Tag Archives: Reboot

Top o’ the Lot: Possible Movie Reboots for Tom Hardy

From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.
Continue reading Top o’ the Lot: Possible Movie Reboots for Tom Hardy

Opinion: Avengers NOW!, Reboots, and Fanboys

By now you have heard the news that Marvel Comics is shaking things up quite a bit later this year with a few of their A-Listers, and I for one cannot wait to see the new directions the publisher takes these venerable characters. The internet almost cracked in half as irate fanboys took to the Facebooks and Forums to express their disgust over the changes, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would be upset about new ideas. However, I also found a large part of the comic book community suggesting that all of these changes amount to an upcoming, universe-wide reboot at Marvel comics, and this confuses me even more. Here’s a rundown of the upcoming changes, and some thoughts on both the hatred of anything different, and the desire for something completely different.

The Changes

Thor FemaleFirst off we have Thor Odinson losing his worthiness and a female Thor taking up the mantle. Here’s a great write-up if you missed the news. An idea devised by longtime Thor scribe and all around lover of different and new concepts, Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder has been one of the best in years, and that story has been building to Thor losing his aforementioned worthiness. Anyone who has been keeping up with Aaron’s run understands that this can be a terrific title, and the idea of a brand new character becoming Thor is intriguing, but a female Thor adds a whole new layer.

All-New Captain AmericaCaptain America will soon have his super-soldier serum sucked out of him, rendering him geriatric 90-something, incapable of wielding the shield any longer. So, Steve Rogers is passing on the mantle of Captain America to his best bud and fellow Avenger Falcon. Yes, we’re getting a brand new Captain America! The book will be written by the current Cap writer Rick Remender, and if you’ve been keeping up with that run you know everything has Avengers 35been leading up to this, but the news announced by Joe Quesada on The Colbert Report earlier this week cemented the already pretty much spoiled news. Falcon has never been more popular thanks to his appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it’s a good time to to take advantage of that popularity. This stuff isn’t going to be contained to single titles either, as seen in this cover of Avenger #35, as Thor without his hammer, Falcon with his shield, and Steve with his cane all appearing.

I have to be honest, I haven’t read an Iron Man comic since the Extremis story arc. Tony just hasn’t been a very compelling character. Although, with the upcoming Superior Iron Man dropping in Superior Iron ManNovember, I may be changing that before year’s end. Helmed by writer Tom Taylor and artist Yildiray Cinar, this new take on the old Shell head will take Tony to San Fransisco, where he changes the Extremis into an iPhone app, and makes it available to everyone in the metro area, in an attempt to create a utopia. I love a hard to root for good guy, and this sounds like it’s right up that alley. The changes aren’t that out of character, actually, as Tony has always been kind of a rebellious loner, and the things he’s done in the pages of New Avengers fits nicely.

The Hatred

Most of the griping I heard about these changes fell into two categories. The first group hated these changes because they thought it was nothing new.

“Captain America has been a different guy before, and he was black.”

“Thor’s been Beta Ray Bill, a frog, and has been unworthy a ton of times. This is nothing new.”

They all said it differently and with different levels of seething, but it Avengers NOW!was all so illogical. Certainly there IS something quite different between making Thor a frog or an alien and making the character a completely new female persona. To say otherwise is not only demeaning to women, but shuts down just about ANY story that ANY creator could devise. It’s 75 years or so of contained superhero story-telling; you’re not going to get anything “newer” than that. Of course making Falcon the new Captain America is new; it’s never happened before (officially), and despite there already being a black Captain America, and there being several character to hold the title and wield the shield, if the only reason to not tell a story where Falcon is Cap is that other people have also been Cap, well, that’s not much of a reason. Those old stories where Steve is not Cap are still out there; go read those! Nothing new can take away from those old stories. But suggesting that something that is clearly new is not new is just silly.

Beta Ray Bill
Look! It’s Thor, but not Thor!

The other outstanding group of naysayers I encountered decried the entire change for the equally illogical reason that these changes were not going to be permanent. Really?! Well, of course they aren’t going to be permanent. Weren’t you listening to the people who hate these changes because they’ve already happened before? Thor was a frog, and then he wasn’t a frog. Beta Ray Bill wielded Mjolnir, and then he didn’t. Bucky was Captain America, and then he wasn’t. Marvel’s storytelling is a cyclical thing, and anyone who has read comics for longer than a decade can tell you. A character dies, we see characters deal with the death, the character comes back from the dead, repeat with new character. Now simply replace a character death with any other life-altering event; like losing worthiness, having super-soldier serum sucked out, becoming a disillusioned douchebag, moving across the country, or taking a trip into space; and you have what Marvel does each and every year. This is nothing but business as usual at the House of Ideas.

There Is No Reboot Only Drool

While I did find a lot of geeks that loved these changes, there was another rumor that constantly crept into the discussion. Many people suggested that all of these dramatic changes were leading up to a universe-wide reboot at Marvel Comics, and I’m not sure these folks are paying attention.

Ghost rider #2
“I’m a new character!”

First off, where would Marvel reboot to? Would they begin by selling all new #1 issues retelling those same old origin stories the entire world already knows? I’m not sure where else they COULD begin that would be any different than the changes we’re already seeing occur, and nothing has ever stopped Marvel from releasing a new #1. Next, is anyone else reading All-New Ghost Rider? How about the new Ms. Marvel book? Or the Inhuman title? Why is Marvel creating all sorts of intriguing and new characters just this year, if they are planning on rebooting the entire thing the next year? It just doesn’t jive. Last, I think Marvel DOES reboot, but they do it in a style that is all their own. Soft reboots abound in just recent history of Marvel Comics. Hickman’s run of Fantastic Four, Hickman’s Fantastic Four Changesrun on Avengers, changes to the X-Men, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Venom, Superior Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Hulk, and many other titles have balanced the fence between pulling off dramatic changes to keep things interesting and keeping to some sort of established continuity. It’s often difficult to figure out which side of that balance any single title leans toward, but the attempt to find the balance is definitely apparent. And Marvel’s method of constantly revamping plots, titles, and characters to find a solid story despite hurdles that continuity may represent continues to keep them at the top of the sales charts, and the changes highlighted above are a strong example of this.

 

Opinion: DC’s Segmented and Sticky Path

DC Comics Logo

Since the launch of DC Comics’ New 52 reboot, readers have dealt with a lot of changes, and while I don’t want to make this post about the quality of the reboot as a whole, it’s probably going to come off that way. No, I want to bring some attention to comparisons and the publishing approach that distinguishes the New 52 in both tone and style. Although DC has tried the whole reboot deal several times in the past, the first 30 or so months of the publisher’s latest reboot show a degree of premeditation, appreciation, and dedication not seen in other reboot attempts, while the future promises more of the same.

The Past

CrisisCrisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Hypertime, Infinite Crisis, Flashpoint the list goes on. Yes, DC Comics has rebooted their entire universe to some extent or another time after time with, more often than not, less than stellar results. While there were plenty of problems with all of these reboots – Donna Troy and Hawkman; a messed up Superman, and a de-aged JSA come to mind – most of the problems stemmed from one very important detail missing from the plan: An actual plan! There may have been a narrow guide or a rudimentary outline at some point during the brainstorming sessions that ultimately lead to these reboots, but it’s safe to say that the follow-through succeeding the event itself ultimately lead to just another reboot, and that qualifies it as an out-and-out fail in my book. So, what makes The New 52 so different? Having a plan and unabashedly sticking to it.

The Promise

DC originally marketed the New 52 as a “soft reboot” and not a full on reboot and revamp of the entire universe. Some things from the past, like the War of the Green Lanterns and Batman: A Death in the Family, would stick and some things wouldn’t, but DC never really made the extent of that adherence to continuity completely known. This allowed them to pick and choose story elements from the past without allowing other, less “important”, elements to become obstacles. DC promised to make their storied history be a help to their creators not a hindrance to creativity as it’s been in the past. That’s not to say that New 52 Logothey threw everything out the window; these characters are still recognizable as the ones we’ve all known and loved for years; but having opportunities to tell early tales of Superman as seen in Action Comics and retelling Batman’s origin in Zero Year, as well as revisiting Wonder Woman’s origin and changing the entire status quo of the Green Lanterns, have been amazingly entertaining comics that just would not have been possible prior to DC adhering to their New 52 continuity policy. That liberal policy in regards to continuity, however, as flexible it’s been with its use of DC’s storied and convoluted history, hasn’t impacted the self-contained continuity the New 52 itself has created, and it’s all part of DC’s push to appreciate their fans.

The Push

It’s logical to assume that DC had a problem reaching fans prior to the New 52 reboot. There’s obviously no reason to reboot the line if fans are buying books that make up that line. So, DC decided to listen to fans, and while they kept the continuity fans liked the most, they understood that, despite the quality of any comic book, fans still want continuity. There’s a certain appeal to having the characters all exist in the same world, and, of course, DC wants to take advantage of this aspect oThe New 52 Coverf superhero comics, but there has to be some “stickiness” to the whole thing. Although readers handle differing degrees of continuity very differently, DC has done an amazing job of keeping New 52 continuity faithful across all of their books. The adherence to this aspect of continuity has been stringent, with Hal Jordan stuck in space when he’d be better as a marquee character in Forever Evil, and Superman having to overcome at least a few obstacles setup in early issues of Action Comics, but it’s also lead to some rewards, with Simon Baz getting a brighter spotlight, and Superman/Wonder Woman even being a thing. They couldn’t just come up with new, exciting things, they had to find new and exciting things within their current continuity, something solidly missing from DC’s line pre-New 52. And that seems to be continuing as the very popular Nightwing see its last issue drop in the wake of the character’s upcoming death in Forever Evil. But continuity isn’t the only thing DC has changed to appeal to fans. The publisher listened, found what’s resonating with fans, and acted.

The Publishing

An Aquaman event last year, a Superman/Wonder Woman title, and Constantine even being a character in the DCU proper are all evidence that DC not only listened to their fans but acted on what was heard. That isn’t the only way they have acted either, and DC has ended many fan-favorite comics over the past two plus years, including Static ShockBlue Beetle Lee + Johnsand two Legion titles, simply because they didn’t resonate with enough fans. While this is no real change to what publishers do all the time, they have replaced titles just as quickly, looking to gives fans something great. A recent example of DC’s faithfulness to keeping their content fresh and relevant is the publisher ending 6 books in April – Justice League of America, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, Superman Unchained, Stormwatch, and Teen Titans – and replacing them with titles fans have specifically shown an interest in – Aquaman and the Others, Justice League United, Secret Origins, and Sinestro. DC’s appreciation to their fans in giving them exactly what they ask for is only eclipsed by the publisher’s dedication to keeping that ideal an active part of their entire publishing approach, and the key to that approach is portion control.

The Portioning

No, not that kind of portion control; I’m talking about “title portion control”. There are currently 9 DC comic books in the Justice League portion, 13 in the Bat-family of titles, 7 in Superman’s section, 5 in Green Lantern, and 6 or so in what DC has labeled “The Dark”, but this hasn’t always been the case. Looking over the various cancellations and new additions to these “families” of books over the years DC not only takes care in ending books that don’t work and consistently replacing them, but also assures that each of these Forever_Evil_1families of titles remains strong and uniquely distinct. Even failed segments like what DC calls “The Edge” and the all but defunct “Young Justice” segment of books were given a solid chance at success with a combined 15 titles launched and cancelled since the New 52 began, and two more cancellations due in April. This only underscores DC’s overall no holds barred approach when it comes to spinning their ever-revolving lineup. DC takes their whole portioning method a step further when it comes to how the publisher handles events. Forever Evil, while it had its share of limited series tie-ins, has been limited to the Justice League family of titles, with the Forever Evil: Blight crossover event occurring only within the pages of The Dark family of books, with never the two meeting. This trend has been fairly constant throughout the New 52: Night of the Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year, and the upcoming Gothopia are all in the Batman-family; Rise of the Third Army, Wrath of the First Lantern, and Lights Out all played out in GL books; He’l on Earth, Throne of Atlantis, and Rotworld all happened within their own specific category of titles. This has done a great deal to help DC reach new levels of success by avoiding the problems they ran into with other reboots, namely, missing the mark on continuity, ignoring fan requests, and not actively and effectively supporting their numerous and varied brands. This, of course, leads me to one simple worry: They’ll never be able to keep it up.

The Prospective

There’s trouble on the horizon for DC’s current success under this methodology bought about with the New 52. Although they’ve done an incredible job so far, it’s only been 30 months, and there’s some literal and figurative cleaning up to do. Forever Evil will surely end with the good guys winning by the end, but the Earth is in ruins, and, as the rules DC Five Years Laterthemselves have suggested with their entire approach to the New 52 reboot, things will certainly have to change equally as much as they have been impacted, and that’s a whole lot. That means an arc of Batman with Bruce coping with yet another death and dealing with Bane in the aftermath of Arkham War, no more self-contained mega-events or new origin stories to get readers’ attention. That means dealing with things in books like Justice League and Superman/Wonder Woman in meaningful ways. That means putting Lex Luthor on a pedestal, and exploring everyone’s new favorite Kryptonian clone. Those are big shoes to fill, but DC cobbled those slippers all on their own, and probably just because fans devour events. If the big moments and major impacts that made Forever Evil compelling don’t stick, it takes away from everything DC has built with the New 52. I’m not saying it’s impossible, and “big changes” have been promised, but seeing is believing, and DC has not made it easy on themselves. Another problem I see in DC’s future is doing too much crossing over between their individual categories, and the upcoming Supergirl/Red Lanterns crossover, while intriguing a story as it is, may start a trend that could quickly become as unwieldy as anything pre-reboot. And what about DC’s next rumored event, Five Years Later? As difficult as it must be adhering to their current approach, adding a future facet to the whole endeavor won’t make anything easier.

The Punchline

Batman LaughingYeah, I remember, I said this wasn’t going to be a post about the quality of the New 52 reboot, but that promise turned out to be a lie; a joke, really. The very thought of a brief about the publishing approach of DC Comics latest reboot simply cannot be made without a critique of the quality of the books that make up that reboot. But DC is doing something completely different with the New 52, and, as long as it lasts, it’s an amazing ride. Twists, turns, surprises, disappointments. It’s like Disney World, with all it’s unique and different, yet singularly alike, Lands, but in this amusement park they swap out the crappy rides every few months. Now, no one knows if the company can continue to respect the same method that lead them to their current level of success in the wake of such dramatic, universe-wide changes, but that takes nothing away from the ground-breaking success DC has already had in their latest reboot, and it’s been a very long time coming.