Each year Unshaven Comics has been around, we’ve declared a goal to meet. At first, the goal was simple: make a comic, and sell it at “the con”. Done. The following year? “Sell more books than we did last year.” Checkity-Check. To be fair, this has remained a sub-goal every year thereafter. In 2013, our goal was to attend literally as many conventions as we could possibly get into, and sell as much merchandise so-as to afford a trip to the glorious Valhalla of conventions, San Diego Comic-Con. Suffice to say, had we emptied out all our coffers? We would have succeeded. But, spoiler alert: We didn’t get accepted as artists for the alley at SDCC. So, we’ve wiped the tears away, and looked towards 2014. As suggested to me by Joe Olmsted, who I’ll actually talk about here in a just a bit, I’d like to share with you the conventions Unshaven Comics will be attending this year… and why we chose them.
Author: Marc Alan Fishman
I’m in an odd mood, kiddos. Maybe it’s the polar vortex that’s waging war across our country. Maybe it’s seasonal affective disorder causing a case of the blues. Or perhaps the winds of change are blowing, and the time for revolution is nigh. I’ve simply noticed as of late an upward trend of general unrest. It’s got me equally excited, and potentially depressed. Let’s jump down the rabbit hole, shall we?
Thank you, Thoreau. The winds of change are ah-blowin’ kiddos. Turn that dial (and yeah I know kids… that term makes no sense to you) to NBC late night, and suddenly the land of Leno is now the field of Fallon. And where Jimmy once sat, now sits Seth. As internet pundits are quick to judge, I’ve been tickled pink at the complex barrage of arbitration that’s befallen the SNL alum already. Some good, some bad. But in nearly all cases? Passionate. Me personally? I’ll give them both the benefit of time. In his stint on ‘Late Night’, I thought Jimmy Fallon really came into his own. Taking that show to the “big leagues” has drawn itself plenty of criticism, and it brings me to my rant-n-rave this week: the outcries of the old who actively hate the new. (more…)
Bereft of much else on my mind this week, I turned to my social media outlets. I asked the world to inspire me, and seconds later, the world responded. “Monkey Fist”! It shouted at me. Well world, what about it?
“Monkey Fist” is in fact a crowdfunded project being thrown by fellow indie-in-arms studio, the Sun Bros. I myself am proud to proclaim myself a backer. Perhaps you should too. The Sun Bros, Wesley and Brad, are two hard-working dudes I’ve seen successfully launch now their third project, by way of crowd-funding. They hit the scene (which given the fact that Wesley knows Kung Fu means the pavement is now dead) with the apropos “Chinatown” in 2012, followed it up a year later with “Apocalypse Man”, and are now amidst their campaign to fund the fist. Suffice to say, they are making their way in the industry 1 great fan at a time. Not unlike Unshaven Comics. But given a look at their crowd-funded kitty, perhaps we should be asking them questions and taking serious notes… instead of shaving.
Every so-often, the social media circuit regurgitates little worthless surveys. Perhaps your news feed is clogged with them? While I appreciate Facebook’s hide feature… frankly, I just scroll past then without a thought. Except when I – the ego-driven ne’er-do-well I am – determine that yes, indeed I must know which Disney Villain I am. And a few minutes later, I’m delivered output as thorough, reputable, and savory as a strip-mall psychic’s buy-one get-one reading. I figured as I had nothing to bitch about this week (unlike the feminists, legends, and/or afrofuturists that share column space with me) I might as well take a few of the quizzes for you, my adoring public. Allow me to help you figure out the absolute amazing enigma that is Marc Alan Fishman.
I am Randy Savage. Faced with the notion of Which Old School Pro Wrestling Legend Are You? I was quite pleased to be told I am the Macho Man. Aside from being the single greatest pitch man for salty meat sticks ever, Randy Savage was widely known amongst wrestling fans as the smart-mans Hulk Hogan. I’d like to think that I too am more a technical talent – suited more for the thinking my way out of a situation rather than with brute force – and that my passion seeps out of my pores. That… and I’d look amazing in a rhinestone cowboy hat and matching robe with wings. OH YEAH!
I am Michael Stipe of R.E.M. That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spot. Light. Losing my relig– sorry. When faced with Which 90’s Alt Rock Dude Are You? quiz, it’s fitting I’d get someone considered tame in comparison to the others I could have been. Stipe is a thinker, not a drinker. He and his band represented a shift toward arty music videos, and lyrics that might make you think. He was angsty, which I can be from time to time. But beyond much else? Michael Stipe is a man of solid convictions. I’d like to think I’m getting there. I should note he also wrote a song about Andy Kaufman, and I loved Andy Kaufman. So, there’s that.
My Disney Best Friend is Pascal from “Tangled”. Well, the Internet can’t be right all the time. Or maybe it is? Frankly, I’ve not seen the Disney flick in question. According to the results though “You’ve got a dream and you just want to explore the world and live a little.” And you know what? That’s actually very true. I do have a dream that The Samurnauts, and my lil’ company, Unshaven Comics, would be successful. And through that success we might just get to see a bit more of the world than we currently do on nights, weekends, and occasional holidays. And if that means a weird spiral tailed lizard is along for the ride? So be it.
I am Ron Weasley. Well, I don’t have a ton of siblings (in fact I have none). But I did wind up with a detail oriented muggle, and our child is adorable. I’d like to think my parents could provide better for me than a busted-ass wand, and rat for a pet. At the end of the semester though, I am a loyal friend, and fierce in defense of them when the going gets tough. Per the quiz I am “the funny one in your group of friends, but sometimes you use humor to hide your insecurities.” And well, what can I say? I am Michael Stipe. So, I’m sure there’s times when I let my insecurities be buried. But hey, Everybody Hurts.
I am Comic Book Guy. Look kiddos, I swear, I didn’t plan this. But in the grand scheme of Springfield? Well, I can’t complain. I am sarcastic when push comes to shove. I covet trinkets, gadgets, and the like. And if I were to have a heart-attack, I imagine I too would envision how to best pose dramatically before kneeling before Zod. Cheeseburgers and loneliness do make for a terrible combo. Lucky for me I married my own Agnes Skinner long ago. I must hope though, that my scion turns out better than Seymour. Best. Outcome. Ever.
I am Leonard Hofstader. Oddly enough, it seems fitting. When I look to Unshaven Comics as my real-life Big Bang Theory gang, it’s clear to me at least that I am leader by default. That being said, that means Kyle is Sheldon, and Matt is Howard. Which is really strange, since Matt isn’t jewish. Kyle, I should also add, may be particular in his nature… but no where near annoying. But I digress. “Straddling the line between sweet and sarcastic, you can transition between social circles with ease.” I couldn’t put it better myself. Growing up, I was a nerd. Hell, I still am. But within any other circle – be they jocks in gym class, my fellow choir-geeks, or the arty-kids… I was never at a loss for words or good humor. I’d like to note though: I can handle dairy products just fine.
I am Kirk. Well, what more would I say to that? Much like Leonard, my Kirk-ness is embolden to my natural leadership qualities. I’d like to think that I tend to surround myself with a talented crew who make me look better. Like here at ComicMix for example. Mike Gold, my Spock – keeping me on the correct path, in his own cryptic ways. Glenn Hauman, my Scotty – always ensuring the ship is operating efficiently (except when he’s stranded somewhere without an internet connection…). And of course, Michael Davis, my Uhura – c’mon, I had to go there.
Suffice to say, I am many things to many people. Clearly, you now know though, who I really am. For the record? I am Marc Alan Fishman, and I am not like any fictional being. I am me, and dag nabbit, I’m happy to just be myself.
The other day Mike Gold shot me a quick e-mail about the WWE Network making its way to Apple TV. I should take this time to note that Mike likes me more than Michael Davis because I give him my articles on Tuesday evening, and they don’t post until Saturday… allowing him optimal time to source images at his leisure. Suffice to say, nya nya nya boo boo. Maybe that’s mean of me, it is Black History Month, after all. According to Jay Pharoah, I should opt to hug MOTU, not take pot shots at his obviously racial laziness. Damn, I’m punchy tonight. But I digress.
I’m punchy, in part, because Mike’s friendly e-mail reminded me that in my own laziness, I’d allowed a whole new technological break-through to settle into near-mainstream amongst my peers without me even considering it. For a good long time ‘cutting the cord’ on traditional cable was more a signifier of pro-active TV consumption than I cared to debate mentally. With new technology emerging, I simply didn’t ‘buy’ that I could enjoy all that I do via my traditional cable/DVR combo. I should note though that I grew up in a home without cable. When I made my way to college, faced with the sudden luxury of dozens of channels churning out reruns and crappy original programming I’d never been previously accustomed to led me down a dark and slovenly path. Frankly, it’s been the drug I couldn’t quit ever since. Well, that and carbohydrates.
I’d like to think it was my generation that started a small march towards technological freedom. I recall fondly upon signing my first lease for an apartment declaring no need to own a home phone. My parents gawked at the notion. “How will we get a hold of you?!” they’d scream. “Oh, I don’t know, you could call my cell phone, which is literally on my person at all times I’m not otherwise sleeping?” I’d retort like a hipster ordering a Miller Lite. And thus, did me and my kin take our first awkward steps from out of the cave. Soon, we were graduating from MySpace to Facebook, and getting real jobs. City-dwelling friends of mine ditched cars in lieu of state-of-the-art (smells a bit, but it’s cheaper than gas!) public transportation. And now, those who share in muh-muh-my generation are shunning Xfinity, Uverse and Ycable for a whole new shebang.
The future is now, and we better start dealing with it.
I turn back to the argument I started a few weeks prior. I postulated that if someone could figure a way to Netflix up a comic book database, it might very well be the way to take the leap into the next generation. Screw the motion comics, augmented reality links, and ultimate experiences. Deliver me a litany of comic book content on-demand, for a monthly fee so low I can’t possibly deny myself access. If my dream for ComicFlix were to come true… how long would it take to see the death of the local comic shop?
That is to say, the death of what few comic shops still are in business and making enough money to stay in business beyond the calendar year with sincerity.
Let’s ask the tough questions then. Did we all mourn the loss of Blockbusters around the country? When you go to the Comic Con and snag that graphic novel you really wanted for 50% off cover price, do you hide it under your jacket, and leave yourself a reminder to never bring it up at the comic shop for fear the counter jockey will shame you to tears as he eats his last bowl of cup-a-noodles? Doubtful on both counts. Do we come to grips with the moral dilemma of watching our medium take the necessary steps to grow… or do we cling to the past in hopes that somehow everything will just get better though sheer will power? I mean, all those successful movies will get the masses over to invest in pull boxes at some point, right? Right?
Sean Parker and the late Steve Jobs used technology to upend the music industry… services like Spotify, Pandora, and the like are set to revolutionize it. Google, Roku, Hulu, and Netflix are on their way to evolving television. All content delivery is evolving at a rapid pace. The antiquated world of comics is not an uncrackable nut. There’s money to be made, content to be shared, and new fans to convert. If we build it, they will come. It won’t be pretty. But what matters now more than ever is that we find a way to adapt. Pulp and paper can be as good as bytes and pixels. It’s time to put the books down, and flip the tablets on.
That being said, I have a review to do, and I need to crack open my copy of Avengers World. I know, I know… But I have an excuse. My wife has the iPad. Cheers to the future kiddos. Hop on the band wagon before it starts to pick up speed. Lest you have a man a decade or two older making you feel like a luddite. Natch.
What’s one more pundit’s perspective on the recent Powerpuff hullabaloo, right?
For those not in-the-know, let me catch you up mighty quick. The Cartoon Network and IDW publish a Powerpuff Girls comic book each month. Recently, artist Mimi Yoon’s variant cover to issue #6 hit the Internet, and soon thereafter, everyone went crazypants. Or maybe it’s more apropos to say crazyintheirpants. If you look at the art for today’s article (above) you’ll see Yoon’s piece.
Are you lighting your bra on fire yet?
It depicts Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles as pin-up inspired… shall we say… more mature versions of themselves, feeling victorious after defeating an oddly gigantic Mojo Jojo. All three look at us, the viewer, with kewpie-doll-meets-smoky-playboy-cartoon eyes. Their outfits true to cartoon scale, but their proportions now in an uncanny valley inches shy of legal jailbait. They exist as true ‘toons; impossibly impossible in every way.
For many a’ person, this is ludicrous, angering, and a smite upon the very Earth. But much like last week’s Wonder Woman crisis, I’m not lighting the torches, nor and I leading the mob towards Castle IDW.
I’m not sharpening the blade to thrust at the fire-starters either. As I read it, said blaze was started by a friend of mine, Dennis Barger, who owns and operates a great store in Taylor, MI. His point is valid: a book clearly aimed at children has little to gain over what might be construed as a less-than-wholesome depiction of the titular (‘natch) characters. He, as a parent and a store-owner, felt that it was a poor choice for a cover – even if it was only a variant cover – and as such sought to spread the word amongst the socially interconnected in order to create discussion. He succeeded. And, it would seem it also vilified him to those looking to stand up for the artist, and the artistic choices made therein. Debate is debate though… and for creating one? I tip my hat to Dennis. He got us talking, as we are all prone to do, about feminism on one hand, and the over-sexualization of children’s properties on the other.
When I saw the cover in question, I giggled. Then I paused. Then I thought “Huh, that really is a bit much, right?” Then I moved on. Arguments abound circle the choices of the artist here. Why age the kiddie property in this manner? What does an image of a Powerpuff Girl, nay, Powerpuff Young Woman do for a li’l lass (or lad) who reads the book? More to the point: How does this art in particular seek to become a commodity, had it not been canceled, and released to the public without any more fanfare than an ad in Previews?
To answer my own questions: The artist was working in the faux-pin-up style that is clearly rendered beautifully, and that style wouldn’t allow the Puffs to be pre-pubescent in order to fit the style. For a little guy or gal, the cover is fantasy: what might Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles look like a bit down the road? Oh, they’re taller.
I’m not much for overly sexualized underclassmen in mini-skirts and mascara. If IDW saw the work and thought that there would be a subset of customers out there who would pursue the book because of the cover, I guess they are entitled to an opinion, and I wouldn’t shake the hand of any man buying the book because of it.
It’s simply an evil that exists for reasons that should shame all of us within the industry. Certainly we can debate the merit of Wonder Woman donning doomed pantaloons, or the need for Power Girl to have a boob-window versus the current feminista costume designs of the newerish Captain Marvel and Smasher. But when that debate turns towards an innocent property like the Powerpuff girls or the oddly matured My Little Pony Equestria license? Well, that’s where gentlemen like Mr. Barger make themselves loud and clear.
Children are the future and we shouldn’t make them feel like they need to grow up faster than they already are. Seeing blossoming buttercups bubble out from a skin-tight spandex suit is simply a dart hurled at a target that misses by a country mile. Had it come out, would it have created a generation of young girls praying for their own set of mosquito bites? Would it have let loose a cadre of boys with ill-fitting trousers chasing those aforementioned lasses skirts? Hardly.
The cover was a wink and a nod towards the adult purchasers of a children’s title. It was a variant cover that any responsible parent – or parent simply not looking to answer several questions they’d rather not deal with – would have purchased the normal cover. The debate is out there, and where controversy is birthed, so too will new bullets be fired into the fray. Common sense dictates to us the truth behind the yelling.
Next time, keep the kids as kids. Let the ‘shippers keep their fanfic fantasies to themselves… or you know… their Tumblr accounts.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger
Don’t you love when a spoiler leaks to we, the misbegotten nerds, and suddenly the Internet is on fire? I sure do. And nothing has gotten our ragespew a flowin’ in recent memory like the potential spoiler (ahem… alert.) that Wonder Woman would be a descendant of the Kryptonian colonists of yesteryear in the Man of Steel movieverse. Funny enough, it didn’t phase me in the least. Whereas some of my close personal friends let loose a brilliantly recorded tirade railing against the very notion of it, I simply concluded that it made sense to me. Rao be damned!
So, Internet, why all the anger? Well, the knee-jerk reaction is to simply say the pitch is not in line with the true origins of the character in the source material. It’d be rude of me to then say completely straight-faced “Oh my gawd, you’re absolutely right! In fact, I concur that the only way to enjoy a character’s portrayal in a different medium is to ensure that his or her origin matches perfectly detail-for-detail their previously published debut!” Then you’d roll your eyes, and call me an ass.
Well, go on, call me an ass. Because you know what? I give a flying invisible jet’s patootie if Wonder Woman descends from ancient Kryptonians. Or that Superman killed Zod. Or that Batman will not be Bruce Wayne, but Dick Grayson.
Ha! Got you there for a sec, didn’t I? The simple fact is as a fan of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, what I care most about isn’t their backstory but how they are portrayed in the present of the film.
I understand the fear and outrage. We proud geeks – covetous keepers of our continuity – despise the idea that movies or TV shows depicting our wares must be muted, diluted, or otherwise repackaged to appease the lowest common denominator. But when it’s done with conviction, quality, and common sense, we tend not to get our underwear so wedged up our own asses.
Remember how much we all loved Tim Burton’s Batman? OK, remember how many of us loved it? Well, I don’t recall the masses going insane-in-the-bat-brain over the revelation that the Joker was one Jack Napier. And while I recall plenty of nit-picky problems over Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, nary a word of anger seemed to spewed over the organic webshooter after the film came out. Same could be said of the blackcasting of Michael Clark Duncan as the Kingpin, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, or Idris Elba as Heimdall. Funny how that is, isn’t it?
And where is the utter outrage at the animated DCU? Or Marvel’s Hulk Agents of S.M.A.S.H? And what are we going to do with all the yutzes who like Arrow?! I mean, last time I checked, Oliver Queen had a god-damned goatee. Interesting enough, all I hear is good things about the show. Even the notion that a Flash spin-off might occur has seemingly traveled the Interwebs without igniting civil war. And this week when someone dropped that Donal Logue might play Harvey Bullock in a pilot revolving around a police procedural Gotham show? Somehow, we all woke up the next morning perhaps uttering that scariest of phrases… “I’ll see it when it comes out, and make up my mind then.”
And therein lies my point. It’s not a factor of fear that Warner Brothers chooses to reimagine Batman in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, or change gears with Superman twice within a 10 year period. It’s all a matter of business. The same could be said with Disney/Marvel. Consider cold and calculated business that allows characters like Gravitron and Blizzard to be reimagined on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to better suit the long-terms plans of their movies and television series. As I’ve come to find here in my waning youth, the all-mighty dollar drives all that we love in the world of content creation. While true passion for characters and story may drive we the few and proud creators… without the financial backing of crazy-mad corporations, what we build may exist only on our hard drives, our sketchbooks, and our minds.
If Wonder Woman in the polarizing Man of Steel DC movieverse ends up with a strain of Krypton flowing in her meaty non-clay veins… so be it. I’ll care far more that she is portrayed as regal, strong, and self-assured. If Themyscira’s statues tribute Rao over Zeus, big whoop-dee-doo. So long as it’s filled with overly tall, buxom, man-hating women (you know, who are all like… empowered and crap) then my prayers shall be answered. Or better yet? If the character, her background, and her portrayal all lend to the forward momentum of actually realizing a cross-picture universe for DC… then we’ll soon be living in a golden age. With powerful franchises from both the big two comic book publishers in place, those evil unwashed masses who dilute our precious universes may end up loving the same characters we love.
And when they do? They might just take that bold leap to a comic shop to see what they’ve been missing all along.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger
Last Wednesday, Vince McMahon announced the launching of the WWE Network. Suffice to say it was well received by his hardcore fans just as he’d hoped. To use a bit of hyperbole – which all things considered, seems apropos – the self-made millionaire stands to become a billionaire with the launch.
It’s many things, but above all else, it’s a stroke of genius in the modern era of content delivery. Comic companies might want to take note… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The WWE Network would appear to just be Netflix for hillbillies, but truly those who aren’t in-the-know, and quick-to-judge are missing out the insane deal the WWE is offering. For $9.95 a month (purchased in six month blocks, with a potential discount for year long subscriptions forthcoming), users get access to every pay-per-view since 1985 from the WWE, as well as rival companies WCW and ECW. They also get access to newly created content like countdown shows, reality shows, and plenty of documentaries and retrospectives.
Oh, there’s more. Users get every pay-per-view coming out. At present, purchasing a pay-per-view from VinnyMac sets you back 45-60 dollars, depending on the event, and the quality – SD or HD.
Do the math, kiddos. If the WWE just offered you the pay-per-views at ten bucks a pop, you’re saving anywhere between $440 – $620 a year. But if someone were to offer you an 83% discount, and you were even just a normal fan, certainly you’d find that to be worth considering. Add that insane discount to an increase in content, somewhere around 1900%, and now you’re starting perhaps to see why this is a big deal.
Obviously there are plenty of folks scoffing at the financials of all of this. With an 83% discount on a product, WWE’s PPV buy-rate profits will appear to tank. Vince and family are of course looking for volume profits to achieve the balance. In addition, newly minted subscribers will now be marketed to (in essence) exponentially more than they ever have in the past. This of course creates new advertising revenue streams. Imagine having an audience with decades of trend data sitting in wait, where your product can be hocked to them every single time they decide they want to indulge in their vice. This is internet ads the way companies dreamed they’d exist. Paint me impressed, at very least.
In covering the announcement, Gizmodo said “…[T]hink about what you’d rather pay for: Netflix and its vast but unpredictable movie library and unproven original series? Or the entirety of [thing you love]?” Truly, as I’d said: this may very well be the way to save our always-in-a-state-of-dying medium of comics.
Marvel and DC have set to revolutionize content delivery in the digital realm many times over. They’ve offered subscription services in the past (and may still do) and never once have I heard from fellow comic fans “this is how it’s done!” Instead, too many apps produce access to the same material, forcing fans to choose a vehicle, and then commit to it. Same as iTunes vs. Amazon MP3 vs. Rhapsody, etc. Vince McMahon chose instead to Spotify his industry-leading content library. Could any of you imagine a service that for the price of your books perhaps for a single week… granting you access to decades worth of content, as well as keeping you current on your favorite titles for the month? Could you fathom a service that could be easily accessed on your tablet, desktop, laptop, and/or phone? And dare I dream… what if that service gave you Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, Boom!, Avatar, the works…?
A boy can dream, but a man faces reality. Warner Bros. and Disney have no need or desire to combine their libraries of printed materials. Nor could they ever negotiate a way to create a subscriber base, and split profits. And they certainly wouldn’t give a rat’s patootie about any smaller publisher, even if say they made The Walking Dead. Instead, our comic books (both in print and digital) will continue to be a publisher-to-publisher game. ComicXology, Graphic.ly and other providers will continue to create proprietary filetypes that prevent the average user from controlling their ala carte purchases in a single easy-to-manage collection. The key of course falls back on the broad shoulders of you-know-who.
When Vince McMahon created Wrestlemania in 1985, he officially buried the original independent scene of professional wrestling. Over the next 20 years he slowly but surely eliminated his only competition. Over the next 10 years after that, he spent his profits slowly building and secretly digitizing the libraries of not only his content, but that of his antagonists. Nearly a decade after that, he’s set to launch a single product to unite every fan he’s gained and lost throughout those 30 years.
I, for one, can’t wait to sign to up. While my recent return to the comic shop has proven that industry still trips over itself with the sins of the past I can at least enjoy one publicly mocked genre in peace, and personal profitability.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger
Over the holidays I purchased for myself the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game. While I freely admit I have little to no real prowess with fighting games, I am invariably drawn to them. Compared to other types of video games, fighters allow users to enjoy a gaming session that’s like a great one-night stand; get in, get your business done, reap the rewards, and leave before it gets complicated.
The game is built on the Elseworlds principle wherein we explore the mighty DCU through the lens of yet-another alternative dimension where a slight change in the continuity results in a completely new world to explore. In Injustice, Superman is duped into killing Lois by the Joker, who adds a delightfully evil icing to his cake of cacophony by nuking Metropolis. Dead girlfriend (carrying his super scion to boot) plus nuked hometown equals Superman deciding he’s done being a reactionary hero. Cue the totalitarian state, and the necessary rebellion lead by Batman. Add in the needed Kryptonian Super Pill to balance the whole “how do you let Green Arrow fight Black Adam and not get pummeled into slime” problem and you have a damned enjoyable fracas.
I made my way through the story mode in a manner of a few nights. It was a fantastic little tale. As you may tell, it got me thinking. Why is it that DC always seems to flourish under the Elseworld concept where Marvel fails?
I assume some of you immediately get what I’m talking about. Others may be cackling at their screens “Show your work, nerdlinger!” Allow me to make my point as clearly as I can, as quickly as I can.
Here we go: At DC, Red Son. Kingdom Come. The Dark Knight Returns. The Nail. The Animated DC “Beyond” Universe.
At Marvel: 1602.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if I just stopped my article right there? Well, while I’d like to be that lazy, I shan’t be. DC seemingly lends itself to the remix better than Marvel by more than a handful of examples. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly why. It’s not like Marvel is devoid of DC analogs (and DC to Marvel, etc.). Both companies have employed more than a fair share of amazing talent to boot. But there must be something that makes DC more suited to a change of clothing more than the merry mouse-killers at Marvel.
My knee-jerk reaction is to equate DC characters as being more mythically malleable. Because they have clearly defined backstories, costuming, and personality traits, it’s much easier to simply pick one, change it and let the fun fly. Superman’s rocket lands in Russia? Boom, story changed, and a new universe is easily defined. Because the DCU is so easily reshaped while still being clearly itself, Elseworlds are amazingly easy to form, play in, and move on.
It helps that at the basic origin levels of the main players, DC is much freer to shift. Captain America will always be defined by World War II, the Punisher to Vietnam (though they’ve attempted and failed to retcon that a time or two). the X-men to civil rights. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and their ilk are all tied only to mythologies. Bruce’s parents can get shot at any point from the industrial revolution on. Abin Sur could crash yesterday, if he needed to.
No better argument could be made than through the multitude of mediain which each have dabbled. Marvel has proven that through continuity, they will shine. Their movie-verse has bled into the teevee, and Mickey has never been stronger … or richer. In contrast, DC’s best movies and TV shows have all existed within their own confines, yet somehow continue to reap monetary rewards.
The animated DCU itself was a Bruce Timm / Paul Dini behemoth that somehow existed in one universe, but DC was able to create whole new strains of life in their Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoons without missing a beat. While Marvel spawned a few gems in their own animated right, none hold a candle in comparison. Anyone here watching Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H.? Didn’t think so.
At the end of the day (on our Earth, at least), DC summarily allows itself infinite worlds with which to create its identity. Because of this, jaunts like Injustice become instant classics by allowing creators to riff on a theme without being locked into the ramifications of exhaustive continuity. For whatever the reasons are, Marvel forever will have a harder time to match their doppelgänger with this ease. While they cry into their pile of movie money, I think they’ll land on their feet. In the mean time, I’ll enjoy the next Earth to splinter off… in hopes that it will be finally be the one that makes me forget the New52.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger