If you read my last entry then you know what comic books I bought last week. You can see that I purchased Brave New World 1 from DC Comics. Like most comic book fans I started reading comics in my childhood which means that I grew up on super-hero stories. Colorful costumes, super powers and all sorts of wacky and cool names make up the world of the super-hero. I still love comics but I have generally left the world of super-heros behind. Despite the fact that super-hero comics are written for an older audience than when I was a child I still find them lacking in variety and originality. I’m not into escapist fantasy so it has to be really good escapist fantasy for me to like it.

Working with continuing characters has its pros and cons. The main pro is that people love to buy what they are familiar with. This keeps super-hero comic book companies in business. It far outweighs any con when you want to sell comics. If there is a book that people are familiar with next to one they are unfamiliar with my guess is that four people out of five will pick up the familiar book. It is the way people are. If you find something they like give them more of it. Even after they stop liking it they will remember once having liked it and want to rekindle that feeling. A powerful market force.

Another pro is that if people are reading a comic about a character they already know then an author can do more elaborate things with that character. The reader doesn’t have to filled in on the basics of the character. Certain past events don’t have to be rehashed and motivations are already established. The offense gets the ball on the fifty instead of the twenty to use a football analogy. Unfortunately I think this also leads to a con. Super-hero comics can be very esoteric. In a lot of cases if you don’t know the history of the character you can’t understand the story. A lot of writers use the reader’s familiarity with a character as a sloppy storytelling short cut and confusion ensues. This makes it very hard to garner any new readers. A balance must be struck. And it often isn’t.

Balance is important in another aspect of continuing characters. People don’t want change and at the same time they want something new. Fans like it when something dramatic happens to the character but not something that changes things too much. When the balance isn’t struck slow change creeps in, often unintended, until characters become unrecognizable. Then they are revamped and relaunched. This is why fans come and go. My X-Men of the late 70s aren’t your X-Men from the early 90s. Too much has changed.

Brave New World 1 is part of “Infinite Crisis” DC’s continuity shattering crossover event. Marvel Comics also has a continuity shattering crossover event of it’s own going on right now called “Civil War”. I don’t really care about either of them since I don’t read any of their super-hero books regularly but I particularly question Marvel’s event. They guys who run Marvel Comics went on record a few years ago saying how they don’t care about continuity. They just care about good stories. Continuity was to be damed if it was making their comics too esoteric and getting in the way of good tales being told. I found that position a bit extreme but this is how they wanted to solve their problem with esotericism.

I also found it odd that the concept of continuity in a story telling universe, born from Marvel Comics, had gone mainstream with shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and movies like The Matrix and then Marvel decided to abandon it. Huh? Everybody else finally comes around to Marvel’s way of thinking so they jettison it? I am baffled. You can see why I am disinterested in a company’s continuity shattering crossover event when they have publicly stated that they don’t care about continuity in their story telling universe. DC at least cares about continuity and the things that happen will affect their comics in the future. Marvel writers can ignore whatever they want. If chapter ten can ignore what happened in chapter two why did I bother reading chapter two? Why would I bother reading chapter eleven? That’s why I don’t bother with Civil War.

All that being said her is a quick review of DC’s Brave New World. The stories are all prequels of new comic series that take place after their continuity shattering crossover event.

Martian Manhunter: Everything he knew about himself was wrong and now he has to start over. Blah blah blah blah blah. Who cares? Not me. Every character has its fans but I don’t know many who care about MM.

Omac: Nothing like the old Kirby series. Some kid being chased by robots. I have no idea what is going on except Superman shows up and is too much of a Mary to kick their robots asses. Just throw them into the sun and be done with it. Superman indeed.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters: Are barely even in their own prequel. It is just some guy hitch hiking. And the government is gonna kick some super-hero ass with their own super-heros. Just like a hundred other comics of the last ten years.

Creeper: I haven’t read too much Creeper over the years but I always liked Ditko’s version. I liked the hook that he was a reasonable guy acting crazy as the Creeper. An interesting concept. Every version I have read since then has had the Creeper as actually crazy. Boring. There are a thousand crazy characters and a thousand “trying to keep his crazy side under control” characters. This version of the Creeper is the “trying to keep his crazy side under control” character. Wake me when it’s over.

Atom: Looks like we have a “Team Atom” now as he has some science type people helping him. A new guy is the Atom too so he needs the help. It was an okay story but they made the mistake of having the Atom fight other microscopic guys. What is the point of having a tiny character fight other tiny characters? It becomes like any other super-hero story except the furniture is really big. That has always bugged me.

Captain Marvel: The whole Marvel family have lost their powers and the powers have gone into Captain Marvel making him stronger. Ten pages to tell a one sentence of story. Welcome to modern super-hero comics.

Brave New World 1. Is it worth a dollar? Close call but no.