Not on the list: Punchline.

§ April 3rd, 2020 § Filed under question time § 13 Comments

So Twitter pal Tim asked

“Is there any DC / Marvel character which has debuted in this century which you think has / will have significant staying power?”

I have a terrible memory for new characters and when they first showed up…there are one or two examples in this post where I Wiki-ed up their initial appearances and I was like “they’ve only been around that long?”

Anyway, I started to do a little research to see who came on the scene in this century (which of course began on January 1st, 2001, don’t @ me) when a couple of examples occurred to me right away.

Now the proper thing to do in answering a question like this is to go through some of the possibilities, discarding this one and than for whatever reason before finally revealing at the end who I think it is, but I’m just going to straight up tell you it’s Miles Morales:

He first appeared in 2011 as a replacement for Peter Parker in Marvel’s defunct “Ultimate” line, before somehow or ‘nother making it over into the main Marvel Universe, where he co-exists as Spider-Man with the other fellow.

One could perhaps argue that this isn’t a “new” character as such, since obviously the superhero aspect of the character preexisted. It’s like asking if the Wally West Flash is a new character, or just a continuation of the concept that began with the Barry Allen Flash (who was himself an altered version of the Golden Age Flash).

But all I can tell you is that kids really have taken a liking to the Miles Morales character, especially since the Into the Spider-Verse movie. I had them specifically requesting “Miles Morales comics” as opposed to “Spider-Man comics” or “comics with that new Spider-Man” — they’re asking for Miles Morales by name. Not to say the “Spider-Man” part isn’t important, since you read superhero comics for the superhero stuff, naturally, but I think that’s a significant difference in the way kids are approaching these characters. I mean, I never had people coming in asking for “Peter Parker” comics. Well, aside from the comics actually called Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, but you know what I mean.

Now part of this may simply be because these requests are being made in this way because asking for “Spider-Man” isn’t precise enough any more…they have to specify which Spider-Man and saying “Miles Morales” makes it clear which one they’re talking about. But regardless, kids really like Miles, thanks to getting goosed along by the film, and I think has the potential of being around for the long haul. Yes, he could be just a passing phase, and maybe someday just a footnote in the overall history of Spider-Man, but honestly I hope not.

One of the runners-up, and probably having better claim to being a new character despite having an old name, is Ms. Marvel:

Like Miles, Kamala Khan is another teen hero character that appeals to younger readers, and has had some book market success with collections of her adventures. She’s also a headlining hero who happens to be Muslim, giving her a unique position and perspective in the Marvel Universe. This is the character that really surprised me to find out she’s only been around since 2013…feels like she’s been part of Marvel for much longer! If I remember correctly, there’s going to be a live action version of her popping up somewhere (or, if not, surely it’s inevitable) which, like Into the Spider-Verse did for Miles, will almost certainly boost her popularity. I know she’s popped up in some well received shorts with Spider-Gwen and Squirrel Girl and such. I feel like she’ll be around a bit.

Which reminds me…would Spider-Gwen (or “Ghost Spider” as she’s called now) be considered a “new” character? I mean, Gwen Stacy’s been around since the ’60s, but this superhero version of her is a recent development. I think, though, the distinction is that Miles and Kamala are new characters using old names, whereas Gwen is an old character (or a version of an old character) using a new name. Anyway, it’s my blog and I make the rules, so there.

I was trying to think of DC characters that have had equal impact, and I’m sure I’m overlooking some. There’s Jessica Cruz, who is another new character using an old name (“Green Lantern”) but I think is distinct enough in her own right. First appearing in 2013-4 (initially as a villain of sorts) she’s popped up in other media, a strong element in any comic book character having staying power, but I don’t think she’s hit that same level as Miles or Kamala. (And has anyone seen the other Hot New Green Lantern Sensation Simon Baz lately? Hello, Simon? Write in, would you?)

We’ve also got the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle (yet another legacy character, first appearing in 2006) who seems to be pretty well received whenever he appears, particularly in other media (most recently in the Young Justice animated series). I feel like he’s different enough from his similarly-named predecessors to stand on his own as his own unique superhero. I think of the newer DC heroes, he’s got a good chance at sticking around a good long while.

Look, I know this is hardly a comprehensive list of new Marvel and DC folks, but I think these are four good strong characters, which despite all reusing names and/or powers of those who have come before, are each different enough to be considered “new.” And it probably says something that the new characters that do have some staying power build on past creations, whereas brand brand new characters fall to the wayside, but that’s an essay about the marketplace I’m not about to start writing after midnight (as I’m typing this) so let’s end this with me asking you to tell me what new Big Two characters from the 21st century I forgot.

13 Responses to “Not on the list: Punchline.”