Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thoughts on Legacies and Recasting:

A couple of weeks back, I read a forum post regarding an interview with Keith Giffen about Blue Beetle. This poster said that he very specifically wasn't going to read the comic because he'd never liked the "new guys". Wally West, Kyle Rayner, the new Firestorm. He never liked them and thus would not like this new one, likely.

That post is what made me decide to give the series a chance. Because honestly, I'm the exact opposite. And that made me realize, I might be letting my Ted Kord love blind me to a new possiblity.

In particular, I thought replacing most of the Silver Age heroes was a really good idea. Now, I fully admit that I haven't read very much Silver Age comics, but when I did, I couldn't really get into it. I suppose it felt too...shiny, if that makes sense. These characters were too cool, too smug, you knew they were going to win without much doubt.

I had trouble caring much about these guys. Of *course* they're going to win. And it's not like flying head first into walls would actually give Hal Jordan brain damage. Though as Ragnell's pointed out, he certainly does get mind-controlled a lot.

(Oddly I love most of the Golden Age guys...but not as they're portrayed in the Silver Age crossovers. I was devastated when reading "The Creature in the Velvet Cage" because of how much of a jackass Wesley Dodds was portrayed as. But not so much the Silver Age guys.)

Hal's great, don't get me wrong, I've particularly liked him as Parallax and the Spectre in Kyle's GL run (even if it didn't turn out well in his own comic). But when it comes down to it, I'm more drawn to Kyle and his cockiness, vanity, lack of confidence, and sheer blind optimistic faith. I still enjoy Hal in Green Lantern now, and I'm glad he's back, but I definitely think the GL mythos is richer for having Kyle in it. (This also goes for John and Guy by the way).

Barry Allen is another one. In his case, aside from the handfuls of Silver Age comics I managed to force myself to read, I'm only really aware of him through flashbacks and JLA Year One. I like him though, a lot. I like his kindness and approachable rationality. But when it comes down to it, Wally West, with his conservatism and occasional jackass-ness and insensitivity, his blue collar determination and really hot wife, is the Flash that interests me the most.

In the case of Robins and Batgirls, I've always liked how in essence Tim Drake and Cassandra Cain took very, very iconic roles and made them become something incredibly different from their predecessors. Imagine for one moment, Dick Grayson's Robin as the brooding, calculating detective. Even when leading the Titans, it wasn't going to happen. Imagine, Barbara Gordon's Batgirl as the quiet, deadly fighter slinking in a faceless cowl. No way! These two characters completely changed the image of an iconic identity that's been around for decades. Meanwhile, both Dick and Barbara have ascended to their own adult roles, in which they are infinitely more fun and fascinating than their old identities.

Jason Rusch is great too. Edgier, angrier than Ronnie. Without the guiding influence. But it's fun seeing him forge his own way as Firestorm, without a professor figure guiding him. (Though I liked it best when Ronnie was in Jason's head, they had a good relationship, and we could see how much Ronnie himself had grown.)

So when I thought about that, I became a lot more optimistic. Because I like these guys a lot. Even in cases in which I like the predecessor better (Jay is the best Flash!), I like their subsequent follow-ups. And the predecessors aren't really ever completely forgotten. (I still vote for someone in the DCU, Barbara maybe, or Max as a weapon that he never got a chance to use, making an Artificial Intelligence that thinks it's Ted Kord). Regardless, most of the replacements I like.

I think there's a trick to it. The new person has to be incredibly different from the predecessor and bring something new to the table. I believe honestly that a lot of the problems regarding Jason Todd's acceptance in the DCU had to do with the fact that when he was implemented in 1983, they didn't use the background/persona he had Post-Crisis, but that they tried to make him into a carbon-copy of Dick. And that didn't work. Because Dick-fans resented him for replacing their favorite, and others who didn't like the Robin character had no reason to give him a chance.

But the ones I've listed are I think reasonably well-recieved. I mean there will always be the rabid Silver Age fan that hates Kyle or Wally for not being Barry or Hal. But the characters all have their very loyal fanbases as well. And I think this is because they are so different from what came before. There's room for both Hal and Kyle in GL, Babs, Dick, Tim and Cass are all valuable members of the Batfamily. The new characters don't take anything away from who came before, they just add a new element. Which is how it should be.
So, the new Blue Beetle. It could be very good. It's a bit different for me than replacing a Silver Age character because instead of replacing a legend with a more visibly flawed, relatable fellow, we're replacing a character that's already more "human" than a legend. Weight problems, confidence problems, immaturity, childish jokes, geekiness... Ted's not exactly a typical Silver Age hero that could only benefit from a not-as-blindly-heroic replacement.

But that doesn't mean I won't like the new guy/girl. I like the thought of following a character on a relatively traditional "Rise of a Hero" style path. It'll make a nice novelty in this day and age. (Though a part of me wonders if the whole "Rise" won't be followed by a particularly Icarian "Fall"). I don't hate the character design, and yay, they didn't kill *a specific character*!

Besides, I still say, no matter what Winick/Giffen/Didio says, Countdown's storyline structure pretty much screamed "This isn't over", they're just waiting until they can get the most out of it money/sales-wise. Ted'll be back somehow. I just hope it's entertaining. (I still say, the best resurrection-esque story would be something like Brother I having somehow copied Ted's brain-patterns on Max's order or its own initiative. Then the program takes over. So then you have a huge, scary satellite that thinks it's Ted Kord. And that would be amusing to me.)


  • At December 21, 2005 3:51 PM, Blogger CalvinPitt said…

    I'm in total agreement about giving other incarnations a chance. I mentioned this in a post today but I got steamed at the guy who runs the comic store when he said he doesn't like this Batgirl because she's not Barbra Gordon. That's it, that's all. Not that he doesn't lie her personality, or her character, she's just not the one he grew up with. Me I think Barbra's better as oracle, and leaving the field work to Cass.

    Unfortunately, the rumors are DC doesn't agree, and so I'm trying to enjoy Cass while she's still breathing.

  • At December 21, 2005 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At December 21, 2005 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just don't like Batgirl.

    Does that make me a bad person.

  • At December 21, 2005 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh and to make sure nobody mistakes my comments as a prejiduce.

    I don't usually care for Nightwing, lately I haven't even been liking Batman, and Robin is just now starting to peek my intrest again.

  • At December 21, 2005 11:20 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    *grin* It's okay not to like Batgirl. It's just that, like her or not, she does add an interesting element to the Batfamily. Her relationships with Barbara and Bruce highlight new aspects of both of those characters and the tone and style of her adventures are different than other members.

    That makes her a valuable addition I think, even if personally I rarely buy her comic myself.


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