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I’m Sorry, What?

By (May 14, 2013) No Comment

1This is going to be an odd, angry post. It’s going to be bloated with self-righteous fanboy outrage, the likes of which you can find just about everywhere else on the internet. I’m going to type things I wouldn’t even seriously say out loud tomorrow, when I’ve calmed down. Warning enough?

Here we go: DC comics should just give it up. They’ve lost, they’ve failed. Rival publisher Marvel has locked in eighty percent of the comic industry’s best talent with exclusive contracts, and it’s goddam pathetic. As the supposedly reinvigorated “New 52″ universe shambles toward the end of its second year, the sheer lack of imagination on display makes an ever louder WHOOSH WHOOSH sucking sound.

2I am THIS annoyed (you may ask) because DC is canceling the fan favorite title Legion of Superheroes. For what is probably the seventeenth time. “Fan favorite” is of course a loaded phrase, frequently describing niche creators or characters that only the fully indoctrinated can appreciate. It doesn’t apply to any of the five Batman titles that clueless middle school kids buy while on family vacation. It doesn’t apply to any of the four Green Lantern comics that dateless completists consume with Renfield-like obsession. And it sure as shit doesn’t apply to Superman Unchained, DC’s new “flagship” title that Jim Lee will draw with less and less precision for exactly eight months.

The Legion has a history. It’s complex and nerdy and not for everyone (though it is precisely for very many dedicated longtime readers). Evidently, it’s also a huge drag on DC’s bottom line. Since the “New 52″ started, it’s been in the more than capable hands of writer Paul Levitz, passionate shepherd of the 31st Century heroes on and off since the late 1970s. Drawing his layered, character-driven, and eminently re-readable tales have been mega-talents Francis Portela and Scott Kolins (and the coloring by Javier Mena is pretty damn brilliant as well).

3But who cares? Sales have probably been sliding for months, with nobody at any level of DC editorial saying, “How can we make this comic fracking irresistible?” Sure, Levitz is trying–he’s got the Fatal Five declaring all-out war on Brainiac, Ultra Boy, Saturn Girl, and the two dozens others. But if this was a Marvel comic, the Fatal Five would be running the 31st Century by now, and the title would be Dark Legion (or Thunderbolts, whichever isn’t currently in use). Marvel would also drag new readers to the book with some kind of inane crossover/battle royal.

Sigh. It’s infuriating. A pure, addictive comic shouldn’t be that hard to maintain. Look at the Savage Dragon for crying out loud. He was found naked in a burning field. He’s green, with a giant fin on his head, and invincible. Writer/artist Erik Larsen has kept this gore-fest going (by himself, if not quite monthly) since 1992.

How much simpler does it need to get? The hero walks around like a hero (and not a dick). He’s likeable and/or sexy. Then, idiot villains show up to get their blood drawn. Here’s my two-ninety-nine. Thank you, come again.