Sunday, July 15, 2007

Take The Bad With The Good

When I was in the comic store on Wednesday, I happened to run into Len, and he asked what I'd picked up that week. I showed him Amazing Spider-Girl #10, with Carnage there on the cover, and grimaced as I explained that DeFalco seems to think any character can be part of a good story. Len wisely opined that it isn't a necessarily bad idea to think that, and the more I've thought about these last few days (and I've thought on it a lot, as I've been trying to piece this post together since about Thursday), the more I agree with Len, and by extension, DeFalco.

Of course, the tradeoff to for the "every character can be the star of a good story" belief is that it may not be true. The character may be so poorly conceived or thought out, that they aren't capable of being the focal point of a good story. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but they're probably out there. Or the writer isn't capable of writing that good story. Much as I like Tom DeFalco's work, that is certainly something to consider, since he does have his limitations.

It seems like a fair trade, though. Because you never know, at any time a writer could put together a story that gives a hitherto unappealing character a second chance with you, where you can learn to appreciate them in a way you hadn't before. Or perhaps it's a character you've never seen before, and the story makes you go "Hey! I like Character T! I want to read more stuff about them!" I've kind of had this reaction to Busiek's Prankster in Superman, though I haven't yet bought any issues yet (buying Superman comics goes against my general nature, I guess). But I didn't know anything about Prankster, now I think he's a pretty interesting fellow.

I can't really think of a good way to wrap this up, other than to say I do prefer the "all characters have potential" to the the "lower-tier characters are primarily useful as dead bodies for Big Events" that you see sometimes. After all, if you want a body count to indicate how dire the threat is, that's what generic characters - civilians, cops, SHIELD, AIM, etc., - are for. No times been invested fleshing them out, so they can be offed rather neatly, and if you want to create someone like say, Bob, Agent of HYDRA, then you would just have to say that he survived the Massacre of Many HYDRA Guys That Shows This Is Totally Serious. And if you're do want to off an established character, at least do it in a way where it needed to be that character that died. For example, I'm not sure the Death of Harry Osborn works with many characters other than Harry Osborn, given all the set up DeMatteis had invested in exploring Harry's inner struggle with his demons, how it mirrors Peter's self-doubts, how Harry's troubles hurt affect those around him. It was a story basically built specifically for Harry Osborn, and probably would have needed major alterations to work for almost any other Spidey character.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that even though I wasn't sure I was glad to see Carnage again, I do appreciate the effort on the creative team's part.

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