Robot 6

The Fifth Color | The speed of fandom

Batgirl from Super Best Friends Forever

Love all the Batgirls!

A few weeks ago, Gail Simone posted something on Tumblr that shamed me:

“MAN.

I love Barbara Gordon so much.

I love her as Oracle, I love her as Batgirl, I love her in Year One, I love her in the cartoons, I love Babs cosplayers…

…I just freaking love her, all right?”

There is no doubt in my mind that this is true. Last year, when the New 52 was announced and changes were rolling in, Simone was one of the few creators who listened to fans’ complaints against changes and maybe mourned a little with them as Oracle went back on the shelf and Batgirl returned. She has been steadfast in the development of Barbara Gordon for a long time now (man, since around 2003), and there is simply no doubt in my mind that she really loves that character.

And how wonderful is that? That a creator can love all incarnations of her favorite character, even the ones she has nothing to do with? Yeah, Simone has a lot of control on how we see Barbara Gordon, but there are so many mediums where that character is there but she is not. But with every incarnation comes another chance to see that Barbara Gordon in a new light and with fresh eyes.

How come I couldn’t say the same?


If you’re reading this, then you most certainly have Opinions About Comics. Opinions About Comics make the world go around and can be a force for good as much as a force for evil. Having strong opinions about comics, from creators to costumes, fuels sales and builds franchises; people who don’t even read comics can have extremely strong opinions on what should and should not be in comic books. But can being a fan actually hamper you in enjoying the object of your own affection? Reading Simone’s post hit me hard because I had just read Incredible Hulk #7.1 that very day; the Hulk is quite possibly my favorite comic book character of all time, and I have had the worst time learning to love new ideas and changes to the basic character concept. Jason Aaron’s latest twist that Bruce Banner is the monster and the Hulk is the hero is hard for me to swallow and harder to support. Change is a constant for the Hulk as one clever commenter has said but there’s only so much change a character or idea can take before we find ourselves with an entirely new element. As readers, we make our own continuity between the panels and when we’re right, the book is more enjoyable. When we’re wrong, it can destroy any momentum we had on a series (please see the response to “One More Day”).

Ms Marvel Cover by Greg Horn

Love all the Ms. Marvels?

Then there’s Carol Danvers. This summer, she returns to having her own series with a brand-new title, Captain Marvel. This is something like her fourth change, as she started as Ms. Marvel and went to Binary to Warbird and then back to Ms. Marvel, each time having a new set of circumstance and another layer to the character. At heart, I know more odd factoids about the character than I know any core idea or concept she represents, so when Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy start this new chapter, Carol Danvers will be reworked into a new chapter of her life. Carol Danvers is so conceptual to me that I have absolutely no momentum on the character, but here I am waiting for the first issue so I can enjoy this new idea.

“Personal velocity” is a term I just made up to describe the momentum of fan’s expectations in all sorts of different media. How fast does your love go? If you have no momentum with something, be it music style, book series or shawarma, it might take you longer to head toward those new ideas and find interest. You can even take something you do like for a little bit of a speed boost to get you in. (The Avengers like shawarma? Maybe I should check this out …) If you have a lot of momentum with an idea or art style or character, you follow it from place to place and can fall into an orbit, where how much you like the Hulk dictates how much you buy the comic, watch the TV show, own the Hulk Hands, etc. Fan momentum leads to a lot of late-night message board posts. This momentum can even develop into an industry, as teen idols make a million girls swoon and (more importantly) pull out their pocketbooks. And sometimes, that momentum can get away from you, and there can be some just spectacular crashes (please see the aforementioned late-night message board posts).

My personal velocity on the Hulk is starting to shake apart. The character’s new direction doesn’t jibe with me, the supporting characters pulled into my jetstream have spun off into A-Bomb and Red She-Hulk, thus spinning out of my wake. I’m going so fast in my own direction that it’s hard for me to slow down, take in this new twist and turn and enjoy it. It’s not that the writers or artists or editors are “bad,” it’s just that we’re moving apart, into separate orbits.

In the end, I would much rather be Gail Simone, and not just because she writes some awesome comics. I think the healthier attitude to take is something more akin to joy than obsession. It’s great to be able to recite the Summers family tree at parties, but if we hold on too tightly, we lose a little something when we watch X-Men: First Class or have a new retcon. Change isn’t always bad, and there is no one at any company looking to ruin any of their properties. I’d like to break free of the gravitational pull of my expectations, to be able to take in all facets of what I enjoy so much and finally achieve escape velocity so I can fly.

News From Our Partners

Comments

37 Comments

Carla,

boy, can I relate to your feelings about this latest character shift with the Hulk. I keep trying to wrap my head around every new incarnation of Moon Knight and Green Arrow, but just haven’t been able to enjoy the latest comic variations ( I am very much looking forward to the CW series Arrow).

It would be great to have Gail Simone’s love and open mind.

thanks for posting this,

Sue

Eh…..I focus mainly on the animated versions of most characters. They take everything that makes the character great, and puts them all into a package anyone can unwrap.

Snyder & Tynion’s Freezer definitely has me thinking about this lately.

I’ve really been enjoying Jason Aaron’s current take on the Hulk so far. Without getting too spoilery, the basic conceit was that Banner and the Hulk were physically seperated again — nothing really new there — but the underlying idea was that Bruce, had he not become the Hulk, might’ve ended up a real psychological mess and might’ve become a mad scientist type. It was almost a way to play a sort of alternate reality card without any actual retconning. Aaron did a great job playing up the intrigue to hook you along — it was a few issues before he even revealed how the split took place, and again, without spoiling it, when you find out who was involved, it had some delicious irony — let’s just put it this way, the ‘cure’ was administered by the only scientific mind who can rival Stark, Pym, or Richards and had no qualms about the ethics of it.

I don’t know that calling the Hulk a ‘hero’ really fits, though, because while he got to be free from Banner he also showed a pretty big lapse of judgement in the process. While there was a lot of action and some over-the-top elements — Aaron introduced a few awesome new characters in the form of a government-sanctioned hit squad that takes out mad scientists, almost a highly-specialized black ops subdivision of SHIELD (which makes perfect sense, given the number of highly intelligent evil minds running around the Marvel Universe) — but there was a very psychological element to it as well that get right back to the Jekyll and Hyde core of the character. It’s a bit darker-tinged than you might normally associate with the Hulk, but it’s been pretty cool so far. It’s nice to have a comic where there is a feeling of suspense to it, and it’s not very predictable. It’s been on the top of my pile to read every month so far.

I feel the same way about the X-Men when I was a kid in the 80′s there was no other comic book that I looked forward to then when Jim Lee took over, the close knit family vibe of the X-Men was gone. Now it’s worse than ever with anyone that’s ever been a mutant can be an X-Man.

Jake Earlewine

June 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I’m in agreement, Shawn. Jim Lee (and Bob Harras) wrecked the X-Men for me, forever. Neither of them understood the X-Men like Chris Claremont, who they forced off the book that he’d made great (with Byrne and Cockrum, of course).

There are so many Hulks and She-Hulks running around, I frankly don’t give a shit about any of them any more. It’s like having all these Bat-people, multitudes of Robins, Batgirls, Batwomen and hordes of Supermen, Supergirls, Superboys, etc. and armies of different-colored Lanterns. Must every unique concept become diluted by iterations and variations? What are we going to see next? Diet Hulk? Caffeine-Free Hulk?

And Carol Danvers. Ugghh. She’s been through so many different reboots and incarnations that the character is MEANINGLESS. She was mediocre as Ms. Marvel, and utterly awful as Binary and Warbird. But the publisher’s philosophy is, “If at first she doesn’t succeed, then shove something else down their throat.” Well, she’s NOT Captain Marvel, either. Not any more than Monica from New Orleans. However, I do like the costume and hair design, both stolen from Miracle Woman. Why not just use Miracle Woman, whose character history is untainted by ill-conceived reboots?

@Jake
Then why bother complaining about all this when it’s SO MUCH EASIER to simply just walk away from it all? You give up all those, then you don’t have to worry about what to keep up with. Whaddaya say?

Jake Earlewine

June 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Acer, I HAVE walked away from all the Hulk titles, X-Men titles, and Carol Danvers. And, by golly, I’m going to tell the reason why. To everyone in listening range! Because I love the real Hulk and the real X-Men, despite what travesties are inflicted upon them under current editorial regimes.

I’ve learned that when bad things happen, the best thing a person can do is speak the truth about it. Suppressing the truth leads to dysfunction — and tacitly indicates that what’s happened is OKAY. It’s like, if your father raped you, Acer, would you keep your silence and let the abuse continue? I would hope you would be healthy enough to tell people something terrible was happening. That you would bring the darkness to light.

The choice is, Acer, in your life, do you want to pretend everything is okay when it’s not? Or do you want to stand up for what you believe in? Maybe your way is to keep your mouth shut about the bad things happening in the world. If that’s your choice, then good for you, I don’t have a problem with it because it doesn’t concern me. But my choice is to stand up and yell, “THE EMPEROR’S NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES!”

Peace, Acer, from one comic book lover to another.

@Jake
I do so to bide my time, until I have the best response to these mistakes-in-waiting–though I do shout that proverbial exclamation you mention when I see an opportune moment. Point is, yeah, speaking the truth about it helps, but more needs to be done so SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS. More than just the truth needs to be told–you’ve got to force the target of your ‘whistle-blowing’ into a position where they react like Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”. THAT’S how I want to do it, and that’s what I want to happen. AND I encourage people to take that route–because it’s the only way any real change is going to happen: when, backed into a corner, the supposed wrong-doer will start to crack, and that’s when the makeup peels off.

I grew up reading Marvel (I consider my older brother’s collection an extension of what I’ve bought over the years so I’m a early 70′s to late 80′s guy). I’m from the $.60 to $.75 era mainly and I would try or stay with titles that I was unhappy with. I buy 3 Marvel titles now at an average of $3.99 an issue, I just don’t feel like paying for characters that I’m not familiar with. I like Captain America and Daredevil and since I’m a Thunderbolts fan, I’ll at least try Dark Avengers. I have my old back issues to enjoy but Marvel I’m not a fan that Marvel appeals to anymore. They have a right to hire the writers and artists that they want producing their comics and I can either buy a product I don’t enjoy or move on to something else.

@Shawn
Which do you consider the harder decision–keeping with the product you don’t like, or moving on?

I actually liked the ‘Warbird’ monicker, better than ‘Captain Marvel’.

As for the Hulk, I gave up when PAD left the book.

I feel the same way about spider man. I didn’t stop reading the book after one more day. It actually got really good after Slott took over, even though he could have told all those stories with a married peter. I used to like Ultimate too until Peter died. I tried to get into miles’s stories. I really did. I just found myself lacking interest. At first I was irritated, but I got over it, and just decided to let bendis play in his sandbox. I’m just not that into it.

I was enjoying the X-Men again after Schism, but then Marvel put them in another long event. I just wanna read good X-Men stories without event fatigue.

This new CAPTAIN MARVEL series is only in existence to protect the “CAPTAIN MARVEL” name. I expect the book to fail within 12 issues just like all ofher attempts to develop a character behind that name, because once again, Marvel really doesn’t have a direction for this character, they just have a name. Even the costume seems to change with each viewing that I see of her.

Why they don’t just have Jim Starlin come back and do a Captain Marvel/Thanos series is beyond me.

I do feel the subject of your article is intriguing and unfortunately, pretty accurate. If fans were not so insistent on “controlling” the actions of their favorite characters, the companies probably would be able to keep more normalcy and not have to jump off into these new tangents and ideas all of the time. The negativity towards comics is so thick that I wonder if anyone will read them in time.

I used to think that I was a Flash fan, I now realize that I’m a Wally West fan and that my favorite comics are the ones that Waid wrote from The Flash 62 to the end of Dead Heat. I also like what Messner-Loebs wrote and the first 25 issues of Geoff Johns, but I haven’t liked the Flash ever since Blitz.

I don’t really think that the problem is mine, in the sense that when you want more of the same and you don’t get it, you’ll get mad. Sometimes the new stuff is good and sometimes it isn’t, but we like what we like and we specialize in that.

I think that Aaron’s Hulk is awful, and I’ve never read the Hulk for more than a few issues every now and then. I used to think that Rulk was awful, but Jeff Parker’s Hulk is a much better book than Aaron’s IH… that doesn’t surprise me since I think that Parker is an excellent writer, and Loeb only writes good books when Tim Sale is working with him (mmmm…. I wonder if that is just an accident).

For a guy who said “Fuck Alan Moore”, Aaron is certainly going the extra mile to prove him right.

I think the current Hulk has an interesting premise, but the book it self is not very well done. The sex scene in the point one issue pulled me out of the story (two hours and no news crews, Avengers or army or anyone shows up?). It would be great if PAD came back (with a good artist) and fixed the book.

So don’t feel to bad, it is easy to love a character that has had very little exposure and has spent the last 9 years under a writer who loves them (like Barbara Gordon) than it is to follow an ongoing title in this age where ‘creators’ think characters have to be reinvented to keep them fresh.

I quit reading Marvel and DC comics a while back. I don’t like them anymore. Neither company publishes characters I care about or can hardly stand.

A lot of fans talk about comics as an addiction. I’ve heard many readers say, “I want to quit, but I don’t think I could.”

There’s a feeling that you won’t be a good person if you stop buying the title you’ve been collecting for X number of years.

Or worse, you ever hear the guys who say, “If you’re not buying it, you have no right to criticize it.” Yeah, I’ve even heard Quesada say that. Yeah, I think that’s retarded. I ain’t buying it.

Marvel and DC Comics today are made for jaded city boys and sad, older men. Thankfully, I’m not either one of those.

I have to say I do not understand this.

Probably it is so, because I have started reading comic books as an adult, I had not been reading them as a kid, so I do not have any sentimental emotional attachment to any character. I love Pak’s Hulk and I am now forming my opinion on Aaron’s Hulk. In general, I don’t like Hulk, I do not care about Hulk one bit. Hulk for me is a franchise and not a real character.

Is it really too hard to believe that some versions of characters or paths they take are in fact bad? Or at the very least bad in the sense that you don’t like them. Can’t I ask or at least hope for better writing in the characters I care so much about? Gail Simone’s point of view on Batgirl is great for her, but whatever. When they decided Babs just “got better” magically, that was bad writing. That is a fact. No matter if you like that she is Batgirl again or hate it or just don’t care. It was a poor and lazy decision creatively. If you wanted a Barbara Gordon Batgirl, they could’ve have written something better for it.

Sure, if I eat filet mignon prepared by the finest chefs in the world everyday, a hamburger just tastes like shit. However, when the metaphorical filet mignon is just better written comics, then filet mignon costs the same as hamburger. So, why not ask for the filet mignon? I don’t know much about expensive foods, but I’m sure there are various types of filet mignon. Maybe some people like it prepared differently than others.

That’s what it means to be a devoted comics fan. To know what you like and don’t like and to want for the best. When you say “Hey, I love the character so much. I’ll take whatever you give me as long my favorite character is in it”, you are giving the creators liscense to be lazy. That’s how we get bad comics. That’s how we end up feeling like we wasted the money we spent on that ever increasing cover price.

Its obvius to me that Gail Simone`s Alter Ego, is Oracle, or Babs Gordon, and loved her first run in BoP. V1 im a man, and i love how women builds their own comic worlds

Nowadays, books are easier to drop than ever. If a character is going in a direction that I don’t care for, I’ll drop the book. Maybe I’ll return if the hero gets turned into something that I enjoy again.

I used to be a die-hard X-Fan until every mutant ever became an X-Man on an island run by Cyclops and Emma. Now my only X-Books are X-Factor and X-Force. I was down with the Hulk until every supporting cast member was turned into a Hulk; I disliked Red Hulks, Lyra, A-Bomb and Greg Pak’s explanation that the Hulk does physics calculated rampages due to Banner’s influence. I read the Ultimate Universe until Jeph Loeb killed off all those characters.

I love those characters, but they are going through phases that I don’t like.

I agree, nobody should keep buying a book they don’t like. It’s a better option than keep buying a book you don’t like, in the hopes it gets better

It’s a nice sentament. But Gail, being a writer, probably hates a bad Batgirl story as much as the rest of us. Where was “stitches” Batgirl during Birds of Prey?

Maybe there’s a fatigue that sets in after so meny drastic reboots and reiterpritations of charactors. I hit a wall years ago with Legion of Super Heroes. With “The New 52″ I’m done with DC. They don’t even have the faintest relationship to the charactors I enjoyed.
Niether do the dozen or so versions of the X-Men and Avengers or Spider-Man Marvel shovels out every week.
I only get a half dozen Marvel books any more. And hate when lame “events” intrude.
I only buy books I enjoy reading. And most of the time that means not fallowing characters I love.

The definition of anger is thwarted desire.

We get upset when someone we love does something that goes against our wishes. No wonder then, that so many people get angry when their favorite character changes.

What is the essence of Barbara ‘Babs’ Gordon? The police chief’s daughter? Dick Grayson’s on-again, off-again romantic interest? Or is she a ray of sunshine to the people that she loves and an implacable foe to those who would hurt her friends?

Most people in wheelchairs will tell you that they want to be defined by who they are as a person, not as a person in a wheelchair. If only it were that easy to have unconditional love for the characters we follow, regardless of boneheaded publisher moves and missteps. ;)

I think Carla has come up with the right idea. It’s like growing apart from someone you’ve been close to all of your life. I’m as guilty as the next fanboy with this. I’d like to be more like Gail Simone and just enjoy the character.

“Change isn’t always bad, and there is no one at any company looking to ruin any of their properties.”

Having been a big fan of The Wasp for the past thirty years I can only sadly disagree with this statement.

Jan’s a character I can’t help but love, in any incarnation. Roger Stern’s version was always my favourite, but I thought the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes show vintage was also darn near perfect. She’s a character I can follow wherever and whenever, in much the same fashion as Gail Simone with Batgirl; a crying shame, then, that Marvel seems hellbent on denying me the chance to do so.

She’s dead in the comics (real and Ultimate), she’s been airbrushed out of Avengers continuity in the movie-verse, and there’s a good possibility she won’t be around in the next version of animated Avengers. For any character that’s a tragedy, but for one of the founding members of a heroic institution and one of Marvel’s first and foremost female heroes along with Sue Storm and Jean Gray, that’s just abominable.

I don’t know how that stands up against the original poster’s sadness regarding the Hulk. On the (meagre) bright side, at least you still have a favourite character to enjoy.

Rai..I am in absolute agreement with you. Marvel’s treatment of that character just because Bendis & Loeb don’t care for her, is just deplorable. My favourite era of Avengers is the Roger Stern run, and he proved that Jan was a strong character that could really grow into a damned fine leader of the Avengers, who actually cared about the people she was leading (Maybe only 2nd to Captain America in that respect..)

I was loving seeing her in the animated Earths Mightiest Heroes Avengers. But Loeb of course had to trash that too. And given his obvious contempt for the character..(Eaten by the Blob..really?) I’d say it’s pretty definite that we won’t see her In Avengers Assemble. (Or a decent version of Hawkeye by the looks of it either..) Really irks me that I can’t see her in any form of Marvel continuity now. I’m so disgusted by it, that I don’t think I can buy any more Marvel comics, purchase dvds etc.

I’d much rather have her back in the Avengers than have yet another pointless revamp of Ms Marvel. (Whom I liked fine the way she was. But Jan was always more interesting to me. Jen too. But don’t get me started on what’s happened there..)

It does seem as though we, as fans, are suffering from a kind of Future Shock. By Future Shock, I am talking about a book from way back which suggests that, because our technology is changing at such a breakneck pace, a lot of us are not able to catch up to it. I just got used to the idea of being on Facebook, when suddenly everyone is twittering everything.
It feels the same is true with superheroes now. Using Barbara Gordon as an example, there were plenty of people who were used to the ’60s Barbara Gordon who was Batgirl and thought that her being crippled by the Joker was just horrible. I came from the era that really liked Oracle, because, instead of being just another Batman wannabe (and there’s a lot because of Batman, Inc.), she became her own thing and actually made it that her disability did not stop her from being a hero. Now, she’s just another Batman wannabe again, in my opinion. But, I guess the new fans love it, so, good for them.

This entire article, and the majority of the comments, seem to be just a bunch of whiny and crying that characters aren’t the same as when you liked them best. Characters have to change. If not, they die of stagnation. In the process of storytelling, the characters have to change. Would you crybabies just be happier if they reprinted your favorite stories and never furthered the plots or characters?

Wow, can’t have a comment section without a troll, can we?

Not a troll. I genuinely despise whiny fanboys. You are what is killing this industry and keeping it from growing. You can dismiss my comments all your want, but eventually you will need to grow up.

Brandon, stop your wining and grow up. Some people have different opinions than you.

Granted, Banner being the monster was and idea introduced by Greg Pak. The difference was that Pak was subtle and ambiguos. Ultimately Pak’s run ended with establishing that Banner was a good guy, even if he made some morally questionable decisions

Well, I’m a huge Ninja Turtles fan, and yet that changes that IDW made to the mythos haven’t bugged me too much, and I’m actually looking forward to the Michael Bay-produced film.

Gail Simone still works for DC Comics?

“Which do you consider the harder decision–keeping with the product you don’t like, or moving on?”

@Acer
Moving on was harder a few years ago but now if I don’t like something, I quit buying it. There are different companies and comics I’m more willing to look at. Of course, there’s always back issues if I want a Marvel fix.

Leave a Comment

 


Browse the Robot 6 Archives