Are the Marvel or DC Side Story ties more important?
Although comic book links have been used extensively in the past by Marvel and DC Comics, they may have lost their relevance in the present day.
The Arrowverse is mostly a shared universe of DC Comics TV shows, but now it’s about to fully launch into source material. The next Earth Prime The mini-series will be a comic strip bringing together the heroes of the various CW shows. However, this is not the first link between a comic and another medium. In fact, it’s not even the first for the Arrowverse, which begs the question of the effectiveness of these types of stories.
Both Marvel and DC have produced comics set in the same universe as the movies, cartoons, and TV shows, but the result is often an extremely poor response, no matter how good the books actually are. This raises the question of whether “flipped” comic book adaptations are even an effective storytelling platform, especially since many audiences of the original works will never read them.
Comics that continue the story of movies, cartoons, shows, and video games
Links between comics and non-comic adaptations of existing comic properties aren’t new, and they’re especially prevalent in DC Comics. For example, 1980s live action super boy The TV series had a comic book connection, one which noted the fact that it was based on the hit TV show. Likewise, many 90s cartoons have comics that complement their universes, include both Batman and Superman: The Animated Series.
In the modern era of superhero and comic book TV series, it’s much the same for DC, with Smallville and even the Arrowverse is getting tie-in comics for Arrow, the flash and super girl. A more recent trend over the past decade has been to do this for “dead” universes and properties, such as the Adam West Batman 60s TV Shows, Lynda Carter wonder woman show, and more recently, the Richard Donner Superman movies and Tim Burton Batman movies. All of these books offer audiences a chance to enjoy the worlds of past continuities, perhaps in ways that weren’t allowed with the limitations of technology and special effects when the films were originally released. For example, Superman ’78, while it looks a lot like the Donner films, is also not crippled by the special effects of the 1970s/1980s. It is the same Wonder Woman ’77with Diana in this series battling several of her comic book foes who were not included in the TV show.
Something similar happened with the The Teen Titans Go! 2005 original tie-in comic Teen Titans cartoons. Not held back by some of the legal and copyright issues the show has faced regarding which characters can be included, this comic featured tons of fan service and throwbacks to the Marv Wolfman/ George Perez, while adding heroes like Wonder Girl. As exciting as these projects have been for fans of these particular versions of the characters, the true effectiveness and impact of these stories is highly suspect.
Why Comic Book Sequels in Other Mediums Fail
The problem with many of these comics is that they are essentially irrelevant to the history of the overall universe. Considered a “plus” at best, they are almost never a “must” for the story of what they relate to. When shows or movie series fail to even allude to, let alone reference, the events of those books, fans can’t help but think they’re pointless. For example, a series of comics titled Arrow: the black archer took an even deeper look at the show’s version of Merlyn, revealing that his real name was actually Arthur King, just like in the comics. However, this information is never referenced or mentioned in any of the shows, despite being so important to the original Arrowverse villain. That could definitely end up being the case for the next one. Earth Prime series too.
In the case of comic suites for properties such as Batman: The Animated Series, Batman ’89 and Superman ’78, comics are made years after the release of the show or movies, and often the original creative teams aren’t involved. Thus, it would be easy to dismiss them as not being canon, especially if there are discrepancies. For example, do Batman ’89 and Superman ’78 to replace batman forever and Superman 3 and 4 (or better yet, The Return of Superman)? Adding to that issue is the fact that the general public won’t even know these books exist, further complicating what could be considered a true sequel for these films.
It’s easy to look at all of these issues and conclude that these links, namely those based on old properties, are nothing more than cheap nostalgic bait. This is further reinforced by the stealth of their releases, with publishers simply trying to steal a few bucks from a potentially low-effort product that has a built-in fan base. However, the typical quality of these books says otherwise, with titles such as Superman ’78 truly capturing the spirit of their original source material. While making money is obviously part of the equation, it’s not the only factor, and the publisher may want to give fans a chance to relive old memories. Given the success of several of these books, it would seem that the idea is not without at least some merit.
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