DC's superhero shuffle
- June 1, 2011 1:59 PM |
- By Eli Glasner
The new Justice League, which will be unveiled in an issue set for release Aug. 31. (DC Comics)
There they are: the stars of the revamped, rebooted Justice League. They're part of the massive DC Comics renumbering scheme, intended to put a fresher face on the company's line of superheroes.
Mainstream comic book publishers, those purveyors of spandex wonderment, find themselves in a peculiar place. The cachet of comics has never been higher -- from X-Men to Green Lantern, Hollywood has become the industry's number one fan boy.
But try to buy an actual comic book and the story changes. First of all, you'll likely have to make the trek to a specialty store, since picking up a comic as a spur of the moment purchase at your neighbourhood 7-11 has gone the way of the cassette tape.
The comic-collecting boom of the late '80s and '90s has morphed to become an older, more mature audience. When I drop by Toronto's Silver Snail on Wednesdays when the new issues come out, it's not uncommon to see artists standing next to Bay St. bankers and the occasional dad with a stroller at his side.
The problem for DC, home to Superman and Wonder Woman, is ensnaring a new generation of fans. Superheroes are certainly in the pop culture spotlight, but they don't reflect the audiences as well as they used to.
So, DC is starting over: redesigning classic costumes and tinkering with the origins and ethnicities of its crime-fighters. DC's co-publisher and illustrator Jim Lee has suggested that he wants to make DC characters more diverse, more "identifiable and accessible."
There are a few clues about DC's new direction in the revamped Justice League, shown above.
The guy at the bottom right who looks like an angry X-Box with silver fins sticking out of him? That's Cyborg, who was previously a minor character most often associated with the Teen Titans. Now, Lee is calling him a "modern-day, 21st-century superhero."
Is it my imagination or do Wonder Woman, Superman and Flash seem younger? Recasting the Man of Steel as a superteen from Krypton could be another ploy to attract younger readers.
Of course any comic fan old enough to remember Marvel's Secret Wars knows that sending superheroes back to the drawing board and playing renumbering games are among the favourite pastimes of comic publishers. Both Marvel and DC have used series such as Identity Crisis and Heroes Reborn (shudder) to hit the reset button.
DC, you've got your work cut out for you.
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