Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 and Superman #1
I picked up another load of DC's final comics of the first month of their new universe. here are my thoughts on two. More to come soon!
Green lantern: New Guardians
Given that this book shares a subtitle with a TERRIBLE concept that came out of the lame "Millenium" crossover way back in the 80's (do I get some extra geek cred for that reference?), I was reluctant to check it out. But as a die-hard GL fan, knew I at least had to give it a shot.
This issue is almost pure set-up, mainly of Kyle Rayner's character. It retells his origin with a few modifications that make him less of a loser (he wasn't fixing to puke in the back alley, just urinate) and firmly establish him as having been specifically chosen to bear the ring. The other elements of the issue set up what will be coming, which is still very unclear, but I'm interested.
It's a quick read, with a little less dialogue or other text to give it meat. And while I hope that won't be the norm (I like to feel like I've read three to four bucks worth) I'm on board at least until they make it clear what this series will be about.
This book is in trouble. Or at least hope it is. I hope it does terrible and DC quickly recognizes that they need to go in a different direction with their handling of the most iconic character in comic book history.
Unlike the current story in Action Comics, Superman #1 picks up where Superman is at today, establishing his current status quo as a character. So what is that status quo in a nutshell? No different from what I saw in Action Comics #1, except for a different costume. (And BTW, the costume changes are now not even the LEAST of my concerns.)
Both Clark and Superman seem much like the same person. Really odd, given that DC is hoping to get non-comics fans in on this book, who won't as easily suspend disbelief when it comes to the whole "glasses disguise" thing. Superman and Clark are both always frowning in some way. Either in anger or disappointment. But mostly anger. (His one smile is while he is threatening to drown some bad guys if they don't surrender.)
Again, as with Action Comics #1, they seem to be pulling specifically from Superman's "social crusader" roots to the exclusion of the rest of this character's history, giving us someone who comes across like a self-righteous college kid who just discovered public protesting.
His dialogue as Superman is also surprisingly old-school sounding. As he prepares to throw a giant object at the bad guy he says, "So far you've been doing all the pitching in this game. Now let's see if you can catch!" The rest of the script has plenty more moments with a "tell don't show" writing philosophy. (The wrong approach in comic books, I think.)
Although there are a number of better directions you could take this character compared to where they are, for my tastes it would have been great to see a new kind of Clark persona that Kal-el puts on. Maybe a socially awkward gaming nerd who is really good at expressing himself in writing but is lousy in conversation. And a Superman who is a strong, encouraging example of service and self-sacrifice, who is there to help people in the moment, rather than solve the world's problems at their root cause. (Again, this would be my take, but DC could do any number of things that would work better than what they're doing now with Superman.)
I have a sneaking suspicion that no one at DC knows how to effectively write the iconic Superman anymore. When we see knock-off heroes based on the icons like Batman, Wolverine, Superman or Captain America, we see through the name and costume and say, "this guy's a so-and-so rip-off", because the essence of those iconic characters is much more than their costumes. But DC seems to be taking away Superman's essence as it has been established over the last handful of decades. If you took away this Superman's costume and name, the Man Of Steel would be the last character that would likely come to mind.
DC can naturally do what they want. These are just "funny books" at the end of the day and I'm not bothered by what they're doing with Superman. I'm just not interested in it, and neither is my wallet.
But DC, if you decide to take that "essence of Superman" that you're not using right now and inject it into another character, could you send out a memo? I think I'd like to read that guy's book.