Friday, March 24, 2006

A different world.

Kalinara over at Pretty Fizzy Paradise has written a post that has gotten me to start thinking a bit more critically/creatively for today’s post. I sort of gave up and decided to click on one of her sidebar blogs that I hadn’t read yet. I clicked on The Zeta Beam read the post about the All-New Atom still being a white dude with the same costume and the ability to go atomic, or shrink – whatever. So I realized I would have to stick with my first idea about posting something meaningful on where some “mainstream” comics could go.

The gist of what I’m going to be getting at is basically “Where is the Harry Potter of comics going to come from?” I don’t particularly mean something about young wizards but more about a creation aimed at the young reader that is enjoyable by anyone who reads it. I think the Batman Animated Series and the current JLU are doing this well on television but the violence is a bit gratuitous. I know, I know, they’re heroes and heroing means you need to get punchy and make explosions. Heh, that kind of sounds like you need to be farty. And I know there is darkness and violence in the Harry Potter books, but one would have to admit the subject is treated a bit differently. Nobody walks away unscathed and if you do there are still repercussions for the actions taken.

I think one of the places this could happen is, oddly enough, with The Phantom Stranger. It’s already got mystical elements that seem to be hip with the youth without being totally sword and sorcery. Kind of the Quantum Leap in comic book form is how I see this book, only with magic instead of science. You’d not be limited by time or space since the dude is basically a ghost. When I think of things that work on multiple levels I keep turning back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Outside of the obsessively scary fans, this show managed to package multiple genres and appeal to each demographic. Teen drama, check, Horror tropes, check, Comedy, check, Boobs and Pecks, check. It mixed things up while moving each of them forward. It became aware of what it was and even experimented with its own form and the expectations of its own audience. Man I miss those DVDs…

Anyway, back to comics. I think with the new releases coming out there is a chance to do this as well. How many of us out there think something new and unique will appear? C’mon, don’t be shy. You can raise your hands anytime now….(crickets chirp).

We see that the new Atom looks to be just like the old Atom. I don’t say that to begrudge Gail Simone anything. I really like her take on the DCU. She’s created a lot of stuff I love and I look forward to what she’s going to be coming out with. But her writing seems suited to my demographic – fans who know a bit of the history and want their classic mixed with equal parts current. Then again I don’t want to think of her as a limited writer. This could be exactly the series we’re all looking for.

I think the current OYL Aquaman is a step in the right direction. It’s mixing genres in a way that works without cheapening either histories – Aquaman’s own and the fantasy genre. It’s hard to judge if there will be a continued success here since there has only been one issue but it did manage to collect new readers. It took a writer that people are interested in, a character that people are interested in, and started from scratch while respecting the history that came before. It allowed those of us not invested, but interested, in both the character and the creator to get a taste of something new. I can’t crown it king just yet but I do see it as a successful start and I’d like to see this happen to an all-ages book.

I recently wrote about my love of the Bone comics. Why can’t we get superhero comics like that? I know there are the animated DCU comic books, but I want something that isn’t treading familiar waters. Yes, they’re good books and fun books, but they’re more or less cartoon recaps. I don’t want recaps. I want new – even if it mixes in some old elements. So where can we get this? Who knows? Justice League Detroit? Probably not – sorry fans. Maybe the Metal Men? I could see that happening more.

Here’s some random ideas off the top of my head that could possibly work as an all-ages book:

The Phantom Stranger – mix between Quantum Leap and Sherlock Holmes with a healthy smattering of the mystical.
The Metal Men – Straight up superhero book about trying to find your place in the world only they could be like Degrassi Students.
Mary Marvel – Like Superman only done like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew (yeah make jokes now about The Nancy Boys).
Super Boy – He takes time off from the Teen Titans and travels across America, then the world, then outer space trying to find himself or just drink it all in with some friends. Kerouac for the comics.
Tor or Kamandi – c’mon how can you not go wrong with intelligent apes and random dinosaur action. It would sell to anyone with testicles.

As for Marvel comics, I would imagine something like:
Bah, I can’t be bothered. It would be like five extra Spiderman and Wolverine comics where they punch stuff then punch each other done by an exclusive artist. And some random character like Gladiator or Black Bolt gets a miniseries that is really good.

So I started this post many hours ago and sort of forgot where I was heading. I did have some points but they are lost to the annals of history. Oh yeah, one of my favourite single issues (aside from the Jonah Hex book) was the Gotham Central issue that was done in one starring crooked cops and Poison Ivy. I think the police procedural would work. Same with a mystery based title or even medical drama. Although I probably wouldn’t buy a medical drama book, personally. I’ve been going on about mystical/comedy but there’s also sci-fi. What about a sci-fi western or a western horror mix up, a western mystical book or adventures of everyman-adventurer trying to keep his livelihood in a world with the JLA?

What do you think would work as a new direction for at least one book?


Anonymous said...

thanks for the kind words, but Atom isn't a white guy, and he ain't the same shrinky dink, exactly, either. :)


Marc Burkhardt said...

Eeek! I'm on the same message board as Gail Simone! Better make this good...

Anyway, I love the Mary Marvel idea and think a similar trick could be pulled with the new Supergirl - teenage Kara attending high school, learning about life and fighting off bizarre menaces.

The Question could be a great X-Files/DaVinci Code type character - expanding upon the JLI version.

I thought Son Of Vulcan also had potential...

P.S. Nice summation of Marvel these days...

joncormier said...

If that is seriously Gail Simone I'm going to plotz!

Again, I shoot my keyboard off and a creator shows up in time to witness my inhuman ability to swallow my own feet.

Gail Simone said...

It's me, but no no no, you weren't shooting your keyboard off!

The first BNW cover went out with a mistake, showing the Atom as a white dude. A lot of people got the wrong impression, and who can blame them?

Not a big deal at all!

Best wishes,


joncormier said...

Heh, this is very cool. Thanks for stopping by.