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Rebooty Call 06.05.2009

Posted by Commodore Mendez in Star Trek Stuff.
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flash1

Flash 1 and Flash 2. Flash 2 and Flash 1. They can do anything, anything, anything under the Sun.

Dear Nancy Crater’s Unused Pepper Mill,
I hear you. Let us not confuse Tribbles with Cylons. Reboots generally discard all previous continuity and start anew. But the weird thing about the new Star Trek movie is that it wants to be a reboot AND a sequel (AND a prequel).

My first experience with reboots came when DC Comics rebooted several of their superheroes in the 1950s. I was not alive back then, but by the time I was reading comics this rebooting had big repercussions. DC took the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Atom—who were big in the ‘40s but were no longer being published—and re-introduced them with new identities, costumes, and powers. The incredibly excellent new versions of the superheroes existed outside the continuity of their predecessors. Or so it seemed. By the 1970s, when I began reading comics, the original 1940s-era heroes were retconned to exist on an “Earth-Two.” They got to meet and team up with their successors, and eventually became feature characters. All of this led to DC’s fun, but sometimes confusing multiverse system, which was later destroyed (in a DC universe-wide reboot), and recently resurrected (in yet another series of reboots).

Message, Spock?

Did 1940s fans scream and pout and kick the dog when they saw the 1950s versions of their heroes? “What’s up with the stupid lightning bolts on the new Flash costume? I miss the stupid helmet with the wings on the old Flash! Lightning bolts are too fancy, too trying to be popular.” “How come the new Green Lantern doesn’t have a cape? The first Green Lantern had a cape! How can he fly without a cape?!!” Unlikely, as comics were geared solidly toward a young demographic that was expected to grow up and out of love with comics. That’s why comic books were the mightiest media for reboots for awhile. They have, however, gotten a bit silly with the whole idea, killing off big heroes in a huge media frenzy (Superman, Captain America, and most recently Batman—for the umpteenth time) in order to sell books and get their writers to stretch a little.

Reboots are the cross that fans have to bear. Reboots are only to be expected for popular serial characters—especially when they are owned by corporations. Still, it’s kind of sad to realize our childhood heroes are commercial entities, marketing shills, brands. Sargon knows, William Shatner has embraced it—why shouldn’t we? (I do think the current young generation has much fewer qualms about branding than our generations have or had. Frankly, I don’t think these kids know how to steer.)

Some old characters are just too good and too popular to die. There are already rumors that Shatner will appear in a sequel to the new movie. Gotta keep throwing the old fans a bone. Of course, whether Shatner continues to be conflated with the character that made his famous is up to Chris Pine. (Yes, I realize there is a pun with “inflated” waiting to be made.)

Cheers,

Spider-Mensch

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