So today is not just Pink Triangle Day and Valentines Day, it is also Quirky Alone Day, Ferris Wheel Day, Call in Single Day, Have a Heart Day and Race Relations Day. I will try to make my post refer back to each of these themes. Let’s begin.
There’s been a minor rumbling in the rumour mill, I mean internet these days. More specifically the comic book centric internet. Something about a multiverse returning and something about how Infinite Crisis was written with one ending in mind and how it’s being changed. Whatever, I don’t particularly care.
I have a feeling I am one of the few people hovering on the border between comic insider and public at large. I don’t give a rats ass whether there’s some kind of shared universe for fictional characters. Yeah, I like it when Batman and Superman team up or the X-men meet Spiderman. Does it need to reflect the physics of the real world? Hell no. These are spider powered people who have laserbeam eyes, you’re telling me they obey the rules of time and space? Fuck off.
One world, many worlds, it’s irrelevant if the stories are crap. I don’t care what sort of time and space these characters exist within as long as the stories are entertaining, well written and well drawn. Does event X need to take place before event Y and can character A meet up with character B if they are both doing something somewhere else. It makes my brain melt and it’s not important to whether or not a story is well presented. If it is vitally important then comics should be bar graphs. Each character is a different coloured line with points of action and interaction mapped out. I don’t look at bar graphs to be entertained. Sorry. I don’t.
I don’t think comic publishers need to create artificial boundaries that always result in a creative chokehold then gets ignored ANYWAY. Making big huge sweeping statements is fine if you only ever want to make big huge sweeping statements. I mean wasn’t the Crime Syndicate wiped out in the first Crisis? How could they come back (I haven’t read that series so I don’t know how it’s explained) and more importantly why would someone try to get them back? Simple, the baby was thrown out with the bathwater and will everytime a universe is defined by a publisher's mandate. It was more important to “streamline” an artificial universe than allow creators access to interesting characters. So what happened? Along come creators who simply ignore that the universe was streamlined. Or the big huge sweeping statement isn’t as flexible or as forgiving as the theory presented.
Now it’s possible that things will go back the other way - single mutli-verse or multi-multi-verse flavour? We can’t explain why a man with large bird wings is in space in one book, in a city in another and in some other dimension in yet a third book so let’s come up with something to fix this. Why? I mean, this is very obviously NOT real, why would time have to behave realistically? This is fiction where a celebrity in a bat costume can actually scare hardened criminals. If I can believe that without explanation then I don’t need it explained why he’s in separate locations in each book he appears in. As long as it works in accordance to the needs of the story then that’s all I need.
Now I hope I’m not sounding too hard on the type-a fanboy whose entire life is ruined because character X’s timeline isn’t accounted for. I just don’t think that should drive a creative endeavour. If keeping track of your favourite character's whereabouts (and whenabouts) is what floats your boat then go for it. Graph away. It should be left up to the fans, not the companies to worry about that. Companies need to worry more about the actually quality of the product they produce. Does a shared universe actually affect quality of product. Absolutely not. Storytelling and art do. That’s it. That’s comics. Without good stories and good art a comic is nothing. It is irrelevant whether or not it fits in with “current continuity.”
I think that it should be the responsibility of the fans to map out continuity – if they so choose. The only thing a comic publisher needs to be responsible for is good products. That’s the only framework they need to set up for the creators. Make good comics. It shouldn’t be, make good comics as long as you don’t use these characters or set it in this time or on that planet, blah blah blah. Hello mess and crap comics.
What would I like to see come out of Infinite Crisis you ask? I’d like to see the multiple titles for each character focus on some aspect of the character. Detective Comics should be about the detective side of Batman, Action Comics about the action side of Superman. * Their other titles can examine the other aspects of the characters or be continuity lode stones. That to me would be a shocking change. Thematic titles bereft of continuity that give us engaging stories using whichever characters suit the story.
We (audience and creators) are capable of creating continuity without multipart epics that unnecessarily drag on plotlines. Edit text with a paintbrush that way you only take away and don’t congest plots. If creators want to limit themselves in order to challenge their artistic chops then go for it. The musical Buffy episode managed to be a form exercise that was well done but also furthered the season-long plotlines. Comics are more than capable of this, and is where this idea started for the love of Pete. Get on with it. I know it can and will be done but let’s make it the rule not the exception.
We all bought those Marvel Monster stories. Why? Simply because they had heart. They were fun stories and well told. They didn’t rely on hours of studying minutiae or an intimate relationship with the characters that you couldn’t possibly have with another living breathing human being. I’d buy more comics if there were more like that being sold as monthly series. They don’t all have to fit my idea but some should. Well ,more than Jonah Hex and a few kid friendly titles. There can be some continuity laden books out there but not every single one of them should be forced to comply. That’s foolish. I don’t expect every single book I read, every movie I watch, or other entertainment I partake in, to comply to some ridiculous creation.
Rant out. It was a bit of a ferris wheel up and down, asking for comic companies to have a heart, I called in singly on this issue and I think I’m both quirky and alone on this topic so far. Nothing about race though, well 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.
* Although Captain Marvel, sorry, Shazam returning to Crack Comics could be problematic for today's audience. If it was in fact Crack Comics he started in, I know somebody did, maybe Uncle Sam. I'm too lazy to Google it.