Monday, May 30, 2016

This Is Going To Get Progressively Angrier

DC and Marvel have generally lost their capacity to elicit outraged reactions from me. They go to the well so often with their hyped up, shocking twists, and change everything events that I mostly sigh or roll my eyes nowadays. Sometimes I miss how ticked off I could get at things like Civil War, but on the whole, I prefer it this way. Marvel and DC are like some bratty kid that keeps poking me or making a particular sound they can tell annoys me, because they think it's funny when it gets to me. Better to not play their game at all. It still happens, sometimes, though not to the same degree.

But I'm genuinely surprised DC did manage to piss me off with DC: Rebirth. More specifically, with the reveal that everything that's gone wrong with DC during the New 52 was the doing of Dr. Manhattan. Geoff Johns trying to metatextually blame the direction the DCU took on Watchmen, and I guess by implication, Alan Moore (and Dave Gibbons?). And I've never read Watchmen, I have no attachment to it. From I've read about it, it does not put forth a vision of superheroes I have any particular interest in reading about on a regular basis (how fortunate it was its own mini-series). I'd just as soon DC left it alone and let the rights revert back to Moore and Gibbons. That said. . .

It's ridiculous for Geoff Johns to try and pin the blame for the darkening of the DCU, or the loss of legacies, or whatever, on Watchmen. So it's that one mini-series, published 30 years ago, using its own characters (analogues to existing one, yes, but Rorschach is not the Question), in its own universe, that is to blame for Identity Crisis, Knightfall, Flashpoint, the New 52, whatever it is that was "wrong" since. Right. Yes, Watchmen had a particular style and philosophy to it, and yes, many comics published, both at DC and elsewhere, have tried to ape at least parts of it. Most of them have not been as good, owing to inferior creative talent, editorial restrictions, the difference between writing a single, self-contained mini-series versus an ongoing serial that's part of a larger fictional universe, and probably other factors as well.

But at the end of the day, Watchmen wasn't making anyone try to copy it. Alan Moore didn't stride into DC's office with a gun and demand they publish a bunch of books in a similar vein. The people working on those books made that decision. People like Geoff Johns, who is now blaming Watchmen for all those stories he wrote where Superboy-Prime ripped people's arms off, or dozens of essentially faceless characters in different colored Lantern costumes slaughtered each other in multiple unnecessary single and double page splashes. Just because Johns strip-mined basically every idea Moore tossed out in his stints writing Green Lantern comics doesn't make Moore responsible for what Johns did with those ideas. It's disingenuous at best, hypocritical nonsense at worst.

Which isn't new for Johns. The guy who insisted on bringing back Hal Jordan and Barry Allen is also the guy who made Superboy-Prime the avatar of fanboys wanting everything back how they liked it, and one of the villains of Infinite Crisis. Sure, it'd be nice if Johns recognized that flaw in himself, but I think that's giving him too much credit. He's been in a position of some power in the DC office all through the New 52, which he now claims was all wrong, but he's trying to pretend as though he had nothing to do with it. Which is the same approach my dad's dogs take when we come home and find one of the kitchen trash cans knocked over and stuff scattered all about. Except if my dad and I had been standing there watching them scatter the garbage for the last 10 years, while being unable to do anything to stop them.

I know I shouldn't be surprised at either DC or Marvel pulling this kind of stupid, petty bullshit. And maybe if it had been written by someone other than a chief architect of a lot of the same developments he's now decrying, I'd have been less bothered. Over at Wait, What?, Matt Terl mentioned he might not have minded as much if say, Jeff Parker or Margeurite Bennett had written it, and I think that might also have been true for me. But for Geoff Johns to sit there like he's Inspector Renaut, just shocked, shocked to find the DCU is full of grim violence and no legacies, and act like it's Alan Moore that's to blame, rather than Johns himself (among others), no. It's revisionist bullshit, to the extent I had to type something about it, and figured better to do it here than barge into the comments sections of other people's posts.


Kelvin Green said...

Blaming Watchmen is weird. Not only is it thirty years ago, but the dark and oppressive feel of the DC universe for the past ten or fifteen or so years has been a deliberate decision, so for DC to now imply that it's all Alan Moore's fault seems like a weak, even cowardly, excuse.

In other words, I agree with everything you say above.

What's also weird is that this is probably Johns' last comic, as he's now being parachuted into the film division to brighten up that grim prospect. Clearly, he is the best man for that job.

SallyP said...

Petty bullshit pretty well sums it up.

I have always liked what Johns did with Green Lantern, he brought back the Corps for which I shall be eternally grateful... but he IS awfully quick to start dismembering people at the drop of a hat.

I have read Watched, and it pretty great... but I only read it for the first time some few years ago... so I wasn't emotionally compromised. Frankly I don't think it can be blamed for the "grim and gritty" take on comics, which still has us in its bloody grasp, and it is highly disingenuous of Johns to suggest it.