The first comic titles that I followed with any enthusiasm were the New Teen Titans, Batman and the Outsiders, and Alpha Flight. I started reading them because they were new. They weren’t completely foreign or novel concepts – Alpha Flight was the Canadian X-Men, New Teen Titans were the team of sidekicks, and Batman and the Outsiders were the outcast misfits working together. I liked them because they weren’t drowning in backstory. Yeah, I’m talking about you X-Men.
Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of similar super hero options available now for new readers. I think older readers have more variety of options, particularly titles from Vertigo. And there are more and more options for readers to read titles to revisit old continuities like X-Factor Forever.
But what about the new readers? That’s where Young Allies, X-Campus, and Avengers Academy fit in. Each is a reinvention or re-interpretation of the old team/theme, but each represent a new opportunity for new readers of super hero comics.
But they also provide a solution to the nostalgia problem. What do we do to keep Captain America fresh and relevant? It’s nearly impossible to constantly recreate him to match the changing political and social context. Can we let Kitty Pryde grow older? Given the variety and depth of experience, you can’t let her be a static personality. But we can take those same ideas and concepts, and introduce the “new” character to new readers. The other option is to make a parallel universe – like Marvel’s Ultimate or DC’s All-Star lines – but those still tend to be self-referential.
So, all critics and nay-sayers – back off! Let’s give new readers the opportunity to discover their own Teen Titans, Outsiders, or Alpha Flight. Let’s give these titles a chance – I am. Maybe one of them will reignite my interest in super heroes. And if you want more of the same, read X-Men Forever or seek out an Essential volume.