Watch What You Reboot

An article by, Aaron Burton

Did you hear that they are rebooting American Idol? And Twin Peaks? And The X-Files? And Stephen King's IT? We live in a time where reboots and remakes are one of the most common forms of movie and television property. Some attribute this to a lack of creative and original ideas. Others will make the ever-popular "the original is better"-style false dichotomy argument. Outside of these naysayers one fact still remains. Nothing hits the spot like nostalgia.

The human brain remembers hits more than misses. The average person does not have vivid memory of every mundane work day. We have all heard someone we know mutter the idiom "I can't even remember what I had for breakfast". On the contrary, humans save space for the special moments in life. Both tragic and joyful moments are burned into our long-term memory.

This concept is what creates our lust for nostalgia.  A person's favorite movie reminds them of the way the felt during their first viewing. Hearing an old song can bring a person back powerful visions of times past. These are moments in one's personal history that hold special value. Many will say that nostalgia reminds them of "better times" in their life. However, that moment is most likely surrounded by days and weeks of humdrum existence filled with trials and tribulations current to what they are currently experiencing.

This predisposition for special moments in the past is what makes us lust for the perfect reboot. After countless viewings of the source material we are ready to see our favorite characters re-imagined and back into action. These restarts come in many flavors. There are books that are remade as movies. Our favorite comic books come to life as animated series. Stories and characters can be revamped in the same medium, or transcend into a completely different format.

While we love to see stories rebooted and re-imagined, we tend to overlook the true victims of this approach. We never consider how the characters themselves feel about their universe being turned upside down. How would you feel if you woke up every few years in a similar yet vastly different life? Take Evey Hammond, the heroine from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, for example. She found herself being rescued by the vaudevillian vigilante V while she was a struggling teenager. All of the sudden she finds herself in the same situation as a twenty-something working for a television network. She didn't ask for this. Her life was drastically altered for our entertainment.

Those of you who are nostalgic about 1990s indie superheroes may be familiar with Supreme. For the uninitiated, Supreme was a character created by Rob Liefeld in 1992. The character eventually received his own series published by Image comics. This hero was eventually reinvented by the famous Alan Moore. Many compare Supreme to DC's Superman, and that comparison seems to hold a bit of truth. Supreme was later recreated by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay in 2015. This reboot was in the form of a seven issue mini-series entitled Supreme: Blue Rose. On top of being a gritty and psychedelic noir drama, Supreme: Blue Rose serves as a commentary on comic books which reboot their fictional universes.

We always think of universe reboots as happening smoothly. Campy wisecracking Batman transitioned into the Gothic noir Dark Knight without a hitch. We won't even talk about the many destructive events involving The Joker's facial tissue. In Supreme: Blue Rose Ellis and Lotay tell the story of characters who do not have a fluid experience with a reinvented universe. The story truly embodies the colloquial "glitch in The Matrix" scenario. This is what makes the story so compelling. The veil has been lifted on the true effects of restarting timelines.

Supreme: Blue Rose does a good job of making the reader feel just as confused and disoriented as the characters. Many of the pages are covered in blue scribbles, for example. The dialogue is often vague and cryptic. The story jumps around at an unpredictable pace. Multiple stories and timelines blend together. The reading experience is as chaotic as the story itself, and will have you questioning if you can really trust what you are seeing.

The moral of the story is: be very, very careful when rebooting your fictional universe. Your decisions can have a profound effect on the existence of your characters. Are the feelings of nostalgia worth it? Are you sure that you can responsibly make changes your story without having a negative impact on the people you feel in love with the first place? I am not saying don't go for it...just be careful.

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