Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Comics are experiencing a new trend: The Reboot.

I am a fan of reboots, actually, especially when done right.

For instance, Aquaman is one those characters who always seems to be in the middle of a reboot. Usually, the only time they get it right is when someone finally realizes that all you need is this: orange fishscale shirt, green tights, swims underwater, ruler of the Seven Seas, Justice League/Super Friends, giant seahorse with saddle: optional.

BOOM. Aquaman.

Some folks like Matt Fraction get the utter absurdity of a billionaire white guy from a mythological Asian city who also possesses the ability to harness his chi into a mystical iron fist only after defeating a dragon and ripping out its heart.

And then, we get pirate queens.

That's a reboot and a great one at that.

It seems to me the reboot goes one of two ways: honor what came before and build upon it or simply throw out what you know and build anew.

Neil Gaiman's Sandman did a bit of both, as did Grant Morrison's Animal Man or Alan Moore's Swamp Thing.

Those reboots weren't so terrible, I guess.

Nowadays, reboots seem to come about out the blue. Not because, "You Demanded It" or "Back By Popular Demand," more because well... because.

For every Thor reboot, where a writer artist/team actually has something to say about the character and his surroundings, we get multiple inexplicable reboots.

Such as the recently relaunched Marvel reboots of Black Panther, The All-New Savage She-Hulk and Exiles. All three had been unceremoniosly cancelled over the last six months. Were they brought back "Because You Demanded It" or was it more, "Heck, people buy issue ones?"

It's my opinion that a reboot should add to the mythology of a character and area surrounding it. It's my opinion that if a company is even going to bother with bringing a character under the glare of the reboot spotlight, they'd best make it worth doing.

Y:The Last Man and Runaways creator Brian K. Vaughan did a Swamp Thing series a few years back featuring the daughter of The Swamp Thing and Abby Holland. It was cancelled. Vaughan rightly know he could never duplicate the zeitgeist of of an Alan Moore Swamp Thing but in being a writer, he asked of himself, what could he bring to the character's overall story.

You could see him writing the sort of comic that would appeal to him.

It was a reboot. Was it the one we all expected? No but it was one that was fairly considered.

In today's reboot crazy world, does anyone ask themselves, "Would I bother showing this comic to someone who'd rebooted a book that I admired, such as a Sandman, an Animal Man, a Swamp Thing or even an Iron Fist?"

If the answer is, "No," then, why bother?

So, I ask you, what, for you, makes for a good reboot?


Nate said...

As crazy as things have gotten continuity wise, I would never have gone back and read classic Levitz or Shooter Legion if Waid's reboot hadn't made it accessible to me.

Bill D. said...

I always kind of wondered why they needed to reboot Priest's Black Panther into the Reggie Hudlin Black Panther. The former was a great book that, in and of itself, was a reboot that worked really well. Admittedly I'm just discovering that series now, so I was probably part of the problem back in the day, but still.

(Also, it's a damn crime that, according to that Marvel Reading Chronology freebie, the ENTIRE Hudlin run is available in trade, yet there are just two Priest volumes. Crying shame, that.)

ChrisM said...

I guess a lot of this depends on what you call a "reboot". At its most fundamental, I think you've just got to restart something after a particular title has lost its initial momentum and you want to get it going again.

It may still have fuel-but its lost that big push at the start of a particular segment.

I guess a good reboot is one that successfully re-focuses the interest on the character-whether it is a return to the basics OR a fresh new direction that remakes the character into something interesting.

A lot of times, I think its just a cyclical thing. People want the NEW but then get tired and want the old again...

Who can forget the big reboot of Jonah Hex in the 90s when they took him OUT of the west and put him in a post-apocalyptic future world? That lasted for 18 issues! I'll bet it only sold well for the first six.
But does anyone remember? no. because it gave us perspective on how much we all loved "Old west" Hex...

JLA Detroit was a big re-boot to focus the book away from the weird hodge podge it had become prior to that (most don't remember how awful a book it was just before then).

But even Grant Morrison's JLA reboot NEEDED that awful 'new' JLA (and its descendants) to convince DC that it needed to go "back to the basics"

I think Marvel has just tied these reboots more closely to their creative teams so there is no creative 'lag' between them on so many of these creator driven books.

Iron Fist is probably not an easy book that you get just anyone to write-it needs a special touch. This seems to be same for many of these in order to be truly successful... I think some books,literally don't need anyone to drive them (e.g. Wolverine and/or Batman). They will always sell..but need a big surge every so often but you really need the Love for Iron Fist...

anyway..just some random thots in the middle of the night...:-)