Last weekend, my wife & I ran into some cosplayers at a local festival of colors night. Nothing wrong with that. Iron Man was there. Got my selfie with Batman & Harley Quinn. Witchblade was a big hit, just as Jason from Friday 13th, Beetleejuice, Poison Ivy, Kick Ass, that Backpack Guy from "Adventure Time" as well as the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz. However, my favorite character was Laura Kinney, alias X23, alias "The All-New Wolverine" in comics today. When I called her by this name, she was so happy. "You are the first person who knows who I really am!" Of course, I am a current reader of Marvel comics and know that besides Hugh Jackman -the amazing Wolverine from over a gazillion movies- there are a whole bunch of other Wolverines!
Quick quiz? Did you know that the one and only Wolverine is dead? Or at least, petrified in stone and presumed dead? Did you know that he has an evil son? Did you know that his young female clone is the "All-New Wolverine"? Did you know there were a whole bunch of OTHER imperfect clones running around -including an annoying little girl- until their systems started backfiring on them? Did you know that there is an older Wolverine running around the Marvel Universe, who may or may not come from the future and/or another parallel universe´s future? And let´s not get into parallel universes!!! Did you know thereis an "Ultimate Wolverine"? Did you know there is a universe in which Hercules and Wolverine are an item? (Not that there´s anything wrong with that...) At what point do we take a successful product -in this case, the most successful X-Men and most powerful new character created since the Silver Age of Comics? You can turn a character into a woman, clone him, make him younger or older, until you start publishing a comic I promise I will rip into pieces if it ever comes to light: "Wolverine Family"...
Speaking of families...Remember those classic collections from DC? (I used to love them!) "Batman Family", "Superman Family" and anything "Shazam!" because basically every character is a rip-off of the next one. Oh well...Couldn´t they leave a good thing be? You got Superman. Why not get...Supergirl? OK, good backstory. Older but now younger and always pissed off. OK, maybe not such a good backstory. Superboy and his trips to visit the Legion of Superheroes in the Future! Superbaby! Krypto the Superdog! I am not going to continue.
At least the Batman family learned to diversify and brand their characters better in terms of differentiation. Take Robins, for example! Every Robin came out to become a different super-hero or super-something at the end...Dick Grayson became Nightwing; Jason Todd became Red Hood (not without trying to kill Bats over a few times) and recently Tim Drake has become Red Robin. Batwoman does not work with Batman, and Batgirl (who was out of the picture and was a way better character as Oracle) has recently been associated with the Birds of Prey...If you are going to milk the cow, at least do it right!!!
Don´t want to raise any hot issues here, but I do believe there are not enough women, african-american, american indian, hispanic, muslim, oriental and LGBT characters, among many others, in comics. And it has been shown that the introduction of such characters into comics has been a great success, not only in honoring such groups, but also in creating new fandom for those groups (Ms. Marvel, Midnighter, Luke Cage, Norhtstar, Black Panther, Batwoman, Simon Baz, Iceman, Falcon, Captain Marvel, just to name a few of them) My question is: Should we create new ones to represent those interest groups or change the old ones in order to better cater to them?
OK. By now, if you are keeping up with actual comic book continuity, you will know that Captain America is black (it makes sense that his old pal, the Falcon, would take over since Steve Rogers had been reversed back to his true age and incapable to fight as Cap). You will also know that Thor is a woman (what!) and is not Thorette, but Jane Foster, who in a clever twist by the writers is not only fighting her ongoing cancer but also supervillains galore using her ex-boyfriend´s hammer. Ouch! That´s gotta hurt, "other Thor"...Kind of a strange move right after the success of the second Avengers movie -at least at the box office- and you could imagine, alienating to new fans. Or not? Maybe they want something fresh. I know I do when I catch my Wednesday batch of mags. But if it´s done wrong, or once and once again, or just for the sake of changing something...I think fans are the first to figure out something smells fishy. Oh! And just out! Now Iron Man is not Tony Stark! He is a she! And she is not white! And she is a high school genius! (What next: a the clone of a Chinese tranvestite created by Arnim Zola?)
Miles Morales, the hispanic young Spider-Man from the Ultimate Universe? HIT!
Afroamerican Heimdall from the Thor movie? (VIkings were all white!!!) MISS!
Ms. Marvel, young muslim hero with amazing powers and real problems? HIT!
Silk, yet another Spider hero who spent years in a bunker and has the hots for Spidey? MISS!
Spider-Girl, daughter of one-legged Peter Parker from a "What if" future? HIT!
Miss America, the Freedom Fighter from the future? MISS!
Female Ancient one in the next Doctor Strange movie? WHO KNOWS?
..I guess the point is, you always have to reinvent your heroes and villains too. Whether you are changing their costumes, giving them new secret origins, killing them off and bringing them back and whatnot...But don´t mess with the brand. Marketing 101. Just remember when Coke had the "brilliant idea" of changing the formula and turning into "New Coke". I´ll have a "Classic Coke" Myself, please. On the rocks. And please, hold the lemon.