Thursday, May 9, 2013

Consequences & Reboots

All I look for in a sequel (or a series) is consequences. That things from the first story, be they plot elements, character aspectws and relationships, or world-building, have effects in the second story. And beyond.

Maybe no fictional world did this better than the TV show Babylon 5. J. Michael Straczynski planted clues in season 1 that did not bear fruit until season 3, or 4, or even 5. And there were consequences to actions: relationships changed, plot elements flowed beautifully. Things that happened, the ways people behaved, just "made sense."

Suzanne Collins does this very well in the Hunger Games books, as well -- at least, in the two that I have so far read. I noted it in the recently-reviewed Catching Fire, and I have enough general spoiler knowledge to know that this continues in the last novel. I am a big fan of this type of writing. To me, that's what makes a piece of fiction realistic -- the specific work can can be set in any world, alien or fantastical or historical, but if there is reasonable cause-and-effect occuring, then I can think of it as "realistic."

Which brings me to the frustrating run of Wonder Woman I recently read, the Odyssey storyline that ran in issues 600-614. This was a re-boot, or re-imaging, or re-something of the Wonder Woman character, started in 2010, that was going to launch the character with a new and modern take, to really establish her as one of their big guns, a pillar of the DC Universe. They even gave her a new look, with long pants, that I kind of liked.
They tasked the above-mentioned J. Michael Straczynski to write this. He is a big-name TV guy, and has written movies, and done a fair amount of comic work. Putting JMS' name on this storyline was evidence of how seriously DC wsa taking this re-boot, or re-imagining, or re-whatever this was.

The problem is, that after about four issues, DC Comics announced their New 52 initiative. They said that all of their books would be re-booted , or re-imagined, or re-something-ed in September of 2011, which totally pulled the rug out from this effort. JMS left the book, and story was finished, just in time for the New 52.
And that's the problem with this stroy, and I relate it to what I said above about Catching Fire. By the time I got halfway through these Wonder Woman issues, I grew more frustrated. The problem was that I knew that however this major ended, it would be wiped away. These issues were literally inconsequential -- it had no conseqences. Nothing in this story stuck, as another reboot happened as soon as this story ended.

I like the New 52 Wonder Woman, and the new creative team -- I reviewed the first six isues here. It's a good book, but reading the Odyssey collection pointed out many of my frustrations with modern comics. One of the big reasons I read as many older stories as modern ones, is this constant churning and changing. We regularly get new origins, new first issues, new everything, at a much quicker pace than prior decades. 

There is no sense in modern comics that what happens in any one issue will have consequences in the next one.

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