I bought three Superman related comics this week. Something of a milestone for me, as I was never a big Superman guy. I bought some of the John Byrne stuff during the re-launch of that day, but after awhile I gave up on the character until the One Year Later re-launch.
Now, I don't have any issue with All-Star Superman being an entirely unrelated story to Action Comics, Superman or the rest of the DCU. It's a great story set in its own little world. Really, it may as well be an independent book, since Superman is the only super hero involved in the story. It has all the hallmarks of a new book set in its own universe. And that's fine, because it makes no pretense of being anything to do with the DCU continuity. It's just a well told story with excellent art.
But I would like some continuity amongst books that are set in the same DCU. I haven't picked up the current Superman run, but I have been readin Action Comics and The Brave and The Bold. As far as I can tell, they're both set in the DCU. So, why is Zor-El, Kara's father, an apparently dead bad guy who manipulated and trained his daughter to kill the baby Kal-El in The Brave and The Bold while at the same time he's a very alive, if miniaturized, good guy who sent his daughter off to protect the baby Kal-El in Action Comics?
I can honestly say I've spent zero time thinking about Zor-El of El (which seems kind of redundant, but that's how it's put in Action Comics) before Wednesday, but this confluence of opposing characterizations sort of smacked me in the face.
Maybe it's a product of the general mess that is Supergirl these days. I can't say because I haven't read any Supergirl, other than her stint in the future with the Legion of Super Heroes, but from what Jim puts up here, it seems like that book is a total mess. Maybe it's the influence of the Smallville TV show where Zor-El is a naer do well, but usually that's a separate universe.
I expect differences in stories told over the long history of a comic character like Superman and his attendant family relations, but to come out with the same character as an evil, manipulative villian who sends his daughter off as an assassin in The Brave and The Bold and as a caring father who did all he could to protect his daughter and sent her off to protect the person who was to be the target of said assassination in Action Comics is just bizarre. Ok, that was a crappy sentence structure, but you know what I mean.
How does a company that has editorial control over all of its titles allow this sort of blatant inconsistency? Are they too hung up in Final Crisis? Is the constant shake up in the broad continuity of the DCU, or the MU for that matter, too distracting to allow for editorial supervision of books that aren't tying in directly to the mega cross overs?
I'm not asking that every last detail of a character always be the same wherever that character appears. Hell, I don't mind if there's sudden weight gain or loss in the depections of the character, if the hair color changes, or if he even goes from loving dad to distant dad, but evil manipulator versus benificient guardian are diametrically opposed characteristics. Call it continuity or call it consistency, I like to see some effort made when the same character is used in concurrent stories set in the same milieu.