Why do people (maybe you) get upset when someone new takes over a character’s mantle? (5G rumors)

Ok so upfront I’m going to discuss some rumors about possible changes next year (5G stuff)

Whenever a superhero retires, dies, disappears, etc and someone new takes on their mantle (either a sidekick or someone else) there is always a group of fans that get really upset. Like really really upset and I would love to talk about that.

For example: Bendis has announced that Superman in December is revealing his secret identity to the world. This has coincided with rumors that (POSSIBLE SPOILER) in the near future Clark will no longer be Superman but Jon will be (how and if this actually happens can be a different thread all on its own). Or rumors are floating around (mostly on Bleeding Cool) that (POSSIBLE SPOILER) Batman is going to give up the mantle and Luke Fox will take over.

When changes like this happen people get upset. I have seen some people, in response to the above rumors talk about how this is the last straw and after so many decades of reading and collecting comics they are done. I understand frustration with change but the degree of anger I don’t necessarily get since we should all know that nothing is really permanent in comics. (Superman, Barry, Hal, and Bruce all came back to life. Some rebirths were quicker than others but in the end they all came back and reset at some point.)

So I would love to hear the following from people:

  1. Why do people/you get upset when a mantle is passed to a new character.
    And
  2. Have you ever enjoyed a story or character after the mantle has been passed down? (For example Dick Grayson as Batman).

I Love DC and this community so much. Thanks for talking.

(Also, side note - I don’t feel like people get as upset when a sidekick mantle/title is passed down. Some probably didn’t like when Damian took over as Robin and Tim’s identity was (and continues to be - Drake??) in flux. However, in general it feels like fans are more ok with a sidekick’s mantle being passed to new characters but not ok when a “main” hero does it. Why?)

10 Likes

I’ll share.

  1. I got initially frustrated when Batman “died” in Morrison’s run because I knew it wasn’t going to be forever. There are times when I assume everything is a money grab and I did that then. However, I loved Dick Grayson as Batman (see below).
    I also think that people just hate change but when you have good writers (which is very subjective) you can get great stories and that is invaluable to me.
  2. I really loved Dick Grayson as Batman because he helped me understand the importance of the symbol and how that can be timeless and what it stands for. It also showed me what I loved about Bruce and Dick and, for me, really cemented their differences. I especially loved Grant Morrison writing Dick as Batman and Snyder’s Detective Comics stories during that time.
    I’ll try to think of other examples of hero’s mantels being passed that I enjoyed.
8 Likes

I like it when it makes sense. As long as the story is good and the replacement character has been around for a while (Dick Grayson as Batman, Wally West as The Flash, etc) and not someone they introduced like the previous story arc. And these things are rarely permanent. If your examples do indeed happen, I guarantee Clark and Bruce will be back in the mantle in no more than 2 years.

8 Likes

I think that we, as readers, follow the main characters more closely. We form a certain ideology on what they are supposed to be and often that links up to the classic version. Clark, Diana, and Bruce are almost unspoken as supposed to be there characters. People have allowed for movement in almost all the other superheroes in the DC Universe. Flash and Green Lantern being prime examples of mantles that have been taken over with some success of major DC characters. I think most of us hold the big three on a mantle, which can cause stagnation when they no longer represent a true hero or can hold onto great storytelling because they are so burdened by continuity.

9 Likes

I think there are a handful of issues at play here.

  • For many of us, the heroes are constant reminders of our childhoods. They aren’t just characters, they are modern myths and connections to our past. When these characters are retired, we lose that connection, which is painful for us. It’s kind of like losing a loved one, and we go through those stages of grief (including anger).

  • I’ll touch the third rail here and admit that these sorts of changes become more frustrating for us old timers when they seem to be done for political reasons. When a perfectly good character is put aside so stories that could just as well be told with that character are told instead with a character of color, it seems unnecessary. I’m all for greater diversity and representation in comics, I just think you could create new heroes without losing the old ones (Isn’t that the Girl Scouts song “One is silver and the other’s gold.”)

That being said, I did absolutely love the All-New Atom series with Gail Simone and John Byrne, where Ryan Choi replaced Ray Palmer.

15 Likes

I could see how it could be bothersome for people at the time, but I mostly read on here, so everything’s at least a year old. I can choose if what I want to read really easily.

One of my favorite runs of all time was Batman: Black mirror with Dick Grayson as Batman

4 Likes

I don’t understand at all why people get upset. This has been happening to one character or another my ENTIRE comics reading life, which started in the 90’s with the Death and Return of Superman storyline (probably the ultimate ‘someone new takes over’ story).

It happens… after a while it eventually goes back to normal. It’s the everlasting never stopping circular cycle of mainstream superhero comics.

Personally, Black Mirror with Dick Grayson is my favorite Batman story. And as much as I love Babs, the best Batgirl run was when Stephanie Brown took over.

New characters taking over the lead role is the chance to explore how “Superman” is more than just Clark Kent. It’s an idea, an ideal, a legacy, and a purpose.

8 Likes

I don’t get angry about it but I do think it’s become an overused trope. Not every character is intended to be a legacy character. There are lots of examples where it’s been done well (YMMV but I liked most of the temporary replacement Batman stories and loved Superior Spider-Man) and plenty where it’s been done poorly (The Totally Awesome Hulk).

9 Likes

This has always been how I felt about it, particularly with the bigger legacy characters like Batman and Superman. Overall changes never bothered me as long as the story being told was enjoyable.

And it ALWAYS goes back eventually lol

4 Likes

I loved Superior Spidey, that one was fun and how I fell in love with Ryan Stegman’s art!

4 Likes

I come for good stories. If they want to play with the secret identities while telling good stories, I’m down.

3 Likes

I believe if the story makes sense, it’s not a bad thing. The whole Azrael/Batman thing felt forced to fit in with the gritty, too many pouches on costumes 90s aesthetic.

However, I loved seeing Kyle Rayner become a Green Lantern. That choice and feeling of succession really worked well. Besides Alan Scott, Kyle is my favorite GL.

3 Likes

Denny O’Neil basically said that was the point at the time. To show how over the top a 90’s Batman would be and why the original was better than all that.

6 Likes

On the first point, some changes seem more ill-advised than others. With 5C, I mostly think it’s a terrible idea to replace EVERYONE AT ONCE, because that means you also lose all your big sellers at once. And frankly, I do kind of like my favorite characters and want to read about them instead of characters who are not my favorite characters. That said, sometimes a legacy character surprises you and turns out unexpectedly good, maybe even well after the fact. The first couple years of Wally West’s run really sucked until Mark Waid reworked everything. If this 5C thing is to be believed, I don’t even doubt that one or two of the Replacement Squad actually will be pretty good. Not one of them is going to last, of course, and I’m not naive enough to think it’s possible that most or all of them will be good, but I suppose somebody could wrangle a decent book out of it.

On the second point, I’m going to assume replacements that were always meant to be temporary are off the table, so Wally West really is the best example that springs to mind. Tim Drake is another really strong legacy character (and for that matter, I thought Jason had some potential that was never tapped). There are a couple like Kyle Rayner or Jaime Reyes who I do legitimately like but don’t think quite lived up to their predecessors. I’ll also note that I’m more receptive to a legacy character when the previous holder of the title hasn’t used it in a while, like with Cassandra Cain becoming Batgirl. Barbara grew out of the role and into that of Oracle fairly naturally, so it was reasonable to bring in a new Batgirl. Or, for that matter, there’s even Jason, who was created to fill Dick’s pixie boots rather than Dick being graduated to make room for him.

All that said, I do also think it’s a little lazy compared to creating a new character. I mean, I don’t expect anybody created recently to reach big-seven-level popularity, but there have been plenty of no-legacy characters who became fairly successful either for their time or currently who were not in fact created in the Silver Age and weren’t trading on a Silver Age character’s name recognition. Adding a new character expands storytelling possibilities since it can bring with it a new supporting cast, rogues gallery, and set of ongoing plotlines. Replacing one, on the other hand, fundamentally removes at least some possibilities (by removing that character’s connections to the existing supporting cast etc.), and thus is by default fighting an uphill battle to actually be worth the effort.

For less important characters, the “hill” isn’t quite as steep (for example, Ted Kord didn’t have much of a franchise built around him, so Jaime was able to take over pretty smoothly). However, I think the more entrenched a particular protagonist (like Superman or Batman) is, the more the existing storytelling possibilities revolve around that character, and the less likely it is that a new character could prove a positive change.

9 Likes

I think for me it’s just a case of sticking with classic. Sure, stuck in the past but I just like these characters. It’s also not a fresh idea anymore and also frequently not done well. For one reason or another, I can think of five times Bruce has stopped being Batman and then come back.
I also just want time to enjoy the characters. It feels like it’s just event after event then a deconstruction then an event then a retirement then a return then event. Detective Comics has had some shorter storylines but when was the last time Bruce was just Batman? I know people are rapidly typing examples so I acknowledge exaggeration in my argument but that’s just how I feel. I do like events but they don’t always have to be continuity/character/status quo shattering.
I’ve also said before that I am happy with additions, just tired of replacements.

5 Likes

For the proposed 5G.

I would like the fans to be able to decide

For example Jon could be in the Superman 10 years in the future in Action.Comics while Kal el remains in Superman.

Black Batman in Detective while Bruce in Batman.

Maybe a Justice League set in the future for the rest or two titles monthly rather than one title twice a month

1 Like

I saw someone posted the idea of having comics set in each of the 5 generations. I thought that was a great idea.

4 Likes

I hate it because its such a lazy crutch for writers and its FAR overused at best and pandering at worst.

Now if they have a line in the future with different people using classic mantles and the classics are still used in the present, whatever.

Now if they do a mass replacement like Marvel did in the PCU era 6-8 years ago I’m out until its over.

They’ve replaced Bruce 2 times in the last 10 years. That’s enough.

Hire better writers.

6 Likes

@ralphsix

That was me

Why spend all that time creating a time line and not use it?

Example

Justice League International use Booster and the gang in that time period

Justice Society see Wonder Woman set up the JSA. Plus untold stories in the 1950s when no other super heroes were around.

3 Likes

Seconding everything @phylemon said, and on a more personal note, I also tend to value stories for their characters more than their plot.

I could read a really mediocre story based on an overdone trope and still enjoy it if I’m a fan of the cast involved, but I’ll have difficulty with the reverse. An ingenious, original tale won’t hold my attention for long if none of the characters catch my eye.

So when it comes to inheritances of mantles, if you’re permanently replacing a character I love with someone I don’t enjoy as much, it feels like my reason for being invested in that particular title has been removed. I’ve got to learn to like the replacement to stay with it, and sometimes those are big shoes to fill.

5 Likes