A Bounty Hunter, A Masked Man and an Alien Stripper Walk Into a Bar...A column article by: Ace Masters
And if comic books were real life and the Bounty Hunter is Jonah Hex, the Masked Man and Alien Stripper would more than likely be leaving in pine boxes. Hell, even in the world of the New DC, Grifter and Voodoo would probably still stand a snowball's chance in hell against Jonah Hex.
But, that is not what this column is about. Nope.
In my column Finite Possibilities; Or, the New 52: the Good, the Bad, the Nothing I wrote: "Since Hex is my one investment in DC Comics, I will let all know what I think when Jonah is unleashed in the relaunch."
It's been two months since I wrote that, and it's time for me to follow through. But, I have to modify that just a bit as I have actually picked up three titles from the New DC. Being a fan of Jim lee's WildCATS I picked up Grifter and Voodoo in addition to Jonah Hex.
What follows next will be mostly SPOILER FREE. I will not be reviewing the titles. These will be more of a brief overview and comparison of the new versions of the characters, so far, with the original versions.
WildCATS: Grifter and Voodoo.
I know Jim Lee basically runs DC now, but I still find it a little odd that Grifter and Voodoo have been given singles titles. Granted Grifter had two previous short lived series, but Voodoo never had her own ongoing series, only graphic novels and mini-series.
Cole Cash was always my favorite character in the WildCATS. But this isn't the Cole Cash I and others once knew. Grifter has been given an entirely new origin, introduction and personality.
In the first issue we see him pulling a con and trying to meet up with his partner/girlfriend, when he gets drawn into the world of the Daemonites which is larger than he is. Now he is on a quest to stay alive and figure out what is going on.
The Grifter from the past was a man of action willing to do what it took to get things done and who had come to grips with his own past – to a point. The new Grifter seems to be a man on the run. He comes across as passive and reactionary, rather than active and aggressive. There seems to be something he is running from, perhaps even afraid of, in his past.
While the new Grifter has a military past, he doesn't seem completely comfortable with it.
The biggest difference may be this: Old Grifter didn't care what people thought, didn't care about being a hero; New Grifter, he may become a hero despite himself.
If Grifter is different from his original incarnation, then Voodoo must be an entirely new character. The original Voodoo was a teenage stripper who didn't know she had Kherubim and Daemonite ancestry. She was a timid, somewhat shy girl unsure of herself, life and who she was.
The new Voodoo is anything but timid and unsure of herself. She is a shape changing alien, who has no qualms about killing an FBI agent and seducing his partner. This Voodoo also seems to be an active member of the alien Daemonite invasion force.
It is by no means a bad choice to give these two their own titles, just odd. But if it helps to bring in readers who were not regular DC readers (like myself), then it's a good move. It does beg a question though: if Grifter, Voodoo and the Kerhumab are now part of the new DC, are the WildCATS themselves far behind?
ALL-STAR WESTERN, FEATURING JONAH HEX
First off, I love Jonah Hex. His most recent series was one of the best series in comics over the last 5 years. In terms of quality All-Star Western's first two issues continue the excellence.
Unlike Grifter and Voodoo, who feel like brand new characters, Jonah fells like an old friend I know well.
Jonah Hex is the opposite side of the spectrum from Grifter and Voodoo. Jonah is still Jonah. Nothing is new, nothing has changed. In fact, it is mentioned that he is a well-known manhunter, a not-so-subtle direct reference to Jonah's past and his previous series.
The only difference with All-Star compared to Jonah Hex is that here we are learning about who Jonah is through the eyes of Doctor Arkham, as they both track down a serial killer on the streets of Gotham.
It is a nice literary technique. It allows newer readers to learn who Jonah is through the eyes of Arkham as he writes about Jonah in his journal, while allowing older readers to enjoy the story without the need for a long drawn out origin or back story.
It's weird, because after reading the first issues or two of each title, I have mixed feelings. It feels like DC is doing both a relaunch and a reboot. Grifter and Voodoo feel like they are being introduced as new characters. Jonah's title just went through a name change.
Jonah, the established character with a long history seems unchanged. Grifter and Voodoo, the lesser characters and, to be honest, new-to-DC characters, are complete reboots with all new origins and personalities.
I have heard a lot of talk from readers: some say that very little has changed, others say that a lot has changed. In an interview I conducted with local retailer Ken Brown of Drawn to Comics (interview coming soon), he mentioned that it seems like the A-List characters had little to no change and the lesser known characters are rebooted.
Is this true? Based on only on the titles I have read, I would agree. Jonah Hex may not be an A-lister in some people's mind, but he is a long established DC character. Hex has not changed, but Grifter and Voodoo have been rebooted.
If this is the route that DC has taken, A-list characters remaining basically the same and minor characters being completely rebooted, then it may well be a brilliant move. Why? This could be DC's "hook."
Relaunch DC and keep your A-listers everyone knows 75% to 80% the same and use these recognizable characters to draw in the new audience. Reboot your minor characters with new origins and personalities and introduce them fresh to new readers who may not know who they are.
This could satisfy established readers and ease new readers into the new DC. At the same time it could be the launching point to reboot B-list and below characters and hopefully create new superstars.
So far, DC seems to be firing on all cylinders and the Good I mentioned in Finite Possibilities; Or, the New 52: the Good, the Bad, the Nothing seem to be following their script.
Thanksgiving, 'nuff said.