Anyway, change in comics? We’re obviously limiting this to Marvel and DC superhero comics, because there are a lot of great titles out there that have nothing to do with this discussion. Northlanders, Daytripper, Scalped, Proof, Invincible, The Walking Dead, and many more are all about permanent change. If I were to recommend comics to a new reader, it would be from that selection, not the superheroes of Marvel or DC. In fact, I’ve started a friend on some Fables and Books of Magic trades, which is something relatable to the books she likes to read.
Is the death of Ryan Choi, and the sublimation of Jason Rusch to the talking head part of Firestorm, racist? Only if you view racism in the most shallow of ways. Racism has to be about more than a character who is a US minority being removed or relegated to a more minor role. Was Choi “killed” (because he’s not really a person, I mean the editorial decision to eliminate the character) because he’s Asian? Was Rusch’s reduced role because he’s black? Viewed in the context of DC’s move to embrace the past as the status quo, no. Even viewed outside that prism, there’s nothing to support that thought. The removal of any character at any time would have to be viewed as racist if the analysis were that facile. Unless you’re foolish enough to believe that Blackest Night really means characters killed will stay dead, Choi’s death is all much ado about nothing in any case.
The greater problem is super heroes as flies in amber. I’m with Jim that the publishers really need to move on. Part of the reason I’ve been reading no Marvel is that it’s all the same characters with a convoluted mess of history, so that I really don’t know about the characters any longer, nor do I care. They’re perpetually trapped with ever more unrealistic things happening to them, usually in some grand “event” story. When I jumped on to Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider it was a good story, but one of the issues had page after page of the history of the Ghost Riders that I’d missed over the years. Fortunately, Aaron didn’t need me to know any of that for his story, but what a mess. JMS re-started Thor so that a lot of his baggage was lost, but then Marvel went and lumped Thor into its event mess, and I gave up on it.
DC has had more of my reading attention because of the newer characters that were introduced. They provided good jumping on points over the years, but the return to the original heroes (almost original, in the case of the Flash and Green Lantern) has brought all that to a screeching halt in those books. My primary reads in DC now are JSA (a lot of newer people), Secret Six (new life in older characters along with newer characters), the Bat titles (new Batwoman, new Batman, new Robin, new Question), and Action Comics (Kryptonian Nightwing and Flamebird). I’ve tried to give the Green Lantern stories of Geoff Johns a shot, but I really can’t take any more of it, despite his skills as a writer.
I’d much sooner see both companies take a new approach altogether. Skip all the continuity nightmares. Just drop it. Just have stories done by good writers and artists without care or concern for tying it all together between, or even within, titles. Want to tell a story of Bruce Wayne as Batman? Go ahead. Next month we can have one with Dick Grayson as Batman. Who cares, as long as it’s well told? You could make Barbara Gordon Batman. Just do it well.
PART 3 Coming Soon (tomorrow)