It's been a while since I've gone and done a “Let's Talk About:” post, mainly because most of the comic related stuff I've wanted to say I've been able to say during one of my other MANY posts. Lately though, I've been giving a lot of thought as to the current direction of the DCU, especially in light of the conclusion to Blackest Night. Before I really begin to get rolling here, be warned I WILL begin to rant and rave, so be prepared...
Although I have grown up exclusively reading Marvel Comics, the recent BENDISization of the Marvel Universe has caused my interest in Marvel to wane to the point where I'd consider DC my favorite comic company... At least for now. However, it really wouldn't take much for me to switch allegiances again, which is what this post is really all about. While Marvel seems to be getting it right(bringing back the REAL Avengers, while still holding onto the character development they've spent the past several years cultivating, be it good or bad), DC has been sucked into some sort of bizarre time warp. And the man responsible for DC comics vexing current direction? Why none other then the guy I've voted as my favorite comic writer for the past two consecutive years, Geoff Johns.
Let's take a look at what I'd suspect the year 2011 is going to look like in the DCU. Superman will be patrolling the streets of Metropolis, while Bruce Wayne will be Batman. The main Green Lantern will be Hal Jordan and the number one Flash will be SAINT Barry Allen. Other notable DC heroes would probably be Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow... Now let's hop in the old time machine and go back a mere 10 years to the year 2000... The Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman was intact(as it always should be), while the secondary DC heroes were actually different and interesting. Wally West was the main Flash, having taken over the role from his former mentor, SAINT Barry. Kyle Rayner was the prime Green Lantern, with Hal Jordan having gone insane and then sacrificing his life to save the Earth. Aquaman had gone through several changes which included him losing his kingdom and his hand, while Oliver Queen, Green Arrow, died saving Metropolis and was replaced by his son, Connor Hawke. The Martian Manhunter was still the Martian Manhunter, although even his usually boring origin was spruced up with the advent of the evil White Martians. Since I have the old time machine out, let's travel all the way back to the 1960's next. The Trinity was still in place, while the main Flash was SAINT Barry Allen with Hal Jordan serving as the prime Green Lantern. Other notable heroes included Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow... Sound familiar? It should, it's the exact same as what I figure 2011 will look like.
Now, I have to ask myself why this is... Why is DC(under the stewardship of Geoff)undoing YEARS of stories and character development and bringing us all to the 1960's? And the thing is, it's not only the big name characters who are suffering DC's bizarre flashback-itis, it's the secondary characters as well. Take Roy Harper for example. Back in the late 70's, Roy was a childless former sidekick who was struggling to find his place, while resorting to drugs to help him along. In the mid 00's, Roy had become a member of the JLA, was a father, had kicked his habit and was standing on his own two feet. Now? Roy's a childless former hero with no place, resorting to drugs to help himself along. I wonder how long it is before Dick Grayson is back in the speedo, hopping around Batman while shouting, “Holy machine gun umbrella, Batman!”. Marvel went through a similar phase back in the early 00's, but they handled it in a much more sensible way. They created a line of comics(the Ultimate books)that took their most famous franchises and rebooted them, while still allowing the mainstream Marvel Universe to continue to grow, change and expand. So you were able to read about dead/older characters from back when they were younger. Peter Parker was no longer a married man trying to make ends meet, he was a timid high school student living a double life once again. Cyclops wasn't the leader of all things mutant, he was still a student at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, trying to get his powers under control. DC DID actually do something similar with their All-Star line, but instead of growing it, they allowed it to fall into disarray, or maybe they realized since the mainstream DCU had BECOME the All-Star world, they didn't need to continue that line anymore.
I'm not saying it's all good over at Marvel, because it most DEFINITELY isn't! Marvel has their fair share of problems/gaffs(mainly the whole, “No more Mutants” decree), but they seem to be slowly attempting to right them while moving forward, not trying to completely turn back the clock like their Distinguished Competition. It's sad because I have enjoyed becoming a fan of the DCU. I've enjoyed reading about its myriad of heroes from the 1930's to today, but I just don't think ignoring the past 30 years worth of stories is the way to go. I will admit that some characters(such as Hal Jordan)do deserve a second chance at life because of the unsatisfying way they met their fate, but that doesn't mean EVERY major character who has died in the past 30 years also needs to be returned to life! Some deaths fit, were hugely important and should have had some permanence to them. My favorite example of that is of course the Flash, SAINT Barry Allen. SAINT Barry died in an attempt to save the multiverse. He died the hero's death, he was mourned and was replaced by his sidekick, everything seemed in order, it all made perfect sense story wise and didn't at all seem forced, shouldn't that have been the end of his tale? The same can be said for the Martian Manhunter and Aquaman. Sure they have their own legion of fans(I'd consider myself a fan of the latter), but DC KILLED them off. Shouldn't that mean something? Now they're back, for very little reason that I can fathom, probably to continue doing what they were doing 40 years ago... Umm, eating cookies and talking to dolphins I guess... Am I saying that we should ignore the Silver Age DC heroes, and only concentrate on the DC heroes who were active in the 90's/00's? No of course not, but we should also move forward, not back, which is unfortunately the only direction Geoff Johns and the current brain trust over at DC seem capable of heading... Well there we go, I've stuck my head in the hornet's nest and am ready to be stung!