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Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Obscurity Is Joy
The new DC solicitations have been released, and these are the ones containing the first solicitations for Final Crisis and the, by the scale of these things, modest number of cross-overs. And, predictably, I've already seen, here and there, a few mumblings of discontent over the fact that, judging by these early solicitations, two obscure and nearly forgotten villains are at the center of Final Crisis, namely Libra and the Human Flame. "Oh, why can't it be someone important, like Darkseid or Mongul or Sinestro?" they say. "Why can't it be someone cool, like Hush or the Joker or Doomsday?" a few say as well.
Well, bah to the whiners I say, because:
There are a couple of very good reasons to use obscure characters for a project like this. Primarily, minor and forgotten characters are great tools for writers. They have no huge backlog of history or continuity to get tangled up with. They're blanks, and a good writer will take that blank and turn it into whatever they want it to be. History, motivation, personality; the characters were one-off and one-note when they first appeared, now they can be more. But more importantly, there's a very practical reason why a minor Justice League villain and an unknown Martian Manhunter villain are ideal for a project like this. Frankly, no one cares about them. They're not going to be appearing in any movies. They're not going to be featured in any cartoons. No one is clamoring for a Libra lunch-box. This means that Morrison is free to do...pretty much anything he wants with or to them, and no one is going to be terribly upset. No marketing or licensing opportunities of significance will be lost if the Human Flame is killed off. No will send death threats to Morrison if Libra dies in the story. Well, except for the people who post to scans_daily, and they whine if a character so much as stubs their toe in a comic.
Also of note: DC Universe Special: Justice League of America, reprinting issues 111, 166, 167 and 168 of the original Justice League series. These would be the issues that feature Libra and the Secret Society of Super-Villains, including the infamous "the Society does a mind-swap with the League" story that so many DC writers have referenced in recent years.