DC’s biggest problem

24 Nov

NewSupermanCostume

Recently, my favorite comics blogger, Chris Sims, wrote about “the problem.”  According to him, DC has, since the 60s, wanted to be Marvel.  I will be honest and say he creates a compelling case.  On the other hand, I don’t quite agree with him, although I do believe it is VERY much the problem today. 

I began reading comics religiously during the late eighties to the mid-nineties.  I consider this to be a Renaissance in DC Comics history.  The Justice League International was a breath of fresh air.  And although Marvel had filled the Avengers with b string characters, the chemistry in the League titles was much more entertaining.  Mark Waid’s Flash was unlike anything else on the stands and still today, twenty years later, is considered a milestone in superheroic literature.  Robinson’s Starman was similarly groundbreaking.  In L.E.G.I.O.N., readers saw a team led by a Machiavellian master. Karl Kesel was introducing me to Kirby’s concepts in the best Superboy run ever.  Add to that Giffen’s 5YL Legion, the death of Superman, and the rebirth of the Justice Society, and DC was on a roll!

On the other hand, at the time, Marvel was experiencing a lull in excitement.  This was the age of the Spider-clone, a noseless Wolverine, and Liefield on Captain America and the Avengers.  Now, admittingly, Busiek soon returned to save the Avengers and Mark Waid came on the Fantastic Four.  But this was the era that Marvel went bankrupt, ladies and gentlemen. 

And this is actually the problem.  This is the time period that DC has really decided to base their New 52 concept on.  Let’s take a quick peak at the “creators” involved.  Jim Lee, who helped Liefield spearhead Heroes Reborn, is one of DC’s two publishers.  At the same time, he has been the artist on Justice League, DC’s flagship title, and is currently do art chores on Superman Unchained. He’s the guy who said undies on the outside of Superman’s pants was embarrassing, but then decided to throw all kinds of random lines on the uniform itself, so it is some kind of odd “glowing armor.”  Liefield worked on several titles in the new 52 which still blows my mind.  And Scott Lobdell, the man behind many of Marvel’s X-events of the 90s which helped lead to an over-saturation of Wolverine and X-people, is the guy in charge of the Super-franchise today.  He has brought us such gems as H’El, completely screwing up Superboy (a character who experienced some of the best writing of the last twenty years), turning Starfire into a slut sadly, and helped make Tim Drake, arguably the most popular Robin of all time, actually never have been a Robin in the first place. 

And if all of that was not enough, DC has actually brought in Bob Harras, the editor in chief of Marvel when they went bankrupt, to be the editor in chief.  He has been the eic since 2010 which featured the end of my DCU and the birth of the new 52.  I will say that not all of the new 52 has been a trainwreck but much of it has been. 

To me, the problem isn’t that DC has always wanted to be Marvel.  The comics industry has always been, for lack of a better term, incestuous.  The guys who created the DCU later left to write for Marvel.  The man largely responsible for creating the Marvel Universe (Kirby) worked for DC in the Golden Age and returned to create the Fourth World after creating the Marvel U. Marvel’s Civil War borrowed elements from DC’s Legends, twenty years earlier.  And DC’s Kingdom Come would never have happened were it not for Marvels.  Instead, the “problem” is that DC is NOW very interested in becoming Marvel.  And not just Marvel from any period in its vast history.  But instead, it wants to be Marvel right at the moment of bankruptcy.  My mind reels at this thought.   

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