Ultimates, Rebirths, Reboots and Rehashes
Anyone looking at the superhero genre today, will notice a lot of familiar stories being told, or should I say retold over and over again.
Superheroes have always been a formulaic genre, but never quite to the extent as they are today. Be it Spider-Man taking on Electro for the 100th time in Amazing Spider-Man #400, or taking him on for the "first time" in Ultimate Spider-Man. They are still the same basic story.
Which means a lot of talent is required to make the story seem fresh and exciting to the audience. It still happens from time to time, Ellis and Immonen on Ultimate Fantastic Four for one, but as time goes on it seems fewer and farther between.
Be it Hal Jordan's return in Green Lantern, Marvel's Ultimate line, or the Legion of Super-Heroes reboot. All have become attempts at appealing the audiences, by revisiting characters and stories of times long gone.
This can work in the short term with some fans who just want to reread newer versions of the stories they read back then. Yet in the long run I think it will end in a zero sum game.
You can't really recapture past glory by copying stories of the past. By attempting to do so the people involved miss out on what made those stories great in their time.
Be it the Great Darkness Saga in Legion of Super-Heroes, Batman versus the Joker in The Killing Joke or other classic confrontations. What made those stories great wasn't writers attempting to recapture the feel of some older story, there weren't any to do so. It was creators who had a fresh idea or challenge for the book to follow, marking their own path.
Yet you rarely see that in many of todays superhero comics. Whether it is lack of interest and/or talent by todays creators, there seems to be nothing truly new happening in todays stories. When was the last time a truly new menace battled Batman? Or a new awkward situation challenged the future status of the Legion of Super-Heroes? I can't recall any, because the books today too often rely on the familiar paths.
Perhaps that why I find myself so drawn to the new or at least lesser used characters that the big two have to offer. They haven't had their classic run yet or set boundaries, and thus more can happen in them, then can ever really happen in most of the long-standing DC and Marvel series.