Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DC Comics...Definitely Confusing?

A few months back, DC launched its big event crossover, "Forever Evil."  The Big Event Crossover has become a "thing" with almost every major comics publisher.  Some event or story line changes the entire comics universe, and the story plays out across just about every title published by the company.  Usually there is a special title or mini-series along with it, maybe a bookend at the beginning and end of the Event, or maybe an actual series of books where the main plot plays out while the ramifications for the individual characters play out in their own respective comic books.

It is usually, sadly, a thinly disguised ploy to make money, with creativity taking a back seat.  The job of the Big Event Crossover is to get you to buy the extra books as well as some books that you normally don't read, in order to follow the story.  The hope is that you will stick with some of them after the Event is over.  Now that comics cost at least $2.99 apiece and usually closer to $3.99, it can turn out to be a substantial chunk of money for the dedicated reader.

When I was a kid, DC dealt with its then-30-year history by coming up with the Multiverse.  Those stories from the 1940's, when Superman and Batman were just starting out?  It turned out they were taking place on another Earth, Earth-2.  This was why "our" Superman and Batman weren't 60-year-old men still trying to fight crime.  This turned out to be rather creative on DC's part.  When they picked up another company's characters, if they didn't want to incorporate those characters into the main DC Universe (aka "Earth-1") they gave them their own Earth.  If you were a Charlton character like Captain Atom or The Question, well, welcome to Earth-C.  Captain Marvel and the rest of the Shazam! gang?  Earth-S.

My favorite Earth, though, was Earth-3 -- the Earth where Evil always triumphed over Good.  There was still a Justice League, but it was called the Crime Syndicate of Amerika and was made up of evil versions of heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern.

Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick (the evil version of the Flash) repeatedly tried to take over our Earth, but they always forgot that over here, Good wins, so of course they were always defeated.

Until "Forever Evil."

The crossover event started interestingly enough.  An artifact thought to be Pandora's legendary Box was opened and turned out to be a portal to Earth-3.  Something was happening to destroy that Universe, and the Crime Syndicate escaped into our world, and this time, they figured out a way to stack the deck against us so that, for once, they would win and the whole Good/Evil balance would be forever shifted here, essentially turning Earth-1 into a new Earth-3.  Which was fine, until delays and production problems at DC caused the books to come out so very slowly that most of them have moved on to other things.  Batman, for example, is already dealing with his own Bat-Books crossover, "Gothtopia."

Which leaves the rest of us terribly, terribly confused.

Is "Forever Evil" happening on some other Earth?  Is it the proverbial "dream, hoax or imaginary story?"  Damned if I know.  

Most of DC's books make little or no reference to Forever Evil, despite the fact that supposedly our planet is largely in ruins thanks to the depredations of the bad guys.  Flash, Batman, Superman and Green Lantern are all doing other things.  The story that was supposed to clarify and re-energize the entire DC Universe has done quite the opposite, leaving everything even more confused -- and confusing for readers! -- than ever.  

If you're reading the "Forever Evil" mini-series or any of the Justice League comics (there are three, "Justice League," "Justice League Dark," and "Justice League of America") then "Forever Evil" is a HUGE deal with vast repercussions including deaths of major characters like the Martian Manhunter.  If you're reading any of Superman's, Batman's or Green Lantern's books, you'd never know any of it had happened, or was happening.  IT'S HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY CONFUSING.  And the fanboy in me wants it to be fixed, and soon.

So if you're a comics publisher, please -- don't start any big event comics until all your ducks are in a row and all the issues are in the can.  I realize that Batman can't wait for the rest of us mere mortals, but damn it, I for one would like to know if "Gothtopia" is happening after "Forever Evil" or before it, or alongside it, or on another plane of existence altogether.

DC, you need to fix this soon, before "Definitely Confusing" becomes "Decidedly Crap."

("What the Hell have you done to my favorite comics?!?)

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