Thursday, May 03, 2007

Kirbyfied and Ditkoized: When to Reboot

Our friends over at Trout in the Milk have some interesting comments on the Eternals comic, some of which got me thinking in a slightly different direction (since I've not been reading Eternals)
The Marvel Universe has grown incredibly boring as time’s gone on, because after it stopped its imaginative expansions it had nothing else to do but consume its own heart…but these Eternals, Deviants, and Celestials are different from what they were before, now. They’re potentially interesting. You could do things with them, now. The way Jack left them they were far too radioactively Kirbyfied for anyone else to risk touching them, but so was everything at Marvel, once upon a time…and what wasn’t Kirbyfied was Ditkoized, which can be even more dangerous.
and I started to question just how much time goes by before we will allow radical reimagining of beloved characters. Certainly we all want to avoid the "trapped in amber" version of a character that never develops, but how, really, did it take before we were able to move on from the Wein/Wrightson version of Swamp Thing? The character had to fall into development limbo/hell (except for a cool brave and bold drawn with panache by Aparo) and near cancellation before Moore got his hands on Alec Holland. Has anyone really been able to re-write swampy since then?

It used to be that if you wanted to work in mainstream comics on, say, Iron Man, you had to accept that Tony Stark was who he was and you had to accept all the background with Stark Industries and Whitney Frost and Happy Hogan et al. Since the Image Comics era, it has become far too easy to simply reimagine and reboot the character and not have any parameters to work within, whereas before, you were given too many restrictions. Neither is entirely the best place to work.

Just the semantics of "being radioactively Kirbyfied" killed me, but it certainly makes me try to imagine: who else Could have picked up the baton in Marvel in the 1970's and run with Machine Man or Devil Dinosaur? 2001 the series? It took DC poaching Starlin to make a run at the New Gods (which Jim did beautifully in Cosmic Odyssey), or Gerber and Rogers on Mister Miracle (which, to this day, I still think of as a bizarre pairing) Lets face it, hiring a Herb Trimpe or Sal Buscema to continue Devil Dinosaur is simply unthinkable, so its good that they didn't do it.

The real trick: when will someone turn Nick Fury: Agent of Shield into a viable series? After Steranko's turn, you have to go to Chichester and Guice's version for anything that isn't worth recycling.

1 comment:

plok said...

I'm kinda partial to Ditko's Machine Man, actually...

But, probably only because of it being all Ditko-y.

I don't think I got it all across very well: what I was saying about The Eternals was, although anybody else's Eternals will always be not as fun as Kirby's, if you can even get the characters and concepts in some marginally-intact form to the point where they can be used in the regular Marvel Universe to tell stories, then you could tell actual new stories with them. Which would be great: if the MU needs anything, it needs new stories, as recent events have shown. And there The Eternals sit, products of Kirby's unique creative fecundity...wow. What a set of storytelling opportunities they represent. If only some genius would come along and make them capable of being handled by mere mortals again...!

Oh. Yeah.

The 2001 series is right out, though, I think. Absolutely impossible.

As for Nick Fury: hell, I don't even recognize the guy anymore.

Hmm...maybe I'll just mull this over a little bit more...