TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Brightest Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brightest Day. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DCnU: End of the Modern Age

Animal Man #5 (March 2012).

DC Comics' deeper descent into anti-heroic darkness is strangely opening moral doors.  DCnU has reinforced some problems that became endemic during Dan Didio's era.  However, the new Animal Man and Swamp Thing series are exceptions, due to the reintegration of Vertigo themes and characters into mainstream DC cape comics.  These two books started by humming along in Hellblazer/Swamp Thing/Sandman/Animal Man mode circa the late '80s and '90s.  I initially greeted the familiar motifs with skepticism, but in January, the nu Swamp Thing and nu Animal Man exploded up to must-read status (see almost-unanimous praise for Animal Man #5, which came out in early January, here, here, here, here, here and here).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reflections on the Revolving Door of Death 2: The Death of the Postmodern Hero

Death of the Flash, COIE #8 (Nov. 1985)

In pulp fiction, character-driven stories, so beloved from the 1970s to the mid-1980s, are now a thing of the past. For many years, but especially since about 2003, DC's comics universe has been awash in death, legacy characters doing the rounds in their fourth versions, dying, and coming back in fifth versions (see my blog entry on this here). DC’s two big events in 2009-2010, Blackest Night and Brightest Day, epitomize the morbid fascination with death and resurrection. Yet the leading lights of the company proclaim that these events in fact will halt the tide of death and reinvest it with meaning, a message that was carried out of Blackest Night. In BN issue #8, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) announces that ‘dead is dead from here on out.’

While we wait for Brightest Day to deliver on writer Geoff Johns’s promise to give death meaning again, it’s obvious that DC and its competitor Marvel have a problem on their hands. During the Modern Age of Comics, which has run from the mid-1980s to the present, the mainstream comics companies painted themselves into a corner when they created the so-called ‘revolving door of death.’ Now, characters die so often in the name of ‘grim drama,’ that readers and critics cynically, or wearily, do body counts at the end of every crossover event. Why has DC killed off more than 650 (at latest fan count here at Legion World) of its characters since 2003? In all this overkill, the 2010 death of the young character Lian Harper aroused outrage at the company for gratuitously manipulating its readers, by taking excess to a new low. There is a deviantART site devoted to the topic here.  Yet DC mistakenly took this emotional response to mean that its creative team had created a dramatic story that moved its readers, rather than comprehending that their audience was expressing annoyance and genuine death trope exhaustion. Why is DC so tone deaf when it comes to hearing what fans are saying? A flood of gore cannot be used to revive the seriousness of already-overused death memes that once were sacrosanct.
 
X-Men #136 (Aug. 1980)

There’s more to this than a vicious circle of commercialism. Let’s go back. The death of a hero in any medium, let alone in comics, was once the height of drama. It grew out of older roots in epics, fairy tales, literature and religious sources. It was a narrative line that was almost never crossed. It carried weight. And because it was a powerful dramatic tool, it was invariably a commercially successful plot device. Practically every comics fan recognizes the famous X-men cover of Cyclops holding a half-dead Jean Grey. The cover foreshadowed her death in the next issue, when she sacrificed herself to save the universe in the Dark Phoenix Saga. According to Marvel wikia, issue #137 from September 1980 was “the first time that a major Marvel Comics super-hero [wa]s killed off on-panel.” Jean Grey’s death might be considered a harbinger of the Modern Age.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reflections on the Revolving Door of Death 1: Titanic Legacies for Generation X Superheroes

Cheshire mourns her daughter. Titans, vol. 2 #26 (Oct. 2010).

Open a mainstream comic these days, and chances are you'll find one main theme: death, death, death, death, death! After that, you can choose from gore, hyper-violence and the occasional resurrection.  This is what the Modern Age of comics has boiled down to, driven by company-wide crossover events.  Since the 1980s, events at DC and Marvel have pushed fans to buy more comics by tying their titles into events, thus ensuring annual best-selling series.  These events are characterized by their 'Where's Waldo?' group shots of heroes battling cosmic menaces.  But despite the fact that some planet-sized villain is coming to eat the planet, drama has declined.  Perhaps because the end of the world is happening so often, it's hard to take any of it seriously anymore.  This has prompted creative teams to use character deaths to add drama to big events as well as regular series.

But there's something more going on here.  The grim and gritty Modern Age, now winding down, became characterized by what's described in comics circles as the revolving door of death, where characters were and are regularly killed off, then brought back on a cyclical basis.  Marvel is ushering in the seemingly less dark Heroic Age - yet in its Second Coming storyline just killed off Nightcrawler, one of the most beloved members of the classic X-men.  Their old DC rivals, the Titans, have suffered a parade of death and violence over the past twenty years that is notable even by Modern Age standards - but in the past decade the Titans' deaths have been unremitting.  Despite the recent resurrections of Donna Troy and Young Justice favourites, Superboy and Kid Flash, the revolving door of death has not revolved that much for this beleagured team

Death of Duela DentTeen Titans, vol. 3 #47 (Jul. 2007). 

After DC's huge crossover event Blackest Night, where the drama revolved around the return of zombified dead characters (of which there is no shortage), as well as a few more deaths, and a few resurrections, the current event, Brightest Day, follows the resurrected and the reason for their troubling trip back from the dead.  Just like Marvel's Heroic Age, the Brightest Day title belies its purpose.  This series is not about things getting better in the DC Universe, but death is supposed to regain its meaning: the revolving door is closing.  DC's leading lights have declared that "dead means dead," in other words, if your favourite character is dead, forget it - no more resurrections. But that doesn't mean the deaths are stopping, as another hero, the Atom, was just killed off in Titans Villains for Hire.

Deathstroke takes over the Titans title: Death of the Atom. Titans VFH Special #1 (Jul. 2010).

Over at Legion World, a board devoted to discussion of DC's futuristic team, the Legion of Superheroes, fans are compiling a list of characters killed in the DC Universe in the past seven years, hereThese fans calculate that in the past seven years, DC has killed off over 600 characters in the name of 'rough and gritty drama.' Of these, about 50 characters long or recently dead have been resurrected within the same time period. Maybe DC is clearing out a backlog of unused characters, but there's something odd about the sheer volume of numbers in this macabre death march.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.4 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

 
Terra 3 is a perfect genetic match with Terra 2, who was a perfect genetic match with Terra 1.  Terra #1 (Jan. 2009)

2000s Continuity concluded.

Geo-Force: Walking a mile in his sister’s shoes? 2001-2010.
The seductive injustice of scapegoating goes a long way to explaining why Brion Markov’s unwavering loyalty to his sister is justified. If Brion is still in Tara’s corner after all this, even if it means his destruction as a hero, then we may have to ask again who Tara really was. We may have to look beneath the cardboard-cut-out ‘traitor-who-deserved-to-die’ label that’s been slapped on her, and question the double standard that condemned her, while forgiving others who have done the same or worse. DC is currently making Geo-Force, a clearly heroic character, relive his sister’s hellish descent. We have to go back to Markovia and ask: who are the Markovs and what is their legacy?

Through this period, Brion shows growing signs of mental instability followed by a frightening decline into madness. He has blackouts and acquires Terra’s powers. His wife Denise has already died under unknown circumstances. He begins wearing the same uniform that both siblings wore when they first appeared, signifying his growing identification with Terra 1. The same themes begin to surround him: insanity, drugs, Deathstroke, mental manipulation, brainwashing, memory wipes, and a loss of moral direction combined with a massive increase in his geo-powers.