The Graphic Principle is a CBU column by Michael Tennant.
Creators create. At least that is how it used to be.
August 28, 2017 . . . Jack Kirby would be 100 on that day. An entire century old. Yes, I do realize that Kirby did in fact pass away twenty-three years ago. I do not care. He was our King.
In an industry known for creativity and creators, known for worlds, known for universes created out of nothing, he was the King. He was the Alpha and the Omega. He was Jack.
Before this starts sounding like an overdue eulogy for Kirby (I am clearly not qualified for that), let us get to the meat of the matter.
In comics we celebrate creators like no other creative enterprise does. Jack and Stan Lee, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. We celebrate these pioneering visionaries who gave us our new world pantheon of gods. They gave us our mythology.
So why are we so more willing to change characters that someone else sculpted out of the ether, than actually create something new for us all?
The new Wally West, Lady Thor, two Novas, two Blue Beetles, Two Hulks. Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson have all carried the mantle of Captain America, and please don’t get me started with John Walker (US Agent). We even have AzBats- coming back. A beloved character will be replaced by an unfamiliar face. Oh, there are usually storyline reasons: Thor is unworthy, Captain America got old, Batman had his back broken or let’s kill the hero just for a little while. Other times it is for the sake of diversity, yes I am looking at you Wally West. The fact is the character has changed. Sometimes for a few months, other times for years.
There have been some cases when I have enjoyed these changes. The current Mighty Thor title is excellent. Whether that is because of the novelty of a female Thor or the excellent creative team of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman is up for debate. Other times I find myself biding my time until they ultimately bring the original back. A good friend of mine does not mind these changes. He looks at it as a way to simply refresh the brand. Maybe I am just yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.
Is it that hard to create something new instead? New heroes, new villains. They are in the business of creating, are they not? There are roadblocks to be sure. Building an audience is not easy. Lack of ownership of the creations is a reality that needs to change. But the joy of discovering Gambit, Harley Quinn, and the joy of seeing Deadpool for the very first time, That is not something that can be replaced by putting someone else in another characters suit and into their mythology.
Let the creators create. Let the next generation dream of building their own worlds.
After discovering Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #239 as a young man, Michael never looked back. Armed with a passion for journalism and a thirst for knowledge, he still talks to his imaginary friends.