I was reading a retrospective of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s work on The New Teen Titans a little while ago, and the author’s thesis was basically that nobody should bother with this book anymore because it’s been done once, perfectly, and that was enough. It got me thinking about “definitive” versions of characters—not creations, but RE-creations. Obviously, Marvel did this to the (ahem) ultimate degree with Ultimate Spider-Man, but I’m not talking about new universes. I’m talking about this: You take existing characters, with all their baggage, and you repurpose the character. You put all that history in a new context, and allow the character to grow, change, and become new—while keeping the things that made the character great. This is the geekiest thing I’ve ever written, I daresay.
So, here are the rules:
1. We’re dealing with well-established characters here, which eliminates all indie books and all original characters. The creators can’t be involved. Breaks my heart, but that means Brian Michael Bendis’ take on Jessica Jones is disqualified.
2. No alternate universes, no What-Ifs, no “future universes.” This eliminates Ultimates and the DC “All Star” books.
3. Retconning or re-telling an origin is fine, but the new narrative must include the established legend so that it could be an origin of the character we all know. You could re-tell Spider-Man’s origin, but if you leave out Uncle Ben or the burglar, you’re out.
4. The run has to have changed the character, which means the character at the end of the run is not the same person we understood him/her to be at the beginning of the run. Some great examples would be Bendis’ run on Daredevil, or the afore-mentioned Wolfman/Perez’s metamorphosis of Robin to Nightwing over the course of their New Teen Titans series.
5. The run can have gone on for as long (or short) as necessary. Jeph Loeb’s Daredevil: Yellow is a candidate, e.g. It just has to be a re-defining take on the character.
6. To be clear, here’s a few examples: Garth Ennis on Punisher (Punisher Max); Bendis’ vision of Norman Osborn (New and Dark Avengers); Frank Miller’s Daredevil run; Grant Morrison’s Batman from Batman: R.I.P.; JMS’s Thor run; Matt Fraction’s Iron Man #s 1-present; Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. You get the idea.
Send me your votes. You can send me one vote, or send me a list of up to ten. Every vote will count equally, so no need to rank them. You can write about why you picked them, or just send the list (if you write about why, I may quote you, so if you have a website you want linked to, let me know). I’ll tally the results in a few weeks, and publish them.
You can vote via the comments below or send me an e-mail. Entirely up to you. I’ll keep taking votes for a couple weeks, and see how the response is.
Thanks for reading!