Monday, October 25, 2010

Are All Characters Sacred?

The two part "Starro the Conqueror" episode of Batman: the Brave and the Bold which featured B'wana Beast had me thinking deep thoughts the other day about minor characters.

It seems as though that both the comics industry and comics fandom operate under the premise that any character, no matter how small, out-of-fashion, ridiculous, or poorly thought out, is sacred.  For the former, it is because they are intellectual property that might garner profits, for the latter, it is out of emotional attachment and identification.

Is this a valid premise, however, for a creative industry?  Should all characters be above censure, even if hardly anyone likes them?  Is it okay to admit a mistake, forget a character was created, and move on?

I offer this up as an open-ended question, because I have not come to a conclusion myself.  I can offer points on both sides of the argument: there are some characters I just don't like, and at the same time, I applaud the efforts of writers who can take an obscure character and bring him or her to new heights.  That being said, I don't like to see legacy characters trotted out in low-quality stories just for the sake of selling books.
But I teared up a little at the end of a cartoon about B'wana Beast, so that's got to count for something.


SallyP said...

This is an interesting question. There are some fabulous characters and there are some simply gawdawful characters, but somehow, and somewhere, I imagine that EVERY character is a favorite of someone.

It's also possible for a pretty terrible character to be resurrected into a pretty great character...always provided of course that He or She HASN'T BEEN RANDOMLY KILLED OFF AS VILLAIN OF THE WEEK FODDER!!

Heh. Sorry about that. But seriously, look at Carman for example. He was a real loser...till Gail Simone made him hawt and fabulous.

Geo-Force on the other hand has always been...and will always be...a complete loser.

Bubbashelby said...

I think all characters should be handled with respect. that is how true artists should approach their work (I know we're dealing with mass marketed product in comics and movies and TV here, but still...)

Therefore, regardless of the storyline, if the creator uses respect for the entity of the character the story will at least reflect that whether someone likes that specific character or not.

And since it's all fiction, I think it's okay to kill off characters etc because they can always be resurrected later on. What I don't like is when a character behaves contrary to his intent - ie 'turning evil' or other nonsense, which is a cheap ploy and creatively bankrupt.

Brave and the Bold SPOILER ALERT::


On the topic of Brave and the Bold - watching the last few eps. since the Starro storyline I have noticed a bit of a 'death' theme, and I think they are building up to something. B'Wana, The Doom Patrol and the recent episode with Batman and Booster traveling back in time to visit Blue Beetle (heck, there was even mention of Jason Todd in the last episode;) add to all of that the fact that we now know that Bat-Mite's power can resurrect the dead (again as seen in the last episode.)

It just feels like they are building up to something involving these 'deceased' characters.

I hope so at least.

SallyP said...

Oops. Looking back, I said "carman" and I MEANT to say "Catman". I don't think that there IS a character named Carman.

But if there is, I'm sure he's quite awesome.

LissBirds said...

I was wondering who Car-Man was, Sally! :D I agree that a good writer can take a D-list character and make him/her interesting.

And I think if you looked REALLY hard, you could find someone whose favorite character was Geoforce. ;)

BubbaShelby, I agree with you that corrupting a character's original premise (like making Ice badass, for example) is worse than just killing them off. I don't like seeing someone's creation twisted by another writer to suit their idea. Why not just create a different character, then?

I noticed that about The Brave and the Bold, too!! I'm not sure exactly what it's leading up to. But as soon as they killed off the Doom Patrol I kind of took a step back and thought, "Whoa. They're pulling out all the stops." I think it's a good idea to broach the issue of fallen heroes on a cartoon, especially how they've been handling it. It's a real shame it got cancelled, becuase it seems like the show is really coming into its own.

Oh, Sally, now I'm going to go Google "Carman." Hee.

IADW said...

On radio we were taught that to back announce a song you have to sound like it's one of your favourites because too somebody out there it is, and it could make them tune out to sound otherwise - and I think it's the same writing comc-book characters.

You don't have to bend to the fan's perception but ask yourself 'If this character was one of my top 5, what would make me a fan? What parts would I crave and why?'

Then when you have that respect and understanding you'll probably also have a few decent story ideas too.

Eyz said...

Before the Brave and the Bold, I neve imagined I would like B'wana Beast nor care about him....
This show is really turning into my all-time fav DC cartoon :D
So much fun, playing with the mythos of the DCU, references, underrated characters, silver age stories and still keeping the modern touch...

Anyway, characters shouldn't be turned into "sacred" non-damageable proprieties! Imagine if book writers, like Stephen King or Tom Clancy, wouldn't dare to kill off, replace or simply lose some characters along their work! Madness!
Comics shouldn't be any different, despite the trademarks and/or golden age/silver age material aspects...

..still, on the subject, I'm still sad about Ted Kords to this day :(
Maybe..I should try to finally let go...

Aaron said...

Like Sally, I really dislike having characters who are not cool at the moment killed off by villains just to make the villains look "badass"

The only sacred character is Ultra the Multi-Alien. Everything else is fair game. That's the final word. :) (ps - I do like him)

I have yet to the see that ep of B&B...I think, though my memory has gotten too crammed with stuff over the years, my little mental file clerk sometimes gets lost.

On this "vibe" I loved that there was an evil "Vibe" in the Crisis on Two Earths movie, making evil versions of previously un-eviled characters was fun.

LissBirds said...

Aaron, that episode was on about four weeks ago, maybe? I'm that far behind with my DVR queue. I still haven't seen the Ted Kord episode yet. I find evil mirror versions entertaining. It's when the "regular" version gets twisted that bugs me. (Like Ice in the Generation Lost series.)

Never let go, Eyz!!! Nevar!!! I'm still holding on to the hope that Ted is coming back!!

Aaron said...

Finding B&B up on Canadian channels gets dicey sometimes - I did just buy the Season One, Part One DVD set, which has the Ted Kord one on it. I'll keep mum about it till you get your hands on it.

Yeah I just thought I'd mention that about Vibe, because he's probably got the lowest fan base of any third or fourth tier character, so if they even messed with the official version, I gotta wonder who'd step forward...though maybe he just needed to be in cartoons, so we could see his breakdancing.