Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Shape Of The DCU To Come

Over at Newsarama, one of their writers talked about how many of the story seeds dropped by Scott Snyder at the end of his run of events at stories over at DC Comics didn't all pan out as expected. All of this is completely speculative on my part, as I have no idea where things are going to land.

This is what happens when 1) publishers rely too much on a treadmill of events to sustain interest, and 2) the architects of the big events don't stick around to sprout the seeds lain by their events. As Scott Snyder lead the DCU through Dark Nights, the No Justice Era and then into Death Metal, successive stories picked up what was being laid down because the writing architect was there threading the needle through the events and story arc. Then with Death Metal, Snyder laid out the after effects of his massive run...and then went off to do creator-owned books.

There were a lot of interesting ideas that were scattered throughout Snyder's era at DC Comics, but honestly, a lot of them were dropped while he was still working. One of my favorite plots (that disappeared once Snyder got going) were about the weird "trees" sprouting throughout the universe.

CBR did a pretty good explainer on the trees that is worth reading. Basically they were one of those remarkably bizarre ideas that work well in super-hero comics mostly because they make so little sense. In the No Justice mini-series each of the trees were tied to a conceptual cosmic force. This area of cosmic storytelling is an area where Marvel has always outshined DC. I felt that this was a good way to open up the realms of cosmic super-hero stories, which it did for a while. Death Metal was about a goddess of creation trying to reclaim the universe together. Dark Crisis has been about the return of the Great Darkness that Alan Moore wrote about back in the days of his 80s run of Swamp Thing

DC has some of the biggest of the larger than life super-heroes, and yet they don't do the kinds of stories that take advantage of those big, powerful heroes (and villains) as often as they should. We end up with more street level stories (which is fine) but we lose out on seeing things like Starro, Superman and Etrigan trying to fight a group of cosmic giants that want to eat the Earth.

The writers that followed up picked up some of the plot threads with Infinite Frontier, but most of them were turned into new things by Joshua  Williamson and we ended up in Dark Crisis. He's laying down the seeds for the shape of the DCU after Dark Crisis with Dawn of the DCU, but it looks like he's going to move on to (also) do more creator-owned books, which will mean that the new direction will be picked up by other writers who will do what they want with the toys they have been left.

I SUSPECT that the next architect of the DCU is going to be Mark Waid. His World's Finest book and the currently running Batman vs. Robin (which spins out of his World's Finest book) event mini-series seem to be the spear tip of where the DCU is heading for a while, post Dark Crisis. We'll probably see what happens. I am not unhappy with the potential of Waid being the architect of the DCU, because I think his writing manages to blend interesting new ideas with callbacks to old continuity that aren't just mired in nostalgia, like some writers. Honestly, I'd rather see Waid get the nod than Geoff Johns again.

Part of why I hope that Waid ends up as the next architect of the DCU is because he is good at the BIG super-hero stories that I think DC needs to do more of in their books. Plus, big damn comic stories will translate into the kinds of cinematic storytelling that works so well on the movie screen. A mini-series like No Justice could be the Infinity War and Endgame of a DC Cinematic Movie Universe. Of course, you have to introduce the spread of characters in movies before you launch the big event movie. That's been where DC (and a lot of other movie cinematic universe) have stumbled over themselves.

If you haven't read the No Justice mini-series, I really recommend picking it up. You don't have to have read the events that happened before and after it. It is a pretty solid super-hero story, and I think it was one of the high points of Snyder's time at DC.

I wrote a shorter version of this as a post on my personal (and private) Facebook feed, but I felt it was worth expanding into something a little longer and more public.