Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The New Nostalgia Pt. 1

GEOFF JOHNS has really been proud of his latest character over at DC--- so much so, that he's anxious to unveil AQUALAD not only in the upcoming BRIGHTEST DAY 4 storyline, but also his animated debut in YOUNG JUSTICE on Cartoon Network... Now, this image, while it looks great, is raising the hackles on a lot of fanboy necks, further adding fuel to the current DC fire... What is that you ask?
Welcome back to PLANET GRIFFIN.

There has been a growing rumble concerning the 'whitewashing' of DC Characters (Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance referred to this as 'Regressive Storytelling'), where ethnic characters are being killed off, or seriously 'misplaced', to replace them with their original white counterparts. At this past HeroesCon, Senior story editor Ian Sattler was asked about the dilemma---

"It's so hard for me to be on the other side because it's not our intention. There is a reason behind it all. We don't see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink, and blue characters. We have the Great Ten out there and I have counter statistics, but I won't get into that. It's not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters."

--- Needless to say, the overall impression gave many in the audience a reason to pause. Many DC fans centered their attentions on DC's Creative Director Geoff Johns himself, who was primarily responsible for taking characters like Green Lantern, The Flash, The Atom, Legion of Super Heroes, and Aquaman back to 'the good old days'--- attempting to recapture those nostalgic memories creators fondly remembered as kids. Sims says '...We're in an industry right now that wants to constantly reset itself, running on nostalgia rather than innovation, moving backwards instead of moving forwards, it seems to be what the majority of comics readers want...' I agree.

Strange it seems that while Johns' is not considered racist in his motivations, he's rushing to PROVE that he's not racist in giving us his latest creation (the latest addition to the animated series, as told by one source, was actually last minute to the staff during pre-production), which puts him in that position of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'. The subject of race in comics is nothing new, neither is the treatment of the subject nothing new--- in fact, it's considered business as usual... Which also explains why the industry's been in a drag for so long. The only thing that needs to be kept in it's proper place is the idea of nostalgia itself.

Everything else should be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future.


John Aston said...

Keep in mind, before the 'white washing' there was killing, losing of, and dismembering of the white characters to replace them with difference races.

And, pffffffft went the interest. I don't think it's a race issue but more of a generational preference. When Atom is replaced with an Asian male, the knee-jerk reaction probably wasn't because the newbie wasn't white, but because the character wasn't the one we grew up reading.

Maybe the problem isn't experimenting with difference ethnicities as a lead character but using the name value of an existing and familiar property while shoehorning something completely different into the namesake.

Blue Beetle, anybody?

I think long time readers would have the same reaction should the same happen to Black Panther, Cyborg, Power Man and Falcon.

Actually, yeah, they do. And, when Cyborg was changed drastically from the silver-tech, DC got him back to normal. Ditto for Ultimate Black Panther.

That doesn't mean changing the race of a historically white character can't work. It probably could outside of mainstream comics where I'd wager the general audience isn't aging with few replacements like Marvel/DC.

Static Shock?

Then again, from yet another point of view, it could be perceived as insulting if a comic company doesn't believe a new, non-white character could hold their own without the name-recognition from a title or trademark name from a historically white character.

Of course, behind the curtain, DC and Marvel have to publish something with Atom, Question, etc., to hold onto the title trademarks.

samax said...

nostalgia is wack.

The Infamous RodBuddah said...

Storytelling is like good blues--- you have to elevate what you hear by using what you know--- you gotta take it past where you found it--- In comics, it should be no different in what we see and read.

I appreciate nostalgia for that is what I grew up on, but I also know that it's time for that New Nostalgia that only WE can create!

Generational preference can also be manipulated like media. Mainstream and Indie are generational preferences, as well as generation gaps... It's up to us how we fill it.

Great points, John!

The Infamous RodBuddah said...

Samax is my favorite radical when it comes to comics... With him, I KNOW the game will change! LOL

samax said...