Chris is away in Leeds, listening to his popular music bands and their hipping and their hopping and their rocking and noise and guitars and what do kids these days even listen to it’s not real music its like they- ANYWAY. WORRY NOT ANGER-FANS, I’m here to get angry about the world and have a good old rage against the machine.
Last night on the page a discussion came up on a post about Venom and Captain Marvel getting cancelled. Stu said “Why doesn’t the house of ideas try a new idea and come up with an original concept?” And that got my brain to thinking (dangerous, I know.) Why can’t we have new things? It seems that new characters only last on the stands when they’re based off old characters. The example that instantly sprung to my mind was Runaways and Young Avengers. Both books aimed at and featuring teens, both about young people with super powers. Both dealing with similar issues. Both launched within a couple of years with each other. Both critically acclaimed. Yet… Young Avengers sells gangbusters and Runaways suffered from low sales its entire run. It’s been a good few years since we saw Nico, Chase and the rest of the Pride’s kids on the shelves. Why is that?
To be clear, I’m talking specifically about superhero comics published by Marvel and DC. I’ll talk about Image and creator owned books later, but for now, let’s stick to Time Warner and the House of Mouse. Honestly, I don’t think there’s any one defining answer for this, but I’m going to give you my best guesses. Firstly, there’s an underlying tone that books starring new characters don’t “matter.” Among the comics fandom there’s an understanding that if a book about a non-legacy hero launches, it’s not going to have a massive impact on the rest of the line. Sure, Sentry and The Hood eventually had their influence felt across the Marvel books but only because Bendis brought them back into the fold. The Hood debuted in a mini written by Brian K. Vaughan and then… wasn’t seen until half way through the Bendis New Avengers run. The Sentry sold well upon release, mainly due to the big hoax that Jemas, Joey Q and Stan Lee pulled on the fandom but then he wasn’t seen again until New Avengers #1. Gravity was set to inherit the Captain Marvel mantle, but that never came to fruition, instead bringing a time-displaced Mar-Vell back to fill the role, and now having Danvers using the name. He popped up again during the Initiative but he’s yet to make a big splash. Ultimately, it’s because we aren’t invested in these characters. They carry an air of disposability. They’re cannon fodder. We all know they CAN kill them, whereas we know they can’t let Peter Parker lie in limbo for too long before a movie comes out. Spider-Man, Wolverine an Iron Man are all perpetually stuck in the second act of their story but Gravity, Sentry and The Hood can all have an ending.
Secondly, there’s the issue of redundancy. In IDWs Transformers books Mike Costa introduced a character called Drift. He was an ex-Decepticon bad-ass who had joined the Autobot forces after realizing the folly of his ways. He had swords and was clearly based on a Japanese drift race street car, with a story arc built around regaining his lost honour. And the fandom went NUTS. They hated him, perhaps because Costa was trying too hard to make him “cool” but, in my opinion, it was because he wasn’t a pre-established character. Fans were actually asking Mike Costa WHY he had created a new character. Yes, that’s right, people were asking a writer, a CREATOR why he had CREATED something. What the hell, internet. Of course, Drift has since become a staple of the comics and has even received an AWESOME toy of his own but there still exists a large contingent of fans who despise his existence. They argued that there are many, many Transformers characters that he could have used instead, so why create something new? To me, that argument is null and void. Drift has been used in subsequent comics and is tipped to be in the new movie. There’s a lot more to the character than just swords. Heck, the current incarnation of Wheeljack owes more to Drift than he does to G1 Wheeljack. There simply does not exist a charater in the Transformers multiverse that could have filled the exact role that Costa needed him to.
Thirdly, writers have no reason to create something new that they aren’t going to own. Mike Norton and Sean McKeever created Gravity and they own… no part of Gravity. Marvel owns it. Disney could make a Gravity Saturday morning cartoon, make millions off of merchandise, and they wouldn’t have to pay Norton and McKeever a single cent. Yet Robert Kirkman creates The Walking Dead and now he’s rolling in cash-cash-monies. Millar pulled Kick-Ass and Wanted out of his brain and now he’s minted. Vaughan created The Runaways and The Hood and he got paid his rate for turning in the pages and that’s all he’ll see from those characters, because he signed those rights over to Marvel as part of the standard work-for-hire contract. Why should writers give their brand spanking new AWESOME ideas to someone else? We’re seeing more and more big name creators working on the icons at Marvel and DC, then going on to use the fanbase they’ve assembled by working on those properties to fuel their creator owned projects, projects they own and can then sell on as movie options. Millar did it, Ellis did it. They’re all doing it. And really, who can blame them?
The writer of this piece was:
David McIntyre aka (Big Dave)
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