Wednesday Comments – Relaunch Remorse

I’ve really been enjoying the DC Relaunch. For the most part I think that the books have been handled very well. They’re enjoyable reads and, on the average, they’ve got interesting takes. And I really like the feeling of getting in on the ground floor of something.

But every once in awhile I get annoyed by the DC Comics Relaunch.

The most recent time I got annoyed by it was this weekend. I had been scouring the web for comic annotations because I’d been doing the whole “Top10/Smax” thing and I came across annotations of The Golden Age. I was thrilled.

I was reading all about how origins of various characters and how James Robinson’s story diverged from the established continuity of the DCU. It really was a fascinating read, made all the better by my love for The Golden Age.

Now despite being an Elseworlds, I’m sure that I’m not the only fan who secretly pretended that The Golden Age was actually canon, especially once Robinson began fleshing out Ted Knight in Starman, with flourishes that mirrored The Golden Age.

Why couldn’t The Golden Age have happened? It utilized characters that were a part of the DCU. It was a story set in the past that, while having ramifications, didn’t really have any serious impact on the present. It could have been continuity.

But now there’s no way it could be continuity. While I don’t have the book in front of me, I’d be hard pressed to find a character from The Golden Age who is appearing in the current New 52. That saddens me.

I completely understand why they did it. By resetting the DCU they made it more appealing to new and lapsed readers. Furthermore, taking the drastic step of resetting the DCU attracted media attention, which in turn created more sales. It was marketing and it worked. Congrats to them.

But they tossed away 75 years of continuity for it. The lack of Pre-Superman heroes depresses me. The lack of a JSA or an All-Star Squadron gets under my skin. And again, I understand that having characters old enough to have participated in WWII can be a tricky proposition. Flying aliens with extraordinary powers are within the realm of possibility, but costumed adventures from the 1940’s still being alive today is just asking too much.

I’m just worried that DC pulled the trigger too quickly.

Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns are two of the main creative forces behind DC at this moment and have been for the past few years. They are undeniable creative powerhouses who have literally shaped the DCU. But would they have been able to get their foot in the door the way things are now, with DC not only ignoring, but paving over it’s past?

Grant Morrison started with DC on Animal Man, a book about a forgotten character who never really developed a following. But he was a character that DC owned and whose low profile allowed Grant Morrison to really take some chances on. The result was a critically acclaimed run that helped birth the Vertigo line.

Geoff Johns burst onto the comic landscape with Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. a book featuring one of DC’s many “legacy” heroes. Johns created a next generation Star-spangled Kid, which lead to a successful run on JSA a book featuring several of DC’s golden age heroes.

So Grant made a name for himself with a forgotten DC character and Geoff did it with Golden Age characters. Would either be possible now in the current climate of the New 52? Not likely.

Of course there’s also more competition for writers in the current comic landscape. Image is not only a viable alternative, but it also offers up better creator rights. The indie scene is much stronger than it was when Grant Morrison or even Geoff Johns started out at DC.

But DC is really shooting itself in the foot, creatively, by effectively erasing dozens of characters from continuity. Those characters could have inspired a story for the writer who could be the next Grant Morrison or Geoff Johns. But DC has decided to take them off the field of play because they want to skew to a younger demographic.

I just feel that in the long term the DC Relaunch is going to do more harm than good. So no matter how much I’m enjoying Batwoman, Batman, Batman & Robin, Swamp Thing and Animal Man, I can’t help but think of the stymied writer who had a great pitch for DC that’s been made obsolete by the DC Comics Relaunch.

Oh well.

It’s Wednesday, got and get some comics. They’re always better when they’re fresh and hot.

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