Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On the importance of having a Two

Freakazoid: One: Norm Abram is missing. Two:...

Cosgrove: We don't have a two.

Both Marvel and DC had returns of major characters today; one fairly well guaranteed ahead of time since it was the plot of the book, the other a pretty universally guessed (but denied till the last moment) secret.

Marvel has brought back The Scarlet Witch in the miniseries Avengers - The Children's Crusade.  Now, Wanda Maximoff's history is a complicated one, due to a number of decisions and changes of mind made about her origins and adventures. 

To summarize (and get a lot wrong) greatly, she first thought she and her brother Quicksilver were orphans, and first appeared working with/for Magneto in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  She later found out she was the child of golden-age heroes Miss America and The Whizzer.  She later LATER found out she was misled about that, and they were in fact the children of the selfsame Magneto who ordered them around like day-laborers.  The both turned face, Wanda fell in love with and married The Vision, a synthetic human.  He figured out a way to create artificial sperm so they could have children.  She discovered later that she had in fact dreamed all that, and the children that she carried, bore and raised were creations of her own reality-warping powers.  This started her decline into madness, one that first caused her to reshape the entire world into one where mutants were in power, with her father in charge.  Realizing what she had done, she changed everything back, with a major change - 90% of the world's mutants lost their powers, and it seemed as if there would be No More Mutants.  She vanished, and was presumed dead.

She popped up a couple times, seemingly depowered and with no memories of her actions, but that appears to no longer be the case.  There are several issues to go, and there's every possibility that she'll be gone again (one way or the other) by the end, but a couple events in the latest issue, including seemingly undoing one of the deaths she caused (TANGENT ALERT in the EXACT FUCKING WAY I've been saying they could STILL bring back Ted Kord, by simply popping him away right after the presumed death, let every THINK he's dead, don't affect any of the events said deaths caused, and bring him forward to the present, where there would be much rejoicing. END TANGENT ALERT), I'm thinking they may try to rehabilitate her much like Geoff Johns did Hal Jordan by claiming much of her actions were out of her control, and in fact few if any people died from it after all. 

Allan FallbeHeinberg has been telling some wonderful stories with the Young Avengers since their first appearance, tying two of the members to Wanda in a very nice way, making the events of the new mini a logical extension of their character arc.  The part about Doctor Doom wanting to marry Wanda, not so much, but hey, bitter with the sweet.

Over at DC, the Brightest Day mini-series is one issue away from completion, and the new champions of both the White (life) and Black (death) energy have been revealed, and in a weird's the same person.  The Black Champion is Swamp Thing, who hasn't been seen in the DCU proper since the mid 80s.  The champion of the White entity is revealed to be Alec Holland, the scientist from whose remains Swamp Thing would be created (again, to summarize greatly). 

Swamp Thing was a...some term other than "game-changer"...for the comics industry.  The first major US work by Alan Moore, it became the first comic from the Big Two to drop the Comics Code altogether and market to an adult/mature audience.  It would become the tentpole title for Vertigo, DC's new all-mature titles line, which has been a success ever since. 

The downside to that is that we never again saw Swampy in a regular DC title.  The idea was that if he appeared in a DC book, kids might seek out the mature title, see something Mommy and daddy wasn't expecting, and here comes the media.  That, combined with the alleged iron grip group editor Karen Berger held on the vertigo characters, rendered the character unusable by DC.

Vertigo hadn't used the character since 2005 after another short-lived attempt at a revamp.  So the chance that he could return to DC became more and more possible, and considering the forest motifs that came up in Brightest Day, more and more folks posited the same Clever Theory that this would be his Rebirth. 

In both cases, the return of these characters at both companies has been met with vocal reactions, mostly to the positive.  But in both cases, I have to be the guy who asks "NOW what?"

Yes, we're all happy to see Swamp Thing back.  But after a three-issue "aftermath" mini where the new guardian of Earth gets the hang of his new position, we've no idea what plans there are for the character.  They tried, repeatedly, to spark new interest in the character at Vertigo, each sputtering to an end.  Which of those versions will we see DC use?  Are they all to be wiped off the map and go back the Moore version, possibly even ignoring Rick Vietch's contributions?  Where's Abby and Tefe?  Will see a new Swamp Thing title, and if so, will be similar to the horror theme it's had for decades, or a more Superhero-y bent?  Or will it end like oh so many spectacular returns, going up like a firework, and ending just as fast?  Will Swamp Thing sink to the mid-card of DC characters again, or have they got something specific in plan?

Similarly at marvel, while the story they're telling with Scarlet Witch right now is very good indeed, if she stays around, do they have a plan in mind?  or will she simply go on a big apology tour, take a spot in the Avengers again, and drop back in place?

As a TV producer famously said when asked why he doesn't take advantage of all those internet videos for a show, "What happens in episode two of 'Cat runs into kitchen door'?" 

DC has guessed right on a couple of returns: Green Lantern was a success beyond all hope, Flash has spawned the new event Flashpoint, and Legion of Super-Heroes is back to having two monthlies dedicated to it.  Aquaman is getting a new series after Brightest Day, as is Hawkman is the rumors and tongue-slips are to be believed.  So it's to be assumed that DC has step two firmly in mind.  I'll just be curious to see how well fans react to it.


  1. I too am concerned about a new Swampy book on the horizon after witnessing the last few attempts since it's 2nd run.

    But at the moment I must just express pure joy and excitement. Haven't been this ecstatic over a comic in years.

    I believe that putting good energy out there will help the creators continue to treat the GREEN well.

    Great Job DC.

  2. OK, I have to confess that my head hurts after reading all about What's Happened(ing) in both the DC and Marvel Universes. This is not by any means an attempt to put the blame on you, Vincent. This was your attempt to make some sense out of the "Zero-G Toilet" instructions from 2001, and some of us will still end up dumping in our diapers.

    Admittedly I am glad to hear that Aquaman is being given another chance, and that the Legion is experiencing a growth spurt. I'm just hoping the overall effort will be worth reading.