In the last week, there were two big indications of change happening soon in the Big Two comics companies – Steve Rogers returning as Captain America and Dan DiDio hinting that there will be a big “Rebirth” at DC this summer via Twitter.
I have to say that I’ve reached a breaking point when it comes to change. Can I take much more of it in my comics? For the first time, I can understand why some people drift away from the industry!
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THESE CHANGES
First off, let me explain what I know about these two changes at this point.
Steve Rogers will return to his superhero identity of Captain America, complete with new costume and shield, this summer at Marvel. Sam Wilson will still be the “other” Cap, so we’ll have two heroes with this name on the shelves. Not only that, but scripter Nick Spencer will be writing both titles. But Steve’s book will be called Captain America: Steve Rogers.
Over at DC, on Friday, January 22, Dan DiDio tweeted that “Rebirth” is happening at DC. Now, there’s been a LOT of conjecture going on as to just what that means. I think it’s pretty safe to expect that, after DCYOU didn’t catch on with fans, the company is going to take another stab at drawing in fans. Will it be like The New 52 event, which had lines forming outside comics stores when it first happened? I don’t know, so I’m going to wait for more details about what will likely take place after the various #52 issues are released this summer. Of course, Geoff Johns has made good use of “Rebirth” events in his comics, so we may be in for something like that on a company-wide scale. We’ll see.
As part of this, word has it that Scott Snyder will be moving from Batman to Detective Comics (where Peter J. Tomasi just took over as writer) so he can tell the stories he wants. He feels Detective will be a better place to do that. As of this writing, no word on if Greg Capullo will follow him there or not.
CHANGING ON A REGULAR BASIS
Look, over the past several years, change has been a constant in the comics industry. Creators and set-ups that lasted for more than even three years are really unusual these days. Both the Justice League and the Avengers have gotten different line-ups more often over the years than I care to keep track of.
That said, I do remember that, for example, very little change happened in many comics. Writers and artists often told stories within a specified framework for literally decades. Granted, some aspects of their set-ups would change on occasion, but many things remained the same. When something changed, like Dick Grayson going off to college, that was a big deal. But now, it seems like things have reached a constant state of upheaval that keeps the status quo changing on a yearly (if not monthly) basis.
I get that some fans get tired of things being in a stable mode for a long time. Sticking with Mr. Grayson, him being Nightwing made many unhappy, particularly Mr. DiDio who never saw the point of “another” Batman around. He’s now a spy who occasionally gets pulled back into the superhero universe when needed. (By the way, Tom King, who scripts Grayson, has said that he still thinks Dick is functioning as Nightwing even though he doesn’t currently wear the mask, something I found very interesting.)
I also remember when Peter David was writing The Incredible Hulk at Marvel. He had access to sales numbers since he was formerly working in that department, so whenever the sales figures started to dip, he’d upset the status quo with Bruce Banner, which would bring back many of the fans who left the title. (Don’t get me started on the recently new Hulk!)
Bringing Steve Rogers back as Cap is inevitable. After all, the third Captain America film will be out in a few months. Rogers is the person best known as the star-spangled hero. This happens again and again in comics. I expect the female Thor will be out when that third Thor movie is about to be released. Or, at least, the male Thor will be back in the spotlight.
WHAT BOTHERS ME
I’ve been reading some of the reaction to Mr. DiDio’s hint on Friday, and while I’m going to support whatever DC does, I’m seeing a lot of people who are as concerned as I am about these frequent “reboots.”
I buy comics because I enjoy the stories. Yes, I follow certain creators and characters, but it’s the storytelling that ultimately brings me back month after month.
We just went through serious changes at both Marvel and DC. Here we go again, at least with DC! Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big DC fan! But reboots are getting tiresome, especially this often! Still, I don’t want DC to go under, though!
When you change the person in the costume, you make it possible to revisit certain stories that have already happened. It frustrates me when I see a storyline similar to one I’ve read in the past when there’s a new person in the super suit. Often, the ending’s the same, but even if it isn’t, I’ve been down this path before.
There’s also that expression, “change for change’s sake.” Instead of telling better stories, we make often-temporary changes in a book or series of them. Collectors love them and buy them in hopes that they’ll become worth more in the years ahead.
I’ve reached the place where making Steve Rogers AGAIN become Cap is growing as old as Steve has been recently. It wasn’t that long ago that Bucky Barnes was Cap until we discovered that Steve wasn’t really dead after all.
The notion that comics readers come and go from the industry every three years ought to be left behind by now. Most people who read comics are in it for the long haul, and we remember these “gimmicks,” as a friend likes to call them.
The next time sales numbers begin to drop on a book with a well-known character, may I suggest that you don’t replace that person with a woman, a person of different color, an alien or whatever? Instead, come up with better stories for that hero to take part in!
I’ve often said that if you’re a comics writer who thinks the best thing for your hero is to be significantly changed into something nearly unrecognizable, you need to find a different character to write!
I would suggest that writers follow Mr. Synder’s lead. If you want to tell different stories, maybe you should go to a title that more appropriately accommodates them! I’ll miss him on Batman, but as long as I can keep reading his quality stories, I’ll be happy to read Detective Comics each month!
What do you think about the constant changes in comics these days? Please share your thoughts below![signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation”][/signoff]