I recall, when DC’s 52 wrapped up, that one of the complaints T Campbell had about it was how they had gone through the entire messy business of restarting the multiverse, allowing them a massive realm of new and interesting possibilities to explore, and decided to fill up a large portion of their new worlds with various older stories and elseworlds and etc.
I understand his point, though this didn’t really bother me personally – I hadn’t read most of those stories, so they were largely as exciting and new as the handful of worlds DC left open for any new stories they decided to tell. All in all, it seemed like a clever idea: 51 new universes for DC to play around with. To tell the stories they can’t tell with their core continuity. To tell new stories to attract new readers. To do all sorts of nifty things.
Which is why I have been so incredibly disappointed with the use to which they have been put thus far. The latest weekly series from DC, Countdown, involves some heroes from Earth-1 wandering from one alternate Earth to the next, where we briefly glimpse what is going on (occasionally throwing it into disarray) before they hop onto the next world.
Even better, heroes and villains from those worlds are being recruited into some grand galactic army! They have instantly gone from having the potential to tell their own, new and interesting, stories… to being bit players in the current DC Mega-Event. I mean, how is this not simply an enormous waste of resources and possibilities?
They’ve even got an upcoming event, Countdown: Arena, wherein multiple versions from various realities will be forced to duke it out to see which will have the honor of joining the galactic army. And, hey – I can understand the raw appeal of it all. We’ve all seen fans get into debates over this sort of nonsense, whether their favorite superhero could beat up their buddy’s favorite, and this is simply that on a grand scale.
But man… it just seems so short-sighted.
In this week’s Countdown, Superguy Prime (currently one of DC’s top villains) wandered into Earth-15, killed the Justice League, and then destroyed the entire planet.
What is the point of coming up with these alternate worlds with potentially new and interesting characters – or variations on characters – and then immediately throwing them by the wayside? Isn’t this their chance to start laying the ground for the future, start finding a way out of the rut the company has been stuck in for years?
On the other hand, the one thing print comics don’t seem to have the luxury of is planning ahead. Titles get passed from one writer to the next, plots get subsumed into whatever mega-crossover/event is currently going on, and anything undesired that came before gets retconned into oblivion.
There are many folks much better qualified than myself to comment on the state of the print comics industry, as well as the various stories being told by DC and Marvel. But I feel that I am justified in saying this, if nothing else: I think it is a downright shame that DC can come up with such a cool idea as the new multiverse, and within half-a-year, already have begun laying waste to that accomplishment.