Do Comic Movements Work?

May 30th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

HEAT worked. It took ten years, but they finally got back their totally awesome better-than-everybody-else forever-and-ever-amen hero back.

All the others, though– Girl-Wonder (at least regarding Stephanie Brown), whoever it is that wants Ted Kord/The Question/Firestorm back, and various other comics movements– have any of those ever worked? I can’t think of one.

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13 comments to “Do Comic Movements Work?”

  1. …Was there a movement to get you-know-who as the new Sorcerer Supreme?

  2. Is it really fair to see HEAT worked? I mean, Hal Jordan came back as GL and was rehabilitated, yes, but I don’t think that that happened because of their efforts, but because Geoff Johns (and Dan Didio et al) wanted it to happen. Is there a real causal relationship there?

    Unless Johns is a HEAT plant, of course.

    Anyway, no, I don’t think that these kinds of movements work, they just don’t have the influence and/or numbers to make businesses like Marvel and DC change their minds. And that’s a good thing. If fans were to be able to dictate to writers and editors what should be put in their comics in such a direct way, it would result in horrible and stagnant comics. “Who is this British twerp who’s changing Swamp Thing so that he was never human? He’s ruining our favorite character! We should create The Swamp Thing Hey Presto Reverso Society (or STHPRS for short), send angry letters to everyone and take out expensive adds in The Comics Journal!”

  3. The fans of Spider-Girl seem to be particularly effective in getting her series uncanceled, although I don’t think they are a “movement” per se.

  4. @Derk van Santvoort: Fair point on HEAT. I think it’s fair to say that it’s 50/50, though– their wishes were pretty much granted, though not how or why they wanted? Does that make sense?

    @Matt Ampersand: Good catch on that one! I’d say that Spider-Girl is arguably the most successful. They kept that series going for what, 60 or 70 issues past the first threat of cancellation? And now it’s a regular feature in Spider-Man Family.

  5. I thought HEAT was a Johns plant.

    In my experience, when some vocal whinging suddenly appears on the DC Boards, it’s often backed by someone at DC under a sock-puppet name.

    Granted, what happened with Hal went on too long for HEAT to be sudden, but I suspect HEAT was a movement within the company from the moment Emerald Twilight was released, just as the movement to retcon the Spider-marriage was within Marvel from the moment the marriage annual was published.

  6. Stephanie Brown was dead, and never had a trophy case like Jason Todd. Then in Batman there was a trophy case in the Batcave, and then Stephanie Brown turned out not to be dead. I’d say Project Girl Wonder was a success.

  7. To an extent, that’s true, but I was under the impression that the main crux of G-W’s argument had to do with the way she died– oversexualized, tortured, and marginalized. By just bringing her back, DC sidestepped all of the sexism and torture porn issues, leaving those still unresolved/unanswered. Like, you can punch me in the stomach, but giving me an aspirin tablet isn’t going to make that better, you know? That’s just DC going “Psyche! Gotcha! Now forget what about it REALLY made you mad.”

    HEAT got a Hal Jordan who was largely absolved of his sins and returned pure and fresh. The issues people had with his fall from grace/death/whatever were smoothed over and fixed.

    G-W was definitely a success in that it helped mobilize a lot of fangirls, raise their visibility, and provide a (the only?) female-focused message board.

  8. When that crazy guy in Hitman squeezed an entire car out of his ass, that was a successful comic movement, right?

  9. Why don’t you go to a birthday party, you big jerk :(

  10. There is a Question. Her name is Renee Montoya. People need to get over it. A history of legacy characters are one thing DC has on Marvel: if a property gets too stale, reinvent it as something that skews younger and is TV-ready.

  11. “There is a Question. Her name is Renee Montoya. People need to get over it. A history of legacy characters are one thing DC has on Marvel: if a property gets too stale, reinvent it as something that skews younger and is TV-ready.”

    Jbird, you forgot to add:
    “and then just as the holdouts are coming around and the newer character is making inroads to broader media by appearing in videogames and cartoons and a new generation of readers have grown up with the new version as ‘their’ version of the character, change the character back to the original version for no practical reason at all.”

  12. We got Manhunter uncanceled once.

    Too bad the return series wasn’t as good as the original, and got canceled pretty quickly after that :(

  13. I think a big thing that muddles the whole issue of effectiveness in comic movements is the revolving door nature of comic book character death itself. The first comic I ever owned that had Hal in it was him as the Specter guest starring in Oliver Queen’s resurrection arc. He was the dude in the Super Friends. He was coming back. Same deal with Aquaman. Even then I knew what his past identity really was, and that he’d come back as a Green Lantern. Things like that feel like me demanding for the sun to rise again tomorrow. Sure it rose, but did my demands make it come any faster? And I just don’t believe the “Bring Back Barry” group “got their way” after about two decades of them not liking Wally West.

    And I really have to agree with people on the power of the editor and writers. If the original Question comes back, it will be because someone like Greg Rucka or Grant Morrison wants him back, not some online petition I could sign five times with a proxy and tell my non-comic reading friends to sign via AIM or facebook (by the way, I like the new Question). Blogs, online banners, and petitions have given a collected group of people a louder voice to bring their dissent, but there’s still something to say about quantity sales and connections. Quite a lot to say, actually.

    As weird as it sounds, I really think presenting complaints and requests as coming from individual customers do more good than any type of comic campaigning (even though, yes, comic campaigning is consisted of customers as well). It worked for the Spider-Girl readers; they wrote in to the editors as customers who would stick with the comic come hell or high water and would do everything they could to bring in other readers.

    Honestly, I think the biggest contribution most of these movements do is allow comic publishers to have that extra line that says “Because the fans demanded it!” when they crank out that mini-series or reboot a series they were going to do anyway.