Change In Comics: A Need Or A Want?

The Year is 1973. Gerry Conway has been writing Spider-Man since August of the previous year. His run is, in my opinion, one of the mose underrated runs in comic history. He writes some great stories, creates new characters like The Punisher, has to follow stories by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas and he does all of this at just 19 years old. Conway’s run does have one story that everyone knows about and it’s the most important turning point in comic history: The Death Of Gwen Stacy. This was the first major status quo change in comics and It’s honestly one og my favorite comic book moments. Many people will ask why that’s my favorite turning point in comics and the answer is that everything else pales in comparison. We don’t get the masterpiece of Spider-Man : Blue if this doesn’t happen. This was really the first time the hero truly lost in comics and it changed everything. Peter hasn’t been the same since and honestly it’s made him an even better hero in many ways.

You can go back through the history of comics and find multiple changes to different characters. Like when Batman stopped using guns, when Superman started Flying, Captain America’s shield changing and switching up the entire team of X-Men. But should change be such a constant? In my opinion: Yes. Sure, certain constants have to happen in a story that are integral to a character. Krypton has to explode, Thomas and Martha Wayne have to die, Uncle Ben has to die, Abin Sur has to give the ring to Hal Jordan, Nightcrawler has to look like a demon and hundreds more. Every time there is change, there will always be people for it and people against it but I don’t think that there needs to be such an anger and hatred towards the writers for it.

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This article began from my discovery that people are still upset about The New 52. Yes, people are still upset about it and now they’re even angrier about “Rebirth” I can see where they’re coming from for Rebirth but I was talking to a good friend of mine last night and he hadn’t read a DC comic for a while so I explained Rebirth to him that the entire point is less of a cash grab. I know I probably just sound the eternal optimist but I truly believe that what they want to do is just bring about a true rebirth that fans can get behind. Every interview makes it sound like what they’re doing with it is learning from the good and the bad of the New 52 and building a new lineup of great titles that are accessible to people but also  true to what fans want. I understand that some people are probably tired of the reboot effect but I think we’re approaching a renaissance of comics because Marvel is giving us some of the best books they’ve put out in the last five years and if DC does what I’m hoping for then both companies are going to at an area that they haven’t been at together since the 80’s.

So we’ve discussed company wide changes well what about when singular creators make changes? Blasphemy! How dare they change a single in hopes of making an interesting story!

Let’s go over a list of these writers

  • Grant Morrison
  • Geoff Johns
  • Dan Slott
  • Ed Brubaker
  • Matt Fraction
  • Brian Michael Bendis
  • Scott Snyder
  • Joe Quesada
  • Brian Azzarello
  • Tim Seeley
  • Tom King
  • Jason Aaron
  • Jeff Lemire
  • James Tynion IV
  • Mark Waid

Yes I know : “But those are all new creators, they’re not as good as the classics” Yeah? Well let’s go over classical writers who changed things up.

  • Chris Claremont
  • Walt Simonson
  • Marv Wolfman
  • Denny O’Neil
  • Gerry Conway
  • David Michelline
  • Roy Thomas
  • Jim Shooter
  • Frank Miller
  • John Byrne
  • Len Wein
  • And my personal favorites for anyone who complains…STAN LEE and JACK KIRBY

The very epitome of Marvel is that it was the company that changed everything. They love to say that they’ve been around since the 30’s but they haven’t. Timely/Atlas was around in the 30’s and 40’s but Marvel didn’t really exist until 1961 when two young creators decided to do a comic exactly how they wanted to do one and it worked out incredibly well. Their stories had real world peoblems that were dealt in realistic ways…or as realistic as a man with the powers of a spider can. Comics are Change and sometimes it becomes something amazing and sometime it becomes something a bit less than amazing. What’s that? You want a list of changes that didn’t work? Oh why not.

  • Spider-Man : The Clone Saga.
  • Spider-Man : The Other.
  • Heroes Reborn.
  • Anything that Rob Liefeld touched that wasn’t Deadpool.
  • Superman being split into two beings.
  • Major Force as a villain in Green Lantern.
  • Identity Crisis
  • Ultimatum
  • Convergence
  • Arguably, Age Of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch but I want to reread it soon just to make sure.
  • Spider-Man : One More Day.
  • Final Crisis but only if you weren’t paying attention…I still love Grant Morrison.
  • Rick Remender on Captain America and Axis(this one’s mainly just me not liking his writing so you can take this one with a grain of salt if you’d like)
  • And the one that’s most difficult for me to admit : Fear Itself. Good Concept, but too many Tie-Ins killed it.

When movement isn’t consistent then stagnation is inevitable. Without change we don’t get the the Sinestro Corps or the Return of Hal Jordan.

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we don’t get Giant Size X-Men #1,

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Without Change, we don’t get Batman as a Dark Crudader for Gotham.

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and worst of all : We don’t get the Death Of Gwen Stacy.

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My final point is on the different creators and what makes the good ones as good as they are. A good creator knows what has come before and what they need to do with their stories. Geoff Johns is my favorite writer and he’s also my favorite example for this because his entire career has been based on the concept of taking older characters that haven’t been used for a while and making them amazing. His Green Lantern run is the best example. Creating Parallax as the embodiment of fear made Hal Jordan as a more sympathetic character because we can all be attacked by fear. He brought Hal back and made him this champion of Will that had made the return to the land of the living and the return to the corps.

Creators deserve the freedom to try out new things and I’m willing to keep an open mind to them. I think that All-New, All-Different Marvel has been great and I think that Rebirth has the chance to be one of the best comic events in recent history.

-Vance

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