We all know that DC announced this week that its FIRST WAVE line, the one that combined Batman, Doc Savage, the Spirit, and other Golden Age pulp and comic characters into one sort of 'timeless' universe where dirigibles and cell phones coexisted, is being cancelled. This extremely controversial line of comics, made so by the fact that many pulp fans saw the portrayals of their favorite characters as mishandled at best, blasphemous at worse, has definitely stirred up a lot of talk. Here's the panel topic-Was DC's First Wave as bad as all that? If so, why? What does the cancelling of this line mean for the future of pulp centered comics, if anything? Email your panel responses to email@example.com and they'll be posted here!
From Teel James Glenn, writer in the pulp tradition....
Why did the First Wave fail? the art wasn't bad and even some of the ideas were interesting, but the basic premise seemed to be that even though pulp chracters have endured in their original form for 70 years the writers at DC knew how to 'fix' them. Why fix what isn't broken? I doubt any of the writers actually read any of the books they were 'improving' by changing basic premises and characters. It is the same problem most movie adaptations have; everyone thinks they can violate the very core of the creations they SAY they are 'reimagining. Bullflock!
Uncreative people feed off other people's creations and bring the level down. You have to honor the work of those who came before and then you can prehaps--prehaps- move forward with new creations that can interact with them. Always look at the 'character/series' bible and honor it as if it was gospel--because it is.
If DC wanted to do pulps right they should have hired pulp writers not guys who said in interviews "I never read the books"--arrogance like that deserves to be discarded...
From Barry Reese, Member of the Spectacled Seven....
Where do I start? DC mismanaged the entire line, starting with a series of interviews from creators that alienated the hardcore fans and made newer fans wonder why they should try a bunch of characters that even the main writer talked about with disdain. Then go on to the launch miniseries, which still hasn't finished... Here's a clue: don't launch a new line of books with a book that's supposed to set up the whole thing but doesn't come out on time. Makes the entire affair look half-assed and poorly planned. Then you have a book (Doc Savage) that after a mediocre beginning slides into outright crapitude with shifting writers and artists. And don't get me started on The Avenger stuff, which was such an insult to the original characters that I wish DC had just renamed it.
They shouldn't have solicited the kickoff mini until it was completed. They should have hired people who not only understood the characters but who genuinely loved them -- you can update the characters and still maintain their core... but you have to *want* to do that. And why include Batman in this universe if his only appearances would be in a one-shot special and the mini? They should have had a Bat-Man series set in this universe that the other books could have orbited around -- the Bat guy sells, you know.
Mishandled and poor creative decisions. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.
From Tommy Hancock, another of the Spectacled Seven
Mine will be short. It will be short because I didn't read anything but the first issue of the FIRST WAVE mini series and the first three issues of DOC SAVAGE. Well, I say the first three issues, I actually only read the full first issue because I couldn't stomach anymore of what they jokingly referred to as THE AVENGER.
I am not a purist. I am also not a 'we have to make changes to everything' sort either. I like what I like and I like companies and writers to produce things I like. It helps when they are producing stuff I like based on other stuff I already like. What didn't work in this regard is DC not only didn't produce stuff that I liked based on characters I adore, but they ignored me. I didn't want DC to ask me my opinion, well, maybe I wanted them to, but didn't expect it. But I, being a pretty big pulp fan, was simply left out of the equation when DC got their hands on these great characters. My opinion, my interests, my desire to see these characters live again...didn't matter at all. The bad part for DC was that these new readers I guess they were trying to appeal to...didn't have any buy in at all to these concepts and saw them for what they were...poorly handled editorially misdirected imitations at best, toilet paper with pictures on it at worst. And me, my buy in...it went to Moonstone, Doc Savage reprints, and new pulp...
From Derrick Ferguson, yet another of the Spectacled Seven
I read the first three issues of DOC SAVAGE (hey, there was no way I wasn't going read it) and was unimpressed. I have to admit that the idea of all these classic pulp characters and certain DC characters like The Blackhawks and The Spirit, who in my mind are pulp characters, appealed to me. But the execution was, in a word, lousy.
Here's what I can't wrap my head around: why in the world would you hire writers who plainly have no love or liking for the characters they're writing about? Wouldn't it have made more sense to hire writers who actually know, love and have a true desire to write the best possible or Avenger stories they possibly could? Stories that would not only thrill and delight old time fans but make newer readers sit up and understand why these characters are cool and remain so after so many years?
And yeah, I agree with Barry: it didn't help to have interviews with writers who I felt were giving me the digitus impudicus for loving pulp and had really snotty attitudes toward not only the work they were producing but who they were producing it for.
From Adam Garcia, Scribe of the Green Lama
I never read first Wave, but I think it's fair to say it failed on execution rather than concept. While I advocate change, I don't necessarily think you need to change everything, to make things effective. I'm more a believer that to keep things one specific way is a mistake and to open to adaptation. I'm 100% certain that First Wave would have been considered amazing if the story had been effective. Take the new Star Trek film as an example, a bottom to top reinvention that was overwhelmingly loved, or Batman: the Brave and the Bold or even the massive massive changes made to the Joker in Dark Knight. That's what I've been arguing. Reinvention isn't bad, it's frankly the nature of pop culture, but refusing to accept it is.