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The Big Two and The News: Cautionary Tales

There is simply one thing that I feel I must point out before I go any further. This is not meant to be, in any manner, an indictment on the titles featured in the spotlight here - ie. The Movement and The Green Team. Whatever my personal feelings for these two titles may be, their quality is not what is being meant for discussion. What is, however, is the reason why these two titles were marketed the way they were.

The advert/marketing tool in question? It can be seen right below, and is a right indicator of a rather large nuisance that not only affects DC Comics, but the Big Two as a whole.

The incessant drive to always be on top of whatever news-related fad or topic that comes around. Politicians, legislation, protests, it goes on and on. Whatever catches the national zeitgeist for whatever amount of time - and they just snatch it up like an especially hungry venus fly-trap. It doesn't even have to necessarily fit in with what they happen to be actually doing at the time, and can sometimes even solely appear on the cover to nab attention - but as long as there is the chance that people might recognize it they will capitalize upon it in any way they can.

Now this is not to say or imply that being socially or politically conscious within comic books is in any way an inherent detriment to stories in general. Of course not. When done well, it is a benefit and breathes life into what might otherwise be just a bland or standard narrative. Examples of this include the original John Ostrander's Suicide Squad, or even Denny O'Neil's famous Green Arrow/Green Lantern series. Both were series that touched upon political or "ripped from the headlines" topics, but also focused on societal issues that were just becoming big news at the time. 

It is within that the answer lies. A series has to grow along with what it is trying to focus on. It has to be current but not in a self-serving glad-handed manner. The two aspects need to feed off of each other but not at the cost of tone or story. With out that feedback loop the whole thing falls apart. The desperate clawing to be "now" or "in" becomes laughably transparent. See, for example, the infamous Bill Jemas penned series Marville, a series that lauded itself on out of date, out of touch, and soon to be in either case, references to in-jokes and news. In-jokes. One wonders how he thought those were going to land. So much were his attempts to be hip and current that even before it finished it was harping on issues more out of date than the stone age, to put it poetically. 

To a lesser extent there was even Mark Millar's original The Ultimates, which did not do anything with trying to keep abreast of the news. It used what it could get - celebrities, current events, even President George W. Bush - solely as trapping. All flash and no substance. Which brings us full circle back to the original point - The Green Team and The Movement and how they have been sold to the comic reading public. It harped directly onto the short lived and almost as short in terms of influence "Occupy Wall Street" movement. A movement that had come and gone about a year before the titles were even announced. So, why do it? 

It serves no purpose to the ones who are receiving the ad in the first place since there is no hook besides "Oh yeah, that was a thing once." As stated before - it collapses the illusion of them actually wanting to be socially concious and not just grabbing at a quick buck or a bump on news feeds. It actually became more clear, like crystal, once it was announced by Green Team brain-trust Art Baltazar and Franco that they actually had no idea that their book was being spelled out as being a companion book to The Movement. So now there's the fact that the whole bill of goods the ad is trying to sell from the pair doesn't exist in-story for 1/2 of the couple - wasn't even part of the tone for the narrative. Again, I state that this is not to slight the two in any way, however they turn out, but that the Big Two ought to step up their game.

If you want to look as if you're keeping up with the news and that you yourself are new, then actually do both of those things. Reference the current way of the world and then make it your own. Be news, don't just ride on the coattails. Tell them one thing - hardly anyone has forgotten the well-known "Junkie" cover to Green Arrow/Green Lantern. It made a splash. It became news - it didn't just riff on what actually was news.
Please comment below with you thoughts/opinions.



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