Wednesday 12 November 2014

A Curious Combination

Mark Twain famously said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations."

Impossible or not, I think I am on fairly safe ground to conjecture that the majority of ideas are routinely revisited in the world of comics.  Whether it is the retelling of an origin story, the resurrection of a formerly dead character, or the passing of said character's legacy on to the next generation, we all love to see elements from our favourite stories invoked in new material.  As I understand it both DC Comics and Marvel intend to take this approach to the extreme in 2015, overtly referencing a whole of host previously published storyarcs as the basis of each of their latest company-wide events.

At the other end of the scale to this are the little tricks and eye-catching gimmicks that innocently resurface every so often as comic book writers attempt to tap into the timeless essence of their chosen muse.  I stumbled across one such oddity not long ago while I was researching the earliest appearances of the Justice League of America.

Have a look at the delightful panel below from Justice League of America #3, vol.1 (1961) showing Hal Jordan think quickly to save the city from certain disaster.  He creates giant humanoid constructs with his power ring to prevent damaged sky-scrapers from falling and crushing the population below.

We can all agree this is a fantastic bit of ring-slinging from Hal which must have been very exciting for fans to read back in the early sixties.

Jump forward then exactly 50 years into the future and take a gander at this next wonderful double page spread which graced the pages of Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 (2011).

Note the collapsing building and falling crane destined to annihilate the terrified city dwellers below.  Note our green-clad hero swooping down from the sky to mount a daring rescue, and most importantly, note the big, green giants stretching their huge arms around the plummeting debris to halt its catastrophic descent.

It's the same concept in both panels!  Yes, the 2011 version has been considerably fleshed out and updated to entertain a more demanding 21st century audience (3 years on and I am still struck by the beauty and energy of the artwork) but when you boil right down to it, it is the same idea appearing in both comic books. 

I have no clue if the New Guardians creative team of Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham gave any thought to their historic Justice League predecessors, Gardner Fox and Mike Secowsky.  I sincerely doubt it.  But I like to think the idea first popped into heads of those silver-age creators back in 1961 and floated around in the ether for a good many years until it passed through Mark Twain's mental kaleidoscope to be turned and transformed into a new and very curious combination.

No comments:

Post a Comment