Sunday, August 14, 2011

The state of comics

In a world that needs super heroes, what do you do when you can think of no new ones? Relaunch characters and dip into the archives.

new comic

Batgirl was retooled recently. Barbara Gordon is no longer paralyzed. It's a younger Barbara Gordon than readers of Birds of Prey may recognize. This one is modeled after the most famous Batgirl, the one portrayed by Yvonne Craig on the sixties' Batman TV show.

Batgirl issue 23 finds our super heroine dealing with the guilt over the death of a source and then being joined by Supergirl, Miss Martian, Stargirl and Bombshell to face villains Jabberwocky and Miranda. Along the way, Batgirl steers a police office towards dating Barbara Gordon (Batgirl's secret identity). Reading the issue its sadly obvious that the title isn't long for this world. The villains aren't threatening and instead of serious issues, they keep it light -- way too light.

And that also describes issue 26 of Power Girl, the comic focusing on the character from Krypton created in the 70s. Now she's back. And at a convention no less. Of Power Girl fans. All dressed up like her. It's just too-cute-for-this-world, like an episode of Saved By The Bell.

How does that happen, by the way?

Even in the real world, comic book conventions revolve around multiple comics. But before you contemplate that, you're forced to ask yourself if 101 Power Girls can save the world?

The answer is: Yes, but in a really cheesy way.

Daredevil issue number one finds Mark Waid and company offering a promising new beginning for the hero. The set up and framework speaks of a potentially rich future. Now if only they could do something about Matt's hair.

When not reviving Daredevil, Marvel dips into the vaults for a limited Power Man and Iron Fist reprint. No, not to remind you how sad seventies clothes were -- after all, that's why the world has Madonna -- but to ride the Iron Man gravy train.

DC dips into its archives as well and maybe because they thought a TV pilot would be picked up. Instead, Wonder Woman is not returning to broadcast TV this fall and they're left with their one shot issue of The Retroactive 1970s. In this one, they explore when Wonder Woman was no longer Wonder Woman but Diana Prince, trained in martial arts but with no super powers.

It was not the high point of the series and, in fact, it pretty much killed the series. But that's what you do when you no longer have anything new to offer, just serve up leftovers and hit the re-set button on popular characters. Call it the death of comics or at least the death of Marvel and D.C.

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