Monday, October 22, 2012
"Crisis of Infinite Unnecessary Editorial Edicts"
The Multiverse started out as--and was--an endearing
concept that allowed for endless creativity. The most
basic and enduring aspect of the Multiverse was the
basis for maintaining vastly different worlds with
their own unique feel, energy, and style.
Then, editors at DC decided it was 'too confusing' to
say that there were multiple Supermen (as opposed
to the ease of following along with 25 years of a sometimes
inconsistent history of Silver Age characters.)
While most fans relished the publication of DC Comics'
"Crisis on Infinite Earths," it likely had to do with many
factors unrelated to its blending of all existing multiple earths;
fans were excited by the George Perez artwork, the scope of the story,
seeing characters that had not been seen in years, seeing different
characters interact for the first time, and seeing the sheer multitude
of characters included in a single panel/issue/comic/story--more
than had ever been seen before.
But when the shouting was over, and all the dynamics that had
made Shazam!'s earth unique had been blended with the
common aspects of the DCU proper, what resulted was
a homogenization of everyone, not a maintaining of unique
After the preliminary excitement of having the Question
operate in the same universe as Batman, and having Captain
Marvel join the Justice League, the shine wore off.
Now, these once singular and titanic characters were
simply another one of a several-thousand-member
DC's role as publisher became continually telling stories that
sought to realign their universe's flimsy sense of
consistency and shared history. Keeping track of
overlapping and conflicting stories proved much more
daunting than originally anticipated, and the idea of a
'streamlined' universe was a bust.
When Continuity is king, the light of imagination is darkened.
Fun and uniqueness and spontaneity are all victims of
an anal-retentive need to attempt to dovetail all stories
and characters into a shared (i.e., stagnant) depository.
Story after story, series after series, DC became obsessed
with retconning and revising the most minute of details,
and sometimes multiple times on the same matter!
Retelling old stories to make them 'fit' into the new
status quo was Job Number One.
Instead of paving new trails, the company was bogged down in
fruitless efforts to maintain and rewrite the blurred
and muddled histories of just one universe. Instead of having the
freedom to tell new and fresh stories, writers had to make sure
that their ideas fit into editorial parameters.
Elseworlds imprints (which allowed for new earths and
new takes on characters) were few and far between, and
often either A) didn't go far enough, B) rushed through to
an ending rather than properly developing characterization,
or, C) started out strong but invariably got soft at the
climax, catering to corporate concerns.
Eventually, a very watered down, distilled,
cypher version of a version of a version of
the original is all that's left. Rather than simply creating
new characters, the company keeps 'reinventing' the same
ones over and over repeatedly. No history, no familiarity,
just an empty shell...a 5th generation copy that can't
hold a candle to the original.
In the end, they ended up essentially reconstructing the
entire thing that had been such a 'headache' in the first place.
(only, of course, to undo it all over again!)
Yes, everything old is new again...
but unfortunately, you can't go home again.
The old worlds are relegated to memories...
and worlds far, far away.