Comic books and their charming denizens are incredibly popular these days. It wasn’t too long ago, they were the big thing of Saturday mornings with X-Men and Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and the Justice League. Hulk even had a short run, along with Iron Man and the Fantastic Four (Marvel Action Hour ring any bells?). All these shows did the comics justice.
Then came Hollywood. Whatever was popular on the silver screen reflected itself onto the pages of it’s origin. Take it or leave it, the cinematic films of Marvel have had a powerful influence on their counterparts. Characters looking more like their on screen versions being the smallest changes.
The landscape of comic books, where they belong in pop culture, and their subject matter, hasn’t changed much, really. Whenever a writer would take over a title, it would change. Sometimes drastically, sometimes minimal. Either way, much like life, in comics, change is constant.
Thus, comes that dreaded term: reboot. It’s kind of like when you restart your computer. Depending on how it’s done, nothing changes sometimes and it’s just refreshed, or if you have given it the old “pull the power during updates”, well, everything changes. Whether it still works cohesively or not is another question entirely.
It all depends on the writing…
Marvel and DC have been doing a lot of writing lately. Some good. Some… Well, it’s written. And maybe it shouldn’t have been.
Thank Goodness for the good stuff!
Here is a shocker for a lot of folks: We need these ‘not-a-reboot-reboots’ more than you realize.
Why We Need New Stories Like Convergence and Secret Wars
So, let’s get into why these not-reboot-reboots are so important. Let me begin this opinion, with a fact. The stories you read as a kid are the stories you read as a kid. Not what children, today, are reading. The world has changed since then do the subject matter in comics has changed. The problems are different and some of the threats are either more down to earth or far more out of this world. So much has already been done, it’s a challenge to stay fresh and new while leaving the old alone and respecting it without retconning.
‘Convergence’ and ‘Secret Wars’ are not threats to the past, though. What they have done is legitimized all canons of Marvel and DC. No history is wiped out. They all happened. But they are not the status quo anymore. Things change. Crisis on Infinite Earths taught us that some changes can happen; for good or bad.
Not all are permanent (I’m looking at you, Jason Todd). One thing to consider is, if you have this enormous history of stories, and you are tasked with writing for this character, you have a lot of history to know and much reference material. You have the pain of ensuring you aren’t just replaying this characters greatest hits. How many times can Batman fight Joker? How many times can Spider-man fight Green Goblin? Anymore marriages need to be destroyed for the sake of sales?
When you start over, you aren’t as weighed down by the past. This isn’t a bad thing. These ‘not-reboots-but-restarts’ are the chance for spectacular story-telling to happen again.
Superman doesn’t need to fight Doomsday again. Peter Parker doesn’t need to win the fight against villains but lose in his personal life.
The walls of obstruction of who a character is and isn’t can be opened up a bit with these re-beginnings. It isn’t like the history is gone. If you love the old stories, they are still legitimate. It’s selfish to say the new readers don’t deserve a chance to grow with a character like our generations have.
I had a chance to talk with a young kid about Spider-Man. He loves Miles Morales and Peter Parker. He knows their stories of the last decade really well. He doesn’t know much about Ben Reilly or Kaine or the Jackal. He doesn’t know about the Clone Saga of the Planet of the Symbiotes. He doesn’t know about Maximum Carnage. He has his stories. I have mine. We talked about them both. He wants to read my stories now, and I want to read his as well!
We can have our cake and eat it, too. His stories don’t have to be better, nor do mine. We each love our character of choice.
Essentially, what I am saying is, thank you Marvel and DC. The new reboot-that-isn’t-a-reboot is actually quite nice of you.