I asked both Gwen and Jamie to give me their thoughts on what has happened in general to their love of comic books as both of my daughters are now grown and have started families of their own. I waited and waited but Gwen’s schedule never allowed her to be able to give any input to me. Jamie managed to squeeze out the time to give me her feedback.
My continual rants about how the new DCU has pushed me over the edge with super hero books may sound like a one note complaint, except for the fact that both of my daughters have lost interest also. So the fifty plus crowd losing interest maybe one thing the 24-34 year old market is another. With further ado or prelude Jamie’s thoughts on the matter.
The first book I ever remember reading was a comic book. I don’t remember what issue, but I do remember some of the details. It was a Detective Comics book and Joker (surprisingly) was attacking Batman. I found the issue in our basement and I remember being delighted that I could figure out the basic words on my own. It must have been familiar to me, as my father regularly read us Batman comics as bedtime stories. The pictures were exciting and the voices he used to reflect the various characters compelling captured my sister and my intent interest. Is it any wonder we both grew nostalgically attached to the DC Universe.
Yet, this wasn’t the only reason for the attachment. I was born in 1986, and for those that remember DC universe history this was a huge period for character development and epic story arcs. I was born the same year the Crisis story arc came to completion. I worked in my father’s store during the build-up and fall-out of Zero hour. I worked in my father’s store during the Death of Superman. I worked in my father’s store when Batman’s back was broken. I saw the story of the speed force completely revamp the nature of DC’s speedsters and change them from individuals to a family. I fell in love with the golden age heroes as they returned from the parallel world they had been sent to and were given a mini-series that still reigns as an all-time favorite. I even wrote my first letter to DC at the age of seven after being devastated by the death of Doctor Midnight. I am the avid fan, I am the loyal reader; so how is that I now dread opening a DC comic.
If I was going to mark the beginning of this dramatic shift in DC’s stories, I would have to focus on the death of Elongated Man’s wife (Identity Crisis) and then his death (52 Series). I believe DC was concerned about the rising interest in edgier realistic comics. They wanted to show the dark side of the heroes, the realty that may couple this extreme power and intense lifestyle. DC missed the mark. Sure, many readers were interested in this arc, at first; after all it was different, new and it explored the characters we knew so well in a fresh light. But in the aftermath, the whole adventure tainted the images we had. Wonder Woman a murderer, Batman a traitor to his friends, and another Robin an orphan. When it dawned on DC that its readers went to vertigo and independent comics for the darkness and came to them for the hope; they scrambled to get back the former glory of “wonder years.”
The return and replacement of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen was intended to reignite the love of fans with their former heroes; however, the loyal fans who had continued to read the series through the next incarnation of these heroes were left wondering why. Why did we commit ourselves to embracing the alterations in the story arcs and the growth of the next generation if they are so easily replaced? Why did we become interested and involved in storylines that will simple be erased when the death of a hero is no longer convenient? How can we trust the people in charge of our favorite stories when they have no respect for continuity?
And it didn’t end there. The age of rebirth and convoluted story arcs that crippled Marvel in the late 80s and early 90s has found its next victim. The twenty seven years I have spent devoted to characters in the DC universe has meant nothing, we are supposed to just accept that beautiful stories will be corrupted by the hands of the now artless DC creators. When people used to ask me why I read DC over Marvel, I never hesitated… I said, “DC focuses on the character development and story arcs; whereas Marvel, is all about the action and the quick buck.”
Now I say nothing, and wondering where poor Wally West went.
And so it goes as the DCU now is a place that any pre NEW DCU fan feels alienated from. Now none of us eagerly anticipate any of the stories as the characters we know are not who we know. They have the same names, but with their history changed the characters are just names and not characters we care about.