Demythify: Top 5 Endings & Beginnings: J.J. Abrams Star Trek 2 Into Darkness & Star Wars Episode VII, Young Justice Invasion Finale, Robin RIP & More

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Thanks for popping by and checking out my weekly Monday Demythify column.

I’m back after a month vacation, but fear not as I’ve kept up with my fandom. I have been surprised with news, solicitations and other media about how many endings and beginnings there are in store for pop culture in 2013.

Here are my top 5 so far.

Beware, some SPOILERS may follow. You have been warned. ;)

5. Endings: Cartoon Network All-Ages No More

Cartoon Network announced its 2013 Fall Schedule and there were some notable absences. The DC Nation Block lost fan favorite Young Justice in its second “Invasion” season and Green Lantern the Animated Series in its first season.

Both were shows that had cross-generational all-ages appeals and are being replaced by seemingly more kid-friendly less-sophisticated shows in Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go.

As an older viewer, particularly a devotee of Young Justice Invasion, I found the show not totally adult, but it had a youthful charm with rich storytelling that today’s youth can relate to. The simple cookie-cutter morality tales like the 1980’s G.I. Joe or ThunderCats are a thing of the past in an era of complex and visually dynamic video games.

Next weekend marks the end of Young Justice Invasion with its Season 2 Episode 20 series finale titled Endgame. Green Lantern The Animated Series, lovingly referred to as GLTAS by its fans, also ends on March 16th with its Season 2 Episode 26 series finale called Dark Matter.

In addition to these DC Comics / DC Entertaiment endings at Cartoon Network, Star Wars: The Clone Wars – taking place between the Star Wars Episode II and III movies – seemingly ended its Cartoon Network run with its Season 5 Episode 20 finale called The Wrong Jedi on March 2, 2013. STCW did not make it onto Cartoon Network’s Fall Schedule either. While it has been reported that director / writer / animator Dave Filoni confirmed in the Fall of 2012 that the team behind the series had started worked on Season 6, no official announcement has been made to date.

Speculation persists, which I think is credible, that despite the seeming finality of Ahsoka Tano arc in The Wrong Jedi episode – which shouldn’t be a huge surprise since the character does not appear in Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith – that the Clone Wars will continue on Disney XD since Disney purchased LucasFilms and Star Wars last year. I also expect Star Wars comics moving from Dark Horse to Marvel Comics since Disney also owns Marvel.

Anyhow, TPTB at Cartoon Network and The Hub have broken my heart in recent years with these cancellations compounded by the unceremonious ends to the latest ThunderCats incarnation and G.I. Joe: Renegades.

4. Beginnings: J.J. Abrams Helms Star Wars AND Star Trek… Confusing President Obama

While no official word has come forth that J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot team will continue with the rebooted Star Trek Movie franchise after this year’s Into Darkness film, it would be interesting if he alternates between his new job spearheading the next Star Wars movie trilogy and his Trek work.

I don’t think Star Trek and Star Wars fans are that adversarial and I hope a proven quantity like J.J. Abrams continues to work on both properties. I count myself a fan of both franchises.

In addition to this new movie trilogy starting with Star Wars Episode VII taking place years after Darth Vader’s seeming end and redemption at the end of Return of the Jedi, other standalone movies have been rumored: from a Boba Fett centric film and even a movie set in the Old Republic video game era set well before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. There are many possibilities.

Many fans may not be aware, but LucasFilm has done a lot to expand the Star Wars Universe in literature. In fact, several stories have been set well after Return of the Jedi including the marriage of Han Solo and Princess Leia, having children themselves who become Jedi and one who turns to the dark side himself and dies as an adult. Equally rich has been the world expounded in the pre-Phantom Menace Old Republic and other eras.

Fans worry that these stories will now be for not since the next movie trilogy takes place at the same time presumably with the stories told in the literature of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (SWEU). However, while the next Star Wars movie trilogy starting with episode VII has yet to be fully fleshed out for fans, reports are that actors Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher return as older versions of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Time will tell what happens to the SWEU. There is an interesting hardcover book coming up this summer called Kenobi that seems to bridge Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Count me in!

Star Trek fans have an equally rich literary adventures. With J.J. Abrams’ original Star Trek film rebooting the Star Trek movie universe, it did so using a staple of Trek lore: an alternate universe. The William Shatner era Trek and Sir. Patrick Stewart The Next Generation era still happened, but in the Prime Universe. The new movie adventures take place in a different universe. Both fans – young an old – can be happy and Prime Universe tales continue from Simon and Schuster. This summer and fall we get a new multi-part novel series set in the Next Generation era under the Star Trek: The Fall banner.

However, both Star Wars and Star Trek fans did agree on one thing recently: President Obama’s nerd credentials were challenged when he conflated the two universes by indicating he can’t change Congress’ mind because he is unable to use the “Jedi Mind Meld” on them. Well, as fans know, the Jedi of Star Wars do use the force to do mind tricks on the weaker willed, while in Star Trek the Vulcans use a mind meld technique on anyone to gain understanding and get in their heads so to speak. If Star Wars and Star Trek can agree that President Obama may not be the Geek-In-Chief, maybe Democrats and Republicans can agree on a balanced plan to fix the United States’ fiscal disaster.

In any event, a bright future exists for Star Wars and Star Trek fans of all ages.

3. Endings & Beginnings: Damian Wayne Requiem & Robin R.I.P.

Batman Incorporated #8 came out a few weeks ago and featured the death of Batman / Bruce Wayne’s son Damian Wayne / Robin. Writer Grant Morrison brought mainstream life to the character in 2006 inspired by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jerry Bingham’s 1987 Son of the Demon comic book take. That book was considered a non-canon Elseworlds tale until Morrison got his hands on the implied son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, the daughter of arch Batman foe Ra’s al Ghul.

As Morrison wraps up his involvement with Batman in a few months, DC seemingly allowed him to axe a character he brought to life in modern times.

Now, since Damian is also an al Ghul, there is a pretty big out with the Lazarus Pit that his grandfather Ra’s uses to stay long-lived. Damian could bathe in it and be reborn. It did happen with another formerly dead Robin in DC’s current Red Hood, Jason Todd.

I do think death in comics is an easy out for writers. It also denies fans of the character of experiencing him and future writers from using the character; well presumably until the right pitch since characters never stay dead comics. Also, Robin R.I.P. is brought to you by the same writer who wrote Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne between 2008 and 2010. Batman is alive 2013 afterall. So, is Damian Wayne’s story over? I never say never, but DC is making a big deal of its March 2013 Requiem issues of the Bat-Family mourning Damian.

One of my fave DC New 52 series is Batman and Robin by writer Peter Tomasi with artist Patrick Gleason. It will renamed as “Batman and…” becoming a team-up book of rotating Bat-family characters so far. While I remain a fan of the creative team, I’m not a fan of the new format and will sadly depart this series. However, I will always sample any new project by Tomasi and Gleason, as a duo or separately, find themselves on. They are that good.

2. Endings: The Great DC New 52 2013 Purge

DC has announced several cancellations of books I seemingly was one of only a few readers. Of the announced axed titles, I read the following:

    * DC Universe Presents
    * Deathstroke
    * Fury of Firestorm
    * Legion Lost
    * Savage Hawkman
    * Team 7

When looking back at DC’s original 52 titles, we see 63% remain standing today with 19 or 37% having been cancelled and replaced in future waves.

I have had other reads cancelled before in the New 52 experience, but this the first wave of cancellations where I will not be picking up an almost equivalent number of new DC titles. Of the new titles DC has announced only Justice League of America and Vibe are added to my pull list leaving a 4 issue deficit monthly as these 2 titles replace the 6 of mine that DC cancelled.

That said, while much of DC Comics New 52 offerings for June 2013 has made its ways onto the internet, the Batman Family solicitations have yet to be revealed. If the long-rumored Red Robin series debuts and/or the Robins series (featuring DC’s remaining ex-Robins in one book) they would be on pull list which means that of the 6 titles cancelled from under me, I will have 3 or 4 titles to replace them.

However, while those may not seem like favorable replacement numbers, of DC’s May 2013 ongoing titles – excluding final issues of faves of mine – I am reading 23 or 44% of DC’s New 52 continuing titles which is more than this long-time DC fan read pre-relaunch.

I am also reading Valiant Comics, IDW, Dynamite, Image Comics and even a two Marvel titles.

I’m curious as to what DC New 52 titles of my current DC reads will be left standing a year from now.

1. Beginnings: The Wonderful World of Lego

With many of my married friends having kids and because I have few single older male friends of mine who share some traits with Peter Pan, I have found myself in several toy stores where Lego products are 20% off or better. As a kid, I loved Lego, but today’s kids have so many more Lego options than I did. While DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Star Wars Lego caught my eye, fans of the Hobbit and Harry Potter have Lego for them too. There is also some cool City building sets with improved staples from my youth including Police and Fire Fighter sets.

And, Lego aren’t just for boys anymore. There are many girl friendly Lego sets under the Friends banner which I assume is the equivalent of the boys’ City building sets.

Since many of the Lego sets are for kids at least 5 years old and above or for more complex sets starting at older ages, there are sets for toddlers too under the Duplo brand. So even kids a few months old to ages 3 and 4 have sets for them too; both toddler boys and girls.

Lego has come a long way since my youth.

Plus, since Lego didn’t seem to be able to patent their building blocks, Hasbro has got in on the action with their Kre-O brick building brand. Lego has Star Wars and Kre-O has Star Trek. I understand that the blocks from Lego and Kre-O can be used interchangeably, so fans are the winners here with these toy manufacturers competing against one another.

My last Lego surprise? Well, Lego actually has Lego stores to directly sell product to customers including individual replacement lego bricks and minifigure pieces. There aren’t many stores, but this seems to be a growing and winning sales strategy for the company. When I popped by my local Lego store they were running what appeared to be workshop for kids with lines of people – parents with kids – waiting to participate outside the store. Plus, it seems Lego is branching into the mini-theme park market with their Lego Discovery Centers.

Wow. Lego is quite the juggernaut in 2013.

Ok, with that, what other endings and beginnings have caught your eye for 2013?

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome. :)

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John is a long-time pop culture fan, comics historian, and blogger. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief at Comics Nexus. Prior to being EIC he has produced several column series including DEMYTHIFY, NEAR MINT MEMORIES and the ONE FAN'S TRIALS at the Nexus plus a stint at Bleeding Cool producing the COMICS REALISM column. As BabosScribe, John is active on his twitter account, his facebook page, his instagram feed and welcomes any and all feedback. Bring it on!