Thursday 29 December 2016
2016 End of the Year Reflection
Rage at the fact that we--as human beings--collectively and persistently fail to learn from history. Rage at the fact we--as human beings--have so much hatred as a collective species that we persistently find new ways to hurt one another. And for what exactly? What is the benefit in keeping migrants out of the United Kingdom and the United States, for example?
What is this obsession white identity politics, white supremacy, and white nationalism? Other than the fight to protect our civil rights, what did women, people of colour, and queer people do to the "white race" to warrant political suicides like Brexit in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump's effortless usurpation of the American federal government? All of which secured their "victories" by assaulting democracy and stoking the fires of fear, bigotry, and white resentment of multiculuralism?
The entirety of this political shitstorm has been affecting my overall mood in a very profound way. So much to the point where it literally requires effort to read and review comics these days, even the ones I actually enjoy. It really is hard to think about anything else when the real world keeps reminding you that the very institutions that exist to protect you are corrupt and racist to start with. As a woman who is the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a member of the LGBTQA community, this reality was never easy to ignore in the past. Now? No one can even pretend that racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and racism are "things of the past" or things women, people of colour, and queer people make up to "shake things up." Nope. This is all happening in real time.
The sad part is I don't expect this to change in 2017 as we enter next stage of the modern Dark Age, or as media has come to call it "The Trump Apocalypse." With Trump's unlawful "inauguration" on the horizon and with British Prime Minister, Theresa May, looking to trigger Article 50 in March, there is literally nothing to be excited about in 2017. The only saving grace of 2016 that will continue to be a saving grace in 2017 is DC's Rebirth initiative.
So far Rebirth has been a commercial success for DC. While sales have officially slowed down since the returnability period ended a few months back, sales are no longer slumping like they were in 2015 and are now back up to where they were in 2013. While I'm happy to learn that DC has learned from their mistakes and are looking to rebuild their important relationship with their consumer base, as a fan of DC's Justice Society characters and Golden Age continuity, I'm still a bit frustrated with the state of this franchise. I especially don't know which characters are going to be reinstated into the Prime Earth continuity and which ones are going to be left out. The last part is what I am most worried about.
It is possible we may still get another Earth-2 relaunch in 2017 now that writer Dan Abnett is leaving the world in a better place than where it has been in the last three years. While I am at least interested in the new direction, I really don't think it'll ever recapture the success of the pre-Crisis original precisely because it no longer has the Justice Society, which has always been Earth-2's main selling point. It has characters that are based off of the the classic Justice Society characters, but they still feel too far removed from the characters they're supposed to be. The characters don't even exist on an authentic Earth-2 anymore because they're literally on their third planet now that was artificially re-created through a magic box. It's therefore always going to have that artificial element to it.
On the subject of Huntress, Power Girl, and Fury, we don't have an authentic versions of these characters either because the current ones that we have on Earth-2 don't capture what people loved about the pre-Crisis originals. They technically exist, but they are no longer occupying the roles that they were created for because DC decided to define the Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman legacies with men.
The new Fury has been defined more by her status as Steppenwolf's daughter than as Wonder Woman's, and removing Steve Trevor from her origin story in favour Steppenwolf was a significant step in the wrong direction. One that significantly disrespects Wonder Woman as a character and her entire mythology. Helena Wayne has been repeatedly robbed of her own story in favour of two new Batmen because DC severely underestimated how much Justice Society fans love Helena Wayne as her father's successor, and overestimated the popularity of Batman in a franchise that was never about him in the first place. Power Girl was similarly robbed of her own story as her cousin's successor for a similar reason. DC similarly underestimated Power Girl's popularity and overestimated the popularity of a new Superman amongst Justice Society fans who are the primary audience for Earth-2. This was a move that hurt Val-Zod as well because it put him in the position of usurping a story that was created for a woman.
Given the many wrong turns this new Earth-2 has been put through in the last five years, I'm pretty sure that's the main reason Geoff Johns wants to bring back the pre-Crisis originals to the main Earth. Not only does he want a completely fresh start for these characters away from the Earth-2: World's End baggage, but I'm pretty sure it's not up to debate that he wants to bring back the original idea of the Justice Society as the heroes of DC's Golden Age. He wants to reinstate the Justice Society as the heroes that inspired future generations of superheroes and team legacy. He wants to reinstate these characters as mainstream DC Universe characters and as characters who inspire hope and optimism, not constant doom and gloom.
We need Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L back precisely because they bring gender diversity to those legacies and because they are the legacies of the Golden Age originals. We need Lyta Trevor back because she builds upon Wonder Woman's mythology in a profoundly feminist way. These three women also deserve to be re-acknowledged as mainstream DC characters because they were created as mainstream DC characters in the 1970s and early 1980s. They don't deserve to be exiled to an alternate universe when their own superhero family--the Justice Society--made the transition to the main universe. They deserve to be there with them and I hope Geoff Johns is thinking of that.
As for the future of this site, I will continue to do coverage on Earth-2 and the Justice Society as they make their transition to Rebirth in 2017. I will also be repurposing this site so that it's more resourceful to fans and less "personal" if that makes sense. I also want this site to be a positive space for fans who want to get further acquainted with the character of Helena Wayne, the relationships that are important to her, and the Justice Society. This has, in turn, resulted in me mass deleting posts from the New 52 era because I feel that keeping those posts are counterintuitive to that goal.
Aside from an initial strong sales boost, the New 52 era ultimately did not prove to be a good era for DC Comics, creators, and fans a like. This was an era defined by a lot hostility between DC and its own fanbase, and this was an era that made a lot of fans unhappy and resentful towards DC because of the damaging changes that were made to beloved characters--including the Justice Society characters--during this era. This anger and resentment is very much present in most of those earlier New 52 posts, and I don't think that's good for anyone. In the end, I want people to support DC, their comics and characters, and I want fans to support the work of creators. I don't want the future work of creators who were involved in the New 52 to be hurt by comics that were panned by fans and/or critics alike.
I'm happy that DC recognised the problems with the New 52 and has committed to rectifying those problems with Rebirth. Since DC has pretty much abandoned their New 52 line and are no longer promoting it, it only makes sense that I abandon it as well. They want to move on from that dark period of their publication history and I need to do my part as a fan to support their new direction.
This doesn't mean that I regret pointing out when DC has made bad decisions that created long-term damage to their properties, it just means I don't want to keep anything on this website that serves as a reminder of those bad decisions. At best, I've started replacing all of those discussion posts and New 52 reviews (even my positive ones) with previews of the New 52 comics themselves so that fans can make up their own minds about whether or not those comics are worth checking out.
At best, I may revisit those New 52 comics in the future and do more thoughtful discussion pieces on them in place of those very reactionary, not-very-well worded reviews I originally did. I think how we discuss a work is very important as it can either contribute to or hurt the success of a comic. I think reviews should be objective in the way they address the ideas and concepts explored in a story and how they are executed. I think reviews should critique what story elements work and which ones do not. It is admittedly hard for me to be objective when it comes to the Justice Society, the Huntress, and Earth-2, but it is a goal I want to work towards moving forward.
I'm still undecided on whether or not I want to keep my Earth-2: Society reviews. I don't think they are as harshly critical as my reviews for Earth-2 and Worlds' Finest during the New 52 era, but they're also not good reviews either. Most of the problems that I have with the book are not Dan Abnett's fault since he inherited a very problematic premise from the previous runs, and had to work with those problematic developments during his run. Nevertheless, those very problems made it difficult for me to review his work on Earth-2: Society objectively.
I was repeatedly put off by DC pushing an artificial Dick Grayson placeholder as the successor of Helena Wayne's family legacy instead of Helena herself. It was a move I found profoundly problematic on the front of gender representation. Addressing that problem was a constant in every Earth-2: Society review, sometimes to the point of overshadowing anything Abnett actually did well with the comic. I hope that with Rebirth, if Dan Abnett is still involved with the Justice Society franchise, I hope that he has more creative control over the stories he tells and the characters he uses. I hope that he is less bound by editorial mandate to include characters that don't need to there like Thomas Wayne (Helena's grandfather), or artificial placeholders for fan favourite characters like Dick Grayson. I hope that this time he can gives us an authentic Batman legacy story defined by Bruce's own daughter and not literal men in bat suits who are not legitimate successors to her father.
I'm definitely going to keep my "Best of" reviews for Huntress and Power Girl, but I will also revise them to remove any frustrating references to the New 52 era and keep the reviews strictly contained to the story being told. I will also keep my Legend of Wonder Woman reviews and discussion posts because despite being an out-of-continuity digital comic, it is still a comic set within DC's Golden Age continuity and Justice Society franchise, and therefore still relevant to this blog. I also believe in supporting works by diverse creators that are accessible to diverse audiences.
I will definitely do my part to try and help DC change their minds about cancelling Volume 2 of that series. I still think it's an important comic to have around, and I think with Wonder Woman's movie coming out next year, Legend of Wonder Woman is a great introduction to the character in comics with its own self-contained continuity that's easily accessible to new readers. It even has the potential to ignite interest in the mainstream Wonder Woman comics currently written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott.
I'm also thinking of maybe expanding my "Best of" reviews to discuss comics written during the Golden Age, and even the Justice Society and Justice League crossovers. Not sure if I want to call it "The Best of the Justice Society" or "The Best of Earth-2." I think the former might be the better choice given the fluctuating state of DC's multiverse. I'm also thinking of maybe doing trade reviews of non-Justice Society DC books to help promote diverse comics. Might be a good idea for next year since the first wave of Rebirth trades are set to come out next year.
So yeah...those are things I'm thinking about moving forward. I anticipate another shit year in the real world, but I'm at least feeling more optimistic about the future of DC Comics, and even those of my favourite characters. I look forward to both good and bad things, fortunately good on the side of comics.
Other than a few "thank you letters" and the final Power Girl 40th Anniversary review before the year ends, I guess I'll see you all next year! Let's hope that the Trump Apocalypse doesn't actually happen.