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Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Problem with the New DCU:

I don't really like to be negative, and I was cautiously optimistic about the reboot, but I have to admit, on average, I've been very dishearted about the new DCU products and it took a scene from Justice League International #2 to make me realize why.



Look, it's not that I'm incredibly attached to the idea of Guy Gardner and Tora Olafsdottir being true lovers forever. In fact, I've argued a few times on this blog that I thought it was perfectly realistic that, post-resurrection, Tora and Guy would break up since really, he's not the man she knew anymore. And death changes everyone.

But...this isn't a break-up. This is a "they never were." And maybe it's just my undying love for Beau Smith's Warrior talking, but that really upsets me.

The Guy and Ice relationship was important to both characters. When they met, Guy was a brain damaged thug with no control over himself or anything else. She made him try to be better. Even when everyone else had fun at his expense, (such as the ice-skating issue), he TRIED to keep his temper, to exert control of himself, to make her happy. She made him try to be better than he was.

And while she was rarely mentioned overtly, she was a very important part of his development in Warrior. Her death, his regeneration, all of it led to him finally being able to become the man he always wanted to be for her. From his conversation with her mother in one of the early issues (in HER language even, which he'd learned even in the midst of brain damage so severe he couldn't complete a crossword puzzle correctly) to making peace with Fire in the Christmas issue, and onward.

He COULD have stayed angry. He had some right. Especially with the people who KNEW that his idiocy and temperament had a medical source rather than just being the way he is but still acted like he was a stupid jerk (HAL). But he didn't. Sure, he kept the abrasiveness and mouthiness. But he added warmth, empathy, compassion. He became the guy who'd take the rookie Green Lantern girl-watching when the kid seemed depressed. He became the guy who'd offer a nameless newbie hero a drink rather than be provoked into a fight.

He did this for her. Because of her. And even if they never did get back together, that relationship was important.

And he was good to her too. Granted, I can't go on to the same extent, since she spent a lot of that time dead. But when they were together, she thrived. She'd always been quiet. A little passive. Heck, the first time he was a jerk to her, she cried. But pretty quickly in the relationship, she took charge. She stood up for herself. She yelled at him when he deserved it.

In a way, his obnoxiousness was an asset, because he was so awful that she COULD finally be provoked to anger and not feel any guilt or hesitation about it.

That normally wouldn't be a good formula for a romance granted, but considering that Guy LOVED it when she stood up for herself, and how hard he tried to change for her. It worked.

And now it's gone. It never happened. They had a few dates and that's it. He didn't try to change for her. She didn't find her spirit for him. Nothing.

It may be that the writers are building up to something. That she'll see what she's missing. That he'll wear her down and win her over. But I don't care about that. Because it already happened. Before. When it meant something. When he really did have almost no redeeming qualities. So what if she does decide she likes him now? He's a likeable jackass with a heart of gold. LOTS of chicks go for that type. Loving him before took actual sainthood damnit, loving him now? It's not that hard.

And if he did remold himself just because of a few dates, that just makes him a creepy stalker. Yay?

And they're not the only ones of course. They're just the ones I particularly care about.

Clark and Lois? Back to square one. Barry and Iris? Off the table. Kory and Dick? Well, at least that one happened even if Kory is apparently a sexbot now. It's like DCU looked at the Spider-Man/Mary Jane unmarriage and decided to use it as a model for the whole damn universe.

If the writers really want to write for single superheroes, why not have them get divorced?

As a comparison, look at Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Now granted, a lot of it's contrived. And she's dead. But eventually she'll be back. And right now at least, it looks like the creative teams have no intention to bring those characters back together.

And you know what? That's fine. Even if they never get back together, even if Jean goes with Logan or someone new. Even if Scott stays with Emma, goes with Frenzy, or dates Logan himself. (Not likely, but it could be hilarious.) They're still going to have that history, and that history will be there any time they talk, fight, team up... The emotion will be there. The passion.

And that's what's missing in the new DCU for me. The romance. The passion. The emotion. Taking all these couples back to their source? You lose all the emotional currents between them.

I'm sure writers are looking forward to building these "new" relationships up again, but me, as a reader, I'm looking at an emotional void where my investment used to be. So Clark is crushing on Lois who barely notices he's alive. That's a far cry from the warmth and camraderie of the married couple that I loved. At least if they divorced, I'd have SOMETHING. The anger, the hurt over whatever it is that broke them apart.

But there's nothing. And I'm finding it very hard to care.

Now there are a few exceptions, but on a whole, this new DCU is a cold, listless, passionless universe to me right now. Maybe that will change soon, but for right now at least...and I never would have thought I'd say this:

Make Mine Marvel. It may make me angry sometimes, but it never leaves me cold.

8 Comments:

  • At October 17, 2011 3:40 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    It IS passionless! They've broken up practically ALL of the marriages, and put the kibosh on the old romances, and for...what? Arther and Mera are together and Animal Man and Ellen, but I think they may be the only ones.

    Apparently appealing to the 18-35 year old male means that romance is OUT. 'Cuz guys don't like girls or something. Or committment. Or dating or whatever. I guess they just want someone like Kory now.

    I keep waiting for Guy and Tora to do something too. So far, Tora has been written more as Winick's Tora and not the REAL Tora, which is also disheartening.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 4:18 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Welcome to the New DCU.

    Committed relationships are OUT. Fuck-buddies are IN.

    Didn't you get the memo?


    You hit the nail right on the head, though. The worst was what happened to Wally West and his family. Not only was the marriage erased, but so were THEY. And Wally/Linda was one of the most inspiring love stories in comics.
    Barry/Iris and Jay/Joan were similarly inspiring, symbolizing the "Flashes need their anchor" concept nicely. And now all that's gone. Ditto Clark and Lois.


    Sweet Jesus, DC! People OTHER THAN 18-35 year-old single Maxim-reading guys need inspiration too!


    As a married guy, I have to say that I feel so continuously slapped in the face by all this that I could be one of the Three Stooges.


    Maybe they'll see how well Animal Man is doing and change things again for the better.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 8:53 PM, Blogger Seangreyson said…

    I think the worst part of this is that it's not even taking the characters back to what they were when the writers were kids, it's taking them back to the 50's.

    As much as I loathed the One More Day arc and result, there was at least some part of the decision process I could understand (editorial liking 70's and 80's SM more than 90's and 00's) and thinking that part of the problem was the marriage to MJ.

    I think they were wrong, but what do I know?

    But DC is giving up the best part of what separated it from Marvel which was the Legacy. Whether it was the family relationships, identities passed to a 2nd and 3rd generation, or even just the logic of characters who grew into their roles over the years.

    Their reboot has taken the characters back to the 50's, but left the environment back in the 00's. So there's a disconnect between the two, and particularly secondary characters like Guy, or Batgirl, or the Birds of Prey just don't fit because the Legacy that explains them all is gone.

    So I agree, Make Mine Marvel.

     
  • At October 18, 2011 10:09 PM, Blogger Shelly said…

    I wasn't reading comics during the Guy/Tora relationship, so all I know about it is what I've read on blogs, but I feel I know it rather well now thanks to your post.

    I get that DC wants to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, writing the attractions and courtships again, etc. But I'd rather they'd just started over, set the DCU aside and done another round of year ones, intro the characters at the beginning of their crimefighting careers and take them in any direction they wanted, new or familiar.

    But the DCnU is just a depressing mess to me. Sure, some individual books are worth reading, but just trying to keep track of what's still in the past and what isn't, the loss of so much history, depresses me. With a complete reboot, they could have brought back the DCU characters now living in an alternate universe, same as Earth 1 and Earth 2 universes. But I can't see this as an alternate universe. While there are things I'm glad are gone -- the death of Lian, Roy Harper losing his arm -- what we've got seems worse -- Lian never having been born, no Lois and Clark marriage, and so on.

    I'm reading a quarter of the comics I read even a couple of months ago now and oddly, I don't miss them. I mourned what I lost back when the announcement of the DCnU first came out.

     
  • At October 19, 2011 12:33 AM, Blogger Trike said…

    I've read about 2/3 of the new DC books and I have to say they've really made some serious missteps with these characters. I won't be surprised if everything gets reversed within a couple years.

     
  • At October 22, 2011 12:19 PM, Blogger Julio Oliveira said…

    It may indeed be reversed in a couple of years... but how many times can you put the genie back in the bottle. I think the worst on american comics is that they don't end and they also can't progress. If this was manga we would have had a satisfying conclusion to the story of Guy and Tora and that was it, we would never see them again, but remember them fondly.
    If they were allowed to progress... we would be reading about Kyle Rayner, about Iris Allen as the Flash, about some nephew of Superman that thinks he is a screw-up because he can't live up to the legacy of Uncle Kal.
    That would have been supremely interesting, specially considering the importance of legacy in DC vs Marvel, where they try to not present kid versions of the heroes whenever possible (even on Young Avengers they were either inspired by other heroes, not a new generation per se).
    The exception is the X-Men, and Grant Morrison did embrace legacy as powerfully as he could... and they undone this as soons as he was out.

     
  • At October 22, 2011 6:38 PM, Blogger Shelly said…

    Julio, that would have been awesome, jumping the timeline ahead with younger offspring, even better than my idea of just starting all over in another universe in the multiverse.

     
  • At October 22, 2011 9:44 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I would have liked a jump into the future. Though I really wish they'd just done like Marvel's Ultimate line.

    Basically leave the main storyline alone for those of us who like it, and start fresh with a parallel universe for those who want to start fresh.

     

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