October 2nd, 2011

Peter G

Doctor In The House

In the days leading up to the broadcast of the final Doctor Who episode for this season, the British press (I believe it was the Radio Times, but I honestly don't know if it is even still being published) reported that the episode brings the series "in line with Moffat's vision."

I have been enjoying the revived Doctor Who when I've seen it.  It just never quite became a priority for me.  In fact, I think (I'm not sure, but I think) I've seen more episodes for this season than any other since the relaunch.

Ever since the Eccelson season started, there has just been something...off about the whole thing, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  It wasn't the change in tone.  I was actually fine with that.  Doctor Who has frequently been scribed (and lovingly, I might add, I heard this from Whovians) as "camp".  Seeing the Doctor being given a shove into Babylon 5 territory worked for me.

I think part of what was bothering me so much was the familiar faces.  Not so much seeing them again so much as them seeing the Doctor again. The revival started with a nearly blank slate.  Daleks?  Gone.  Time Lords?  Gone.  Sort of like An Unearthly Child.  And slowly, everything started getting reintroduced.  I still think the episode Dalek was intended to shed some light on the Time War and that would supposedly be it, but producers underestimated the fandom not only following the show, but one of the Doctor's signature enemies.

And so the revived Doctor Who's clean slate started getting crowded again.  Even worse, because the Doctor was alone.  His allies were gone, but everyone else was there.  And everyone knew him.  Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.  In The Pandorica Opens, all the Doctor's enemies were there, and knew Matt Smith was him.  Given some events where the time streams are happening individually (I've been waiting for something like River Song, where her events are out of sync with the Doctor's, to happen for a while now, ever since the Master and the Rani were keeping pace with the Doctor instead of catching him at odd times.  Even Douglas Adams allowed it to happen to Arthur Dent in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish).  And Moffat isn't above using timey-whimey logic to keep things moving (the charity special where David Tennant met Peter Davidson, and Tennant knew how to fix the situation because he had already seen his earlier incarnation do it).  In fact, it's become his stock in trade.

This is problematic of everything, especially comic books.  I've bitch, pissed, and moaned about how comics will start a new continuity or a separate continuity, and each time, no one can resist putting stuff from the others in there.  It becomes distracting because, the more it looks like what they were trying to avoid, the less impact their original set up had (see:  Smallville, Supergirl -- Cosmic Adventures In The Eighth Grade).  This was what was happening with Doctor Who.  As a result, I think I see what was so different between this revival and the original series.

The Doctor is too well known.

Across all of time and space, there's very little anonymity to him now.  People not only know of him, but know to watch out for him.  Compared to Attack Of The Cybermen, where the Cybermen only knew the Doctor was running around because Lytton discovered the sonic lance and told the Cybermen about it, it just felt like there were too many familiar faces at this circle jerk.

I think Moffat is trying to get the series back to its roots.  It's not about some giant cosmic series of events.  It's about a homeless traveler wandering the universe, discovering new things, putting things right (the last episode with the Cybermat "felt" like the Who I knew from before).  And the only way he could do it, like David Bruce Banner, was to let everyone think he's dead.  The secrets he carries will have to be looked for elsewhere.  The Doctor's adventures could either be more isolated, or that could be the new focus, keeping things isolated so he doesn't find himself being hunted like in The Pandorica Opens again.  After all, we still have the fall of the eleventh somewhere down the line.  Oh, and hopefully, Rory stops dying as often as Kenny McCormick.

I'm very very interested in what happens next season.
Peter G

Do You Really Love Me, Baby? Let Me Know

Certain things have not changed in the DCnU.

For example, Dan DiDio can still cause an Internet storm with a simple Tweet.

Someone asked DiDio on his Facebook if the Superboy Prime from Final Crisis was still around, because he thought it would be funny to see him turn up and see how much things have changed.  Didio's response?

Well, this is certainly good news.  No.  Really.  Barry never died.  A regular mutliverse instead of the goofy 52.  Dr. Light isn't a rapist, Sue Dibney never died, and Elongated Man never offed himself (of course, the last two could simply not exist.  The only reason Elongated Man was invented was they didn't know they had the rights to Plastic Man).  No continuity errors explained away with a Superboy Punch (one of the best metaphors to pop up in modern times).  No Maxwell Lord bullshit, so Wonder Woman isn't a murder (at least, for him, she has in fact killed at least two people before that). 

We're going to conveniently ignore Hawkman mentioning the death of Don Hall not three weeks ago.  Not to mention the Green Lantern titles retained their continuity, so Zero Hour did, in fact, happen, as well as the death and resurrection of Maxwell Lord in Blackest Night.  Not to mention The Road Back for Bruce Wayne.  Right.  No talking about that, m'kay?

This illustrates a potential problem.  Lot of people were wondering how DC was going to maintain the three separate continuity lines in the series.  And more are coming.  There's a new Justice Society coming, set in a completely different universe.

My guess is that the continuities are delineated by readership.  Batman and Green Lantern have always had the highest, most consistent readership.  They were left untouched.  You had some people following certain titles like Hawkman after Brightest Day.  So those stayed there for those consistent readers.  Everything else?  They didn't have consistent readers, so let's bring in new readers.  These books and continuities are for them.  In other words, DC is accepting that no one buys and follows every single title they put out, so they've broken it up into chunks by market to give those readers what they want.

This is not a problem.  Do I want to see all the books in a shared continuity?  I don't care.  I don't read many DC titles, so their interconnectedness doesn't mean dick to me.  I mean, the whole "How do you explain this in this book if it never happened in this book?" only matters if they interact.  And given that each of the three lines has representations of each character, "crossovers" will simply be within their lines without the pesky backstory to get in the way.  Speaking as a writer, this actually makes sense to me (and is also a relief, since I wouldn't need to know a ton of backstory just to make characters interact).

Still, comic fans (who proudly brag they quit reading DC long ago, so why they still care about books they've sworn off is a mystery to me) are screaming that this is proof that DiDio doesn't know what he's doing.  To some extent, DiDio's "success" is still unproven.  The success of the relaunch can be attributed more to marketing than editorial.  As the months go by, we'll see which titles are still selling, which aren't, and at what levels.  That will be when we see what DiDio is doing.  How does he maintain the momentum he started.  It's only been one month.  It's too soon to tell.  As K-9 says, "Insufficient data."

Longtime comic readers need to accept that these books are not made for them.  And if they don't like it, all the pissing and moaning in the world won't change anything.  After all, if complaining worked, Peter Parker wouldn't have made his deal with Mephesto, it would have been undone by now.

I've complained about continuity violations before.  But there comes a point for me (eventually) where I either accept what is happening and move forward or quit the book.  The comic book fans seem to be locked in this little time loop, wishing books were more like the ones they quit reading in the first place.  They aren't comic book fans.  They are armchair editors.

Besides, if the books start wiping out, they'll put things back and everyone will have their favorites back.  I'm patiently awaiting the return of the Supergirl I admired and the exploitative hypersexualizations of Catwoman, Voodoo, and Starfire to become distant memories.
Peter G

Read The Fine Print

Tim Seeley, the Chicago-area creator of Hack/Slash, just Tweeted:

“With this check I have just written, we have paid of all the old Devil’s Due Productions Hack/Slash debt! We are out of the red, except for the blood spray everywhere.”

...wait, what?

DDP was the original distributor of Hack/Slash.  Seeley left because he wasn't being paid in a timely manner.  The debate was, does he stay with DDP in hopes of getting some of his money, or does he bail, forcing DDP under and losing all that revenue?

Looks like there was more going on than we realized.

Either Seeley didn't read that contract very well, or Josh Blaylock didn't let him go so easy....