Monday, December 31, 2007
(Sigh). You know, I really see what Marvel was trying to do with "One More Day"...
"Sync" The Comics With The Movies
In the future, comics will become more in service to the other media. It's hard to have a streamlined continuity in the movie and a highly-complicated one in the comic. The non-comic reader loves Spider-Man The Movie and then goes to read the comic and is completely confused.
And so the goal would seem, to an extent, to sync up these different media versions. And so we have a Spider-Man in the comic who is single and youngish and has Harry back as his Larry from Three's Company. Because that dynamic was successful in the movies and the movies reached a mass group of people and the goal of the comics is to reach that same mass.
Reaching The Youth Market
There is the burning need to reach out to new readership. The connection is made between "new readership" and Youth Culture. The idea is that a book about a married man cannot capture the imagination of Youth Culture. The idea is that a 16-year-old can only identify with a teenager, not a thirtysomething.
The "Dependable" Fan Vs. The New Reader
But then what becomes of the thirty- and forty- and fifty-somethings who have been following Spider-Man all this time? The assumption is that despite their complaints, they always come back...because they always do seem to come back. Because they're Fans. Because as Fans, and not as members of the fickle non-fan population, they are on a level addicted to these serialized adventures -- at least, this is the assumption.
I'm not saying that these observations and assumptions are The Way Things Should Be. I'm just saying that, if I had to take a guess, these are some of the complicated, market-driven concerns that might have gone into the planning for "OMD."
The bigger issue is the need for corporations to take their biggest branded characters and keep them eternally young and pure -- as opposed to letting them grow old and change. In this view, the same way Mickey Mouse doesn't grown white fur or Shaggy settles down with a respectable job, Spider-Man doesn't get married. In this view, these characters are considered sacred and eternal.
"End-Points" For HeroesA contrasting view would be that in all great mythologies and stories about heroes, the heroes grow and have a natural endpoint. Take Hercules, for example. Or Robin Hood or Gilgamesh. They don't adventure forever. But if you have a serialized format like the comic book, how do you work with this? Do you have the hero live out his adventures, be popular, and then die? And then you cancel the book?
Some might say, "yes," these characters should grow old and die. That it's their limitations born of time, aging & mortality that add value to their lives and their exploits.
The Drawbacks Of History Without Aging
This goes back to my theory concerning reboots and generational succession. Right now comic books are at a crossroads. The natural "end-points" for Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, et al are long past due. What that leaves in their wake are deeply complicated storylines and continuities. Think about it -- if you lived for 50+ years and never grew old but had constant adventures, wouldn't your own history be quite the labyrinthine epic?
Reboot or Generational Succession?
The comic book publishers, I believe, are faced with two options: Reboot or Generational Succession.
Marvel chose Reboot for Spider-Man.
Marvel might be choosing Generational Succession for Captain America.
The question is, which solution is better?
Because there has to be a solution.
Because "eternal character" + "unbroken continuity" eventually falls apart.