With the DCnU just a couple of weeks away and Wonder Woman already having a pants fiasco, it made me wonder which heroes DC seems to have missed the boat with the most over the years. My suggestions below.
Wonder Woman - DC seems to have the hardest time getting her right, then, when they seem to get things working well, the next creative team in tends to chuck her supporting cast and ignore her key concepts.
Hawkman - King of the (bad) reboot. Hawkman's probably been rebooted more than any other character and each reboot adds another layer of confusion. Hard to believe for a character who's key defining trait is that he has wings and can fly. I wonder how much confusion could have been headed off if Hawkworld had been considered an Elseworlds story instead of a reboot? The horrible thing is, the 2002 series finally made the character workable in continuity again and they decide to upend the series concept for a One Year Later stunt.
Captain Marvel - A lot of people would argue Cap just doesn't fit in well with the DCU but I thought the Power of Shazam series worked just fine, showcasing a hero with a different tone but who still made sense in the universe. Unfortunately, as Ordway burned out, they didn't switch writers to keep the series going. Since then, Cap might as well be Captain Carrot for how well they've integrated him with the rest of the DCU.
Black Adam - His star turn in 52 wound up screwing him. Over the course of JSA and the front end of 52, Black Adam was turned into DC's best realized anti-hero. Unfortunately, at the end of 52, he was revilified in a way he really couldn't come back from. Yeah, he's a pretty good villain but DC has plenty of those, you'd think they would have protected his anti-hero status. Ah well, there's always Secret Six, oh wait...
Plastic Man - Here's a hero that's had cartoons and been in the public consciousness yet he's almost always just left on the shelf. I wonder if he'd been created at DC instead of Quality if he'd have been treated better?
Uncle Sam - DC's got a gaping hole as far as patriotic heroes go, they have one of the most recognizable patriotic images out there, and he only gets dusted off when they half heartedly put out a Freedom Fighter mini.
Black Lightning - Passed over for JLA membership in the 70s, he finally gets added to the prime team under Dwayne McDuffie, then it's back to the Outsiders ghetto with him.
Amethyst - I honestly don't know where DC's coming from. They've watched the manga market grow, they have a property that would likely have crossover appeal, and yet Gemworld is forgotten and Amethyst is only brought back to either be a villain or cannon fodder.
Well, that's my list. Anyone else have some nominees?
I said this before but Green Lantern #50 made me quit comics cold turkey. No dropping titles or brands. The whole deal! For two years all I bought were back issues and The Batman Adventures (based on the animated series). Retire Hal, replace him, marry him off, cripple him, kill him. I could handle that. But making him a mass murderer, a villain. That was too much for me and I was reading and liking a lot of Post-Crisis stuff. Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Legionnaires, Superman. I was confused and put-offed, sometimes even insulted but I adapted. Corrupting Hal was more than a slap-in-the-face, it was an affront to longtime DC readers (like me) that we were no longer wanted. We had our "summer", but our turn was over. They wanted a newer audience that wouldn't ask questions or care about continuity changes! Not that I worry about things like that! ;P
A new Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Supergirl, etc. These were permanent. These would be DC's future! No going back! So there is a little grim satsifaction that these 90s hotshot editors and writers have had their legacies trampled on with little consideration. What goes around, comes around.
But one day, Wally West, Katar Hol the second, Kyle Raynor, Connor Hawke, the Earth Angel, Live Wire and the rest will take over again. It's practically inevitable.
But God knows what Wonder Woman will be then!
I don't think the only way to judge a character successful is by whether or not they can support their own ongoing series. Not every character is going to be able to hit that kind of critical mass but a good take on a character can open up lots of creative possibilities. Even factoring the subjective out, a character can still be profitable for a company as a supporting character in a team book, a headliner for the occasional mini, or even as an image to slap on lunchboxes.
This is wisdom.
Both companies should always be working to make their universes interesting and cohesive backgrounds for their stories. Just having supporting-type characters be there to be killed or written out is very reductive in the long run. Hardly any of Swamp Thing's co-stars in Moore's run were capable of carrying their own comic for long, but boy did they make for interesting stories.
Henry R. Kujawa said:
In came Denny O'Neil and Jim Owsley, who in their first 8 pages, BRUTALLY MURDERED Katma Tui, and had the cops thinking her husband John Stewart did it. Way to go, guys. Over the course of one year in ACW, just about everything Englehart had put together in GLC was ripped to pieces, in what seems a deliberate attempt to destroy a long-running series. Only the final story (involving a rogue alien GL, "Malvolio") seemed a step in the right direction, but when GL returned in his own book, returning editor Andy Helfer inexplicably barred any mention of the story in continuity. WTF?Are you sure Jim Owsley was there from the beginning? I was under the impression he was only responsible for the last story. I was thinking that the drek that came before it was written by Peter David.
It's all subjective. 90s Superman was boringly 'screwed up' to me and the new improved Hal of our current era is a walking exemplar of everything that's wrong with modern comics as far as I'm concerned, but both are commercial successes.
A lot of it's subjective, true, but one things for sure, if a character doesn't get exposure they're not going to be as popular as they could be.
Border Mutt wrote:
"Are you sure Jim Owsley was there from the beginning? I was under the impression he was only responsible for the last story. I was thinking that the drek that came before it was written by Peter David."
Yep. 3 writers (for the most part) worked on GL in ACW: Jim Owsley, Peter David, and Jim Owsley.
I liked the last part because Mark Bright did the art, in a psuedo-"Neal Adams" style. He'd come a long way from his earlier stuff at Marvel.
I think it was Todd Smith (??) who drew the Peter David stories. It seemed absurd to reveal that Hal's RING had brainwashed him into having NO FEAR, and when he ordered it to remove the brainwashing, he found himself cowering on a building ledge in terror. But breaking up Hal & Arisia (who I adored) served NO PURPOSE but to be miserable for the sake of being miserable. They just wanted to destroy every aspect of Hal's life.
But the opening shot was O'Neil, Owsley, and Gil "high tension violence" Kane. Kane inked a few episodes himself, including the one where Katma Tui was SLICED TO RIBBONS off-panel by CARROL FERRIS.(That PSYCHO-B****!!!) The John Stewart "accused of murder" plot was never resolved in ACW. Very sloppy. It took until Gerard Jones was on the series before they FINALLY got Carol straightened out. Don Simpson (MEGATON MAN) actually inked an episode or two, he told the story of how humiliating it was for a successful, established artist to try and get work at a place like DC. This sequence also contained the infamous scene where Hal, trying to get back in touch with old friends, was brushed off by every single one of them, culminating with Oliver Queen telling him, "GET A LIFE!"
There was one more writer in ACW, but Mark Waid's story was SO COMPLETELY out-of-continuity... or at least, it was totally written off as soon as Gerard Jones came along. (Waid seems to enjoy writing stories that either ignore previous continuity or GET ignored soon after he writes them.)
I think the thing with Hal's ring was ALSO written off after Helfer & Jones took over. Instead, they made him an alcoholic. What is wrong with these people?
Figserello said: "Part of the problem we are discussing here is that these characters have to drag on and on forever. It's not like movies or books, where you can have a series that runs its course, and everyone loves it and it becomes a classic. The monthly sales model means that these characters have to flogged to death over and over again. I feel sorry for them."
Yes, and that's why I have less and less interest in these characters. I wish Marvel and DC would retire their heroes every 20 or 30 years, and start over with new characters. It won't happen, but it would make mainstream comics more interesting and believable for me. It's hard for me to take Peter Parker seriously; if he aged like a normal person, he would be pushing 65 -- like everyone else who graduated from high school in 1965.
There are two good reasons why Marvel and DC have to keep trying to revitalize their tired old franchises. Those reasons are Hollywood and Merchandising. Without them, I doubt there would be a commercial comic book industry today.
I just allow that the characters they publish now are only coincidentally similar to characters that were published years ago, but are essentially different characters.
Helps me keep my sanity.
The monthly schedule thing is really killing these characters though. Any of them could be great, or minor gems if they weren't on that ridiculous treadmill. If the companies are so in thrall to TV and Hollywood they should realise that there is currently - what - 10-15 incarnations of Superman and Batman out there. TV and movies know that they have to 'repurpose' these properties every few years to keep up with the times.
There's something daft in the fanbase too, expecting new stories to all accord with what they read in 1981. Is there any other pursuit which so evidences the stalled adololesence of its fans?
Gearing the stories towards the vociferous end of the market who want everything to be like when they were 10, but with some kind of pseudo-adult sensibility mixed in at the same time, has been killing superhero comics. DC and Marvel have become adept at facing that market, but with the effect of making their product look more and more unappealing and unattractive to a wider audience.
First, one should avoid arguing that material one personally doesn't like, or isn't interested in, shouldn't exist. I don't watch soap operas; arguably the constraints under which they are produced incline them towards mediocrity; but they have their fans. The networks could make one-off teleplays instead, but they would be something else, a different product. One wouldn't argue "I'm not personally interested in women's romance novels, so Mills and Boon should dump their existing publishing programme and instead publish adventure stories about Roman gladiators."
Second, comics writers can bring their own storylines to a climax, and they quite often take characters through major changes. Often later writers reverse these changes, sometimes series get rebooted. But the production of further stories doesn't alter earlier stories, any more than Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew was altered by the sequel John Fletcher wrote for the King's Men, The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tamed.
Third, Silver Age creators somehow turned out pretty good Superman stories on a fairly regular basis. I don't see why that should suddenly have become impossible today.
That's EXACTLY what I thought! :-) Great minds and all that. I ended up enjoying Kyle (not Wally--that's the other fill-in, Figs!) as well. (At least once they had him grow some balls and stop doubting himself all the time.) I loved the "5 years later/older Legion" of the late 80's early 90's.
I guess it's all just based on your perspective and your likes and dislikes.
I can't imagine a more subjective thread topic!
I wish Marvel and DC would retire their heroes every 20 or 30 years, and start over with new characters.In a sense that's what these reboots are. A harder reboot can get them 20 or 30 years of relatively fresh new directions. A softer reboot, well, how long since Infinite Crisis? ;)
Apparently they are going with the term 'relaunch' this time, rather than a reboot. But Superman and JLA look like reboots to me.
The soft reboot of IC/OYL just seemed to muddy the waters for me, but did result in Johns being able to tell his Superman Legion story that wasn't at all bad. The tinkering with the JLA's origins seemed to be completely pointless. What they really did with IC was to make it so that all the adventures since 1957 might have happened in some way.
The lesson from the Superman/Legion story, which would have been impossible with the Byrne-onwards Superman, is that they should just change the past if they have a worthwhile story to tell, and not bother justifying it with all that multiple Earths rebooting the universe nonsense.
Maybe all this fooling around they've been doing with everybody's backstory will train the readers to give up trying to make it all hang together. An impossible task.
I really liked the Carter Hall version of Hawkman and for the most part I think they got his series spot on.I wasn't to happy when it was re-titled Hawkgirl and lost all interest after that.
If they made a mistake then for me it was the way he grew more agressive by the issue,thats not Carter Hall,he maybe single minded but he's not a blood thirsty killer.
For me he is an integral part of the DCU but probably works best in a team book with the occasional mini-series.
As for teams DC has screwed them up many times over the years only to finally come back to the winning formula for a while,JLA and JSA being the prime examples.