domingo, 15 de julio de 2012

Lets Talk about Comics

DC or Marvel?

If I had to pick a choice between which is the best company for comics i think I would pick DC Comics.

I read way more comics from DC however not all their books are good and not all of their decisions are great, but unlike Marvel they do seem to have a better understanding of what do creatively rather than financially which lead them to produce better quality comics in certain genres much better than anything that Marvel can produce, of course they also go to the other extreme when it doesnt work, and thats basically the main difference between Marvel and DC, Marvel is like 60% average comics, 20% good comics and 20% bad comics, DC is more like 40% good, 30% bad and 30% average, and the things that are bad, believe me, are really bad

another huge difference between Marvel and DC is the aspect of Continuity
What is Continuity exactly?
well think it like this, a very large chain of dominoes, the fall of one lead to the other one and so on, a event produces a result which let to next event which at its time produces a new result for a new event.
Both Marvel and DC are companies who have existed for decades so in all that time they both had their own way on how they both play with their own dominoes.

In the case of Marvel, everything, absolutely everything happens, and it doesnt matter at all, we have stories form the 60s, that are still part of that chain of events, but such event is completely meaningless cause is just impossible to point at it, there is no real consequence from it that still matter  at least on most cases, there is not even an existing timeframe, like how many years have pass from the first event on the chain to the latest event, for example we have the Fantastic 4 who are the very start Marvel's modern superheroes, and by modern i mean in their own continuity while somethings like Captain America who was in WWII gets frozen and then toss in this era, well the F4  Reed Richards and Sue Storm, Mr Fantastic and Invisible girl(later Invisible Woman) get married and have 2 children, right now if you get one of their latest comics you can see their sons, Valeria and Franklin Richards, how old are they, no idea, Franklin was created on the 1968 while Val appeared on 2002 but Franklin appears to be around 10 years old while Val appears to be 5 or 6, does that mean that between 1968 and 2002  there are only a coupe of years and if Reed and Sue got married and had a child on their first years does that means that the current Marvel U is 11-12 years old, no, in reality this numbers doesnt mean absolutely anything and its very likely that you will get yourself an aneurysm constructing a coherent timeline with dozens of properties.
how about another example of this, the Punisher, he was originally created with a background of being a soldier in the Vietnam War, however since time in our humble reality keeps moving forward we would get more and more and more away from the time of the Vietnam Wars, so if you check a book about Punisher right now on current continuity, Punisher was still a soldier, but not in Vietnam but the Gulf War, we will eventually get to a point where it will be changed to Afghanistan, but of course, once again, this means absolutely nothing to punisher.
And just to keep into the share of the insanity of Continuity take a look at this

This is Franken-Castle

 Is just exactly what you are thinking, Punisher turn into Frankenstein, how exactly does this thing came happen? well long story short the Punisher had a fight with Norman Osborn, the green Goblin, while he was in a huge position of power, so Norman sends an assassin named Daken, also known as the son of Wolverine and Daken Kills the Punisher, he chops him up and cut of his head, his dead was one of the most shocking events of that year cause no one saw it coming, but it gets better, the pieces of Frank are recolected by little monsters who live in the sewer who then proceed to reassemble him as you see him in the picture, this is not a random story, this part of continuity, this is part of the chain, another domino in the line.
The writer of this was Rick Remender and when he was ask why they did this to Punisher he just said "cause it was fun", and thats is pretty much what it was, much later in the comic he recovers his original body and is still alive.

Let me just clarify it
He still died, he still got turn into franken-castle, he still did all the things he did as a monster, and then he got better.
Right now you can see him like in the new Punisher series written by Greg Rucka, at this moment the book is around its first year of publication and there has been absolutely no mention of Franken-castle on this or in any other comic that i know of, but there are still mentions of his military background.

The point of all this is that Continuity is just an illusion on Marvel, there is no real meaning to it, the dominoes just keep going on forever into a void and there is no real sense of cause and effect, in the example case of the Punisher you can consider it as 2 completely different chains separated by a huge gap.

Then it comes DC, the big factor of DC when it comes to continuity is that they constantly revise their own continuity, if an event just feel out of place then its removed from the chain, this is called Retcon and its also use by Marvel for certain occasions but not in the same degree that DC does it, the only share amount of Massive retcons from DC can be used as a separator between the eras of the History of Comics.

Lets make a quick tangent here about that, the Comics history itself starts in 1938 with the coming of Superman which started what is called as The Golden Age of Comics, this went all the way until the 1950s when the gold start to lose its shine, Frederic Wertham, a psychiatrist who worked with juvenile delinquents starts to discover that all of them read comics, so after a investigating the subject he comes to the conclusion that comics have a strong negative influence on kids, the violence, the horror, the sexuality, all can be found in comics, and it degenerate them into criminals, he publishes on 1954 a book called Seduction of The Innocent, explaining how Batman and Robin were a gay couple, how Wonder Woman was a terrible example for young girls and a lesbian, etc, this wasnt a little guy complaining about comics, he was the spearhead of a movement that threaten to destroy the whole industry, the sales on comics drop, comics were burn in pyres, senate hearings were held, companies close and comics where cancel, which finally let to the creation of The Comic Code Authority.

Oh the Comic Code, this is basically a set of rules for comics, but ultimately is a long long list of things that comics arent allowed to do, for example, no werewolves, no vampires, no drugs, no violence towards government entities, for example a police man or a soldier could never ever be the villain of the story, etc

All of this is important to understand what happen next, and whole of continuity and how it works on DC, that still existed in the golden age, until October 1956, where we enter The Silver Age of Comics with Showcase #4 and the very first appearance of Barry Allen, the Modern Flash.
Before Barry Allen the Flash was named Jay Garrick, he had his own particular origin, his own design, his own story, basically his own chain of dominoes.
Barry Allen was the very first reinvention of a superhero in DC, and it was done because of the comic code, the arrival of Barry was a huge success and much later another hero got the same treatment, Green Lantern used to be Alan Scott, a blond guy with a red shirt and a magic ring, now green lantern was an Space Cop.

This movements, basically, this continuity kept going on for decades, the silver age eventually turn into the Bronze age on the 70s where the companies had enough of the comic code and openly defied it, after a long fight they were finally breaking free from its shackles, it brought back a more serious tone on comics, is something more than just violence, sex and drugs, its maturity, a maturity which get their climax cause of the works of Alan Moore and Frank Miller
Watchmen and the Return of the Dark Knight changed comics again, it started the Dark Age of comics, new movements, new ideas, and a new chain of dominoes.

Enter Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first big major comicbook event in the history of the medium, and epic story of good vs evil with the stakes of several universe on the line and the entirety of the whole DC stable of characters each putting a little bit of their part in the fight.
This was a defining point for DC once again, just like when the new Flash appeared in the Silver Age, CoIE brought the death of Barry Allen and the arrival of a new Flash, Wally West, Wonder Woman began again with a new story erasing her entire continuity, characters who once belong to completely separated dimensions like the JSA, the original heroes of the Golden age and Captain Marvel, all now belong to 1 single earth

1 earth, 1 continuity.

And this is exactly the big different takes between Marvel and DC on their continuity, on DC it has much more weight cause a complete reinvention of a character is never taken slightly, if a character dies, that death matters for a long time, they dont/cant ignore events from actually happening but they completely erase them if they become a problem

which lead them to have several problems for example Hawkman, I really dont feel the necessity to explain the share amount of balls that come with Hawkman's continuity, is hard to understand, its hard to follow and hard to even explain, the most simple way to say this is that Hawkman reinvented himself, over and over and over and over and over again, while at the same time try to keep the idea that most of those attempts are still kind of part of the continuity, which end up becoming something really really confusing.

 Im not saying that either the continuity of Marvel or DC is better than the other one, both have strenghts and both have weaknesses

The big weakness of DC's is when a bad story comes up, is really hard to ignore until is ultimately retconed, in the case of Marvel, is just ignored and thats it but in the opposite case, a great story can elevate a character to a new high, and that is something that will be always important, one way or another to that character, when it comes to marvel, its just easy to forget that it ever happen, or that is even relevant anymore.

Last year DC launched a new initiative called the New 52, new 52 #1 comics, just like the silver age, it brought new reinventions of characters, it keep some continuities intact, some events still happen just in a different way, some new characters appeared, some all characters appeared, some changed.

And i think thats what i love about DC, the ability to reinvent itself when the time is needed, not to say that Marvel doesnt do that, it does but not in the same way that DC does it.
and Ofcourse like it happens on DC, some of the changes are good, some are bad and some are just ok, but I particularly enjoy the new sense of diversity that it brings, great new hero comics, new horror comics, new adventures.

The next Chain of Dominoes


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