4 comments on “I Think Every Superhero You Love Should Be Dead (or, On the Nature of Time)

  1. The vice and the virtue of comics as they stand is that you could honestly do *both* and I don’t know why they don’t.

    One pool of books is “on the clock” always ticking, always moving. People stay dead. things happen and cannot change. The “Ultimate” universe for Marvel has done this relatively well.

    Other books, written only in limited formats or runs are either “What-Ifs” or, with a high level of editorial sign off, are the “untold” stories of previous characters. Every generation someone might have an amazing Bruce Wayne story, and they should tell it but let time march on in the timeline otherwise.

    I’m not even wholesale against resurrection of characters, I think there are fascinating ways to do it, but I think it needs to stick and not be done unless the story is especially compelling…but a moratorium of some time probably needs to be laid down to make it work.

    Barry Allen is the perfect example of this. He is diluted by his return and his sacrifice minimized where as I would argue Hal Jordan’s return was done “better” and ultimately helps redefine the character for the positive. (I make no such assertions about what has happened in the universe SINCE his return, however) Funny that those returns were at the hand of the same architect.

    The success of Wally West, Miles Morales, the Young Avengers, Stephanie Brown all show that legacy building not only makes sense but makes for a richer history. (Batman Beyond? Hello?) But it takes editorial risk that multi-million dollar properties for film/video maybe can’t stomach.

    That said don’t discredit some of the strides that have been made to recast characters for modern sensibilities. Before New 52 at least Dick Grayson was adopted. Iron Man has been recast as a combination of “technology for the betterment of man” and as an allegory for the failure and struggle of American style power in a complex world. The challenge is separating character from icons.

    Superman is Kal-El period. His persona is as much who the character is but pre New 52 there was a solid exploration of the fact that there are “Batman” stories and then there are stories about the person who is in the suit. {Batman Beyond AGAIN?} and that is the key. I agree that committing to the notion of time, and let legacy help define the difference between the “mythic” and the character stories that are told would only strengthen comics. Steve Roger’s basic immortality (or Wolverine’s or Kal-El’s or Martian Manhunters) have little value as true aspects of character in a world where time stands still just as the mortality of the rest has little value in a world where no one truly dies.

  2. It occurs to me…

    With the strength of video and film it may be that comics will be forced to more notions of legacy building. I don’t think movie-goers will tolerate constant “re-boots” of the same character and I think the companies will see value in transitioning to other actors as different people in the suit…Marvel at least might do that in their own cinematic universe (Such as the rumours that Vision will, in fact, be Jarvis in an Iron Man suit as Tony exits the stage or that War Machine may take his place)

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