Amid all the hype surrounding Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin, I seemingly missed the more interesting news concerning Morrison and another one of his upcoming titles. I saw on io9.com that Morrison will be writing an Earth 4 book that centers on the Charlton Comics characters. Those would be The Question, Peacemaker, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom. Dios mio. I must be in comic book heaven.
First, it is necessary for me to disclose my undying love for Charlton Comics. I was not born when Charlton was publishing comics, but luckily I had a tio who was a huge comic book fan. And he had tons of Charlton comic books. And I read all of them. They were incredible. I liked my Marvel and DC comic books, but there was something about those old Charlton comic books that were so special. And the Charlton characters quickly became some of my favorite characters.
Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) was created by Steve Ditko. The Question was also created by Steve Ditko. Captain Atom was created by Steve Ditko and Joe Gill. Peacemaker was created by Joe Gill and Pat Boyette. I am a huge fan of Steve Ditko. I know that he does not get as much love as some comic creators like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but I firmly believe that Ditko is one of the greatest comic book creators ever. If you have never read any of Ditko’s Blue Beetle or Question comic books then do yourself the favor and check them out. They are fantastic. And it pained me to see what DC did to Ditko’s characters.
Blue Beetle was reduced to a punch line before Greg Rucka killed Ted Kord like a true hero total bitch. And then Rucka has the Question, Vic Sage, die a slow and un-heroic death from cancer. (Rucka, I read Steve Ditko’s comics, I know Steve Ditko. Steve Ditko is a comic book icon. Rucka, you are no Steve Ditko.) And then you have Captain Atom who, for seemingly no reason at all, was morphed into the villain the Monarch and then apparently killed. Yay. Thanks, DC. You made this Charlton fan so happy with your handling of those three classic Charlton characters.
Now will this Earth-4 title be popular? Probably not. And there are three reasons for that. I would imagine that some Watchmen purists will not like anyone attempting to write a Watchmen styled comic book. Many will feel that DC should in no way shape or form ever try to reproduce or follow up the Watchmen.
I am also not too sure how much appeal the Charlton characters have with newer readers. Older readers will certainly be interested in these Charlton characters. And readers, like me, who love old comic books and are dig the history of comics, will also be interested in the Charlton characters. And you know that if Morrison is writing the comic book then you better fire up your computer and get ready to do some research to catch up on your Charlton Comics continuity because this title will surely be a dense read and crammed full of obscure references.
Another reason that I have a feeling that this title might not sell too well is Morrison’s own description of the comic book. Morrison states “‘I’ve decided to write it like Watchmen so it’s written backwards and sideways and filled with all kinds of symbolism and because of that it’s taking quite a long time to write.” That sounds like Morrison might be writing this Earth-4 comic book in the same style as how he wrote Final Crisis and Superman Beyond. And we all know that many readers did not enjoy that style of writing. Of course, Final Crisis posted large sales numbers, so I guess you never know.
What is so odd is that Morrison has always railed against the influence that the Watchmen has had on comic books. Philosophically, Morrison believes that comic books should be creative, fantastic and larger than life. All Star Superman is an excellent example of how Morrison views the super hero genre. Morrison wants to bring the zaniness of the Silver Age and combine it with modern storytelling. Being dark, violent, gritty and hopeless has never been one of Morrison’s overriding goals. And Morrison has strongly criticized that direction for comic books on more than one occasion.
At any rate, one thing that I am sure of is that I am going to be beyond thrilled to see these Charlton characters back and better than ever. I do hope that Morrison treats these classic Charlton characters with respect. And I do hope this title is not a vehicle for Morrison to parody the Watchmen or to simply irreparably damage or slaughter off these Charlton characters.
Still, I am going to keep the hope alive that Morrison will do a fine job with these Charlton characters. I am particularly excited to see the real Question back in action instead of the lame Renee Montoya version of The Question that I am burdened with in the regular DCU. And I hope that Morrison uses Ted Kord instead of Dan Garrett. To get Vic and Ted back in the same title would be awesome. Morrison’s Earth-Four title is definitely a comic book that I am extremely eager to read.