The Sam Alexander Legacy: Truly Foolishly Unique.

 

Marvel fans are edgy, frankly marvel doesn’t legacy that often. In fact Joe Quesada, during his run as EiC used to openly mock DCs craving for taking existing , established heroes and making them “Legacies” in favor of politically correct versions. Quesada always made it seem like Marvel was above this, and frankly during his tenure they usually did not do this…instead developing new properties or promoting  older (less used) minority characters..That is, of course, if the Legacy argument stemmed about “political correctness” or minority related matters…which in the case of Sam Alexander it really does not. Sam Alexander has his own twisted set of unprecedented hallmarks, namely a commercial attempt to dupe an underutilized demographic marvel has historically had trouble reaching (IE Kids?)…

Some items I thought needed to be present for consideration:

1. Legacy had little to zero prior work up. (IE basically the hero didnt exist until he became the legacy)

2. Legacy contained a multi media spam promotional attack and was more heavily promoted than the original. (to include quality of creative teams as name draw)

3. Legacy was marketed to a different demographic than the original.

4. Legacy ignored or left the status of the prior title holder completely unresolved. (esp. for an extended period)

Hawkeye/Kat Bishop- Maybe hits up a couple of the items, but overall was just a flash in the pan and never really seriously held the namesake of Hawkeye…is a good character but not the new Hawkeye…and thats mostly always been clear.

Captain Marvel– The only one that slightly compares is Monica Rambeau, but really it does not hold up because of the completely resolved and settling death of Mar-vell.  So much was different, it never really seemed like a replacement.

KYLE RAYNER/HAL JORDAN – Many people are hooked on the Kyle Rayner example as a parallel to Rich’s plight. Not really a good one in my book. To be sure you have the usual similarities, book dealing with a lot of cosmic stuff, members of a “corps”, Origin story (Rich V Hal)- those things are all there. But Rich’s book had a much different flow to it than most of the Hal Jordan stuff. Most of Rich’s stuff was modeled after the Peter Parker archetype and not the adventures of an experienced hero..although to be sure the Annihilation era stuff was an experienced adult hero.

The main item however, was when Rayner was inserted as Green Lantern for Hal Jordan in the gimmicky sales stunt-fest that was the 1990s..it is impossible to argue the book had a major shift in its “intended”  core demographic. Sam Alexander is really a book made for kids with not a lot of complexity to the stories. It was a major shift in the core demographic of its intended audience, with only a few die hards like me left to muddle around. Rayner’s was still mainly on course for the same audience it had served, adults to young adults.

Not to mention the Green Lantern Corps had done a much better job establishing other supporting Green Lanterns. Most GL fans knew a  legacy was a strong possibility because they had seen featured corpsmen like John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Jade, Kilowagg…heck even Hal himself was technically a legacy to the golden age Alan Scott! Jordan was always a mainstay in Toys, Cartoons and JLA type books as well. It was never really like he was under promoted.

Ronnie Raymond, Firestorm. Nope…although Nova and Firestorm have been heavily compared before, both being late 70s Peter Parker ‘knocks…Raymond’s status as Firestorm was toy’d with several times beneath the radar in his Vol.2 series, most famously being replaced by a prof. Stein / Elemntal merger that was probably the worst Legacy character ever made (Yikes Ostrander!!). It was still a footnote in the swan song of Vol.2. Raymond was also a much bigger deal than Rider. Raymond got the “Saturday morning cartoon” treatment and the JLA membership and still couldn’t get those sales. Even though I’m a huge fan of Raymond- he didn’t really have a “pot to piss in” when Jason Rusch came along. And let’s be frank- DC just went crazy with legacy heroes…ultimately legacy’ing their whole continuity! Raymond has long since returned and Rusch is still around as well…though i ditched on the dreadful new Simone new 52 stuff.

JAMIE REYES BLUE BEETLE The strongest case of all…still fails to compare.The closest one I can think of is more along the lines of Blue Beetle. Even this just does not compare.

Per my criteria, i think Reyes could easily be argued to meet all but one (#4). But I really don’t think it hit #2 as well..and essentially Blue Beetle had no prior ongoing comic for years.

First off, Ted Kord got shot point blank in the head. He was “dead dead” from the word go of Reyes’ series.

Secondly, readers did not get this huge spam of Blue Beetle Jamie Reyes everywhere, at least initially.To be sure, fans pissed and moaned how they loved Ted Kord. Its understandable…but Reyes caught on and then started to appear in Teen Titans and cartoons..which was probably in some sort of plan from the start but seemed to have a less pretentious decadent approach. Keith Giffen and Maguire basically forged the whole Beetle/Booster Gold greatness of the prior area , so seeing Giffen was involved with the forging of the new Beetle instantly gave the venture credibility, which won over many core fans.

 

Reyes caught on (Because Giffen/Jones actually wrote a good comic). Also Kord, was by no means coming off the level of success that Rich Rider was as the “star” and POV character of Annihilation, which was recently voted as the #9 Marvel story of all time by the fans on Newsarama.com( http://www.newsarama.com/21074-10-best-marvel-comics-stories-of-all-time-according-to-you-the-readers.html) . It could be argued, Kord was a “bigger” character overall, being a JLA/JLI (and I personally loved that stuff) staple for much of the early 90s, but not in terms of his ability to support a solo book.

But let’s also be clear, Keith Giffen  and John Rodgers had a much better “plan” while they were tasked with bringing this new character up..they did a hell of a better job than Jeff Loeb/ Zeb Wells. DC got the right guy in Keith Giffen to do this legacy as well. Giffen basically created Ted Kord and was a huge part of the character’s prominence in the first place, it’s much like if Marvel would have got Marv Wolfman (or even DnA) to do this. That lends tremendous credibility to the core fans. In my biased opinion, Keith Giffen is the consummate comic book  creator and creative talent…he delivers great new directions and continuity, he doesn’t eviscerate them and leave them in ruin (Loeb)…and marvel had this guy in their fold!!

Whats worse is there are so many similarities to Sam Alexander in Jamie Reyes (also half Hispanic, which has been very low key with Sam). It simply had to be discussed! “What they were thinking ?” with their choices and subsequent decisions is beyond me.

SO I won’t go into some other prominent DC legacies like Atom, Batwoman, Question etc.. Frankly none of these fit the Sam Alexander template anyway.

To answer the question I personally could not find one Example that matched my criteria. Making the “Sam Situation” truly unique and frankly foolhardy. Here’s my quick list on what marvel should have kept in mind, and why this pitch was so foolish.

1. Look to the past to see what has worked. Which is not to say don’t be afraid to be profound and innovative…but clearly the quick rip off the band aid legacy characters have rarely worked. The characters who were eased in and developed have a much better success rate

2. Address if the replaced hero is dead, taking a break..not a good idea to leave his status hanging for too long. Don’t wait four years to resolve this, especially if it just was to perma death the old character..that’s atrocious writing…and horribly disrespectful to core fans.

Further “BTW In regards , to item (1)”  DO NOT BRING BACK THE (other) CHARACTERS the PRIOR CHARACTER WAS KILLED WITH… and provide NO EXPLANATION FOR WHERE THE LEGACY’D CHARACTER WENT!

3.  Don’t unnecessarily aggravate the old core fans. Some fans will just never accept a legacy. I can’t very well say “Don’t promote your new venture”..in fact that’s the right thing to do. But you gotta factor if the old character ever got that same fair shake…if your answer is “no” why do you have to use his or her Legacy?

4. Trust your own direction instead of the “quick credibility” an established name can bring. If you want to legacy something…look to some areas where Marvel has done all they could to promote a certain property and nothing had worked…be  honest with yourself (as to why what was done didn’t work) and don’t do this “half assed”. Be incredibly transparent with fans and lay it all out for them right away. This WAS NOT the case for RIDER!! If you can’t convince yourself their is truly a reason to Legacy then do not do it. Re invigorate the old character or create a new property entirely.

5. Value your company’s continuity. Rich was built up to be something…in fact, this is why he was so strong of a character. Over 36 years, there was a lot of great creators hard work on Richard Rider. Not to mention, his pinnacle came in 2006. This was not 30 years ago, this was recent. In fact, Thanos Imperative was written in 2010 and many consider it the masterpiece of DnA.

6. If you are going to deconstruct something, stay the course to build it up. In other words, “Write a good Book!” ..say what you will about Bendis..he destroyed Avengers but he built it back up and left in a much better place. Not the current “MO” of Jeff Loeb, who suddenly specializes in eviscerating things and leaving them roughshod.(see anything he’s done at marvel) This was promised to us as “career defining” by Axel Alonso..if anything it just defined Loeb’s career at Marvel as one huge joke.

 

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