I’m Moving! (Well, my blog is)

Hello all!

After my last post, I officially completed my second goal, having watched every theatrically released Disney animated film in order of release.  That, coupled with having finished the my DC continuity adventure earlier this year makes this feel like I’ve rounded out what I set out to accomplish with this site.

That being said, I am NOT giving up blogging.  I definitely have plenty more to say, and I genuinely enjoy sharing my thoughts.  I’ve given it a lot of thought though, and I decided I don’t want to blog under the title Holy Comics, Batman! any longer.  Part of it is due to the ever-constant (and possibly irrational) fear that I will one day be hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit for naming the site after Batman.  No, I have no data to back up this fear, and I’m not making money off the site so it’s probably not even an issue. Still, it’s a concern I don’t need.  The other issue I have with the title is that this blog started off as strictly comics-related.  I’ve branched out a bit with my Disney film reviews, but every time I posted one of those it felt untrue to what this site was originally intended to be.  I wanted a site where I could continue to write about comics, but could also write about movies, books, tv shows – really anything that strikes my fancy.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to call my new blog. I didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself with anything too specific, but I also wanted it to be something fun that reflected who I am. With that in mind, Hippo Planet was born.

Okay yes, some explanation may be required as to why that name was chosen. Simply put, I have this odd affinity for hippos, and they seemed like they’d be a cute mascot of sorts for the blog.  Also, as Mistah J and I were bantering ideas back and forth and “Hippo Planet” was mentioned, I immediately got the “Captain Planet” theme song stuck in my head, and started making up a parody version about hippos.  I took this as a good sign and just ran with it.  The title doesn’t mean much of anything, honestly, but I sort of like that. There are plenty of sites out there with nonsense names, and it allows me the freedom to fill the blog with anything I want (hippos or otherwise).  I’ll still link back to this site on the new blog, with an “Archives” section that will refer back to the writing I’ve done here over the past year and a half. I can’t have people thinking I’m a blogging newbie, after all 😉

Nothing else about my posting or writing will change moving forward. I’ll just be blogging under a new title, and sometimes about topics outside of the comics world.  I’ll still be following all of the same blogs I follow now, and hope you’ll join in following my newest endeavor as well. I’m still puttering around with the layout and design of the site, but I was too excited to wait until it was 100% ready to launch. I’m impatient like that 🙂

If you head on over to Hippo Planet, you’ll see that the site is up and running, and my first post is already published.  Check there for all future updates/blog posts.

Hope to see you there!

-Jess

Moana (2016)

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Well, it took some time but I finally saw Disney’s latest animated feature film, Moana.  I missed seeing it in theaters by thismuch and had to wait for it to be released on dvd (do people still say dvd, or have they defaulted to blu-ray? I’m so out of touch with what the hip kids are saying these days).  I knew next to nothing about the plot going in, and was optimistically hopeful that the film would live up to Disney’s other most recent endeavors.  Suffice it to say, it lived up to its predecessors, and then some.

For those who haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet (no major spoilers ahead, but I will discuss key plot elements), Moana is the story of a young Polynesian girl who is the daughter of a chief (she dislikes being called a “princess”).  She’s destined to take her father’s place as ruler of their island, but Moana’s heart pulls her elsewhere: specifically, the ocean, a place she and her people are forbidden to go.  Like any teenager, she craves what she’s been denied, and through a series of events Moana finds herself on a journey across the ocean.  She is joined by Maui, a demi-god (voiced by Dwayne -stop trying to pretend your middle name isn’t “The Rock”- Johnson) who is less than helpful at times but always entertaining.  Moana is trying to return a stone to a specific island, a magical item that represents the heart of the Earth… okay you know what? It’s way too hard to describe this plot accurately (or explain why this movie is good) without giving away spoilers.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it RIGHT NOW.  I’ll wait.

….

It’s so great, right??

From this point on I’m going to assume that you heeded my instructions and watched the film. If you’re a rogue and decided to ignore my instruction, BEWARE THE SPOILERS.

Okay, let’s talk about what the film does well:

Music

I have had half the songs from this film stuck in my head for a week, no lie.  Part of that may be due to the fact that Mistah J downloaded the entire soundtrack and proceeded to sing the songs all weekend, but it’s kept them fresh in my mind.  There’s your perfect blend of Disney tones: we get the heartfelt ‘why don’t I fit in’ style song, sung beautifully by lead actress Auli’i Cravalho, The Rock sings an upbeat tune essentially touting how amazing he is, and our main villain’s song is performed by a giant crab who exclaims over and over that he’s so shiny all while insulting (and trying to eat) Moana and Maui.  The music reminded me of the greats from the Disney Renaissance, so much so that like those great films, I could easily see this one taking a spin on Broadway at some point.  “Shiny” specifically stands out, serving as one of the antagonist’s shining moments (couldn’t help it) and yet somehow projecting a “they can’t dull my sparkle” uplifting sentiment as well. If you’re having a bad day, just blast that song while dancing around like the badass you are. You’ll undoubtedly feel 1,000% better.

 Characterization

In recent films Disney seems to have decided to stick to certain stock tropes for its characters, especially when it comes to Disney princess films.  There’s the leading lady, a funny and charming romantic interest, a cute animal sidekick, an antagonist who is clearly evil yet the viewer can’t help but find aspects to like, and a few ancillary characters to round out the mix.  To be fair, Moana abides by many of these rules, and frankly there’s nothing wrong with that.  They work, and you can’t fault Disney for re-using basic storytelling techniques that have proven successful in the past.  The one major change in Moana though is a big one for me:  there is no romantic interest.  Prior to seeing the film, I was certain that Moana would be romantically linked to someone, either Maui or an as-yet unknown boy from her island.  It seemed inevitable, given Disney’s past princess films.  Instead, the focus of the film is entirely on Moana’s journey, with not even a hint at any romantic entanglements. Even when her parents discuss her future as chief, there is never any mention that she must have a husband by her side.

THANK YOU DISNEY.  If you’re a guy reading this, maybe you don’t get why I would consider this such a big deal. Let me explain: growing up, the only female Disney characters I had to look up to were princesses whose entire existences were heavily focused on romantic relationships.  From Snow White and Sleeping Beauty all the way up through Pocahontas and Mulan, there was always a figurative (and sometimes literal) knight in shining armor there to save the day, or at the very least serve as motivation for the princess’s actions.  Even recent films like Tangled and Frozen are heavy on the romantic subplots, even if they’re not the primary focus of the film.  As a child these characters led me to believe that a romantic relationship should be the primary focus of my attention.  Even as the films progressed and Disney started allowing the princesses to have their own dreams and personalities, there was still a prince waiting in the wings for them.  With Moana, young girls will finally have the chance to look up to a Disney princess who is perfectly fulfilled without a man in her life.

That being said, obviously I have no problem with Disney telling a love story, but it’s nice to see that they’re finally branching out and accepting that young girls can enjoy a good old-fashioned adventure story even if it doesn’t have the romantic element.  This is SO IMPORTANT for the way young girls (and boys) are brought up, and I’m thrilled that Disney has finally expanded out into this uncharted territory.

Mini-rant over, back to the movie:

Negatives?

I try to be fair-minded when I write these posts, and review from all angles to try and appreciate the good and the bad. To be completely honest, I’m having difficulty thinking of any negatives about this film.  The animation, voice action, story-telling, music: it was all very well done.  There’s a part of me that’s sad that I won’t ever have the childhood nostalgia for this film the way I do say, The Lion King or The Little Mermaid.  It will undoubtedly become a classic in Disney’s canon, and hopefully the studio continues producing films of this caliber.

As I finish writing this, I’m bopping to “You’re Welcome”, The Rock’s solo song in the film (I broke down and bought the soundtrack, couldn’t help it).  The fact that I can’t write without dancing in my chair and singing along seems like praise enough.

Also, if you haven’t already seen it, go watch the post-credit scene. It’s brief, but it may have been one of my favorite parts. Trust me.

-Jess

Update! (Finally)

Hello all! (Er…all three of you who actually read this.)

It’s been a while, and since I’m off today and have officially exhausted all other forms of distraction, it felt time to return for an update. It’s been a few months since my last post, mainly because I was pretty spent from blogging. I had been posting every single day for the better part of a year, writing anywhere from 500-1000+ words every single day, to the point that I just found myself hating the whole process. I took a step back and decided to just enjoy reading on its own, without having to throw my commentary on every single topic into the mix.

That being said, I’ve officially completed my mission.  That’s right, I read the entire “shelf”, all 434 trades (see here for a complete list of them).  I also went back and read many of the “New 52” issues that haven’t been collected in trade yet, so I’m finally caught up through the Wednesday before last (I’m always a week behind since I have to wait until the weekend to get my hands on Mistah J’s newest purchases.  How dare he want to read his own comics before me!)

Given that I started off with next to no knowledge about DC, I’d say I’ve come a long way.  I can still recall writing my first post about The Superman Chronicles: Volume OneThe Superman Chronicles: Volume One, which included Action Comics issue #1, the one that started it all.  That was over a year and a half ago at this point, and it still astonishes me that I stuck with it and have now completed a pretty damn comprehensive course in DC comics history.  Has anyone else ever delved into the world of comics in this way before, being introduced to the stories in continuity order? I wonder that sometimes, since it seems like a somewhat unique experience, and not something one could do without guidance (how could I have possibly even attempted it without Mistah J and his incomparable “shelf” as my guide?).  Whether it’s been done before or not, I can honestly say it’s something I never would have thought I’d ever attempt, let alone actually complete.

Of course, having read so many friggin’ comics in such a short time period, I’ve become one of those people who gets into arguments with her co-workers about the accuracy of tv show and film depictions, and how true to the source material they stay (I always win, which is nice). I’ve also become somewhat of the resident expert in my office on DC storylines, since most of my co-workers love the screen adaptations but aren’t big into reading. I’m a fan of acquiring knowledge (and may have a bit of a know-it-all side, if I’m being completely honest) so it’s nice to not only know all of these details, but to be able to put all of this reading to use in day to day life.

On top of completing “the shelf”, Mistah J and I also sat down and watched every single episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Young Justice (yes, it’s a lot).  I was a fan of BtAS as a child, but the rest I had never seen (also, just realized the acronym almost spells out “Bats” and that makes me really happy). They were all a lot of fun, and I definitely appreciated watching them with the background knowledge of the comics in mind.  There were so many references and Easter eggs that I would have undoubtedly missed out on a lot had I not been familiar with the comics.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mistah J and I also finished watching all of the animated films in Disney’s canon, having just watched Moana last weekend.

Once I completed all that, I needed a break. I was still reading comics, but only the few newly released issues each week. I took a step back and tended to my other interests outside of the DC universe, along with picking up a few new interests along the way.  I had given so much of my time to reading “the shelf” that other hobbies had been neglected, and it feels good to finally be getting back into them. I don’t regret having read “the shelf” at all, and am honestly quite proud of the accomplishment, but as with any great undertaking, I breathed a sigh of relief when I was finally done.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave this blog?  I’ve been giving it some thought lately and I don’t think I want to give up on this blog. I doubt I’ll ever return to posting quite as frequently as I did at my height (because honestly, that was just insane on my part), but I do think I’ll keep it up and use this site as an outpost for my musings on various topics, be it movies, television, comics, or anything else that comes into my mind.

A friend of mine and I have recently started watching every single Oscar Best Picture winner in order (they started in 1928, so you can do the math of what sort of undertaking that is).  We’re only a few movies in, and I’ve contemplated starting a new series about those.  I’ve also considered writing detailed posts about each episode of BtAS or one of the other animated DC series I’ve watched lately.  Basically, I’ve got lots of ideas, but haven’t landed on a single one yet.  Maybe I’ll do all of them, maybe none.  I’m biding my time until inspiration strikes, and then who knows what I’ll decide to blab blog about.

Bringing this post full-circle, I must say I’m excited for where the New 52 storylines seem to be headed. They’re slow-going, drawing out the storyline at an almost snail-like pace.  (Or, at least that’s what it feels like when you have to wait weeks for a new issue to come out. Is this what you people deal with on a regular basis?! I guess I better get used to it.)  I’m really excited for the upcoming “Button” crossover storyline between Batman and Flash, primarily because maybe we’ll finally get to see some progress with the whole Dr. Manhattan storyline. I’m loving the way they brought Watchmen into the main fold (and appreciate Mistah J having seemlessly slipped that comic into my reading list so coolly a few months ago, me none the wiser that I kinda had to read it to fully grasp the significance of this storyline).

I’m also glad to see that so many of the small details I disliked about the New 52 have since been explained and/or re-written (bye, New 52 Superman).  I’m liking the current direction DC seems to be taking with their stories, and while I know it’s impossible to say at this point whether these storylines will be a feather in DC’s proverbial cap, or a blight on their publishing record, I have a strong feeling it will lean towards the former.

Okay, I’ve blathered on long enough about not much at all.  I’ll definitely be posting again, I just don’t know when. Tomorrow, next week, next month? Whenever it is, I’ll be fine with it. I’m done forcing myself to write, and would much rather sit back and let the words come to me naturally.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read a book without pictures. I know, I’m a monster.

-Jess

Zootopia (2016)

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I’m closing in on the end of my Disney film-watching endeavor (and coincidentally, getting awfully close to finishing “the shelf” as well).  The second-to-last film on my list was Zootopia, one of Disney’s most recent features and yet another that I had yet to see. (I’m looking like a bad Disney fan with all of these recent movies I haven’t watched yet, aren’t I?)  I had heard good things about this one, and my affinity for big-eyed cartoon animals assured that I’d find at least something to enjoy here.

What surprised me though was the actual plot of the film. Disney’s latest films don’t shy away from addressing more adult topics, but Zootopia’s focus was exceedingly adult-oriented.  The film centers around Judy Hopps, a small-town bunny who dreams of traveling to the big city and becoming the first bunny-cop.  Her dreams are realized, but it turns out it’s not as simple as it seems.  Her boss doesn’t treat her with respect, thinking she can’t handle the difficult job of being a police officer and relegates her to being a meter maid.  Judy doesn’t give up though, demanding she be given a chance to prove herself and earn a spot on the force.

This plot is pretty innocuous, and doesn’t sound too controversial. All in all, it sounds like a decent, run-of-the-mill Disney plot.  What stands out here though is the entire storyline which shows how Judy is going to accomplish her goals.  The film heavily focuses on the concepts of prejudice.  Predators are “going savage” in the town, causing all of the prey to become wary of their neighbors.  What transpires is a wholly adult conflict, with people distrusting those around them, or those who are “different” from them.  Obviously here “predator” and “prey” is a symbol for various races or ethnicity, using different animal species as a placeholder for the diversity we face as humans.

I don’t object to Disney films addressing adult topics, but it was surprising just how prevalent the idea was throughout the film.  There were far more serious scenes than light-hearted ones, creating a much darker, sobering tone for the movie than I ever could have guessed. Yes, there are moments of levity, but they are sprinkled throughout far more serious-minded scenes, bringing the overall feel of the film down to a much more realistic level.  Using animals to tell this story helps to soften the content a bit, but it’s still exceedingly obvious what the movie is really getting at.

There’s plenty to say about this movie, but I just can’t quite find the words.  I enjoyed it, and yet it felt more geared towards adults than anyone else.  Do children even realize the deeper themes being addressed here? Maybe I’m not giving kids enough credit, but it just feels like maybe it would be over their heads a bit.  I can’t fault Disney for wanting to teach a moral in their movies, especially when said moral feels applicable to our everyday lives.   It was just an unexpected twist for Disney, to find a movie that felt a bit more like a PSA than anything else. It was good, but it felt just a bit too heavy-handed for a kid’s film. I fully acknowledge that it’s an important lesson, but there’s just something about it that feels off to me. Maybe it’s the sad realization that we live in the 21st century and are just now getting around to teaching children to treat one another as equals, regardless of race, ethnicity, or any other distinguishing factor.  Seeing a Disney movie address this topic reminds us that there’s a need for it in the first place, and it’s a bit saddening to realize that.  I’m not looking to bash Zootopia, because I did genuinely like it and thought it did a good job of presenting an adult topic in an accessible way for children; it was just a little too realistic for the normally magical Disney, and took some getting used to.  The moral is certainly a vast improvement over what certain earlier Disney films teach us, so if nothing else at least the company is progressing with the times. It’s just sad to think that we’re still at a point where films like this need to be made, and that tolerance isn’t just a norm that we all automatically subscribe to. Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into this (it is just an animated movie, after all).  Either way it’s a really good film, just be aware that if you’re looking for a light-hearted, fluff film that doesn’t make you think, you’ll probably be disappointed.

-Jess

Big Hero 6 (2014)

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It’s really great to see that Disney has once again hit its stride, and has been turning out a number of truly entertaining films in recent years.  The latest on my list is Big Hero 6, a contemporary story about a young boy named Hiro and a healthcare robot named Baymax.  Since this movie is only a few short years old I won’t give much away, but suffice it to say that this film features Hiro and Baymax teaming up with a handful of smart and industrious college engineering students to take on a bad guy.

That description sucks, I know. It’s just impossible to describe it more without giving away key plot points that are better revealed while watching the film.  What I can tell you is that this movie is creative, and has a slightly different feel than some other Disney films. For once though, I don’t mean that in a bad way.  Parts of it remind me of Meet the Robinsons, specifically the heavy emphasis on science and science-based careers.  Disney’s bread and butter is magic, but I really like that they ‘ve crafted a fun movie centered around science.  Had this film come out when I was a child, I might have been more inclined to study engineering or another science-related field.  It’s great to see a kid’s movie that doesn’t fall on magic as its sole source of entertainment, and shows that other, more tangible forms of “magic” can be equally as interesting.

While the film is grounded in science, it doesn’t sacrifice heart.  There are plenty of emotional scenes peppered throughout the film (some are even too emotional, if you ask me).  I appreciate the fact that Disney figured out how to balance these characteristics, helping create a movie that is logical and heartfelt all at the same time.  Hiro and Baymax have a great relationship, and yes, Baymax fills in as the amusing animal-like sidekick that has been popularized by Disney over the years.  He’s cute, innocent, and endearing, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll like him after watching the film.

This post is a little sad and lackluster, since I can’t discuss much without giving away key moments of the story, and I don’t want to spoil anything.  Suffice it to say that it’s well worth a watch, and will certain take your emotions on a roller coaster ride.  Is that a good thing? I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

-Jess

Frozen (2013)

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I feel as though this movie doesn’t really need a post all its own. After all, is there anyone not already familiar with the Frozen phenomena?  After all, this movie was (and to a slightly lesser extent, still is) BIG.  There are countless memes and articles about why this movie is the best, and how it’s the forerunner for so many wonderful tropes that Disney has thus far ignored, etc etc.  Now before I go being all contrarian, let me make it clear: I actually like this movie very much. It’s well written, has beautiful animations and music, and the story itself is fun and heartfelt.  That being said, I do feel as though it’s just a little overrated.

To be fair, that’s not the movie’s fault.  It was released just like countless Disney films before it, and it somehow morphed into this worldwide obsession with the stories and characters that nobody could have predicted.  A quick search online will show you numerous arguments that Frozen is so forward thinking, that Disney finally gets it.  For the three people in the world who don’t already know the story: Elsa and Anna are sisters, as well as princesses. After their parents die, Elsa assumes the throne as queen, but she has a secret: mysterious ice powers that she has kept hidden from everyone her entire life.  Unable to control them, Elsa thrusts her kingdom into perpetual winter and flees the castle.  Anna then spends a good part of the movie trying to find Elsa and convince her that they can figure everything out together.

As stories go, this one is really well done, and I can certainly see where the obsession comes from.  Neither Elsa nor Anna is focused on finding a husband (in fact, the movie finally addresses the absurd notion perpetuated in its previous films with Elsa’s classic line, “You can’t marry a man you just met”, eliciting a chorus of, “About damn time, Disney” from around the world.)  There is a major emphasis on sisterly love and sacrifice here, leading many to claim that this is the first popular Disney film to not emphasize romantic love as its primary theme (to which I say umm hello? Have you seen Mulan?) 

I get it, I really do.  Top of a more progressive story with a cast of lovable and funny side characters and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands. I think my issue is just that so many people over-emphasize the groundbreaking nature of Frozen that I can’t help but feel that it’s being blown out of proportion.  While I will agree that Frozen seems to present certain themes in a more straight-forward light than others, it’s not the first Disney film to address such themes.  Beauty and the Beast features sacrifice for non-romantic love, and Brother Bear emphasizes the bond between siblings much the same way Frozen does.  People seem to forget these points when discussing this film, and it just irks me because it detracts from the other great work Disney has done in its time.

Now that I’ve sufficiently pissed off the die-hard Frozen fans, I really must emphasize that I actually like this film very much.  The characters are funny and the princesses are more relatable than many (compare how Anna and Cinderella wake up and you’ll know what I mean).  Olaf is the cutest little snowman ever, and if you’re ever having a bad day, just turn on “Let it Go” and belt it out. You’ll instantly feel better, I guarantee it.

I hated writing this post, not wanting to sound like I was bashing a film that I enjoyed.  I guess my issue is more with the fan reaction to the film than the film itself. Of course, I’m not begrudging anybody being obsessed with a movie, and certainly don’t want to criticize anyone’s interests. I just wish people wouldn’t lift up this movie by forgetting or insulting the rest of Disney’s canon by claiming Frozen is the first to do anything. Have there been some crummy Disney films? A look at my past posts will tell you that, at least in my opinion, there definitely have been.  Does that mean they’ve all been sub-par? Of course not.  Many of them are truly wonderful works of art, and shouldn’t be forgotten just because a great film has recently been released.

Now that this post has completely veered away from Frozen and turned into a diatribe against “in the moment” fandom, I think it’s best to sign off for now.  If by some chance you haven’t seen Frozen yet, I highly recommend it. If you’ve already seen it, what do you think? Is the Frozen phenomenon just a little over-hyped, or am I completely off my rocker?

Both are equally likely.

-Jess

DC’s New 52

For the past few weeks I’ve been neck-deep in a slew of trades from DC’s New 52 run, and as I’ve absorbed each story I’ve paused and reflected which, if any, I wanted to write about.  Lately I’ve felt that my comics posts have been a bit negative in nature, primarily due to the fact that when I dislike a comic, I tend to have more to say about it than if  I liked it.  That being said, I don’t want this blog to morph into a comics-bashing site, so I’ve decided to write a more generalized post about the overall narrative in the New 52 comics.

When I realized that the New 52 was going to be a massive reboot of the continuity, I was a little annoyed.  Again, really? Didn’t we just go through this not that long ago? Okay yes, it was a little longer for readers at the time, rather than the few months it took me to read through the trades since the last reboot.  Still, is a reboot in the storyline really necessary every few years? I had a bad taste in my mouth before I even began, fearing that DC would start rebooting all of their comics every few years, simply for the sake of trying to garner new readers.

Since beginning the New 52 comics, my feelings have been mixed, to say the least.  The individual stories themselves are good, with overall solid writing and interesting storylines.  That being said, I was really unhappy with the massive overhaul that seemed to have taken place. It felt as though nearly the entire continuity had been rewritten, with plenty of characters completely changing while others were nowhere to be found.  As I was reading, I found myself wondering, “What was the point in reading these nearly 400 trades, if they were just going to reboot everything so that none of it mattered?”  Obviously that’s a rather cynical take, and it’s not as though those stories aren’t still part of canon or play a role in the stories being told.  It just felt like I was being expected to forget what I had read, and replace it with all of this new information. If it was frustrating for me, a person who’s only been reading comics for a little over a year, I can’t begin to imagine what lifelong fans were going through.

Other than this obvious change to the larger story, one of my biggest issues was with the overall tonal shift of the comics.  Prior to the New 52, DC had struck a good balance between tone and emotion with its individual titles.  Some were dark, others were more lighthearted, but all had a variety of emotions that lent a level of realism to the stories.  With the New 52, it felt as though DC believed the only way they would get and keep readers was to be edgy and dark, regardless of the title.  Batman is edgy and dark most of the time, yes, but should a Superman comic really be the same? Or even worse, Shazam!?  Certain titles that have no place being dark have been twisted and morphed into something they’ve never been before. I’m all for allowing characters to change and evolve over time, but some of these shifts were too drastic to be believable, and they were all inevitably towards this singular tone.  It seems the days of lighter comics like I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League are gone, leaving me to wonder if the tone of the DC multiverse will ever be as varied and diverse as it once was.

That being said, I can’t completely hate the reboot.  I genuinely respect what DC was trying to do, specifically in attempting to bring a level of diversity to its characters.  Many of these characters were created 60+ years ago, and because of the time period they were created, most are white males.  This doesn’t do much to bring in a more varied readership when there’s a large group of people who can’t relate to the bulk of your characters.  DC’s attempts to modernize its characters are obvious: Earth 2’s Green Lantern is now gay, Hawkgirl is black (and completely independent, I’m happy to note; no sign of Hawkman as of yet).  Even non-hero characters have been made more original and modern; my favorite being Lana Lang, now a strong and sassy electrical engineer who dives headfirst into danger and talks back to Superman when he’s annoying her.  The diversity is noticeable, and I applaud DC for wanting to branch out with their characters and reach out to a wider audience.

Still, as I’m reading these comics I can’t help but wonder if the massive reboot was really necessary. Couldn’t more diversity have been added without adding in this whole “everything still happened, it just happened in 5 years” thing? Couldn’t they have changed characters’ races and sexual orientations without completely rewriting their backstories?  If anything I think it would have been more powerful to reveal a long-standing character as gay, rather than completely rewrite their histories.  The stories are fun and entertaining to read, but it’s difficult to keep track of what’s still part of continuity and what isn’t. I vastly prefer a multiverse where everything that’s been written up until that point, both good and bad, is acknowledged as having happened.  Readers should be rewarded for their loyalty and knowledge, not pushed aside to make way for brand new fans who know nothing about the stories. (Is it obnoxious for me to say that, having only been reading comics for a little over a year?  I’ve read nearly 400 trades in that time, so I’m choosing to say no it’s not).

It’s somewhat comforting to know that Rebirth is just around the corner.  I have no idea what all is happening in the stories right now, but I’m confident that perhaps the continuity will be rewritten again, and hopefully for the better.  Had I been reading these comics a year or two ago, before Rebirth was a thing, I would no doubt have been really angry, feeling as though the past 75+ years of comics were for nothing, and that DC was looking to rewrite nearly everything in its history.  At least I can comfort myself with knowing that there is another reboot coming up soon enough, and will hopefully correct some of these issues I have with the New-52 era comics.  In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy the stories for what they are and focus less on their impact to the overall continuity.

-Jess