EDITORIAL: Mine or Yours? And Why Do Characters Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Change?
Behold, the rage of comic book fans as contemporary comic writers undo our favorite stories with the replacement of our favorite heroes, a schlocky misuse of the space-time continuum, and a re-imagining of decades of character development! How could they do this to us! After all, they're our characters...aren't they?
It's no secret that Dan Slott, the current writer for The Amazing Spider-Man's comic run, may have let a whole lot of babies out of the nursery when he "mistakenly" tweeted quite the tip about who would be replacing Peter Parker in the Marvel NOW! series reboot. He's already gotten a lot of gyp from fans who have, apparently, already gotten their hands on the first issue and declared it worthy of the *hit of fairies.
But Spidey isn't the first to be tackled like this. Recently, our good pal Scott Summers was imprisoned for taking things a bit too far (and obliterating his mentor) in the Avengers vs. X-Men event. His imprisonment and subsequent extreme, possessive douche-baggery has led many fans to drop him as a character, ranting and raving about his mistreatment the past few years, and how he's a shadow of his former self, only used to lead the X-Men into moral conundrums to which they prove to be antagonists.
And when these things happen, when our heroes are replaced or remodeled, the uproar from the comic fan-base is understandable. After all, we are the audience for these stories. You do have to appease us from a business standpoint to ensure the future of the medium. But I also think fans have a tendency to either:
A) look over basic patterns of comic book development
B) explode prematurely (giving you a moment to laugh) at a prospect
To the fans, I understand that we have invested both time and money into the adoration for these heroes. And these demonstrations of character perversion are sort of like losing a friend. Comics have no real definitive end. Take it from a Daredevil fan who had to live through Shadowland. Characters, like people, take ugly, unnecessary turns. They disappear and someone takes their place. And sometimes, they return and continue to be the icon you once knew and loved. Both Marvel and DC know and understand this. Alienating the audience for the sake of bold storytelling just isn't in the cards for them. It happens, but it happens to be progressive.
Comics are not a television show. We don't get four-to-eight seasons and then say goodbye. Some of these folks have been around since the 1940s. They've been rebooted more than once and they've changed. A lot. Not a single character is the exact same person they started out as. They've all grown from their roots. And, here's the thing, if they haven't, then the writers have failed. Change is necessary for development, and development is necessary for lengthy, non-formulated runs. Good things can happen with change.
And if I could have a word with the writers of comic books, this is what I would say. "You know your responsibilities as a writer. You know the responsibilities you have to these characters and these legacies. It is not your job to provide the perfect stories. It is your job to provide relevance to these characters, so that they maintain their hubris as entertaining entities, without compromising their reasons for being. What you do with a character, I will have to make two decisions about. I will either trust you as the writer, as your job; or I will drop reading. Your further involvement does not affect past stories. I still have my favorite runs, my heroes and villains doing what they do best, and I am proud of those stories. But you know your responsibility to these comic book characters, and as a fan of decades of work, I should be able to entrust that whatever changes you make, that they are for a combined reasoning to both sell the comic and progress the story at hand."
What else can we do, folks? Can the comics industry survive an all-out boycott of characters, or can we, as devoted fans, make our way passed what we find to be troubled times?
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