Challenging The Status Quo

A bold new era? Hopefully a fun read at the very least.

Taking the opportunity of the Christmas period to catch upon my comics reading (and supplementing this with fanfic when I reached the bottom of the stack), I must confess that I re-read Jonathon Hickman’s Fantastic Four and FF (Future Foundation) numerous times.

Although I have raved bout this particular run of the FF numerous times already, and enthused about the quality of story-telling that has gone into the title, it is hardly a dramatic revamp of our favourite Foursome and their family. Cleverly weaving in all of the traditional facets of FF lore, I am finding myself wanting to know where Lyja is (considering the manner of Johnny’s resurrection), or hoping for the return of Sharon Ventura. Exploring the many fanfic sites, one is confronted with multiple line-ups, some making sense and some really out there. Strangely enough, the more bizarre line ups (such as one including Ken Connell the Starbrand) were just as enjoyable, if not more so than the traditional unit.

Do you, like myself, feel a little cheated that we never really saw any quality stories starring the ‘New’ Fantastic Four, the line-up of Wolverine, Spidey, Hulk and the Ghost Rider. Now there’s a Hollywood blockbuster right there, and a grouping that should have received far more attention.

Although changes in the status quo are not necessarily good, nor traditional stories necessarily bad, it would be nice to see a true deviation from the standard formula, and not have to rely on ‘Ultimate’ labels or the appallingly short What-If’s.  Even the ‘massive reorganisation’ of the X-Men strikes me as a repetition of previous themes, as fun as it is.

So, my attention was drawn to Previews and a solicitation from Image Comics set for March. Hell Yeah!, created by Eisner and Harvey award-winner Joe Keatinge and Elephantmen’s Andre Szymanowicz promises to think outside the box when it comes to the lifestyle of super-heroics. Promises that we have heard before, but every so often have actually materialised in the form of a quality product.

This obviously whetts my ‘ooh, new world….’ appetite, although some of Keatinge’s words worry me.

…..when Image Comics debuted, it made me realize all the rules and restrictions I saw in other superhero comics didn’t have to exist. Anything could happen. You could kill lead characters in first issues. Obliterate long-standing villains in a page turn. They could be in different tone than what’s normally presented by the diversity shown in anything from Youngblood to Casual Heroes. They didn’t have to be noble, they didn’t have to maintain the same status quo. It was turned into a genre where the term ‘impossible’ didn’t exist. Due to all this my imagination went into over drive and after twenty years of percolating in my brain, Hell Yeah was born.”

Readers views of the birth of Image vary widely, as did the quality of offerings. Yet most of the initial characters remain with us to this day, so they obviously got something right. And as a die-hard Savage Dragon, Spawn and Stormwatch fan, I would be the last to criticise. (Well, that last statement is maybe not true.) Even the Liefeld house of characters received a tremendous boost at the hands of Alan Moore, most especially Supreme, and it was a shame that the surge in quality could not be sustained by sales.

So I look forward to the coming year, and I hope that the high quality in the industry we have seen recently will be maintained, but perhaps with some real changes in the status quo for our favorite characters.

Just not another New 52, please.

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Darren Burr

A devoted follower of the comics industry and their characters since a child, Darren now plays in many media but always returns to characters in skin-tight costumes beating each other up on the page. Radio host, blogger, fanfic author and producer of You Tube content, Darren idles away his days until his digital conquest of the world is complete.

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