Last night I had a bit of a “moment”. I recently purchased a plain blue hoodie and a Superman “S” patch. My in law has a sewing machine so he helped sew it on for me. Later, as I was changing… I took off my hoodie only to stare myself in the mirror and see I had an “S” shield T underneath, something I hadn’t realized I’d done. I smiled to myself thinking, “Ok… maybe we need to tone down the fan thing… balance is key”. That wasn’t the “moment” I mean to talk about here though. Every night before I snooze, I think about the happenings of the day. Doubling up on the S shield came to mind… and that got me thinking about what it means to be a fan… which then took me to being inspired by a symbol or person or both. And that’s when it kinda hit me. If I can like a fictional character to the point where I would wear their symbol on my chest… what’s stopping other characters from their own fictional universe from doing the same? Why would Jon not be inspired by his dad and later follow in his footsteps, put on the costume, and try to carry on his mission/tradition? Or what’s stopping any in universe character for that matter from doing the same with any of the heroes? That’s when I realized that my own personal bias against “passing the mantle” is just that, a preference, a fan bias… but from a storytelling perspective, it actually makes a lot of sense to me now. Real life is full of examples of younger folks following in the footsteps of those they admire and respect. There’s nothing wrong with the fictional world of superheroes mimicking that. It also puts older stories, like “Reign of the Supermen” under a somewhat different light for me. I kind of thought of Steel and Kon El as vacuum fillers in that story. In a way they do try to fill the vacuum left by Clark’s death, but the element I had overlooked was the inspiration and conviction that John had felt in putting on the S, and maybe the sheer weight that Kon felt by doing the same. I have to admit, it’s the first time I’ve felt that way. I’ll be a lot less critical of these types of ideas going forward. Just thought I’d share with you guys. Not saying I was “wrong” per se, but I am experiencing somewhat of a change of heart here. Feel free to discuss. Agree… disagree… don’t care?
That’s a totally awesome story! For me personally, my problem with passing down mantles isn’t in the act of passing the mantle itself, but with the way in which its executed. I like to think of passing down mantles as a way to potentially take a story in all kinds surprising and exciting directions for new and old characters alike. The thing that drives me nuts, however, is when a character passing down their mantle is simply used as a cash grab. It drives me nuts when a mantle change has no real impact on the characters or world around them. There’s so much potential in these changes, and to see it squandered in an attempt to simply boost sales is the thing that really gets at me. When I first saw the Future State announcement, I was concerned that this would be the case; that this was simply a cash grab event to try and boost profits (sorry if I used that semicolon wrong). However, now that we’re received some more news regarding the event and the future of the DCU post Future State, now I’m pretty confident that DC’s going to be doing this one right. But that’s just my opinion.
Thank you. Have to admit. Future State had me lukewarm. Like said in my initial post, I wasn’t really into the idea. Clark is Superman, Bruce is Batman, etc. Have to agree with you though that the Inifnite Frontier solicitations have me excited for some reason I can’t exactly put my hands on. Couple that with this change of heart I’m experiencing and Future State isn’t looking half bad right now .
Curious though, what makes a story a “cash grab”? If it sells well, it means people probably enjoyed it, no?
I think it’s good for elseworlds type stuff, or out of continuity stories.
Or even the imaginary stories of the Silver Age.
As for the mainline, I think it works best with characters that have predecessors that would very likely never ever be used again, such as the Dan Garrett Blue Beetle.
Once you start replacing characters that still have a fan base with dollars to spend, you’re limiting what those fans can buy.
What a great topic!
In some cases like Wally West, Jack Knight, Kyle Rayner, Courtney Whitmore, Jaime Reyes, or Stephanie Brown, having them take on the mantle was not only done well but also stuck for a very long time. We got see them as The Flash, Starman, Green Lantern, Star-Spangled Kid aka Stargirl, Blue Beetle and Batgirl, respectively, but they were also interesting characters. These are the examples that worked. I think the reason most of them aren’t around anymore is writers and their preferences for the silver age versions, but I wouldn’t call that a fault of the characters.
The nineties also gave us things like Jean Paul Valley as Batman, Artemis as Wonder Woman, the four Supermen in Reign of the Supermen. Now, i’m not sure if these were meant to be temporary for storyline reasons or if there was an actual attempt to make them the new versions of these heroes for as long as they would sell, but these are certainly cases where it didn’t work. I think when it comes to passing a mantle in comics, the reason a lot of fans are so cautious about it is the fact that more times than not, it doesn’t stick. We kind of treat it like death in comics…we all know the original is gonna come back sooner or later, so don’t get too comfortable.
When it comes to this in comics you not only have to have a good in-universe story and build up the new character so the public embraces them, but you also have to do it in a way where it doesn’t come off as a change for the sake of change and think it’s temporary until the original comics back.
It’s a fine line.
Good point. Bottom line is important. I guess the way the idea is presented is what should matter. I’d like to think that folks will buy good stories with good art, regardless whether it’s an elseworld or main line book. However, my own resistance to the idea for so long, kind of supports your statement.
Thanks and agreed. I think if a character is big enough to have a mantle to pass, then it needs to happen in a big way, in a way that doesn’t diminish them for the shiny new character. Their presence needs to be felt, even when their gone, and the new character needs to earn their place… which makes for a good story in and of itself.
For me personally, I think of a “cash grab” as when writers will have a character pass their mantle for no real reason relevant to the character’s arc or stories other than to boost sales. As much as I love this comic, I feel like Jim Gordon taking up the Batman mantle was a good example of this. It was a very entertaining comic, but I also feel like it had so much wasted potential, and that it was really just a quick attempt to get some sales in before they rebooted with Rebirth. Another example I think of is Lex Luther taking up the mantle. That was never going to stick, and as far as I can tell it didn’t have any real impact on any of the books that followed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it had no real impact on Lex’s development as a character since he went right back to being evil in no time. Or maybe I just have an issue with character deaths, who knows .
James Robinson’s Starman was one of my favorite examples of this. Jack didn’t want to be Starman. He started out just wanting to save his dad and avenging his brother; he kind of fell into it. He also grew into the role. He earned his time as Starman and it was even better to see him step away and let someone else take on the mantle.
The Lex example is excellent! Don’t get me wrong, it was well done but we all knew it wasn’t going to last.
Thank you! I’ve had a lot of practice writing papers and things where I need to provide good evidence for my arguments, and that was one of the biggest ones to me.
As much as I agree with this, I feel like it’s also a slippery slope. I feel that writers need to find a balance between the old and the new. As much as the legacy of the originals is important and should be respected, to me it’s also important that characters be able in their own right and ultimately grow beyond their mantle’s legacy. As important as that legacy is, characters need to be eventually grow out of their predecessor’s shadow.
Two good examples. In neither one did I feel like I was reading the “next” Superman or Batman. In Lex’s case, I don’t think think that Jurgens was going for a passing of the mantle, but it rather felt like like Lex was doing it for his own egotistical reasons. In Jim Gordon’s case, it felt more like a statement on the lengths Jim and Gotham in general would go through to replace Batman. Both always felt temporary. Since I enjoyed the stories, I didn’t really take issue with either, but I can see what you’re saying about the sensationalism of it.
Of course! It would be no fun, and very trite, if the “original” was referenced in every story. They do need to “get there” however, and that’s what I was trying to imply. I’d like read the story of how before I move on, you know?
I totally see what you mean, but for the Lex one I still can’t help but feel like having that mantle, rightfully or not, should have had more of an effect on his character. Be it for egotistical reasons or not, I feel like the wait of that S should’ve had a larger effect on developing his character. I agree that it always felt temporary, but it still feels like wasted potential to have done so little with that storyline.
I’m completely with you on this. In these cases, the story “how” is just as important, if not more important, then the story of “what happens next”.
I see what you’re saying. Instead of any character developments (good or bad), we just got Lex throwing it all away at the end and turning towards Perpetua and pure evil. The story could have shown how it weighed down on him to turn him away, but it was almost like a flip was switched at the end. Good call!
Exactly! That’s exactly what I mean! Well, here’s hoping they don’t make the same mistake with Future State. Thanks for making this thread btw. I don’t have a lot of intellectual conversations in the real world, so this has been really nice.
No thank you for participating, especially without devolving into defensive arguments. I don’t start a ton of threads, but felt compelled enough to do so in this case. Was sure I’d get called out when expressing future opinions that kind of go against what I’ve said before, so I thought I’d start a back & forth about it.
The night is young, my friend…
Seriously though, I totally get your logic for creating this thread, and I very much appreciate you doing so.