage in today’s atmosphere: you let the characters age. But you do so, naturally, at a MUCH slower rate. Which is kind of in place in a fashion, even if it isn’t official.

For example, you could easily suppose that if Peter Parker were 15 in 1962 – like he says when he unmasked himself in Civil War #2 – judging by the way he acts in 2007, you could easily see him as a man in his late 20s to early 30s now. Roughly, you could say he’s aged something like 3 years in comic book time for every 10 years of real time. If you keep that kind of 3:10 ratio, you’ve still got PLENTY of stories to tell with these characters, and plenty of time to create new characters that can both endear themselves to fans and move t-shirts.

And there’s no reason why the first generation would lose any marketability. Take a look at Dragon Ball. There’s a story that ENDED, but there’s no shortage of merchandise there, right?

This would take a great deal of commitment, and there’s any number of reasons why it won’t happen. But I bet it would go a long way towards making comics fun again. I know I’D sure like to see it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 3, 2007 at 5:40 pm

But on the other hand, I think the Marvel Universe is unique in a way that the universe ITSELF is more important than the heroes/villains/characters that inhabits it. What I mean to say is, if it were done right, you could conceivably phase out one generation of characters, bring in a new generation of characters and people would still enjoy it. Much like what happened w/ Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Actually, DC has had much more success with that then Marvel ever has.

Haven’t most of the Marvel stories already been ended? Wasn’t that the whole point of the ‘The End’ specials, and Kaare Andrews’ Dark Spider Returns? I haven’t read those examples, so I’m genuinely asking, haven’t they already been ended?

Isn’t this what WildStorm just did?

I took at peek at the books after the restart, for nostalgia’s sake, but gave up when I discovered the slow decompressed story-telling and lateness.

Firstly…somebody email me on how to do the quote thingie properly? I’m starting to feel like a dink :-D

FGJ – True, but DC has done a lot of things with their timeline, and they may have ended Superman’s story…but then Superman’s story was retold with John Byrne’s “Man of Steel” storyline, and then retold again with Mark Waid’s “Birthright.” I’m talking about truly ENDING a title – no more Spider-Man as an ongoing, for instance. Like, maybe some ten, twenty or thirty years from now…the saga of Peter Parker as an active superhero – DONE. Sure you could go back and tell out of continuity stories every so often, but the ongoing title is finished.

Rohan – I think those are supposed to be hypothetical/non-canon deals. I can’t say for sure because I barely pay attention to them.

I like the idea of the reboot, but not of the ending.

I really think Marvel nailed this perfectly with their Ultimate line, and if rumors are any indication, J.J. Abrams may be about to nail this perfectly with his new Star Trek film.

Ideally, Infinite Crisis would have ended with a multiverse and a “new” DC universe that starts with Clark Kent becoming Superman. The “old” DCU would have gone on, perhaps to end with this Final Crisis, perhaps not; regardless, it’s there for fans who want to wallow in their continuity.

The new DCU is there to give us all these classic characters in a fresh, uncluttered context. Done well by the right team, this is a great notion; there are expectations to play with, but also a full open field for new stories.

From a sales perspective, you basically get to keep all your current books going, maybe trimming some fat, and then launch an all NEW set of books that can sell alongside the current books.

(I also think it’d be neat if for Supes and Batman, the split was signified in their flagship titles; maybe Detective Comics is the home of the “new” Batman, and Action Comics is the home of the “new” Superman, with either continued numbering or (gulp) new number ones.)

Anyway. I agree with those who say neither DC nor Marvel has the guts to do this, but more importantly, they don’t have the need. They’re selling plenty with their current game which can only end badly.

Now when that next market crash comes, and I think more and more that it will, we’ll see a creative gamble like this one seem appealing to the powers that be. Until then, there’s no reason to risk anything, because the rewards just keep on coming regardless.

Great thread. My personal view is start over. I had comics as a kid but I didn’t really get into it unitl I was 14 starting with Batman Year 3. This was 1989 and I still had a heck of time catching up an llthe important back stories and continuity. Look at the differences in continuity then until now.

How is any new reader supposed to pick up a DC (or Marvel) comic now and even have a clue. Batman as an example:

-4 Robins; 1 who’s now Nightwing, 2 dead, 1 back from the dead, 1 a female, 2 Batgirls, 1 in a wheelchair, 1 gone bad, now good?, 1 Batwoman who’s a lesbian, Batman with a son (originally held by editors for years to be out of continuity), Ra’s dead now alive, multiple Gotham protectors in Huntress, etc., Gotham burned, earthquaked, plaqued by virus, back broken and healed, numerous love-affairs in Silver St. Cloud, Shondra Kinsloving, Vicki Vale, etc.; how many peolpe have discovered the Cave, know Bruce is Batman, how many have filled in as Batman, Alfred gone and back, Commissioner Gordon old young, old, young, old, retired, back?: Joker dead, reformed, escaped how many times?

And this is a short list. You clould go through Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Flash as well.

Nothing makes sense and everything is weighed down. It’s senseless to continue a habitual program of “bold new directions” followed by “back-to-basics” crapola.

If you want your product to live you need to seek new readers and this is the only way. Sales-wise, yeah some people would find it a perfect jumping-off point, but most people would be intrigued.

The biggest thing they need to do is PLAN! My personal view is that a comic universe should start from scratch every 20-25 years. This would do a number of things: you can re-imagine and make characters entirely relevant for a new era, you attract new readers, you can wrap up storylines without loads of conflicting continuity.

The big thing is not repeating storylines. I entirely agree with the comment about “how long until Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing?” This must be avoided at all costs. It’s a new universe and you can’t have re-writes. Nobody wants to read about Jason Todd getting killed by the Joker again.

I, for example, wouldn’t even want to see a Batgirl again.

One of the problems nowadays that I see is that certain stories that were purposely written out of continuity were done so well that they have adversely affected the day-to-day writing of too many titles. The Dark Knight Returns comes immediatle to mind. Batman became as jackass happened because too many writers looked at this story as what “will happen.”

Kingdom Come has also had a very detrimental influence as it seems the future of the DCU is being purposely shepherded in this direction despite the fact that that was never the original intention.

I was happy years ago when old characters were aged and replaced. Kyle Rayner as the new Green Lantern and Connor Hawke as the new Green Arrow for example. Then they undid it all and put the originals back. Now they’re doing it all again with Blue Beetle, the Question and others.

Who can follow this? Blow it up and start over. Focus on self-contained 3-5 issue story arcs and focus on just telling a good story.

“Epic”-writing is a huge problem and I’m sick of it. I always look at something like 10 Nights of the Beast. Do you really think that would be 4 issues today? Oh no. It would be 10 issues. Get it? GET IT? 10 nights? 10 issues? GET IT!!!???? And consequently it would suck.

I hate decompressed story-telling. DCU is just a soap opera. Leave for a few years and come back. Tons has happened and yet nothing has happened. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Also go back to putting stories into regular titles. I’m sick of Prestige-format stories for stuff that should be in the regular titles. The way Year 1,2, and 3 were.

I just picked a random old CSBG column to read, and it happened to be this one. Wow…I think someone at DC was reading this!

Except they missed the part about “planning ahead”…

Coincidentally, this column was exactly 4 years before the DCnU started. Spooky!

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