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Saturday, August 04, 2012 

The lack of supporting casts is what hurts the Big Two

Comic Book Resources, writing about a "new" hero called Talon being spun out of a Batman story, and say:
DC and Marvel have been chided (and rightfully so) by fans and pundits for their inability to create new characters with new titles to join established stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman.
I don't think that's very accurate. No, they're being chided - by me anyway - for their inability to introduce new supporting/recurring casts of co-stars to their worlds who aren't superheroes, like wives/husbands, girlfriends/boyfriends, best buddies in college, and employees at a company they're working for. Just take a look around and see how Bruce Wayne, for example, may not have had a regular date in who knows how long, and in the team books, there's little to no non-superhero co-stars around. Once team titles like X-Men and the New Teen Titans had various supporting/recurring casts of civilians like Stevie Hunter, Terry Long, Moira MacTaggart and Sarah Simms, but they've since been killed off or vanished without a trace and no replacements have been created to fill the roles they did. Here's another post that makes the same point I want to, of how superhero books no longer seem to have any real co-stars who aren't superheroes themselves.

And not only have co-stars become very uncertain in their presence, those that do appear are often superficial and almost no serious attempts made to flesh them out and build a story around them like past superhero books would. Some recent examples could include J. Michael Stracynski's work on Spider-Man, when he had Peter Parker take a job as a schoolteacher. Not only did he not use much of the established cast, he didn't make any convincing use of the cast seen at the school either. And in the Flash, Geoff Johns introduced a few cast members, only to make little more than superficial use out of them before largely jettisoning them onto the sidelines.

Supporting casts are just what superhero books are lacking today, and it explains their insularity. As for Talon, from what I can tell, he's just an attempt to come up with a new Azrael, Agent of the Bat, and I don't forsee a long run for his new series either. Nor do new heroes compensate for sparse supporting players.

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I completely agree. We wrote to JT Krul on comic bloc about this when he took over the Titans. We begged him to show the characters out of costume, with supporting casts. No, the focus was on action, with them in costume, all the time. Post after post on that thread asked him why, but as far as I can tell he didn't answer because the reason was editorial mandates.

And I've also noticed how when they DO feature the supporting casts nowadays, they themselves become heroes or villains of some kind. Pepper Potts now wears Iron Man amor and goes into action as "Rescue" or something like that. Flash Thompson is now the host for Venom. They can't just be normal human beings whom the superheroes interact with anymore... no, they have to be superheroes too, apparently. That bugs me.

I know some would point out that Ned Leeds was (briefly) the Hobgoblin until a retcon said he was brainwashed by the real Hobgoblin and that Happy Hogan was the "Freak" for a time, but those were back when comics actually had good stories to tell.

I loved the old Robbie Robertson/ Tombstone drama in Spec Spider-Man, a good dark background tale.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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