Thursday, August 29, 2013
Why DC Needs Vibe
I have talked for a while on this blog about some of the issues I have with the current New 52 DC Universe, this feeling that it is an overwhelmingly depressing place to live.
The powers-that-be will call it grim and gritty, or realistic. But the truth is that the longer this universe and these books come out, the more unrecognizable things are becoming. There doesn’t seem to be a super-hero who is happy being a hero, happy to be helping people. Superman is a loner who doesn’t want to mentor his family, someone who floats over everybody. In countless books, in continuity or out, he has become a killer. Supergirl is a disaffected teen running from her new world. Her father has once again been turned into a super-villain. Superboy is a brainwashed weapon, a bank robber who carries the DNA of a maniacal genocidal alternate future son of Clark and Lois. The Amazons seduce and kill men to create the next generation, trading male children into slavery for weapons. Wonder Woman is a warrior only, never an ambassador for peace. The Legion can’t be made dark enough to sustain a title and so it is canceled, replaced by JLA3000, a book that Kevin Maguire is kicked off of because the book needs to be darker than his art can support.
It felt as if the whole DCU was cut from the same grimmer and grittier cloth.
And a palette of one color becomes boring pretty quickly.
Throughout this new universe, I kept looking for a least one book that might have a different viewpoint, a book where characters were being heroes because it is the right thing to do. Someone who realizes that in this world it is harder to be good but you have to … because, to quote the competition, with great power comes great responsibility.
The new Ameythyst? The Teen Titans? The Justice League? Have you read those books? Nope.
Maybe Demon Knights? After all, the purest and most noble of characters, The Shining Knight, amidst others that are beautiful shades of gray. It was doing it. But that book has already been canceled.
And then there was Vibe.
Initially written by Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg and then handed over to Supergirl-scribe Sterling Gates, Vibe stars a character trying to do what’s right in a cynical and grimy world.
Cisco Ramon is a teenage boy given fantastic powers. He is approached by the government group ARGUS to be part of a new Justice League of America and he jumps at the chance. He wants to honor the memory of his presumed fallen brother. He wants to help his family. He wants to help people. So he jumps at the chance.
Given the codename Vibe, he goes beyond the missions given to him, patrolling the streets and trying to fight crime. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.
And when it becomes clear that ARGUS isn’t exactly acting above board, when Cisco realizes that ARGUS is imprisoning people, making Vibe try to capture innocent people, asking him to attack other breachers, he says no. He doesn’t fall in line. He doesn’t follow orders. He does what’s right! He turns against his bosses and helps the people who really need it. People like Kid Flash and Gypsy. It isn’t easy to do that. It isn’t easy to stand up against government-funded evil and be a hero. But he does it.
Moreover, his ethics inspires others to do the same. Dale Gunn, his handler at ARGUS, is portrayed as a good man who at some point decided to follow orders even when he thought the orders were wrong. He did this to protect his family. He is a perfect reflection of Vibe. He was Vibe. That is, until he compromised his principles and fell in line. When Dale sees Vibe helping Kid Flash and Gypsy, he begins to question his own decisions. He even helps Cisco’s brother break into the Circus to rescue his brother.
Vibe, the young hero, inspiring others to be better! In this market, it’s a wonderful change of pace.
Long time Supergirl readers shouldn't be surprised that Sterling Gates has a handle on a young hero, striving to do what's right, and learning their place in the world.
Outside of the optimism of the book, and as a great bonus, Gates clearly has a comprehensive knowledge of the DCU, dropping in such other-dimensional beings like Lady Quark, Maaldor, and the Warlock of Ys … Easter Eggs for long time fans.
What could be better?
The last issue of Vibe sold just over 12,000, a probable death sentence for the book.
With title after title after title showing a grimy world where heroes can’t be heroes, who don’t like being heroes, who don’t want to be heroes , in a dark gray world, can’t DC have one title that brings the light? That has optimism?
Sometimes I want a horror movie. Sometimes I want a comedy. Sometimes I want a drama. What a boring world this would be if there were only horror movies!
Can’t comics have the same? Isn’t there room for something more positive? Especially in the DCU where things are so dismal right now that next month I am going to be rooting for the villains because ‘evil is relative’ and there are even worse villains.
And please … before anyone says I am old-fashioned and want a saccharine world of the Silver Age … I will defend myself by listing some titles on my pull list: Conan, Fatale, Danger Club, Satellite Sam, Rachel Rising, and Revival. I am not against darker stories. I am not against violence in stories. I understand the world we live in. But I also know that I want options in my entertainment. And I sometimes want to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity and in the existence of heroes.
That’s why DC Comics needs Vibe.
In this market he is the Unlikeliest Hero.
Why? Because he is a hero.