Monday, January 23, 2006


Hex Is Magic!

Taken from a DC Comics press release:

"JONAH HEX #1 and 2, the first two issues of the hot new DCU western series, have sold out at DC Comics. The series is written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray and illustrated by Luke Ross."

This news makes me nothing but happy. The comics industry can support something more than superheroes and lovelorn emo-boy comics, leaving room on the racks and in The DC Universe for a ornery cowboy. I'm especially pleased that DC made it happen minus the Vertigo imprint.

A bit of expanation:

Thirteen years ago, Jonah Hex's adventures were placed under the Vertigo banner because they just got plain weird. Somewhere along the line, Hex rode giant worms and fought cannibalistic guitar players. Very Vertigo, not very DC.

Today, Hex is back where he belongs, in The DCU. An ordinary man holding his own in a universe where superheroes will eventually do the extraordinary and this got me to thinking about DC's character reclamations...

DC, make one more reclamation:

Tim Hunter.

I believe people will read the adventures of a young, bespectacled, magically gifted British orphan. I think children might read something like that. Where better to read something like that than The DCU? I appreciate that in order to differentiate Tim from another young British lad, Vertigo aged him and had him having all kinds of complicated sex or somesuch but I just think that the premise of the original Tim Hunter's Books of Magic would be so much more interesting if it were set in The DC Universe.

Tim Hunter should operate in a universe where there's a Billy Batson. Tim Hunter should experience the sight of chimp-led Shadowpact.

Keep this book relatively all-ages, have it written with the same intent towards accessiblity (i.e. short stories) shared with Justice League Unlimited or Jonah Hex has and well, Tim Hunter just may have a new lease on life. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Vertigo but I also don't believe that in order to make a character interesting, you don't have to make it "mature". Maybe it's time we all stopped being apologists for being there first and maybe it's time for DC to bring one of its' more original creations forward.

I think it's time to bring Tim Hunter home.

Here, here! Tim Hunter (and Swamp Thing, for that matter) would fit in well with the direction DC is taking with magic, the Spectre, Shadowpact, etc.
Totally agree! In fact, with the success of the Vertigo lines non-DC U titles (100 Bullets, Y, Fables) and DC's acceptance of publishing horror and mature comics under the DC banner (Frankenstein and Infinite Crisis both have some horrific violence), I think it's time to make a clean break.

Everything that take place in the DC U goes under the DC banner, no matter how old or young, and should be allowed to interact with the Justice League (with the writers' and editors' consent, of course). Everything mature and NOT in the DCU goes Vertigo, everything young and not DCU goes in the Johnny DC imprint.

Which means reclaiming not just Tim and Swampy, but also the Dreaming and Constantine, while letting Jack Cross and (the next) Fallen Angel be printed with the Vertigo imprint. I mean, why should DC Comics be known as everything BUT scary, mature comics? And Vertigo would be even MORE free to publish an even wider variety of genres, moving farther and farther from the high fantasy of superheroes.

It could work
The Vertigo brand suits Constantine, because it separates the character from a certain set of expectations - that the stories will be suitable for a certain age range, that the stories are set in the DC Universe, and therefore that anyone from Darkseid to Ambush Bug could appear.

John Constantine woule be a poor fit in that sort of world, because to bring in those overtly superheroic elements, or to tone down the language used in the title, would bowdlerise the series to the point of nonsense.

Of course, the Vertigo banner comes with its own set of expectations - ones which suit the tone of Hellblazer (mature themes, strong language) to a tee. But that's not to say that Vertigo series have to have mature themes or strong language - My Faith In Frankie would have worked under the DC banner, for example - but it's nice to have that room to breathe.

It's not like Sandman, which was about stories in a way that elevated it above other concerns.

It is, perhaps, a little harder to justify quarantining Swamp Thing entirely. Alan Moore proved, by noble example, that Swamp Thing could play in the garden of the DC Universe without sacrificing the essential horror of the series. But that Swamp Thing was much closer in spirit to the peri-Crisis DC Universe. What I've read of the new Swamp Thing (the Diggle trade)seemed to do all right without it.

Removing even the cosmetic separation between the DC and Vertigo lines, for the titles mentioned here, anyway, would alter the tones of the Vertigo series beyond recognition. It'd be like dunking your donut in steak sauce: two great tastes that don't go together. The shared universe would become a noose around those titles, as it has done for the DC (and Marvel) universe at large.

Yeah, I'm all for the de-confusifying of Tim Hunter, too. he was a fun character in the beginning, and his DCU interactions were always pretty fun. I remember at one point during Books of Magic they talked about Tim becoming Zatanna's apprenctice, which sounded really awesome, and that ended up lasting maybe an entire issue. Gyp!
I want Constantine back, too. But under the current rules it won't ever happen. He played a part in the first crisis, and in my mind, should be in this one as well. He belongs in league with The Phantom Stranger and the like, but the doors to Vertigo are shut tight and not going to be opened any time soon.

The idea, as I understand it, is they don't want a kid to see Constantine in a Superman book and then go buy Hellblazer and see him forced to rape a farm animal.

Understandable, i guess, buy why then do they have Superboy ripping arms off and punching heads into oblivion?

I say, if you're born in the DCU, you should be able to play there from time to time.
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