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The Crazy, Manic Silver Age Style Origin of the All-New Ghost Rider

So far, through two issues, Marvel’s All-New Ghost Rider has been a delight. Tradd Moore, Nelson Daniel and Val Staples combine for some stunning visuals and come on, how can you not feel something for a comic with the following design feature to kick the book off…

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but what strikes me the most about the series is how Felipe Smith has managed to give the All-New Ghost Rider an old school Silver Age origin, without feeling old fashioned at all.

First off, the name of our hero?

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Yes, it’s freakin’ Robbie Reyes! I already loved how the Ultimate Spider-Man is Miles Morales, and now we get Robbie Reyes. Too cool.

But then we see our hero in action, throwing himself in front of the proverbial truck containing radioactive chemicals to stick up for his kid brother, who just had his WHEELCHAIR STOLEN (makes Peter Parker and Matt Murdock think that they had an easy childhood, huh?)…

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Later, we see that this Robbie is a guy who has already established the concept of greet responsibility…

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However, what Smith does next really endeared him to me. We seem to live in a bit of a reductionist time, from a critical standpoint. Don’t like what a writer did with a character you like? They get written off for good. A character does something you don’t like? They’re written off for good, with that one action constantly thrown back at them as if that one action defines them. And what’s so especially stupid to me about stuff like this is that if you applied such an attitude to classic Marvel comics, you wouldn’t be left with many characters to root for. Rick Jones, one of the main teen heroes of the Silver Age, is introduced by driving himself on to an atomic bomb test site! He almost gets Bruce Banner KILLED over his act of stupidity. Peter Parker lets a criminal go because it’s not his job to catch a crook. The Fantastic Four steal a spaceship! Reed Richards and his crew had good reasons for doing it (well, I guess “suck it, Commies!” is not the most noble reason, but still) but at the end of the day, they stole a pretty expensive piece of government property simply because they were sure that their goal was worth it.

And no one writes Rick, Spidey or Reed and the gang off. Because Stan Lee knew that we are not defined by a single act of recklessness, stupidity or selfishness.

Felipe Smith knows this, too, which is why he has Robbie Reyes steal a car from the garage that he works in an attempt to win a high stakes race to get enough money to get himself and his brother out of town….

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And when the cops show up during the race, Tradd Moore and his colorist (Staples colored all of #2, I dunno who colored this page) give us a stunning example of Robbie realizing what is at stake here…

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Then, of course, it turns out that what he should be worried about is not the cops but the bad guys who are after what is in the trunk of the car Robbie stole and when they find him they shoot him dead but he is brought back as the new Ghost Rider as it turns out that the car is haunted, which is awesome in and of itself, but still, I love just seeing how old school Smith was with the set-up of the new Ghost Rider. While, of course, feeling contemporary, as well (Tradd Moore sure helps in that regard – damn, is his work vibrant). A strong sense of responsibility mixed with a moment of recklessness leading to super powers. Don’t get much more iconic “Marvel Age of Comics” than that and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a new hero introduced in quite the same way.

It’s a very fun book. You should all give it a look see. #2 sets up the supervillain for the first arc as Mister Hyde. Mister freakin’ HYDE, people!

One quick word about the editor of the comic, Mark Paniccia. That dude must have one the best eyes for fresh talent in all of comics (not NEW talent, per se, but definitely FRESH).

50 Comments

“We seem to live in a bit of a reductionist time, from a critical standpoint.”

I wouldn’t really use the word “critical” here, because the people who think the way you describe aren’t really critics, they’re fanboys and message board trolls. And they’re certainly not thinking critically, they’re thinking like… well, like fanboys and message board trolls.

But yes, that behavior is stupid and reductionist.

So is he a separate Ghost Rider from the old Spirit of Vengeance?
Is that GR still around?
And did they ever explain the difference between the original Satanic origin and the Jason Aarons explanation Ghost Riders are all heavenly agents?
None of which reflects on the merits of the book, i was just curious.

Yes he is separate from “Classic” GR, Johnny’s over in the Thunderbolts, and not sure bout that last one

Wasn’t “suck it,Commies” JFK’s whole reason for the space program in the first place?

So the kid’s superpowers are rubber arms?

This comic was the first American superhero comic I bought in maybe 5 years. It was the first comic I bought in single issue form in maybe 10. I got it because I’m a big fan of Felipe Smith from his MBQ days and really admire his work ethic in becoming one of the first, if not THE first, American to travel to Japan and become a legit published mangaka there rather than just doing manga-ish work in America under the umbrella of “American manga.”

Oops, I hit reply too early.

Anyway, I think he gives a very fresh perspective to comics because he’s not coming at it from the usual avenues. Snarky too cool for school UK guy with deconstructionist tendencies and a slightly detached satirical pose (Moore, Morrison, Ellis, Ennis, Millar), American sci-fi, fantasy, superhero nerd who is ultrasincere and straightforward (Wolfman, Wein, Roy Thomas, Kurt Busiek, etc), 90s Image generation, or new school rockstar huckster with an eye toward working in and getting adapted by TV and film (too many to list).

He’s not only black and hispanic but also one of the few people working in superhero comics who is equally comfortable in the world of manga and in the world of classic superhero stories. He offers a lot of perspectives that don’t normally get represented, and he offers them all in the form of one person. I hope to see more of him.

I love this series. It’s honestly so good. This and Ms. Marvel are the best All-New Marvel Now titles.

@T, I picked up the new Ghost Rider because the concept sounded neat (and it’s been solid so far) but it sounds like I need to check out more of Smith’s back catalog.

Bill Williamson

April 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

New Ghost Rider looks kinda like Aaron Paul.

@ Hank: ‘suck it Commies’ seems to be the only reason Cold War era USA ever did anything.

The art in these pages is just gorgeous. I haven’t bought anything from Marvel or DC in maybe 3 years, but this might have to be a book I check out.

I also like how this is friggin’ Ghost Rider, but the art and tone of the pages posted is so much less dark than even the most standard superhero comics out there, where most of the characters have just become cynical, unlikeable pricks. But to see GR, a typical “grim-n-gritty” character, featured in a book with an almost cartoony, animated art style is very interesting. The figure work and emotion Tradd Moore is able to capture in the wheelchair robbery scene is just great.

Reyes? Like Jaime “Blue Beetle” Reyes?

But I guess he doesn’t even exist anymore, since the New52.

One of the initial 52 New 52 series was Blue Beetle starring Jaime Reyes. You could certainly argue that he’s not quite the same Jaime Reyes, because he started over as a newbie again, but he’s still around.

I love when people try to trash “The New 52″ without having any knowledge of what is happening right now.
Anyway, Brian, you convinced me to buy this.

I am ordinarily not a huge fan of achieving diversity by handing legacy roles to other characters. Derivatives are rarely as strong as the original and it sends the wrong message on a lot of levels. However, this looks terrific.

How often do we get a fully conceived Origin Story anymore? Even #1 issues following major re-boots start with dense, unspoken back-story. It seems so basic and yet …

@ Mike Blake

Typical Nu52 critic who’s never actually read a Nu52 book – Blue Beetle (w/ Jaime Reyes) was one of the original Nu52 comics launched a couple years back AND he was in the JLI book that launched at the same time AND he showed up in Green Lantern: New Guardians for a couple issues. Where’s your snark now?

If someone isn’t currently reading a single Nu52 book, they shouldn’t be allowed to talk smack without prefacing with, “Ultimately my opinion on the subject is null and void on the subject since I’m not actually reading the material, but here’s my two cents….” The mentality of most people criticizing Nu52 books w/o having read one is just mind-boggling; the best comparison I can come up with is that it would be like if somebody thought they could critique the handling of a BMW M3 without having ever driven a BMW before, and then they try to say their opinion on the car is just as valid as anyone else’s. I may be a bit overly critical of some stuff (Brian’s right, these are reductionist times), but at least when I’m critical of something, I’ve read the comic in question. Otherwise I don’t pretend to have an opinion on something I know nothing about.

To be fair, Saul, he may have read Nu52 books but just missed any Jaime Reyes appearances. It’s not like he’s been appearing a ton since his book was cancelled.

@Carlos:

I love when people try to trash “The New 52? without having any knowledge of what is happening right now.

The new 52 must appeal to someone, but I am not one of them and I gave it a more than fair shot.

Also, I am someone who is whole-heartedly in favor of the idea of the project. Blending the various properties (Wildstorm, Milestone) that DC has acquired since the COIE into the DC multiverse was necessary. Establishing a house art style is smart from a branding perspective. Characters that have their stories told by multiple creative teams over multiple titles over a couple decades periodically need a soft reset. Heavily promoted new #1 issues are a great way to get readers to check out new stuff.

All good ideas.

The problem is that the quality of what they did was poor and the people in charge stubbornly clung to their pet causes. For example, the cause of elevating Hal Jordan to the top-tier of superhero properties has failed. Geoff Johns had a long, successful run in the comics, but it never translated into other media. The movie flopped and the very good animated series didn’t last a season. Green Lantern was a franchise that could have used a fundamental re-think. It might have been a good idea to re-imagine things from the ground up with John Stewart at its center as a generation came of age with him in the Justice League cartoon. The same is true to a lesser extent of Ryan Choi and Brave and the Bold. Instead, they diversified the Justice League by ‘promoting’ Cyborg and cannibalizing another franchise in the Teen Titans.

… Or what about the Teen Titans? You have five characters that compliment each other, have a history of working in other media and have aged out of their roles for no apparent reason. Shouldn’t re-uniting Dick Grayson, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy be the Mother of all No-Brainers? Instead, they doubled down on the Young Justice group that has never quite worked.

… Or what about the Legion of Superheroes? They are a core property to the DCU that is largely broken. It is a great collection of characters, but the 31st century just doesn’t interest enough people to keep it afloat. Someone needs to really give it some long, hard consideration and either re-invent it (or figure out a way to fold its best elements into the rest of the DCU). Instead, they stuck with their Paul Levitz redux that could not have been more retro.

… Or … Or ….

Because not having read the knockoff of the knockoff of the knockoff of the Blue Beetle means no on has nay knowledge of what Nu52 is doing. Because there’s not anything out there like the “Internet”…. I mean, I can’t trust Brian that Ghost Rider is any good, because I haven’t read it myself. Not like someone can tell you what a title is like or it’s quality.

Though really, shouldn’t this be Ghost Driver, not rider?

And I don’t mind it that much, but if it was Rob Liefeld drawing anatomy as badly as those arms, this place would be going on and on about how bad the art was.

I’m also with Dean Hacker in that derivative token heroes sends a doubly bad message that the characters can’t exist on their own merits, AND we still can’t create any new characters that have sustainable ideas. The former is badly timed as we have the Falcon looking cool and bad ass on the big screen, but not only can we not get him in his own title, we can’t come up with any other characters that aren’t hand me downs from white guys.

I read New 52 books, but it took me a while to remember if Jaime was still around. It’s certainly a large jump to accuse Mike of never having read any based on that error.

Bill Williamson

April 15, 2014 at 4:21 pm

@ Saul Goode: Really, must we have this? This book doesn’t have anything to do with the New 52. Mike made a comparison, then made an easy to make mistake about whether or not Jaime Reyes exists in New 52 continuity. There’s no real reason to jump down his throat.

@ Dean Hacker: I certainly agree although I don’t think there’s anything particularly ethnic about this new Ghost Rider, other than his last name. Like I said before, he looks a lot like Aaron Paul.

@ T.

Hey, I met his negative snark with my own negativity. Plus, he may have had sporadic appearances since his title was cancelled, but it’s not like he didn’t have decent exposure (he was regularly starring in multiple DC books every month when the Nu52 started), and a quick internet search would have told him as much. It’s the immediate jumping down DC’s throat that bugs me, and I most often see it from people who swore off DC before the first batch of new #1s shipped because they were pissed “their” DC was gone. I’m sick of it, and I’m going to let people know.

@ M-Wolverine

He can have his say on quality, but no one should put any stock in it. He could read a positive review about something and then say that thing is good, but all they’re saying (and the support for that statement) comes from someone with actual experience with the material, the only person whose opinion is actually worth anything. Most people I see ripping on DC are people who aren’t even reading reviews – the relaunch turned them off without giving the material a chance, and they’re jumping on the internet bandwagon like this was a f****** “Liefeld sucks at anatomy trolololololol!!!!!11111!!!!!1″ comics-n00b secret-handshake internet meme.

@ Bill Williamson

Hey, I wasn’t the person who started this by making a crack about the Nu52, someone else brought up the subject in a totally unrelated the content comment. When it comes to the actual comic we’re supposed to be talking about? It looks good, I may have to try this out. But you can bet that if DC tried something similar with an offbeat creative team reinventing an existing character, the series would only last 8 issues because nobody’s willing to give DC an shot when it comes to ANYTHING, unless it has to deal with satisfying people’s desires to see their favorite characters popping up in the current universe. None of the fans who’ve sworn off DC because Wally West hasn’t shown up for too long, or Stephanie Brown (up until recently), or Cassandra Cain, etc. – they don’t want GOOD stories with those characters, they just want their favorite pet characters to be in stories, whether or not the opportunity tell a good story with them exists.

Honestly, I don’t know how much faith I put in CBR posters’ integrity or taste for quality – 90% of them hated Jason Aaron’s X-Men runs, and if that isn’t the biggest indictment of a community’s eye for quality stories, than I don’t know what is. The fact that CBR posters hated his run should mean that everything negative CBR forum posters have said about Rob Liefeld should be thrown into question.

I read Mike’s comment more as an existential sigh about the nuDC rather than solely a negative comment. And I fail to see how Mike’s brief comment should be read as “all the nuDC suxxxor and you suxxxor for reading any of it!”.

And it’s an interesting comparison regarding the outre characters and books — is it that DC is that much worse at (re)creating old characters, or Marvel is putting more interesting creators on their books, or what?

For me, this new GR looked…ok, but it wasn’t anything I was waiting for eagerly, but knowing that Brian thinks it’s way cool makes me look at it and eagerly await the trade.

Who knows, this might not last 8 issues either….

T, Felipe Smith created (and I think did a story in the first issue) of Boom’s Freelancers series from the last year or so. Something to seek out if you haven’t seen it.

@ Travis Pelkie

I don’t think it has anything to actually do with quality being behind why DC’s offbeat books got cancelled; I read them, and critics as well, who thought they were pretty effing good and deserved muchmore of a shot than what fans gave them. And yet, I guarantee this book, along with Iron Fist, Ms. Marvel, etc. will go on to have at least decent length runs, which I say may have something to do with the fact that they don’t have the onus of a reboot that altered continuity pissing off irrational potential customers.

Bill Williamson

April 15, 2014 at 6:43 pm

@ Saul: Fans didn’t kill those books, DC did.

I wasn’t going to say anything, and I won’t. I’m just going to suggest you read this:

http://johnrozum.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/why-i-quit-static-shock.html

I like to consider myself a rational comics fan (HA!), and while I wouldn’t characterize myself as “pissed off” about the 52 reboot, I do find that both the way it was handled and the universe that it has created have turned me off to DC, and I consider myself a long time DC fanboy. I do believe that I am down to NO DC52 books (although I do get a few of the digital first books, like Batman ’66), and that’s down due to reading plenty of them and finding that they just don’t have much that hits my personal sweet spot.

Marvel turns me off with their 3.99 cover prices, so I’m hit on both sides by the big 2. Fortunately there are SO many good comics coming out lately, I can’t possibly be turned away from the medium, even if the genre seems to be failing me at this moment in time (this too shall pass…).

Jeez, I go away for a while and come back to find I’ve inadvertently started a tempest in a teapot.

Yes, it was more of an existential sigh than anything else, but that’s beside the point. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand and I will neither explain nor defend it here. Calm down, folks.

My point in the entire post, not the offhand remark, was that with so few Hispanic characters in the big two, Marvel using the same last name as DC’s major one I thought displayed at least a lack of imagination.

@ Travis Pelkie

I alluded to this in a comment that is stuck in moderation above, but the key difference between DC and Marvel is that the core Marvel properties are much, much healthier than the core DC ones. There are a variety of reasons for that, but let’s focus on the outcome.

The core of the Marvel U are the strips that were published during the Silver Age: Fantastic Four, The Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Dr. Strange and Nick Fury. Of those core properties, Marvel has several at their all-time peaks (Iron Man, Thor, Cap, The Avengers), a few more are in a very healthy place (Spidey, X-Men), The Hulk is lurking around his historic average and the Fantastic Four is under-performing slightly. Nick Fury has been re-worked into a broader S.H.I.E.L.D. franchise that is pretty essential to the Marvel U. Only Dr. Strange is really unhealthy and you get the sense that is about to change in a big way. That is 9-for-10, or at worst an 8 and 1/2.

The core of the DCU is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Justice League, Teen Titans and the Legion. Of these core properties, Batman is healthy and around his post-89 norm. Superman is underperforming, as is Wonder Woman. The Flash might be headed in a good direction (or not), but was recently DOA. Green Lantern has never grown past Geoff Johns. The Justice League is average-ish. Both Teen Titans and Legion are a mess. That is 6-for-8 at best and closer to 4-for-8.

If this were High School, then Marvel would be at an A-minus and DC would be getting an F on their core franchises. That gap allows Marvel to take risks with cyclical properties, like Ghost Rider.

Stop being so damn smart, Dean! ;)

No, that’s a really good way of looking at things. If the cores aren’t healthy, then the edges won’t be.

I wonder, too, if there’s something with how the fringe books in DC seem to be linked into the “core” quite a bit, whereas Marvel’s outre books can stand on their own. You can read Deadpool or Daredevil (well, I can, anyway) and not need to know a whole lot about the wider MU, whereas it seemed with DC52 that certain books were all going to link together in a big thing involving Pandora and everything, and now this Futures End is essentially saying doom and gloom is here to stay, and it’s all going to link up.

Which is weird because it seems like Marvel’s been the ones doing the linewide crossovers, but thinking about it, I guess even their crossovers remain relatively well contained.

Hm.

I hadn’t heard of Future’s End until now. Looking it up,I see Someone Dies is still supposed to be an attention-grabbing hook. Jeez.

No, that’s a really good way of looking at things. If the cores aren’t healthy, then the edges won’t be.

I agree Travis. The fact that they are bringing out a Batman weekly of all things really shows this. How much more Batman can they rely on? It just reeks of desperation and shows that Batman is increasingly the only reliable property they have. Also, it amazes me how for years, especially since he joined the Avengers, we kept hearing nonstop about Wolverine overexposure from the online community, yet Batman weekly now comes out and commenters are mostly silent.

Bill Williamson

April 16, 2014 at 9:19 am

@ Dean: I would agree, but I would also add that DC’s unwillingness to take real risks with their core properties as well really hurts them. Batman has always been solid, no problems there. DC don’t know WHAT they’re doing with Superman, and I’m actually quite surprised to hear you say that Wonder Woman is under performing, because when the New 52 was just that, Wonder Woman was a must read.

DC have a bad attitude when it comes to editorial. It was self-evident right out of the gate and has only become more so as various books have been cancelled and creators (Both talented and well… Rob Liefeld) have thrown their arms up and said ‘fuck this shit’.

There are probably plenty of talented creators who, when left to do their thing like a good editor should let them do, could easily revive and generate interest in DC’s core properties as well as the ones on the fringes.

@ Travis Pelkie:

I wonder, too, if there’s something with how the fringe books in DC seem to be linked into the “core” quite a bit, whereas Marvel’s outre books can stand on their own. You can read Deadpool or Daredevil (well, I can, anyway) and not need to know a whole lot about the wider MU, whereas it seemed with DC52 that certain books were all going to link together in a big thing involving Pandora and everything, and now this Futures End is essentially saying doom and gloom is here to stay, and it’s all going to link up.

As with most of the regular posters, you are pretty smart yourself. I am always happy to hold my own here on the best comic book message threads on the Internet.

To me, DC is a classic case of taking something awesome and beating it to death. James Robinson did a brilliant, long form meditation on legacy in STARMAN. Geoff Johns riffed on it in his JSA and then it became the core of everything DC does. Most of the DC line is populated with derivatives of one stripe or another marketed as ‘legacies’.

@ T.
Also, it amazes me how for years, especially since he joined the Avengers, we kept hearing nonstop about Wolverine overexposure from the online community, yet Batman weekly now comes out and commenters are mostly silent.

DC has butchered the rest of their line for so long that the only people who are still invested in their brand are hard-core Batman fans. They’ve succeeded in running the rest of us off.

@ Bill Williamson:

I would agree, but I would also add that DC’s unwillingness to take real risks with their core properties as well really hurts them. Batman has always been solid, no problems there. DC don’t know WHAT they’re doing with Superman, and I’m actually quite surprised to hear you say that Woman is under performing, because when the New 52 was just that, Wonder Woman was a must read.

When I am saying ‘performance’, I am talking about across all media relative to historic standards. Given how huge superheroes are right now as media properties, Wonder Woman really should exist somewhere other than the comics (movies, TV, animation, video games). The traditional flow of fans has totally reversed. Almost no one starts with the comics anymore. The comics are part of the deeper fan experience, like fan-driven web-sites. That is why digital comics, Smallville and Batman ’66 work so well.

AS things stand right now, DC Entertainment presents one ‘face’ to the world and that is Batman and its very Batman influenced Green Arrow. That is fine. I like that stuff. However, diversity of tone was a traditional strength of DC Comics. They had serious superheroes, comedic superheroes, war comics, horror comics, fantasy comics … Marvel did every genre in the Marvel way, but DC adapted itself to the genre. That is why stuff, like Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING was even possible.

If the DC brand is Batman brand (or worse the “whatever Geoff Johns is working on” brand) , then you are squandering the vast majority of what made DC worthwhile.

Like I said before, he looks a lot like Aaron Paul.

I’m really not seeing that, personally.

Remember, though, there are many Spirits of Vengeance. They’ve established that they are popping up all over the world. This doesn’t replace Johnny or Daniel. This is just the next occurrence of a new draftee in an army.

Bill Williamson

April 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm

@ Travis: I certainly agree about Wonder Woman. But this is leading back to DC’s editorial stance. They don’t know what do with Wonder Woman when it comes to other media. Really, it shouldn’t be that difficult, George Perez’s reboot is a good place to start, and Bruce Timm & co did a pretty good animated feature, But, this is DC’s mentality. They’re self-destructive. If they THINK something will fail, they will inadvertently do everything in their power to MAKE it fail.

While I agree that DC is probably too Batman centric, I disagree that Bat-mania has gotten to Wolverine levels quite yet. See, it used to be that you couldn’t do a comic book without Wolverine making an appearance of some sort. They’d have Wolverine appear on the covers of books when he didn’t even show up in the stories themselves. Deadpool started to have similar exposure. Both are such memetic characters.

Batman has a lot of books, many of which are probably going to get cancelled eventually. But I don’t think he’s quite reached Wolverine levels of overexposure.

I first saw Tradd Moore’s work on “Zero” #2 and really liked his style. I’m glad to see him on a monthly and really glad its this one. The art just pops off of the pages.

I get really annoyed at people saying it should be called Ghost Driver rather than rider. You do know you drive a motorcycle too, right? Seeing as here it’s the car itself that’s haunted you could argue he’s simply riding more than previous iterations

David Hasslehoff wasnt in the tv series ‘Knight Driver’, was he?

Remember, though, there are many Spirits of Vengeance. They’ve established that they are popping up all over the world. This doesn’t replace Johnny or Daniel. This is just the next occurrence of a new draftee in an army.

Various parties at Marvel have stated that not only is this Ghost Rider not a replacement for any of the previous ones, but in addition Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider will keep appearing in the Thunderbolts at the same time.

@Saul – Yeesh, you don’t know someone who works for DC, do you? If he had Googled Nu52 Blue Beetle, he could have gotten link after link of “Nu52 sucks” with lists of why it sucks. Heck, it has its own Facebook page. I don’t think you need to read the story to say that “raunchy Batman-Catwoman sex scenes, thin Amanda Waller, Superman is a dick, etc, etc…” are ideas that turn you off, and you don’t need to read the “context” of the stories. They’ve done a lot of boneheaded stuff.

And

a reboot that altered continuity pissing off irrational potential customers.

seems like a really, really bad business model. “Let’s sell more books by pissing off customers! Brilliant! Genius!”

@T- that’s a really good point, and there isn’t the outcry, but I feel that way. One of the things that helped me wash my hands of the DC titles was that even the ones I felt like I would miss, like the Batman ones, there are soooo many. It’s too much. At least there aren’t that many Wolverine titles. What now, two? And him appearing with the X-Men and Avengers. But he’s a part of those, not the star. And they have different creative missions. So while overexposed, there should be less complaint with him than Batman.

Really, they do what they think will make them a buck, but it’s like a sports league-if you over-expand, you make a quick buck, but you deteriorate the quality of the product. There just aren’t enough really good creators to fill that many titles. Every character should get one book. Every team should get one book. And your absolutely huge characters, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, maybe Wolverine now, can have two. Self-titled and Action or Detective. Amazing and Spectacular. And then you can give a try to their lesser know spin off characters in a title. Frankly, a new Dazzler comic can’t be any worse than the talent thinly spread on Batman title #7. Get more people buying less titles, than fewer people buying more titles. But what do I know.

And @ Joakley-You’re basically right. But in terminology you can drive or ride a motorcycle, but if you’re riding a car you’re probably the passenger. And everyone knows K.I.T.T. had it all over the Hoff.

The Calvin Zabo Mr Hyde or another one? You seem way too excited for it to be Zabo.

“To me, DC is a classic case of taking something awesome and beating it to death. James Robinson did a brilliant, long form meditation on legacy in STARMAN. Geoff Johns riffed on it in his JSA and then it became the core of everything DC does. Most of the DC line is populated with derivatives of one stripe or another marketed as ‘legacies’. ”

When I think back on the Silver Age humor book Inferior Five I realize E. Nelson Bridwell was parodying legacy heroes before they even existed.

For me the biggest problem with the Batbooks and maybe the Bat-franchise in general is what I call the Hot Topicization of Batman. If you have ever gone to the mall store Hot Topic you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Hot Topic is like one of those suburban mall goth/emo stores, the kind they make fun of on South Park, similar to Vampire Freaks but somehow even worse. I feel like so much of the Batman brand and aesthetic, from the Nolan Films to the Arkham games to the main comics line itself has been about gearing Batman toward Hot Topic shoppers. The redesign of Harley Quinn and the increasingly grotesque redesigns of the Joker and Joker’s Daughter are other perfect examples. It’s not just about the usual complaint about the overall darkening of Batman, a complaint we’ve been hearing since Miller, but a specific, extra-cheesy type of darkening.

A description of Hot Topic Goths (or Hot Pockets) can be found here:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Znd2E4Hr53c/TEM4Z-14z_I/AAAAAAAAAEQ/DTzFUxQyyFY/s1600/hot+topic.jpg

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hot%20topic%20goth

Another term I use for the current Batman aesthetic is the Juggaloization of Batman. It’s not full-blown Juggalo yet but it’s going in that direction. I went to the Hot Topic website yesterday ironically and now they actually have a partnership with DC and offer a line of Batman-themed products:

http://www.hottopic.com/hottopic/PopCulture/Superheroes/Batman.jsp?cm_sp=Homepage-_-IconStrip-_-Batman

It’s why I am so happy when any non-Hot Topic-targeted Batman incarnation comes out. The Brave and the Bold was great for example and I currently love Batman ’66. Scott Snyder’s Batman is very Hot Topic/Juggalo though, as is the rest of the line. That’s what I find extra annoying about DC’s over-reliance of Batman. Not only is he the most popular character and dominating the whole comic line, but it’s just an ugly, bleak, tacky Hot Topic version of Batman to boot.

To me, DC is a classic case of taking something awesome and beating it to death. James Robinson did a brilliant, long form meditation on legacy in STARMAN. Geoff Johns riffed on it in his JSA and then it became the core of everything DC does. Most of the DC line is populated with derivatives of one stripe or another marketed as ‘legacies’.

Great insight.

DC has butchered the rest of their line for so long that the only people who are still invested in their brand are hard-core Batman fans. They’ve succeeded in running the rest of us off.

Not just hard-core Batman fans, but a specific subset of hardcore Batman fans. The Hot Topic/Juggalo Batman fan.

“The core of the DCU is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Justice League, Teen Titans and the Legion.”

I think you have to throw Green Arrow [highest it’s ever been] in there, but I’d also think Aquaman belongs on the list [no idea where he would fall, but not particularly good].

But this also brings up another point — Marvel, from the very beginning, has always dabbled in their non-core. Think about it; the first Marvel movie was almost Dazzler, and then eventually was Howard the Duck. The first hit was Blade. They’re going to do Daredevil & Elektra themselves finally, after trying it a few times a few different ways, and he has always been just outside of that core. And they’ve made a huge budget Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Meanwhile, DC started making Superman movies in the ’50’s and Batman movies in the ’60’s, and then they both went fallow, and then in the ’70’s they started making Superman movies, and that worked so then they tried making Batman movies, and that worked so then they tried another Superman movie and it didn’t really work, but they still had new Batman movies, and then they tried another Superman movie that maybe worked a little better but didn’t even catch on as much as *any* Marvel movie in the last decade.

Hmm… This seems interesting. You may have just convinced me to give this new GR title a chance. I didn’t care about it since I can’t help but see all these minority characters taking on the legacy titles as a gimmick.

@ T.

It’s why I am so happy when any non-Hot Topic-targeted Batman incarnation comes out. The Brave and the Bold was great for example and I currently love Batman ’66. Scott Snyder’s Batman is very Hot Topic/Juggalo though, as is the rest of the line. That’s what I find extra annoying about DC’s over-reliance of Batman. Not only is he the most popular character and dominating the whole comic line, but it’s just an ugly, bleak, tacky Hot Topic version of Batman to boot.

Hot Topic Batman just made my day.

@ Sean:

I think you have to throw Green Arrow [highest it’s ever been] in there, but I’d also think Aquaman belongs on the list [no idea where he would fall, but not particularly good].

To me, they are not core franchises. They are on that next tier down with The Atom, Black Canary (as a member of the Birds of Prey at least) and a few others. They are A-listers in the sense that they have proven their ability to star in a long-running title at one time, but either could be absent from the publication slate for long stretches. That makes them more like Power Man & Iron Fist, or The Defenders than the core Marvel properties.

Meanwhile, DC started making Superman movies in the ’50?s and Batman movies in the ’60?s, and then they both went fallow, and then in the ’70?s they started making Superman movies, and that worked so then they tried making Batman movies, and that worked so then they tried another Superman movie and it didn’t really work, but they still had new Batman movies, and then they tried another Superman movie that maybe worked a little better but didn’t even catch on as much as *any* Marvel movie in the last decade.

The one advantage that DC always, always had was their relative success with adaptations. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman basically were synonymous with the idea of ‘superheroes’. Post-COIE, the stability of those franchises allowed them to take risks around the fringe and gave them a really creative Golden Age in the late-80s and into the 90s. For example, none of the stuff that is happening at Marvel Studios right now is possible without Vertigo and the folks it cultivated (e.g. Morrison, Millar, Ellis).

Hmm… This seems interesting. You may have just convinced me to give this new GR title a chance. I didn’t care about it since I can’t help but see all these minority characters taking on the legacy titles as a gimmick.

To be fair, almost ALL “new” headline characters these days are legacies, whether white or minority. In today’s market people don’t seem to want to take a risk on a totally brand new character regardless of color.

No more so than any legacy title (Look! A New Hero Rises to Replace the Old!) is a gimmick.

@T – Oh, man, Hot Topics Batman. It’s funny and painful because it’s true.

And I don’t have much more interest in the white hero knock offs than the minority ones. Heck, CWing Green Arrow doesn’t even really interest me anymore.

@Sean & Dean – I think Green Arrow wouldn’t be core, because he can’t regularly carry a title. He’s had some good runs, but just below the core level. I mean, is he even as core as Iron Man, who has been published regularly for 50 years? And I’d rate Iron Man (current movie hotness aside) as a Marvel B-lister behind Spider-Man, The Hulk, Wolverine now, and maybe even guys like Captain America.

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