Friday, January 23, 2015

Rant: Reboot to the head

Hey there. Now, I know what you're thinking...what does this have to do with Shitmas? Well, honestly, it has nothing to do with Shitmas. This is just a subject that is coming up a lot and I felt like writing about it. Shitmas isn't over and will resume on Monday, but today you're getting a rant. So, reboots. Are they good or do they outright suck? The reality is that there are terrible reboots and good reboots, but then there are other things that aren't quite reboots but often get called reboots. I am going to go over some of this bollocks today and give my opinion on some of the current reboot controversies.

"Is he talking about us?"

First, let's talk about the elephant that has been in the room since 2011. Once upon a time DC Comics had an immense universe that actually existed in many different realities, spanning Earths from those various realities. If you ever watched that show Sliders, then you'd know that's it's honestly not the most difficult concept to grasp. It's basically like understanding that the reason Batman would never run into the cast of Friends is because one exists in a sitcom with a reality of its own and the other is exists in a reality where superheroes are fairly normal. DC decided they wanted to pare things down a bit to one Earth, but they still wanted to use many of the characters from the various Earths they had. Thus, Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, which was a tale about a being that was literally destroying all of existence and many heroes from all over the multiverse were gathered to stop said being. In the end, the remaining realities all became one reality and it was fine. I'm sure there were people bitching and moaning about it too, but we didn't have the internet yet then. It resulting in a refreshing of continuity (i.e. character history) that didn't really change anything so much as it streamlined it in a way that was still respectful to what came before.

It also gave Alex Ross an excuse to paint one of the best pieces of superhero art ever.
And that's the key word here: respect. When handling a reboot, the proper way to do things is to respect what came before. Don't pretend your way is better or be huge ass about it, show respect. For the most part, that's how it happened back then. Now, it could be argued that there were other reboots over at DC Comics, what with stories like Zero Hour, but honestly nothing drastic really happened as result of those stories. A reboot constitutes true change that is felt all over and, other than COIE, nothing DC did afterward ever felt like that. At least, not until 2011. You see, there was this story about how something happened in the past that ultimately changed everything and The Flash was the only one who knew it. It was called Flshpoint and...it was fucking amazing. It was one of the coolest ideas I've seen since Marvel's Bullet Points (and actually followed a similar formula). The Flash's mother's murder was stopped in the past and it changed the present and it brought a great deal of personal drama to his character having to grasp with the fact that saving his mother wasn't the right thing to do. But the problem hit when a reboot of DC's entire universe got tacked on at the end of the story. And it really felt tacked on too. Why did this reboot happen?

Partially so Jim Lee could draw everyone with tons of busy lines covering them.
The public reasoning is that Jim Lee wanted to stick his Wildstorm universe of comic characters into the DC universe, which would've been fine. DC managed to do this with a lot of characters over the years without it affecting the entire universe in any sort of negative way. So why the reboot when they could easily just make it where those characters simply were there now? The truth of why it happened was really simple: they're lazy and wanted to make money. That's it. You can argue all day about how much you might prefer the new version of Superman with his high collar and armoured uniform (because armour is EXXXTREEEEMEEE) but the reboot only happened so they could use the controversy surrounding it to publicize their company as a whole. The really sad thing is that the best books to come out of it could have easily fit into the regular universe they already had. But, it happened, and if you didn't like it you got called a "whiney bitch" by the new readers, which speaks volumes about the new crop of fans.

"DA NEW 52 IS DA BESS, YO!"

In the new DC universe we got such lovely changes as Wonder Woman being arm-candy for Superman, Batman having several Robins within a span of 5 years (yikes), Superman behaving like a douchebag most of the time, homosexual characters being erased from existence so that their parent could be turned homosexual instead (yep, that happened), the Joker cutting off his own face, and Harley Quinn being portrayed as nothing more than spank material. Oh, and those Wildstorm characters? Yeah, all their books got cancelled and they're not really used. Yay, reboot! While they've still got a few good books (that are mostly not even set in the New 52 universe) it's still a very lackluster initiative overall. It looks like they're about to reboot again too, which has a bunch of new fans pissed of, so we'll see what comes of that. Moving on, let's talk about a different comic company that has been getting talked about like crazy due to reboot news of their own.

Is it really secret if everyone is talking about it?
Yes, recently Marvel Comics, cinematic darlings that they are, announced they were going the reboot route and the internet exploded. Now this requires another short explanation. You see, Marvel also had an idea many years ago to make their books start over again from scratch but, rather than rebooting their entire line, instead created a new line of books set in a new universe known as the Ultimate universe. This allowed them to woo new readers with fresh takes on familiar concepts and it was mostly good, barring some work from an artist who traces porn stars as a drawing technique. Things took a dark turn though when Marvel hired Jeph Loeb, a great writer who was writing for DC mostly, and he summarily shat on the Ultimate line as a whole by writing a story called Ultimatum. Characters were written out of character, other characters were murdered senselessly and meaninglessly, and it had more gore than the entire Saw series. In the aftermath of that, the Ultimate line was hurting but we still got some good things. A new Spider-Man, a Black/Puerto Rican kid named Miles Morales, was introduced and people fell in love with him. Although over time it seemed almost like he was carrying the line on his own. Thus Marvel has decided they want to fold the Ultimate universe into the regular Marvel universe, which is what Secret Wars is basically boiling down to. Marvel is pulling there very own COIE, which is fine.

But then the internet happened to remind me that nothing is ever really "fine".
Yes, people are in an uproar about all of this, many fearing that Marvel will go the New 52 route and ruin everything. And, fair enough, that could happen. If it does and you still want to read some superhero books, Valiant and Dynamite put out some damn fine ones. Even Dark Horse has some good superhero books going right now. But let me point some things out first before you further freak the fuck out. First, Axel Alonso (the guy in charge over there) said they won't be erasing the history or "fixing" anything. This right here means that things will be completely different from the New 52, which was all about erasing the history that had existed. Second, he also say that it does mean they can "bend some stuff" which, looking at the big story rolling down the line that is all about people from alternate realities fighting, I take as meaning we'll be getting characters they like from other realities folded in the regular Marvel universe and I personally think that's kinda cool. I dig alternate universe stories and Exiles was my favourite Marvel book for years. I'd love to see them shake things up by having to cope with multiple versions of characters existing in one world.

At least there would be a valid reason to have Wolverine on more than one superhero team.
The other reason this all doesn't bother me like the DC reboot from 2011 did is that it seems like they're trying to be respectful here, to the characters and to the fans of those characters. I'm not saying I love all of what they've done in recent years (like brutally murdering teenage superheroes in Avengers Arena), but I am saying it feels better than what DC did. It's something that feels planned, led up to by several storylines, and not like some editorial mandate that allowed for lazy writing and a complete ignorance of continuity. Seriously, is it really that hard to go to Wikipedia and read a page about something so you maybe don't screw the pooch entirely when it comes to writing about it? I'm looking at you, Mr. Loeb. Ultimate Pyro is too from that shallow grave you stuck him in. But I can write about "shock value" another day, because that is a rant unto itself. We still have one more reboot thing to cover.

Let's see if you can guess what reboot I'm talking about.
The Terminator series is a bit of a mess. There's really no getting around it, we had two good movies and two that were rather...blah. We also got a television show that people either loved or hated and more comics than you can shake a bundle of sticks at. It's as much of a mess as the Star Trek movie series was before J.J Abrams decided to do something different by rebooting things in a way that still retained the classic continuity. It's a technique that has been used before, which basically is that time travel can result in creating a different timeline. It's something that has been done by everyone from Nintendo to Robert Zemeckis and it can be cool if done right. The last X-Men film was all about that and the Stark Trek films did it quite successfully.

I'm sure some people might argue with me on that point though.

Now Terminator is going down that road too, but some people are grumbling about it and immediately trashing it. Why? Well, maybe because they dislike that concept? And that is their right. But I find that many people are reacting badly for two reasons: the last two films and Arnold Schwarzenegger in old man make-up. Those reason are understandable too, as it's easy to see the reasons those would make you less excited. But...now this is a crazy idea...how about we give it a chance? I know, crazy, right? Because the thing is if we live in a world where Michael Bay gets to turn the Transformers into an a four movie dick joke with racist overtones and sexism smeared for all to see, can't we all least give Terminator another shot? They're trying something new and maybe it will be good. If it isn't, hey, I'll be the first to come here and shit on it. But I think it deserves a chance.

Trust me, there are much worse looking reboots around the corner. Such as the one the walking scab here is from.
In the end, are reboots bad? No, not if they're handled right. A reboot can actually be a really good thing for everyone involved if the people handling it truly care enough about the subject and the fans. The only problem that comes with reboots is the same problem that too often comes with remakes: thinking their ideas are somehow better. That's the sort of mentality that shits on the creators, the fanbase, and the property itself. It should never be about the person who is making the work or what they want out of it. It should be about doing a good job with what's there without outright ignoring the contributions from those who came before. It's why people booed during the Clash of the Titans remake when Bubo got tossed aside and why Robocop having an exposed human hand is still a really stupid idea. It's all about respect. That's it. Later days, bleeders.

You guys are asshats.

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