Grotesque Anatomy
Thursday, October 09, 2003
  Overthinking My Own Snarkiness
Here's a first for me:  A blog entry inspired by a comment on an earlier blog entry of mine (don't you just love the incestuous, self-referential nature of blogging?)  Matthew Clark wrote:
Uh, Huh - and they wonder why people don't want to jump into the comics world. There is now so much discourse continuity to sift through before you even have to worry about the stories.   Do these guys know who they are copying or is it supposed to be ironic?
This got me thinking a bit more about what it was that bugged me about the WORLDWATCH piece on ComiX-Fan.  Was it simply that the concept of superheroes as celebrity gods lording it over mere mortals feels played out?  Do I really believe that every revisionist-superhero book needs to be some Bold Step Forward In The History Of Mainstream Superhero Comics?  If so, why didn't any of the previous permutations on this concept draw my ire?

I think what it comes down to is this:  I don't so much mind the reuse of things that have been done before—as Eve Tushnet points out, often times playing with conventions and twisting or tweaking them in new ways can create fresh stories; and as I myself said in defense of JLA/AVENGERS #1, "I'm not sure I see how using a familiar format is in and of itself a strike against [something]"—but I do mind bad hype.  What annoys me about the WORLDWATCH announcement is that it ignores all the obvious precursors it likely owes inspiration to.  By comparing WORLDWATCH to only two superhero comics (and two decades-old series, at that), the creators seem to be implying that they are the first ones to come up with this unique twist of "rockstar superheroes ruling the world."  Which is especially disingenuous when your book "homages" so many similar works in title (STORMWATCH), character names (Power Princess was the Wonder Woman analogue in SQUADRON SUPREME), and character design (Derenick's Warrior Princess looks a lot like Jim Lee's Wonder Woman from "Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DCU" only with even less clothing and even faker-looking breasts; I won't even comment on the obvious AUTHORITY influences for some of the other characters).

And in anticipation of the "But you haven't read the story yet, so you can't criticize it!" objection (which a friend has already jokingly invoked here):  I'm not criticizing the actual, finished product; I can't, since I haven't read it.  I'm simply reacting to the information currently available to me, which, at the moment, is pure hype.  It's no different to reacting to a trailer for an upcoming movie and deciding, "Well, that looks like crap."  I'm often surprised when creators (or marketers, or other fans) become upset when people react unfavorably to promotional efforts.  The whole point of hype is to generate awareness in a project.  Of course, the hope is that the awareness will be positive, but there's no way to control or guarantee that response.  Some individuals' reactions may take the form of disgust, distaste, or even simply disinterest.  So don't cry foul if people do respond to your efforts to get their attention, but it's not the reaction you wanted.  Live by the hype, die by the hype. 
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Iron Fist

by John Jakala

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