Thoughts on a comics event I barely read (Or, Convergence: Shazam is the best thing ever and why Superman is increasingly less super)
I didn't read much of it besides a few of the tie-ins (more on that in a sec), but the news out of DC's Convergence event was that their traditional pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths multiverse was back and that every possible variation of continuity was potentially back on the table. Bloggyverse pal Siskoid is quick to point out how much that probably is not the case, though, and those of us hoping for a return of a pre-Flashpoint, non-angsty, secret identity-possessing Superman (you know... for instance) are probably S.O.L. Especially since the end of Convergence rather pointedly dispatches with the pre-Flashpoint Superman (along with Parallax and original COIE martyrs Supergirl & Flash).
This kind of further corroborates my theory that DC is increasingly changing Superman so that they wind up with a character that the public recognizes as the Man of Steel but is different enough from the original that they don't have to share revenue with the Siegel or Shuster heirs anymore.
But that's neither here nor there. Though I'm convinced that's totally the case.
|"Are you ready?" All due respect to Yang and JR, Jr., but I'm allowed to say no, right?|
But I digress. Aaaaaaaanyway...
If DC can access any of the former continuities they have presented to us through the years, and indeed served up in the midst of Convergence itself, then it is my greatest hope right now that they return to the world of Earth S (or Earth 5, if you prefer the Morrisonian Multiversity nomenclature) and serve us up some proper Marvel Family stories, as depicted in both the Multiversity one-shot Thunderworld Adventures (by Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart, and Nathan Fairbairn) and (especially!), the Convergence: Shazam two-isssue tie-in series by Jeff Parker, Evan "Doc" Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire. Thunderworld was the highlight of Multiversity for me, and Convergence: Shazam was not only the best of the tie-ins that I read (though Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes were all good, too), but easily the best Shazam comics DC has made since acquiring the characters back in 1972.
Since at least the 80s, DC have either tried to modernize Captain Marvel & his compatriots or shunt them off into the kids' book ghetto. Both approaches have their successes and failures (Ordway's The Power of Shazam and the Art/Franco/Norton issues of Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam especially), but all of the products of these efforts overcompensate in one direction or the other: either they must be serious or they must be whimsical, and rarely will they ever attempt to achieve a balance between the two. But if you go back and read enough of the old Marvel Family stories, you see that balance is exactly where they lived, why they worked, and was the secret to an appeal that endures to this day. Yes there were magic words, talking animals, crackpot inventions, and the like, but there were also monsters, spies, saboteurs, and the ever-present threat of global armageddon. Yes, one of the Captain's most infamous adversaries was a bespectacled talking worm, but don't forget that it was a bespectacled worm who went to the electric chair for the murder of 186,744 people. I mean, jeez.
Thunderworld and (especially!) Convergence: Shazam find that balance and maintain it throughout their (for my money) too short runs, capturing the fun and, yeah, whimsy that a world with magical super powered heroes and talking bipedal tigers is going to have (because of course it will, what are ya, dead inside?), but at the same time conveying that these children(!) are in real danger every time they call down the lightning and that the fate of their fictional world is very much at stake.
|Oh, hey, look, it's the inside of my brain.|
I acknowledge that this is a tricky balance to achieve, much less maintain, but it has been the policy of DC - especially in recent years - that it's too hard to even try so why bother and here's an angsty
And I want it to be keep being done. Continually. And (especially!) by the team of Parker, Shaner & Bellaire, who had already proven themselves as an excellent comics-making unit on Dynamite's Flash Gordon and I will now follow to any project they work on until pretty much the end of time. But, ideally, that would be more Shazam comics, for which I would gladly shell out pretty much any amount DC wants to charge me. $9.99 a month? Sure. Be silent and accept my funds, or whatever it is the interwebs kids say.
I know what I want out of my superhero comics now, and it's more of that.
|Find a way to work in Kamala Khan and this would probably be the only funny book I'd need.|