The Fundamental Problem With The DC Comics Reboot
Many good points have been raised both for and against the upcoming massive, universe-wide reboot. If you ask me, I think the Cons far outweigh the Pros (see this article from ComicBookMovie.com), but that’s really beside the point. A reboot like this hits at the heart of what comic book superheroes are.
As soon as superhero comics started catching on in the 1930s, they began to carve out their place in the American mythos. To put it simply, more than anything else, they are our heroes. They are beginning to occupy a place much like that which Achilles, Odysseus, Ajax, Hercules, and all the rest did in Ancient Greece. That Greek literary tradition developed gradually and organically over many hundreds and thousands of years, being retold again and again from generation to generation. Over time the stories and characters were reshaped many times, refined, tested by the ages, and perfected into those we have today. This process is admittedly ugly, time-consuming, and, at times, confusing. It might seem like a much better idea to simply start from scratch and make up the whole thing at once, start to finish. It would certainly all be much more coherent and cohesive, but the authenticity gets lost in the process. No one person or small group of people can accurately represent the mindset of an entire people. This is to say nothing of losing the organic and fluid nature of the traditional method, which allows the characters and ideas to be honed and polished, at the same time that it fosters novelty and creativity.
It was in the 80s that superhero comics finally grew out of their infancy and proved that they could make their mark as a legitimate art form. Usually this level of quality and substance is not achieved except by a graphic novel or limited series, but that is not to discount the value in the ongoing continuity. Frank Miller’s work in Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns could be considered analogous to that Homer did when he adapted the historic and noble tradition of Greek history and mythology into his own, stand-alone work of art. The Iliad and The Odyssey don’t displace the entire Greek literary tradition, they merely augment it.Continued on the next page