WHOA- Deadman! Big hero these days! Lead role in Brightest Day practically. I mean, it makes sense. Blackest Night was all about DEATH and Brightest Day is all about LIFE. Who better to put centerstage in a story about some of the biggest names in the DCU coming back (after far too long, I might add)? I’ve had it a bit with the whole constant revamping of superheroes…I like that these are the ORIGINALS- Aquaman, Firestorm, Hawk, Hawkman, Hawkwoman. Boston Brand, of course- supernatural spirit; not quite dead, not quite alive.
I’ve got something else to say about all this, though, and it might not be what you expect. So follow me on this.
The last ten, fifteen years has been a new age for comics, I think. I’ve lost track of what the names are exactly; if it’s number, or brands of metal, or whatever. And here, I think, is what the new age of comics is all about: re-telling. That’s right- revamping and re-telling older stories. It’s sort of like the art of modernizing, updating and refining a story that’s already been told. So Superman: Man of Steel revises Superman’s origin in the 1980’s, but oh, Superman: Birthright comes along a few years later, and- LO and BEHOLD, Superman: Secret Origins does a nice job of blending both origin stories and even adding a few bits and pieces from Smallville. This is the new process. Every time, we get a little better telling of the story. Every time, we add a few details that make the characters better connected, make the themes in it a little more pertinent to the modern day. Thus: Batman- Adam West, Batman- Tim Burton, Batman- Christopher Nolan. See what I mean?
Now, this has been a GOOD thing for DC comics I think. I mean, let’s face it- with a few exceptions, DC’s characters just didn’t have the same…longevity, that the Marvel characters had. A lot of times? I think it might have just been poor planning. People like to make fun of superhero names and Marvel has a few in there that are easy to take cracks at (although, I’m not sure if anyone makes fun of these characters better than Marvel themselves)- ‘Stilt Man’ comes to mind. But DC? If you pick a noun, verb, or adjective and attach a color or ‘man’ or ‘woman’ to the front or back end? That character exists. It’s a DC comics character.
They’re obscure, they’ve only been featured in like three issues. But they exist. I swear. It’s like they were just picking names and weren’t worried too much about the depth of the character, sometimes. Deadman always struck me as this type. It was sort of like they just decided ‘hey- what about DEAD-man…that sounds cool, right?’ without REALLY taking the time to think "how’s this going to fit in the DCU? Does it kind of ‘work’, in the big picture?" Nowadays Deadman isn’t exactly a nobody (well he is, in the sense that he’s a ghost…ah, you know what I meant). He’s gotten ‘serviced’ by the DC writers in that he's been given a personality, a fleshed out mythology and origin story and THAT’S what this age is all about, I think. Bringing an old, out-of-date story to life (no pun intended).
Sure, Doom Patrol had its heyday in the fifties but nobody remembers them now. DC gave the team a reboot but that reboot stays TRUE to the source material. THAT’S the catch. No one wants some hyped up, overhauled book that doesn’t resemble its predecessor. I think the comic industry learned this the hard way in the nineties. Make something old new and not break from tradition. All of which is just a long, roundabout way of saying me likey. Really, I dig the continuity. I like that DC has got the most recognizable versions of their characters back in place: Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Arthur Curry…yes, even Bruce Wayne (kind of copped out quick here, didn’t we DC? C’mon- would another year have hurt? Just to see what it would have been like?)
It’ll be interesting what picks up as the next movement in storytelling for the superhero genre, you know? Tough to imagine…