Super-parents may not be the best idea
Over the years superhero comics have been struggling to find a way to market to their audience, often trying to come up with a new story that they think will rock their audience’s socks off, and pick up some new readers along the way. A lot of the time these don’t seem to work, some of them really don’t work, and some just really shouldn’t have happened at all. (Believe it or not, DC is also trying that one, although admittedly this one seems to have more direction to it). One of the less insidious ideas on their market, specifically on DC’s end, is to give their big guns children to look after.
This started a while ago, back in 2007 when Grant Morrison, a man known for writing some really good comics and some… not so good ones, came up with a brand new idea: give batman a son! So DC did, in the issue Batman #665, it was revealed the big Bat ended up getting himself a kid by the name of Damian Wayne, isn’t that interesting! People protested his creation for a long time, and apparently even Grant himself wrote Damian with the intent for him to die. So he did, for a little while, because this is comics, and they don’t even kill off characters they should probably let die anyway.
Grant suggests that he wrote the kid to be difficult, and most people believe that he wasn’t very interesting to begin with. Eventually people grew to tolerate him, and some people even grew to like him, but if the majority just tolerates the character & you plan on sticking him out for the long run, that may not be a good idea.
The more recent addition to the character list is the young Jonathan Kent, introduced with a sleuth of new concepts in 2016 as part of DC’s rebirth initiative. Rebirth was a sort of “soft reboot” which allowed the writers to get back to characters’ core values, and stop sticking to their more edgy reboot of the mid 2000s: The New 52. Jonathan Kent is the son of the pre-new 52 reboot Superman (who apparently hadn’t died and was hiding out in the new 52 universe), and became the new Superboy after the new 52 Superman died (because he also wasn’t popular) and the old Supes took the mantle. Sounds a lot like technobabble? It is. DC really could’ve just said “Superman is nicer now” and that probably would’ve solved it, but that’s another issue.
So, now we have Jonathan Kent, son of Superman & Lois Lane, who are happily married on a farm together, and Damian Wayne, son of Batman, who lives with his dad in their really big man cave, neat. Sounds easy enough to not do wrong, and honestly, it most definitely hasn’t been done terribly.
One of the major concerns that arises, however, is the issue of how to sell this to people. While the current comic book market seems to always be interested in new and innovative stories, an attempt to sell “Superman as a dad” to a larger audience seems to be less than ideal, especially when the larger market is millennials.
Millennials are pretty well known for having little interest in offspring of their own, often due to concerns about being able to be a good parent, or simply not willing to bring offspring into our less than ideal world we’re living in at the moment, so how do they relate to the parent superheroes who have settled down to their super-lives? They don’t.
If DC’s plan is to stick this idea out, and stick it on other characters in the future, it really might not work so well. Millennials would probably rather read the more interesting else-worlds stories about younger versions of the characters or tales about new, younger & more diverse characters, featuring new and innovative writers. Seriously that second example is apparently pretty popular.
So what should DC do to draw in a more millennial audience? It seems to have the right idea on it’s non-mainline comics, it just needs to bring it’s more original ideas to it’s major characters, and allow them to be a voice for the new generation, instead of their older & less easy to relate to characterizations that they are currently running with.