Fortress of Solitude describes how independent creations and stories are finding advantages over their mainstream counterparts. They also make an interesting point echoing what I’ve thought about the Big Two’s shared universes:
Despite all the hype about the Snyder Cut and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, not many people seem to give a fig about what’s happening in the comics. You don’t hear them fighting about the new version of the Justice League or the X-Men turning into a weird sex cult in Krakoa. In fact, even the regular comic book fans appear a little deflated, and this has been indie comics’ gain.
You know what’s the problem with continuity? You need to reboot it after you paint yourself into a corner. Right now, Marvel and DC can’t seem to keep a universe from veering off track. Blink and you’re in a new Earth or continuity.
They’re right about the sore need for a continuity reboot, but it would have to come at certain points around the early 2000s, and Green Lantern in particular is a series that’s in dire need of one going back even farther, to post-1988. You also need to find competent editors who can oversee such a move, which should be done in a quiet approach, without connecting everything to a company wide crossover. Continuity isn’t bad so long as you can avoid really embarrassing ideas, and make sure much of your output is self contained. Otherwise:
As frustrating as it is to fans, it’s a nightmare for creators. The boundary lines and goalposts keep shifting, creating an uneven canvas for them to lay down their stories. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the talent is finding its success in indie comics at the moment.
Be that as it may, the creators have to understand it’s certain other creators who brought us to that point where continuity becomes nightmarish. Like, say, Brian Michael Bendis, who precipitated the situation where Wolverine and Spider-Man could appear in Avengers no matter how inconsistent it’d be with the appearances in their solo books, and the former’s team books. Why, there’s even one more recent creator mentioned here who’s refused to honor past continuity for the sake of his ideological obsessions:
James Tynion IV might be writing up a storm on Batman, but it’s his work with Martin Simmonds on Department of Truth that’s raising eyebrows. As a story that deals with conspiracy theories and how they become real, it’s a fascinating and original series that stands apart from anything else on the shelf these days.
I wonder why Tynion matters so much, after the harm he’s causing to Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, in the pages of a new DC special where they’re forcibly retaining James Robinson’s retcon from nearly a decade ago, during that “reboot” nobody asked for, “the New 52”, which was to turn Scott homosexual? And this was before Bendis turned Iceman the same in X-Men. I’m not buying indie books from somebody that blatant. Tynion’s actually got a lot of nerve thinking he’ll be able to make fortunes in the independents when those galled at his work in the mainstream might consider saving their money for somebody else’s indie products. There’s also a few more writers working at the Big Two mentioned, like Charles Soule and Scott Snyder, and they’ve got some blame to shoulder as well for doing nothing to turn a bad situation around. By contrast, here’s where a better mention is made:
However, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin—by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz and Esau & Isaac Escorza—that’s undoubtedly the envy of the Big Two. It’s successfully managed to create an Elseworlds tale that’s delighting the fanbase while not alienating any part of the fanbase. And the best part? It’s a good story that moves the mythology forward.
But here’s the thing: Indie comics aren’t being bogged down by mergers or editorial interference to appease the corporate overlords. It’s about creativity and telling really good stories. It epitomizes the very reason that fans and creatives got into the medium, and it shows in the products.
Certainly those of writers and artists who aren’t working for the Big Two at all costs. But even indie tales can have a bad side, and while the following might sound impressive based on the Hollywood connections, it also cites something else loaded with ideological pandering:
Studios and networks aren’t scrambling to pick up the rights to Marvel and DC properties anymore. They’re looking at indie comics, because they know there are outstanding tales waiting to be shared with the world. Look at The Old Guard or Snowpiercer on Netflix or even The Boys and Invincible on Amazon Prime. Comic book fans have long known about how good these series were, but now the world is getting a glimpse of them, too.
That Greg Rucka-penned comic builds on social justice elements, and Netflix is already notorious for basing their approach on ideology rather than the ability to produce a merit-based product without forcing quotas onto the script. Still, the news that film and TV studios don’t care much about mainstream products anymore is interesting. It could be they realize the stories are getting played out (in no small part due to the producers’ politics), but, it could also be that they’ve concluded the ideals superhero comics were built on don’t coincide with their ideological positions, and that a concept like Rucka’s is far more to their liking based on any SJW themes he put in.
While indie comics might never rake in the cash that Marvel and DC do on a weekly basis, they’re not short of one thing: quality. There’s so much creativity and energy flowing through the independent scene and it’s an exciting time to be both a reader and creator.
That all depends who and what’s involved. As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, even indie comics can be chock full of divisive politics, and those with the most divisive could end up being the first ones in line for adaptation. The Boys by Garth Ennis certainly seems to be one of those based on its darkness alone. So even if superhero comics by the mainstream are no longer a hot commodity, there’s still potential for serious problems with darkness-pandering around, one independent comics aren’t free of either.
And why say DC/Marvel can’t keep their shared universes from derailing, when they’re not even trying? It’s a shame these sites are looking at things so superficially when it comes to the mainstream; that’s how they got away with their worst steps for so many years. For now, what they could do is advocate for selling off the publishing arms to business companies who actually care about the creations, and could do Siegel/Shuster/Lee proud. Yet so far, they show no interest in supporting such ideas, alas.
Originally published here.