Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pocket Change

"The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be."
- Isaac Asimov, "My Own View" in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Congratulations, Joe Queseda*.

You have finally torn the internet in two.

If you go to any comic book forum, you'll see people doing the internet equivalent of rioting.

I am going to try to talk about "it" without talking about "it".

Greg Hatcher over at Comics Should Be Good wrote a great piece regarding Spider-Man and the two types of fans:

Here'’s the thing. There'’s two groups of fans reading superhero comics right now, the illusion-of-change fans and the real-change fans, and each one is absolutely convinced that the other group is going to destroy their beloved superheroes. And it terrifies them, because they both love comics fiercely, and neither can stand the idea that they might get taken away. So each group is constantly yelling at the other to for Christ'’s sake STOP it, d'you have any idea what you're doing? I suspect that this underlies a lot of that free-floating fan anger out there. This is why so many comic book message boards have the social niceties of Mad Max'’s Thunderdome.

The illusion-of-change people are looking at it this way: I discovered DC and Marvel at ___ age and it changed my life, these characters are great, timeless icons, new readers need to be able to discover them the way I did, why are they so hell-bent on ruining them when they do stuff like make Spider-Man an armored Avenger or marry off Superman to Lois Lane or… (fill in your own premise-altering Real Change here)… comics are already practically incomprehensible to new readers, the base is going to keep shrinking, pretty soon there’s only going to be about six people reading DC and Marvel, they’re KILLING COMICS!

The real-change people, on the other hand, probably came into comics sometime in the late 80’s or so. Post-Crisis, let’s say. Real change is what they’re used to. It’s what they have come to expect. Their tastes were formed by Chris Claremont on the X-Men, or Peter David on the Hulk, or Alan Moore on whoever. These were guys that specialized in real changes that often completely changed the premise of whatever strip they were working on. So the real-change people think: Damn, why is it that superhero publishers are so cowardly! Quit with the retcons already! Dead is dead! Show some guts! Comics are finally starting to Grow Up! They’re not for kids any more! We don’t need to worry about some mythical eight-year-old coming into the comics store, you idiots, there’s no one under twenty in any comics store I’ve ever been in! You let these old-school geezers hit the reset button all the time like they want to and they’ll be KILLING COMICS!

Now, lately I have found myself in the "real-change" ilk. I like when the status quo is thrown out the window and we get to go in a completely new direction.

Think how huge it was when Gwen Stacy died (shortly after dropping off her twins she had after a booty call with Norman Osborn to Canada) or Jean Grey died (the first time) or when Superman died (you think we would have figured out he was coming back when they didn't cancel any of his titles) or when Jason Todd was killed by The Joker (Stop punching the fabric of reality, Superboy Prime!).

No, she's okay. Tis' but a scratch

These are things that changed our favorite characters forever.

I like change.

It seems to be comic book canon that nothing can happen to change the status quo of Spider-Man, Batman or Superman. They are the untouchables.

Or things can happen, but they can always been undone.

Only Spider-Man seems to have lasting changes but that's what we (or at least, I) love about Spider-Man as a character.

Granted, you want them to remain the same so future generations will know what you loved about them.

Well, that's what the trades are for.

I just don't want to spend however long I read comics to be spent seeing the same stories over and over again.

Superman defeats Lex Luthor, he goes to prison, gets out, rinse, wash, repeat.

Batman and Robin defeat The Joker/Penguin/Two-Face, send them to Arkham, they escape, rinse, wash, repeat.

For the last time!!!
(Until the next time)

Spider-Man faces the Green Goblin/Dr. Octopus/The Vulture, loses the first time, contemplates on a rooftop, defeats them (they never really go to prison in Spidey books), rinse, wash, repeat.

Look! It's Spider-Man unmasked!
Why isn't anyone looking up!?!
Oh, World Cup is on. Did Brazil win?

I think the big reveal of Civil War #2 could have been done better (If you didn't read Amazing Spider-Man #533, it really makes this whole thing go down Pepto Bismol), but I'm glad it happened.

Because now I don't know what the future holds and I like it that way**.

Now, if Lois would just get pregnant already. What an unsatisfying marriage this must be for her. At least, Spidey's boys can swim.

* For all the trouble Marvel went to protecting this secret you think you would have kept a copy of this comic out of the hands of the newspapers. Or at least issued a press embargo like they do with TV shows like Lost and 24 where secrets and surprises are everything.

** Unless, of course, the second Queseda's tenure as EIC ends (or by the end of
Civil War knowing Queseda), they find a way to undo Marvel and DC always seem to do. I think the funniest thing and the biggest sign of how the fans see Marvel and DC these days is not that people are up in arms but that they are already thinking how they will "undo" this.


neo said...

Change is good. Makes the characters come alive than just the rinse, wash, repeat as you opportunities for more and hopefully better improved stories as writers can build on what's already there.

I woulda thunk they kept that issue out of the presses what a "shocker."

Melanism said...

You would think Mavrel would issue a press embargo considering all the trouble they went through to make sure it didn't leak on the internet.

JiggysMyDayJob said...

naw the did the right thing it's a perfect marketing tool the variant copy is selling for 20 bucks at my local shop and the whole lets put it on the new thing is just like Superman's death, It's good for the cause all the baby boomers that read comics and have no long forgotten will go buy the shit and bam they make a qucik couple of thou maybe a mill.

We know it's not a change tho cause he'll be back to hiding that ID soon enough

JRennoldz said...

I ignored all the hype and was rocked by the reveal.

Marvel is on the comeback trail...

Nice to "hear" from you Mel; we're blowing up OKP for you.


Brother Afron said...

I've heard that the whole comic notion of the "illusion of change" gets attributed to Stan Lee. I find it funny since Stan would pretty much write with no regard to a series being around for more than a year.
This reveal does sound like a move that Stan would do, which is why it surprised me, since Marvel has been concentrating on keeping their key characters within safe parameters for the past few years.