Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Off-Topic: Marvel Goes DC


So I've examined some of the differences between Marvel and DC here:

But there are other important differences, and they seem to be eroding. Generally speaking, DC has followed a path of completely rebooting their franchise every 10-20 years or so. They use multiple universes and conflicts between those universes as ways of restarting continuity. This allows them to explore familiar intellectual properties in new ways, and can lead to some interesting approaches to storytelling and more importantly myth making.

Mythopoeic speculation (see the book SLAYING THE DRAGON) is a matter of creative repetition. Stories and experiences must be re-told in ways that retain their original meaning and context while allowing exploration of new ideas using the framework of the story. DC has excelled at this, and some of the best DC offerings are those that explore completely different universes from the main world which makes up most of their stories. DC's approach therefore is more openly myth making. The downside is that you lose continuity, and stories you are engrossed in can be completely lost. Often when DC does a reboot, it gets some things right and some things wrong, and what it gets wrong can be frustrating. An example is the New 52's approach to Superboy, which ruined a character that was just starting to generate some great and interesting stories.

Marvel has generally eschewed this approach. While they do have alternate universe stories and books, the main thrust has always been one world and centered around one world. The stories have remained in general continuity for 40+ years. It allows characters to continue on and on. This is what attracts many people to Marvel.

I like both approaches for different reasons, and have enjoyed the contrast. But it seems now Marvel is doing its own total reboot, for the first time, and I think it will be hard for them to not make this some kind of pattern moving forward. I am sad to see the contrasting approach to storytelling end. Both approaches push writers in different ways. I think, in the end, this will be bad for overall storytelling. But we'll see. DC pulls it off. Marvel probably can to. But I fear something will be lost.

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