Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Invisible Jets, the first real EVENT series, and 15 years without a Supergirl

I was asked recently by a reader of this blog why Wonder Woman has an Invisible Jet if she can fly.

The answer is that she could not always fly.  As happens with so many characters as time goes by, writers (usually under the direction or in collaboration with their editors) update and revamp characters in order to help them fit in more effectively in the modern comic world. Despite being one of the 'trinity' that makes DC Comics such a powerhouse, Wonder Woman has not been excluded from this process.  Under her original design, she did indeed require her Invisible Jet to get around.  Later she developed the ability to ride air currents, although that didn't help her fly, but rather float short controlled distances.  Flight didn't get added to her list of powers until the eighties, when she was revamped as a result of Crisis On Infinite Earths.  After that, the struggle became explaining why she had the jet.

Better question: How does she find it?

Now, that got me thinking about Crisis.

Crisis On Infinite Earths was, for me, the first truly epic story arc. It was the first time in my life that I read a company spanning story which would forever change the characters that I dearly knew and loved.  It was born out of an effort to clean up a very muddled and convoluted series of histories and rewrites, and in the end I really felt like they had not only accomplished that, but that they had advanced some major changes into the DCU.  Barry Allen, which you will recognize as the ONE TRUE FLASH, died to save the Universe. Supergirl also was killed in the battle with the Anti-Monitor.  Even the golden age Superman left the universe for good.

Since then, writers have introduced a couple of versions of each of the departed characters, attempting to fill the void left behind by the loss of Kara Zor-El and Barry Allen.  Barry's came first, since he had a natural successor already lined up.  Wally West stepped out of the Teen Titans and took on his mentor's role as The Flash.  His series was good until about Issue #62, which is when it became GREAT.  The next eight years of that book defined Wally West and redefined The Flash's preeminent role in DC.

Supergirl's return wasn't nearly as smooth, because editors at DC had decided that Superman was to be the only surviving Kryptonian.  It took some time, but Supergirl did eventually find her way back into the DCU, only when she appeared she wasn't a Kryptonian. In fact she was a man-made life form known as Matrix, who assumed the guise of Supergirl.In 1996 a new Supergirl series was launched by Peter David (a darn good writer) and another revamp took place, with Matrix being merged with a human girl to create an all new Supergirl. In this version of her revamp, Supergirl was actually described as an Earth-born Angel, and many of the elements that David used in the story would later show up in his creator owned series Fallen Angel. The series eventually went to cancellation, leaving the DCU without a Supergirl once more.

Until 2004 when we the rules changed and we once more met Kara Zor-El. For 18 years there was no "real" Supergirl in DC.  Did that take guts, making the call to kill off the character and stay away from her real identity in any revamps?  Or was it weakness not to have the stones to bring her back sooner?  I'm not sure where I come out on this one, but I will say this; at least the deaths in Crisis weren't undone in less than a year (*cough*Bendis killing Hawkeye*cough*!)

And isn't that all you really want in the end?

To read EPIC events that actually have EPIC fallout?


Chance said...

I think that mortal threats are needed. If a hero can't die, or is almost unkillable then he is a god, and takes him out of "The Hero" range for me.

I think that Dead people should stay dead for a time. Norman Osborn was dead 10 plus years and it allowed other stories to happen. Others took up the mantle of "Green Goblin" It was okay.

The point I am reying to make is that NOW it seens like death is a marketing tool. More then a mortal theat. look at the return of Bruce Wayne, Hawkeye, Cappy's death. A personsl fave of mine "Onslught" killing most the heroes. Just to jhave them pulled into a pocket dimention. It takes away from the story and the moments if Death can be tossed off like a coat.

Desmos said...

I find it interesting that so many people protest the rebirth of characters. The art of story telling leaves all elements of the story in the hands of the creator. To request that they limit any particular plot device is to request that they limit them all. Death is a marketing tool but so are the super powers them self’s. In fact every element of any comic book exists to serve one of two possible realties. It either exists for the sake of the art it self or it exists to sell the art to you. The prior losing a lot of value in my eyes, once the author decides pursue the other.

Regardless of motivation I feel the objection should be direct at the real culprit. If you decide to kill my favorite character, fine it’s your story to do with as you please. If you decide to bring them back again, fine you have creative license to do with it what you like. If you choice to do either of these thing or anything else for that mater I advise you to create a solid story line to support it. If you chose to be a bad writer, than I will simple exercise my right not to read the dribble you put on the page. I could kill a character every day* only to follow it up with an epic struggle to bring the character back to life. I could do it, and people would love it for as long as the stories them self’s were a compelling read.

That’s my two cents. Its worth precisely nothing.

*We I couldn’t because I have absolutely not creativity. But some one could.