Hey, remember when you asked me to give you my thoughts on the basic construction of the DC and Marvel universes? Oh, that never happened? Well, too bad. You’re getting my breakdowns anyway.
The Marvel universe doesn’t take much time to explain. It’s a beautiful mosaic. And though the irregular, jagged pieces of history do pull together to make an interesting and comprehensible whole when one steps back and views the full line in its entirety, the majority of a reader’s fun is derived from zooming in to follow intricate curves and plot twists. The joy is found in the messiness of it—the dangling plot threads, lost trails, and minutiae. I can see why the Marvel editorial staff is so wary of a reboot given how readers read Marvel comics. The focus is placed upon relationships—how characters interact given their history. Should you remove the history, what is left? I suppose that is why the Marvel staff has opted for a careful simplification of Marvel history rather than tossing decades of carefully constructed relationships into the dustbin. While new readers will be able to “jump on,” older readers will not feel slighted by drastic changes.
DC, however, was able to weather its recent relaunch due to the fact that DC generally deals in archetypes. Moreover, its universe is not a mosaic, but a simple square and two strings. Sounds dull, no? Surprisingly, it makes for a universe equally as interesting as Marvel’s. Allow me to explain.
Again, two strings. Two tug-of-wars between four houses—justice versus injustice and order versus chaos—it’s as simple as that. The excitement comes from watching the knot in the center, the symbol for power and control in the DC universe, veer uncontrollably from side to side as strategic moves are made by different players in each kingdom or house.
Batman (king); Wonder Woman (queen); Superman (knight)
Lex Luthor (king); Gorgeous (queen); Catwoman (knight)
Steve Trevor (king); Amanda Waller (queen)
The Joker (knight)
The brief list I’ve provided above is woefully incomplete due to the fact that I do not believe all of the major players are currently on the stage. After all, it has merely been a year. Also, the roles of king and queen are not assigned via one’s romantic relationship, but according to tactical value and importance. Note that injustice and order, defined by commerce and government, are decidedly human. Justice and chaos, defined by heroes, villains, aliens, and gods—or in more generic terms, science and religion—are predominately otherworldly. For those wondering who Gorgeous is, she is an old Stormwatch: PHD character I feel would be a solid addition to the DC universe given her skill set and personality.
There are other minor details to take into account. Chaos and order are neither good nor evil. What brings order does not always bring justice; a chaotic individual may actually wish to improve the lives of others with his or her actions. Romances, friendships, and family ties that cross houses also muddy the waters considerably (ex: Bruce and Selina, Steve and Diana, Lex and Amanda).
The simplicity of the DC design makes things rather difficult for the DC staff. One needs a stable creative team in place or there is the danger of editors making creative decisions in place of the talent. Also, constant communication between creative teams is required. This can result in a constant barrage of email.
Anyway, this is what I think about while waiting for my food to cook, folks. Hence, I am a pretty boring date.