Funnybook Babylon

December 13, 2008

Lasting Legacies

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 3:45 am

If you think you can leave any sort of lasting legacy, you’re deluded. And I was deluded for a long time. But we live and we learn.

Mark Waid

I really, really love Superman: Birthright.

More than any other story, to me, it defines what Clark, Kal, the Kents and the House of El represent and the beacon they’re meant to be to humanity; far more than the dyslexic Lois Lane and meek Clark of the 1970s, the overconfident football jock of the 1980s or the po-faced stoic of the 1990s, Birthright illuminated and really crystallized, to me, who and what Superman is. I owe Mark Waid that forever.

So I was pretty damn surprised to see that he feels he hasn’t left a legacy. I don’t know if this is some kind of momentary lapse of reason or what, but dude, snap out of it – who gives a shit if your story got thrown out of continuity a few years later? It’s not like a whole generation of comic nerds didn’t read it, many of whom will re-enter the industry. Remember Len Wein’s Untold Legend of the Batman, perennial favorite of cereal box tie-ins, and how it got tossed out of continuity (just like Birthright!) a few years later by Crisis? And how basically the past two years of Batman stories have centered around reincorporating its “let’s compress the entirety of Bat-history into X number of years” method to dazzling effect?

Nobody’s deluded for thinking people are going to be inspired by a really damn good Superman story, personally or creatively, and that’s what Birthright was. It may not be THE OFFICIAL BACK STORY of the ONE TRUE SUPERMAN OF NEW EARTH right now, but these things embed themselves in the soil of continuity to take root and grow; they’re percolating in the back of the minds of the readership, and a few years from now some guy’s applauded take on Superman is going to be based on this story that’s getting “bulldozed over.”

The short-term decisions can always be short-term with the wave of a magic wand. Nothing is permanent, and the whims of editors will always be overriden by popular consensus in the long run, even if it takes a little bit too long. Perhaps I’m channelling Adam Smith a little bit too much in my vision of the the equilibrum of comics continuity, but I really think that in the end the shit falls to the bottom and the cream rises to the top no matter how long it takes, and if the work is solid – and especially if it’s a highly marketed story that’s likely to remain in print and available, like most of Waid’s material – there’s no telling what effect it could eventually have, or what kind of legacy it could inspire.

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